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We had a long weekend in Canberra last weekend and I went to Conflux 15, a local SF convention. For the first time we had it in a library, Gungahlin Library to be precise. It was a nice space. There were logistical issues with the door when the library wasn’t open, but overall not too shabby.

It seemed to be a smaller convention than usual. It takes a few people to not turn up to make it seem that way. I heard that the committee had issues and that Karen Herkes was in hospital and that left just a small core of people to do all the things. They and the volunteers did a great job. The program was an awesome thing to behold. Well done, Alistair. I also hear that Karen is on the mend so that’s great news too.

Thoraiya Dyer was the guest of honour and her guest of honour speech was moving and funny. It was very well done. Les Petersen was the artist in residence and his talk about his puppets and animation was interesting. He talked about his career making book covers and how book covers should tell a story. Russell Kirkpatrick was the MC and he put on a schoolmaster role that had people laughing their heads off. Special bonus was a visit on the Sunday by John Scalzi, who did a walk around chat in the dealers area! A kaffeklatch and a question and answer session. It was so fab! John Scalzi was very generous with his time. His books are good too. I’m waiting on The Last Empero that he’s writing right now.

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Me with Thoraiya Dyer at the banquet

 

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Les Petersen during his talk

I have to admit to being the mastermind behind John’s thank you gift. I noticed when I met him in Perth at a Swancon a few years that he had a little sugar addiction going. He’d flown 40 hours to get to Canberra and would need a bit of sugar to get him home. We gave him a bag full of Australian sweets, with some vegemite flavoured peanuts thrown in. He has youtubed the tasting of said sweets. I laughed. Musk sticks scored the lowest and I love those lollies. I can’t keep a pack in my house because I’ll just keep eating them. The link to John’s youtube tasting is below.

A few days before, I was lucky enough to catch John Scalzi’s keynote at the Dept of Defence seminar on the future of war through the lens of SF. A great day full of great talks by the lights of Australian SF: Jack Dann, Janeen Webb, Russell Blackford, Cat Sparks, John Birmingham and other international speakers. I even got an idea for a novel out of that day from an unasked question.

The con kicked off at Siren’s on Friday night with a get together, with pizza and meat on skewers and it was low key but a nice way to warm up with everyone. Well everyone who came. It was free and put on for Conflux members. I’ve always been a fan of the warm up event.

I hung with Keri Arthur and Catherine Walker mostly at the get together and during the con. Keri is a real trooper and had come up for Conflux to catch up with mates. She didn’t even bring any books to sell. I also got to say hello to old friends and introduce myself to people I didn’t know.

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Catherine trying to get away from Keri and me.

 

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Catherine joining in because she couldn’t get away

I had a dealers table at Conflux so I spent a lot of time there. But first, you must hear about my book launch. Leife Shallcross launched Ruby Heart and Emerald Fire at 12.30 on Saturday. I made cupcakes. The best recipe ever that I got on Youtube. I will post the link below. I also made gluten free brownies and provided some rice crackers and humous.

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Launch food, photo by Cat Sparks

I think the launch went very well but I stuffed up my reading. This is because I was so busy! Can you believe that excuse? A serious lack of preparation. Cat Sparks took some shots from the launch. Thoraiya’s daughter had dressed in steampunk costume for the launch. I was dressed in 50s’ style as I have grown out of my steampunk garb! Thoraiya bought both books for her daughter, who is a very advanced 11 year old. To my surprise, the wonderful daughter finished both books by the banquet on Sunday night and pronounced them excellent! I have never been so gobsmacked and grateful for such excellent praise.

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Launch books

My partner usually helps me out with the table and launches but he had a commitment to our house cleaners. I was lucky enough to have my daughters and granddaughter come to help me. My second daughter revamped my table and the number one daughter did the till! They were rewarded with cupcakes.

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Me at the launch. Photo credit Cat Sparks

 

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Me explaining something about the books

People stopped by my dealer’s table so I did get some photos. These guys were instrumental in Matthew Farrer’s writing career. They used to manage a Gamesworkshop store back in the day. Matthew is my very understanding partner.

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Dr Tim Napper and Andrew Old

I was probably on the most panels I have ever been on during a convention. On Saturday I was on a panel about research and rabbit holes called the Exploration Beneath the Novel. It was a fun panel with Dion Perry, Dawn Meredith and Aiki Flinthart. We talked about types of research, like experiential–doing stuff so we can write about it more effectively. Aiki launched her Fight Like a Girl book at Conflux. I’ve almost finished reading my copy. It’s a book for writers about writing girl fights and it is interesting, well researched and very useful. I did her fight like a girl workshop last year.

I was scheduled to be at the Meet the Author station on the Sunday but after watching authors sit under this sign and no one coming to talk to them I didn’t do it. I likened it to the naughty chair so I stayed at my dealer table. Catherine M Walker had the table next to me and she was great keeping an eye on it while I was scampering about. Thank you Cath! And she was company when things were slow.

Monday I was on three panels.  The first one was SF romance, which was a very good panel with Freya Marske and Darian Smith, a new to me male romance writer. I will be interviewing him on the blog soon. Freya was the moderator and she did an excellent job.

Then in the afternoon I was on two in a row, Underground Movements and Secret Societies, followed by the Jane Austen panel. I didn’t have time between panels to change but I had decided to wear my latest Regency dress and my slapdash bonnet. Seeing that in the Regency period, and earlier, there were men’s clubs I thought I could get away with the dress and bonnet during that panel. We were lucky enough to have Keri Arthur join Dionne Lister, Dion Perry and me. It was a fun panel and interesting too about paranoia and conspiracy theories and why these nefarious societies work in fiction, particularly urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy and so on.

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Me on the underground societies’ panel, photo by Nicole Murphy

I chaired the Austen panel and participated a little bit. With panel members Leife Shallcross and Freya Marske, who could talk Austen underwater, this panel went off nicely. With some information gaps filled from the audience we were able to talk about Austen’s contribution to fiction and genre and recommend some Austen genre mashups. I had done a little research ahead of time through reading this book, What Matters in Jane Austen, by John Mullan. Thank you Nick for the gift.

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As I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time at my table, but the buzz from the congoers was good. A bit slow for us dealers, but that happens. I did manage the banquet which had good food although I think they ran short of roasted vegetables and put some chips in there, which is a bit sad really. The gluten free menu was a bit contracted and poor Keri got no entrees and had to have ice cream with caramel sauce because there were no gluten free dessert for her.I did hear a rumour that we might get historical banquet’s again curtesy of our resident historian, Gillian Polack.

It was sad to say goodbye to everyone at the end. Sad to pack up the table but Matthew was there to help me so all good. I had to take a walking stick with me because of the distances involved. I have a partial tear in my plantar plate and I’m trying to keep the weight off. I kept leaving the stick behind. But once I went a certain distance I’d need it. I wasn’t faking it guys. I hate the damn stick.

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A great photo of me in my bonnet taken by Cat Sparks

So ends another Conflux. Conflux 16 has been announced for next year. If you like meeting authors and hanging out with the genre tribe then make plans to go to an SF convention near you. If you have been to Conflux before and think you might go along one day maybe, remember that Conflux only exists because people come along so come along next year. Without support SF conventions can’t afford to run no matter how dedicated the committee and volunteers. Convention goers make the con. I hope to see you next year.

Here is John Scalzi eating Aussie Sweets and YouTube.

The cupcake recipe is from this lady but this clip is great.

Cat Sparks has a great selection of photos on her Flickr account.

The first photo in Cat’s photostream is Elizabeth who bought and read my books. She’s so cute in her steampunk outfit.

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Another author interview for you. I have had Amanda Bridgeman on my blog before. However, something new and exciting happening in her publishing life fired my imagination with questions. Thank you Amanda for dropping by to talk about your new release The Subjugate, published by Angry Robot.

But first, the blurb so we know about the book!

In a small religious community rocked by a spree of shocking murders, Detectives Salvi Brentt and Mitch Grenville find themselves surrounded by suspects. The Children of Christ have a tight grip on their people, and the Solme Complex neurally edit violent criminals – Subjugates – into placid servants called Serenes. In a town where purity and sin, temptation and repression live side by side, everyone has a motive. But as the bodies mount up, the frustrated detectives begin to crack under the pressure: their demons are coming to light, and who knows where that blurred line between man and monster truly lies.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Pure & Savage | Hard Boiled | Bright Spark | Finding Serenity ]

Amanda Bridgeman

 

Can you tell us a bit about the book and how you came to write it?

I’d been wanting to write a female cop protagonist for some time. I can’t recall how the idea for the Solme Complex came to me, but I suspect it was partly my fascination/abhorrence of violence and violent men, and the desire to see equality in the world. The religious aspect comes from my upbringing – I was raised a Catholic but haven’t continued with the religion since high school, and naturally I have ‘feels’ about that. So the book formed from a culmination of my own life experiences, natural intrigue and research.

 How did you get picked up by Angry Robot?

I actually met Marc Gascoigne at Conflux in Canberra back in 2013 (and I won that conference ticket from you at Genrecon in Sydney in 2012!). I did a panel with Marc and at some point over the convention he bought me a cup of tea and we had a chat about my books – at the time it was the Aurora series. I guess we followed each other at a distance over the years and then when The Subjugate was finished I got my agent, Alex Adsett to pitch it to him. Voila! Here we are.

(Wow! that is so fab. I know from talking to Marc at the time that he was interested in your work. And, yes, lots of opportunities through Genrecon and Conflux!)

How did you fit writing it in around your massive Aurora series?

I had written 5 Aurora books before the first one was published, so my previous publisher was able to release them relatively quickly – the five books over three years – so I look more prolific than I actually am. After I had written the 5 and had spent a little time learning about the publishing process, I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing something different. A result of this was my novel The Time of the Stripes, and then The Subjugate. It was important for me to take a break from the Aurora world and try some different flavours of science fiction – being an alien contact story and the sci-fi crime thriller. I think they’ve made me a better writer. It’s always been my goal to be a versatile writer and not be pigeon-holed into any one genre or sub-genre. Plus I love a good thriller, so it was always my plan to branch into thrillers at some point.

Was there any new challenges in writing The Subjugate?

Absolutely! The biggest challenge was predicting law enforcement in the future. Let’s face it, with the improvements in technology and forensics, it’s going to be harder and harder for people to commit crimes and get away with them. For me, it helped that the crimes in my novel were committed in a community that shuns technology…

 Is there any more books of yours coming out from Angry Robot?

Not as yet – I need to finish writing my next book/s. I’m not going to rush anything out, though. The Subjugate has been so well received that it’s important my next book is just as good, if not better! I do have a follow-up planned for The Subjugate (a whole series in fact, centred around Detective Salvi Brentt), and I’ve started researching a new book (and potential series) separate from The Subjugate, but set in the near future, involving a female police detective and time travel! And, of course, I have the final Aurora books to work on. And if time permits, a sequel to The Time of the Stripes. And that’s not including any of the other ideas I wish to develop into novels or screenplays. If only I had more time!

What’s ahead for you in the publishing world? More traditional, more Indie?

I’m keen to pursue more traditional possibilities if I can. If publishers don’t want my new work, then I’ll happily self-publish and continue on the hybrid path. I’ve built up a strong and loyal readership over the years, so that makes things easier! There are pros and cons to both sides of the publishing fence, but right now I value the extra eyes (namely mainstream media eyes) a good publisher can help get your book.

 

Thank you Amanda. That is truly amazing. You write so long, too so it is mind boggling that you write so much. Matthew and I are both fans of your Aurora series. I think Matthew has read more than me. We have the print copy on order and Matthew already has the ebook on his Kobo! I love how there is such a buzz about this one. I wish you great success with it and more.

You can get The Subjugate in print or ebook.

About Amanda from her webpage/blog http://www.amandabridgeman.com.au

Amanda is an Aurealis Award finalist and author of 7 science fiction novels, including the best-selling space opera Aurora series and apocalyptic drama The Time of the Stripes.

Born in the seaside/country town of Geraldton, Western Australia, she moved to Perth (Western Australia) to study film & television/creative writing at Murdoch University, earning her a BA in Communication Studies. Perth has been her home ever since, aside from a nineteen-month stint in London (England) where she dabbled in Film & TV ‘Extra’ work.

When she’s not writing/reading books, you can find her indulging in films/tv/art or jumping up and down at rock concerts.

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On the bus this morning my Twitter and Facebook feed started going a bit wild. I was wondering why people were congratulating me. When I relaxed enough on the bus I started checking the phone. I had no book with me either.

OMG! I was short listed for an Aurealis Award from my short story collection, Beneath the Floating City.

So many friends are in the short lists. Some have been nominated many times and a number of those have won. Here I am little old me, getting a short listing for my self-published collection. The collection is mostly previously published works of science fiction, from early stories back in 2003, such as ‘Other’ to my later stories. I also published a new story in the collection called ‘Lake Absence’ that was inspired by Lake George when I was taking the bus to Sydney to head to the Denver Worldcon many years ago. I just couldn’t get that story published, though I came close with the Aurealis Magazine with one of the previous editors.

In previous years I would never have thought about publishing a collection of my own stories. Although it make sense to gather them up into one book because they are just there instead of scattered around. This was my first attempt and I gathered together SF stories. I have at least two others in mind. A magic realism collection called Through These Eyes and a fantasy collection, name not conceived yet. Since I’m also Indie publishing these days, the collection was something else I could publish.

I realise now that I just put this out there and I didn’t advertise it widely. I know this because the image for the cover was not in my WordPress archive.So I didn’t even blog about it. I think it was because it was just before I went to Europe.

So here it is. The wonderful cover was produced by Patty Jansen. I give this book away free to newsletter subscribers and it’s for sale in ebook everywhere for $2.99 USD. If you want a free copy, the link to sign up to my newsletter is here.

What does this mean for me?

Well heaps actually. To get this kind of acknowledgement is lovely. I had thought that my short story writing days were over. That there wasn’t any point because you know…well. Authors can sometimes have serious downward mind speak that squashes them down. I have mentioned this before but the whole “I’m not worthy thing” is difficult to control at times. That’s why it is so nice to get feedback, of the nice kind, and to be acknowledged with a short listing or an award or a review. It’s like being patted on the head and told keep going, you’ll get there.

I threw this in for the Aurealis Award without expectation. As someone who has researched Australian speculative fiction in the past I know how much the eligible works lists mean to the researcher, how useful. And I wanted to make sure that the work I put out was in the bigger lists. I wasn’t expecting a short listing.

Now I shall not give up writing short stories. I shall write those ideas that bash around inside my brain eventually.

Many thanks to the judges for their hard work. Congratulations to all the other nominees.

My name appears on a list with such amazing writers, I am over the moon, chuffed. Margo Lanagan, Kate Forsyth, Kim Wilkins, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Peter Ball.  Here is the link. 

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The con starts today, but this post is about yesterday. It maybe shorter because I was sleepier than normal this morning and I played with my phone at 5 am instead of blogging. My bad. Also, forgive typos I haven’t proofed these posts yet.

Yesterday I was hoping to volunteer and stuff bags etc, but the bad foot put me off that idea. Loaded with anti-inflammatory meds and painkillers I slunk down to the port and took the ferry over to Suomenlinna (sp) the fortress with my daughter Beans. I figured I could find a restaurant and plonk myself down and take it easy. By the time I got walking and after a lot of therapeutic stretching I could walk without looking and sounding like Igor.

Helsinki put on a beautiful day. It was so lovely and warm and bright. The trip over to the fortress is pretty quick,a bout 15 mins. There were lots of tourists. Lots more than the weekend. I think the city is filling up with SF fans. So walked over this beautiful and interesting place, which has been used for military defense over the years. Built by the Swedes, used by Russians etc. Now it is a lovely picnic spot. There are heaps of cafes and restaurants, some like Cafe Piper that have lovely views. They do coffee and cake and a few sandwiches. Not good for a vegan. So we had a coffee and looked at the view and then went in search of a place to eat. We walked to the end of the island and found a pizza place. Not that good for vegans either and it was about 14 Euro for a pizza. So we went to look for another place we passed situated near the bridge called Cafe Chapman. This was the place. They had a buffet lunch for 14 Euro, but there was salad and vegetables and stuff that both of us could eat. We felt it was good value compared to a pizza and the building is lovely too. We sat out in the garden.

Then we caught the ferry back and Beans made me shop for a t-shirt. I only bought one with me (Yoda) and it was dirty and she said ugly. So we spent sometime in the shops, went back to the hotel to rest before the City Hall bash. Some delgates were invited to a welcome event at City Hall. It was so well attended. The city hall was once a hotel, built in the Neo-classical style. See photo fest. It was great to see so many attendees in their finery. I caught up with Cheryl Morgan, met Kevin Roche (chair of the next Worldcon in San Jose) and his husband Andrew, then we met Phillipa from Glastonbury and the we introduced ourselves to a young person standing alone. It turned out that Alex was a first time Worldcon attendee, a local too. We got to chat about stuff and I practiced my Finish and learnt a new expression. Then we saw Cat Sparks and Rob Hood, then got to catch up with Jukka Halme and Sari (sp), Craig Cormick, who helped me spell the new Finish expression. Then I met Kylie Ding and saw Gillian, who is amazed how Canberrans tend to flock together. I also met PRK and Tori in the queue. David Gallagher and Emma. I spotted Charlie Stross, but he would not remember me so I didn’t say hi. Also I caught sight of Joe and Gay Haldeman and a few other familiar faces.

There was wine and softdrink and a cold buffet. As I’d eaten so much for lunch I didn’t have much room for more food. However, I did try some. Kiitos Palion to Helsinki for the warm welcome.

 

Then we walked with Cat and Rob to find a supermarket, which we did. And Kesburger! I’m dying to try their haloumi burger. And thence to our hotel and rest and then  sleep.

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