Sunday, March 27, 2005

Swancon the rest of it!

The kiosk went down and I was unable to find my way back to the Internet cafe that Sally had shown me, so ... Saturday morning, Sally and I woke late-ish and had a companionable breakfast in our room. It was supposed to be the Market Day and we began to haul the ASIM stuff downstairs, only to find the day had been postponed till Sunday. Upstairs again and the first panel I attended was about Robert E. Howard, with Charles De Lint and an academic-type guy who has a passion for the works of Howard. There is an entire Howard community out there. A bunch of us went out to lunch again, but got back late and I was in time for a two-hour session with the De Lints, who answered questions, played and sang. Charles D is a musician with a wide variety of skills - guitar, mandolin (he taught her, that's how they met), Irish flute, penny-whistle, violin... He sings, too. This session alone was worth the entire trip to WA. It more than made up for missing the concert. There was one more panel, with Zara Baxter, Dave Luckett and me, but Dave did all the talking in the end, as he knows a helluva lot about the price of steeds, armour, swords, etc. and, to be honest, I hadn't had a clue what I had volunteered for, and just made one comment about tournaments. We were actually only too pleased to let him take over and had an enjoyable hour, before the entire con membershio went to the wedding of Lyn Triffit and Lee Battersby. There was more than one moist eye in there. That included mine and I only know them from the ASIM list! What a great idea, having their wedding at a con. After the wedding, a huge bunch of us went to dinner at an Indian restaurant, had the banquet and missed the masquerade, but no matter. It was a pleasant evening and I was seated near te De Lints, Ian Nicholls and a lady called Jessica (?) whom I have only met at this con. The evening ended with Sally and me hosting a room party, which went till 1.00 a.m. The chocolates I'd brought were Much Appreciated. Ann Poore, the harper, brought her instrument and played.You know you're getting old when you start turning into a pumpkin at midnight. I was distinctly orange by then and glad to get some sleep.

Yesterday, Sunday, I spent most of the day on the ASIM market stall, which was a fascinating experience. We actually sold quite a few magazines and several subscriptions, which was great. I finally did my panel on YA fiction with Dave Luckett and Charles D and then, suddenly, it was over. The thing about this topic is that people love to discuss it.

I did get in one more panel, actually someone reading a paper on "The meaning of smell in the Buffyverse" which was a lot more fun that such things tend to be at "real" conferences. The Underused mythologies panel was good, but the room was horribly cramped and I left. We had dinner "in" this time - I ate with Ian Nicholls and Ann Poore (who had been jamming with the De Lints) and the conversation turned serious, about life, the universe and cons. The service was slow, though. Very slow. Oh, well, at least I didn't have time for dessert. The Tin Ducks were awarded and - yay! - one, for best Professional Production, went to Lyn Triffit(now Battersby) for ASIM 11. There was a general party, afterwards, and I brought the leftovers from the room party, including wine. Got to bed around 11.30 p.m.

This morning I had breakfast with Glenda Larke, a genial older woman who is a fantasy novelist. I got to two panels this morning - Surrealism in SF, with Richard Harland, and a lively discussion of writers' workshops. I am hoping to get to one more panel with De Lint and others before heading for the airport this afternoon and then back to the grind.

The final panel featutred Charles D, Shaun Tan, Richard Harland and Terry Dowling. I'm actually quite a fan of Shaun Tan, as his artwork appears in a lot of books in school libraries. He's a small gentleman, shorter than me, even! And I'm only 5 foot 2. Wonderful artist, though. They just spoke about their work in general and their creativity and how they keep it fresh. A nice way to end the con. I was unable to stick around for the closing ceremony, but Simon Haynes, from the ASIM co-op very kindly drove Zara Baxter (another member) and me to the airport. I saw Zra off, but my plane doesn't go for another hour, so I am sitting at Perth airport, typing this into another kiosk like the one at the hotel.

The con has been delightful, overall, but my suggestion to next year's committee is that they make sure the goody bag contains a map of the area (with YOU ARE HERE on it) and a list of food shops that will be open and - vital! - Internet cafes.

It's been great putting faces to names and seeing some old friends as well. Next stop Continuum, in MY town.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Swancon Day 1.1

Yesterday was the true day 1. I had the hotel's excellent breakfast buffet, overate and went for a walk in King's Park, which is up a steep hill - one that could compete with the one in Dunedin for the title of World's steepest street. Got lost - how on earth can you get lost in a park? - and found my way back with the help of a lady who was walking on an unfamiliar street. She said she did understand how you can get lost in Kin'gs Park! I organised a bed and a second key for Sally, who arrived late morning. Iwent to some panels, went out to lunch with Sally and Zara Baxter and a couple of others, in one of the few places in Perth CBD on Good Friday and got a vegetarian fried rice for only $5.95. Back at the hotel, I enjoyed a panel on Balancing Writing With your Day job, the first one with Charles De Lint, who seems a pleasant, approachable man. Then I overspent in the dealer's room, getting Richard Harland's new novel, which he signed for me, and spending a LOT of money on a Charles De Lint HC which will never get into paperback. There was then a panel on short ficiton and another on "It came from the slush pile." I've told Sally that I once picked an Edwina Harvey story in a competition slushpile, though it didn't have her name on it. There were some evening events which I attended, but fell asleep, as I do. I had never heard of "Simono, the world's most beautiful fan" but the large audience had and laughed appreciatively. Sue Isle and I went up to her room for tea and an expensive hand-made Easter egg which I'd brought from Melbourne. I fell into bed at 10.00 a.m. This morning, several of us breakfasted together with no pre-planning and I met a lovely couple from NZ (but she's originally from Perth and a friend of Sally's) - Robin and Alan. Sally and I went off to find an Internet cafe - the hotel's dreadful kiosk was broken anyway.

More tomorrow (I hope!)

Swancon Day 1.1

It's Saturday morning as I write this. Yesterday, which was the real Day 1, was good fun. I got up early, wrestled with the Internet machine downstairs, got lost in King's Park and had to ask directions, when I finally got out, of an older lady who was walking along the unfamiliar street. However, I found my way back down the VERY steep street, which could have competed with that famous street in Dunedin for the title of "World's Steepest Street" and managed to get into the panel on "TV Vampires". I would have enjoyed this more if it hadn't been in a tiny room with no windows. Finally I had to get out, though I would have liked to stay. I found some friends and spent a pleasant hour before lunch. Sally Beasley, who was sharing a room with me, arrived and I fixed up her room key, then a group of us went to lunch. Not much is open in Perth on Good Friday, but with a native guide, we found an open cafe where I got a vegetarian stir-fry for $5.95, very nice. We were mostly members of the Andromeda Spaceways Co-op and tried to avoid discussing our magazine so as not to bore the only non-member. After lunch, I went to the first panel of the day featuring Charles De Lint, with Robert Hood, Cat Sparks, Dave Luckett and Lee Battersby. It was on the subject of balancing a day job with writing, something of great interest to me, as I have to do precisely this. Mr De Lint, of course writes full-time now (since he got made redundant at his record store job). He seems a pleasant, approachable gentleman. I hadn't realised that Robert Hood, the only person allowed to write YA horror fiction for Hodder, has a full-time day job, just like me. Dave writes more or less full-time, but doesn't earn as much as you'd think, though, after all, this is Australia and you have to be Sarah Douglass to be earning in the six figures!

After this, I caught up with Sue Isle and bought some books in the huckster's room, shelling out $65 for a Charles De Lint Hardcover that will probably never make it to paperback, asnd buying the new Daikaiju collection, which is great fun - pity I never got around to submitting! When I took my copy of Moonheart to be autographed I let Charles D know that it was this book that had got me beadlooming, among other things. He said his wife, who was with him, would probably enjoy having a look at my belt, but I'm not wearing it, the threads have frayed and need fixing.

Then I went to a short fiction panel. Let's face it, short fiction is where the new writers are coming from in this country and it's where all the new work is happening, unless you want to read/write fat fantasy trilogies.

Follwed this with the "It came from the slushpile" panel, which was fun, but more about what editors do and don't want to see than about, "the weird experiences we've had" (a little of that). One of the panellists, Anna Hepworth, showed me, afterwards, a little trick I didn't know my Macintosh could do, so i can't wait to try it at home.

"Economies of (Dragon) Scale" was about mediaeval economics and how you really need it to make a story make sense. Nice. Dinner was pizza, after which Sue Isle and I went up to her room to drink tea and share a Hahndorf's easter egg I'd brought with me. This was followed by evening events - the Alternate History Game Show, run by Lee Battersby, and "The Simono Retrospective" by Simon Oxwell, who has a character called Simono, "The world's most beautiful fan" - very entertaining stuff, the man could be a stand-up comedian, but I found myself nodding off. Too late and my body was still on Melbourne time.

Today is going to be interesting. I have volunteered for a panel I haven't a clue what it's about. Sally and I went off and found an Internet cafe, where I'm typing this. More tomorrow.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Swancon Day 1

Well, here I am at Swancon 2005. When they invited me to be on a panl with Charles De Lint, I had to come. of course. After all these years of staying at YHAs, it's kind of nice to be staying in a room that's all mine (though I have offered a bed to Sally Beasley for a couple of nights, because it seemed weird to be all on my own in such a big room). Arrived from Mebourne last night. They sent about twenty minutes looking for a passenger who hadn't turned up, then another ten waiting for a space to leave. Stilll , it got in only about fifteen minutes late and though I had to wait while the shuttle bus driver waited for the next planeload (I ended up being his only passenger) I got here at least in time to hear Charles De Lint and his Missus doing their last song. Pty - I was looking forward to it. The room is nice and big - it has a sfa, a desk and a corenr where you can make meals, even a microwave. There is a shop downstairs with basic stuff you can take upstairs if you want to have breakfast or a snack in your room - microwaveable pies, etc. Very fan-friendly. Fans are going to do this anyway, so the hotel might as well profit. I sang in the shower this morning and was delighted fto find the acoustics were great, it made me sound good. There was a buffet breakfast downstairs and I ate all sorts of stuff I'd NEVER at at home, where breakfast is a fruit salad or herbal tea and toast. everybody was very friendly last night, but I had an earlish night, beause after only 3/12 hours sleep and a long flight and a change of time zones, I was zonked out. Today I will be attending several panels and hopefully running into a few people I know or making friends with others I don't know yet and hopefully going out to lunch with them. I'm writing this frm one of those awful Internet kiosks that overcharge and are hard to use - a sort of red ball for a "mouse" - hany, though. I will write some more each day and then use this as the basis for a con report.