(written Wednesday the 16th)
So here I am at 1AM in the morning writing my wrap-up of GenreCon Oz. It might seem like I’m being fashionably late here, but my GenreCon only ended officially around 1:30 Wednesday morning, and today has been lost to flying home, and trying to shrug off a lingering hangover.
So how was GenreCon? My capsule review is that it was AMAZING. It’s back on again in 2015, and if the Venn diagram of your life connects with writing (or, hell, being a creative) I’d recommend it. It’s put a fire in my belly, and got me thinking real hard about heading to Faffcon, the closest equivalent in the voice over world. It was a blur of passion and connection and meeting old friends and new, and sharing enthusiasm, ideas, and potential ways to play together. And a solid backbone of REALLY GREAT ADVICE. For me, the convention occurred half in the Library proper, and half in the discussions into the wee hours of the morning in bars, or San Churro. It turns out churros are the hook in the cheek to drag anyone into hanging out.
I got into Brisbane for the convention on Wednesday, with the days leading up to the convention being a mix of catching up with old friends and doing preparation work for the panel I was speaking on (more on this in a bit)
What follows here is (relatively short) summary of the con itself, from my perspective. If you want to hear GenreCon Oz echoing through cyberspace in all it’s glory, I’d highly recommend checking out the Twitter stream from the con, especially because you’ll find wrap-up posts by other people there. If you’d like a laundry list of awesome people you should go and connect with, you can find that further down.
FRIDAY: Catching up with Lois Spangler, Surprise Churros With Chuck Wendig, and meeting my panel buddies in person before wandering off to the opening reception for GenreCon. Then, catching up with old friends before heading back to CBD at Rydges. The night ended laaaate, after discussions about comic books, relationships, life the universe and everything with my roomies Patrick & Nichole O’Duffy.
SATURDAY: Perky and keen to con, Patrick and I head off. I catch the panel on CHARACTER ARCS by Christina Brooke. Christina did amazing prep for the panel, led us through her material and did a fantastic job of engaging the audience and encouraging discussion. I found out about the Virgin’s Journey, an alternative character development arc dealing more with self-realization than external conflict, which can be used just as easily for male or female characters.
I also caught the UNDERSTANDING OTHER GENRES panel which was deftly chaired by Patrick O’Duffy, and contained some great advice on writing to genre versus writing what you love, and mashing up genres. It also contained mimed dinosaur sex. How often can you say that? (oh, poor T-Rex. How your proportions are destined to leave you unfulfilled)
Then there was THE JUGGLING ACT, chaired expertly by Damon Cavalchini, which contained some great hard won wisdom on how to manage writing (or any creative endeavour, really) and the demands of everyday life. Regularity of routine and frequency were common themes, but that’s reducing an hour’s panel to sound bites. Another great point was made about the value of exercise and diet for managing energy. If you weren’t there, you could do a lot worse than checking out this great post by Chuck Wendig, or Manage Your Day To Day as a starting point. After this panel, was a break chatting with Lois about some exciting project stuff at Olé, in a booth that made me feel like we were in a John Woo film, or maybe a Karl Urban action-espionage vehicle. The script Lois shared with me made me cry, in the best possible way.
Then, there was the Cutlasses and Kimonos ball, which was SO MUCH FUN, especially with Chuck Wendig entertaining us. So many wonderful costumes, and special thanks to Nichole O’Duffy for supplying me with eyeliner after trekking all over Southbank to find some. Saturday once again ended rather early in the morning, with an awesome time at CBD catching up with peeps from the con, and Surprise Christy Dena (and getting a sneak peek of the latest developments with AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS)
SUNDAY: Sunday started laaaaate for me. This was the point where my body started rebelling against the habitual abuses it was subject to. As a result, I missed the BEYOND RIPPLING MUSCLES AND UZIS panel, I heard nothing but good things about. Dammit!
After Sad-Keanuing lunch downstairs, I caught the THINKING LIKE A PRO panel, after much agonising around which panel to end up at. THINKING LIKE A PRO had some great advice both the mindset and habits of a professional. I think my favourite soundbite (amongst a lot of great wisdom) was from John Connolly. Paraphrasing slightly:
If you’d write without the possibility of ever getting published, you’re a writer.
All of the panel were great, but Valerie Parv deserves special mention for being ridiculously prolific and accomplished.
Then, there was the panel I was part of – WORKING WITHOUT COVERS. The panel centred around different ways writers can employ narrative in non-traditional environments. It was great to be a part of it, because most of the ways I either consume or work with narrative are non-traditional. Being scheduled at the same time as the KNOW THINE ENEMY antagonists panel meant that we had what I’m going to refer to as a ‘select audience’, who were great fun and provided some awesome questions. A special shout-out to Helen Stubbs for snapping a great shot of the panel.
So, who was on the panel? Let me tell you OF THEIR AWESOMENESS.
Jodi Cleghorn – Jodi did a fantastic job of steering the discussion of the panel, and has some serious chops on the subject of non-traditional narrative herself. I’m currently reading River of Bones, which I cannot speak highly enough of, and that’s just one of the many strings to Jodi’s bow.
Narrelle Harris – loquacious and fiendlishly smart, Narrelle’s Kitty and Cadaver project is an amazing example of expanding into non-traditional areas, and the link between music and text sounds so AWESOME. I’ve got a teaser from The Opposite of Life queued up I’m looking forward to devouring in a quieter moment.
Sue Harris – Sue is one of those people who is humble and unassuming, but says the smartest things, and is incredibly creative. The work that she’s done with Tiny Owl Press and continues to do is incredible – finding new ways to connect people with narrative. The story she told about how Napkin Stories touched two lovers on Valentine’s Day and enabled such a sincere, tender exchange between the two (reading stories to each other over lunch) had me tearing up. If you’re lucky, and you cross paths with her, maybe she’ll share it with you.
I put together some resources in preparation for the panel – a document on projects I find interesting in this space, and another on advice and resources given by writer peeps passed on to me while preparing for the panel. You can find them over here.
Sunday then became chats with people on the library balcony, and after sorting out accommodation, catching up with fast new friends, first at the Fox, then rolling on to San Churro where Lois, Jodi, Peter Armstrong and I crossed paths with John Connolly, who despite being our guest for the con and having already given so much, could not be talked out of buying us churros. (damn you, John! It’s supposed to work the other way) We then kicked on to Greystone for drinks, where John told us the story of the World’s Worst Tasting Plate. (ask him if you ever get the chance)
And then, sadly, GenreCon officially drew to a close. I could tell you of Chuck Wendig’s excellent tastes in bourbon, of witnessing his virginal Tim Tam Slam (as expertly facilitated by Lois) and of my first ever Manhattan, but that’s a tale for another time. What I will do though, is take the time to give a brief shout-out to people I met at the con that my fatigued brain can recall. If I met you, and you’re not here, I apologise. Drop me a line, and I’ll add you to the list! In no particular order:
Chuck Wendig – I’ve mentioned him before, but it’s worth restating that Chuck was a fucking champion at GenreCon. Congenial, witty, and willing to hang out and make new friends with people. So generous with his time, and willingness to laugh at cheesy jokes. Getting to spend time with Chuck at the con was AWESOME, because of who he is, rather than what he is.
John Connolly – John’s panels were great, and similarly he was wonderfully generous in being willing to hang out and make new random friends.
Chris White – I met Chris at the reception, and we kept bumping into each other throughout the con. Had some fascinating conversations on cities, crowds and spaces. A smart, unassuming guy.
Lois Spangler – special mention has to go to Lois for being both an awesome person to hang out with throughout the con, but also a wonderful host to our international guests, and someone who did a fantastic job of livetweeting the con. (seriously, if you’re not following her on Twitter, DO SO) Lois does great stuff, and I’m looking forward to working with her on some upcoming projects.
Jess Irwin – we met briefly at drinks (like so many fleeting connections at the con) and she was AWESOME! Go check out her words on Twitter.
Emily Craven – got a chance to catch up with Emily and have a real chat at a post-con dinner, and I’m so glad. Shiny, shiny brain with some awesome ideas I’ll be talking about more in the future.
Helen Stubbs – bumped into Helen a few times at the con. She looked AWESOME at the Banquet, said some savvy things at our panel, and was also kind enough to pass on a multitude of photos I’ll be doing something with in a follow-up post. I’m looking forward to crossing paths with Helen again in the future – one of many people there was just NOT ENOUGH TIME to talk to.
S G Larner – got a chance to sit and chat with Stacey on Sunday afternoon, which was awesome. Super-smart, and a wonderful sense of humour.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten a number of people on that list. I may come back and add to it over time, or spruik people elsewhere. Now, it also goes to say that Peter M. Ball and the INCREDIBLE team of volunteers behind GenreCon deserve a huge THANK YOU. That the convention ran so seamlessly is a testimony to how much time and effort went into preparation, and managing the convention throughout. Peter says it far more exhaustively and coherently than I could with this post.
Oh, and if you’ve read this far, check out Lois’ work mocking my pain on Twitter yesterday, Storified for your convenience.