Last week, the terrible news came through that Graham, so full of life, such a funny funny guy, had died of cancer.
Graham was the international guest of honour at Conflux 4, the first convention I chaired in 2007, and inviting him was the idea of Deb Biancotti and Kaaron Warren. I didn’t really have a guest I was dying to have, and after I read up on him I decided he’d be a perfect fit with the lineup of guests I had (which included Kaaron, Garth Nix, Simon Brown and Jonathan Strahan – the addition of Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta came later in the piece).
Graham graciously accepted the invitation, and arrangements were made. I remembered almost too late he’d need a visa, but that was organised and he arrived. I picked Graham up at the airport and took him to the hotel (Rydges Lakeside – I know some of you are shuddering right now – terrible venue). Graham instantly charmed me and set me at ease. He did that for everyone throughout the weekend.
One of the first things Graham said to me – “Trudi Canavan will be here, right?” His daughter was a massive Trudi fan and he’d been tasked with getting her autograph. It was the only thing that he HAD to do at Conflux. Otherwise, he was going to be all about the fun.
And he was. He made Canberra reviewer Colin Steele’s day by having lunch with him (Colin was a massive fan). He had lunch with a group of us Canberra folk at Gillian Polack’s house the day before the con, and that was a hoot! And at the con itself, he was open and available and funny.
I remember one time, I finally had a few minutes to sit (doesn’t happen often when you’re chairing a con). I went to bar and there was Graham, and Garth Nix, and there were some other folks but I can’t remember who. Anyway, the conversation turned to the fact after Conflux, Graham was going to stay with a family member who lived on a property between the Snowy Mountains and the South Coast. What followed was the typical Aussie ribbing about all the horrid creatures he was going to meet out there (I don’t think we resorted to a drop bear – we were writers, we can make the real horrific enough – hell, who needs a drop bear when there’s huntsman to scare the bejeezus out of you?) and Graham was having a rip-roaring time. We were laughing so much we were crying.
At the con, I bought one of Graham’s books and finally read him and realised not only was he and amazing human being, he was one of the most stunning writers I’ve ever come across.
So I can’t decide what I’m more devastated about – that we’ll never have another Graham Joyce book, or that Graham’s laughter will never be heard again.
My thoughts, and the thoughts of the extended Conflux family, go to Graham’s wife and children, his family and friends.
President, Conflux Inc
Here are Graham’s answers to the questions posed to all our guests that year as part of our Progress Reports (our theme for the con was heroes):
Who are your real-life heroes?
The trouble with real-life heroes is they all turn out to have feet of clay, like the rest of us. Many years ago I paid a fat little barefoot Indian guru a week’s wages for a mantra. He had this beautiful and transcendent smile. The idea was that you paid for this mantra and you would end up with a similar smile. Later I found out that he was barefoot because he lived in deep-pile carpet in a luxury fortress in Switzerland, where he kept a dozen Rolls Royces and ate chikken tikka even though he was supposed to be a vegan. Well, you would smile, wouldn’t you? But if I have to name one it would be Oliver
Cromwell. Another would be Nelson Mandella. Then there’s Grace O’Malley, the Elizabethan pirate queen. But no-one can transcend their own humanity, and heroes are really about mythology, not humanity.
Who is more fun to write – villains or heroes?
Well, I like the idea of heroes who turn out to be villains and villains who turn out to be heroes.
Heroes or heroines?
Heroines. They photograph better in the leather kilt.
Do you have a favorite fictional hero?
Yes. Dr Strange. Much more interesting than Spiderman and the rest.
What makes a hero come alive on the page?
Their frailties. If they are invulnerable or untouchable the outcome is secure. The bigger the heroic flaw or weakness, the more the outcome hangs in the balance.
By Nicole Murphy
Convenor, Conflux Writer’s Day
A couple of conversations have made it clear that some people don’t quite get the Conflux Writer’s Day. So let me attempt to explain…
My day job (yes, this is important) is as a professional conference organiser. The company I work for specialises in academic conferences. At these, you have a mix of keynote speakers (chosen by the committee) and concurrent presentations. The concurrents are chosen after a blind review process. They’re called concurrents because they run concurrently in the program. The keynotes don’t have to compete with anyone else.
The concurrent presentations are quite short – between 10-20 minutes – and are designed to present the latest research. Generally, each is done by one person (although occasionally two or three will present). It’s an overload of information.
My specialty is working with these speakers and running the process to pull these presentations together. It’s something I really enjoy.
Now, I happen to believe that writers need to get as much information from as many different sources as possible when deciding on things like career development. Everyone’s journey is unique, and if you get caught up with thinking that one person’s way is the only way to do things, you’ll damage yourself because you CAN’T have someone else’s career.
And what’s a good way to give writers a lot of information, I thought? The format of an academic conference would work really well.
And lo, the Conflux Writer’s Day was born.
Some of the presenters will have the opportunity for Q&A at the end of their presentations. Some are doing almost all their presentations that way. Some are going to have audience involvement.
But mostly, you’ll be sitting and writing copious notes and having your brain expanded and perhaps even a little overwhelmed by all the information being flung at you. You’ll have morning and afternoon tea and lunch (all fully catered) to take a breather and chat to people.
At 5pm, you’ll be exhausted but buzzing with everything that’s just happened. You’ll need a few days, maybe even weeks for it all to sink in but I’m confident that everyone that attends the Conflux Writer’s Day will find it one of the most valuable experiences of their writing career.
If you’ve not registered yet, don’t miss out! http://conflux.org.au/conflux-writers-day-2/registration/
NOTE: This is probably going to be the only Conflux Writer’s Day ever run, so if you don’t come this time, you’ll miss out – maybe forever!
First cab off the rank is Rivqa Rafael who posted on the COSMOS blog:
Cat Sparx took some awesomesauce photos:
Local Guest of Honour and multi-Ditmar-winning Kaaron Warren tells us about refreshed wells here:
Ellen Gregory shares her thoughts on the fantastical experience that was Conflux 9:
And editor extraordinaire Bothersome Words gives us her version of the Con:
World-renowned punster Jasoni Fischerio’s thoughts on Conflux 9:
Double-Ditmar winner Kathleen Jennings:
And Merlin’s cock! It’s Alan Baxter:
Reflections from Maureen on her first con:
Best New Talent (according to the Ditmars voters!), David McDonald:
Local writer (and member of the Canberra Science Fiction Guild), Tim:
Wade of the prehensile ears:
Mark Webb’s thoughts you can find here:
And a wrap-up from Helen Venn:
Lawrie Brown took some great photos:
Day-by-day action from Rick Keuning:
And a lengthy post from Jason Gale:
I even wrote one:
Fabulous con co-chair Donna Hanson gives a behind-the-scenes look at the Con, including the disappearing of body parts…:
The delightful Trudi Canavan has not one, but three posts about Conflux 9:
And here’s one from Sue:
Short story competition winner Aidan Walsh:
Conflux 9, as the NATCON for 2013, also provided a venue for the Ditmar Awards.
Ditmars host with the most, Deb Bianchotti’s post is here:
Read SeandBlogonaut‘s summary here:
The Conflux 9 Regency Banquet was held on Saturday night in the ballroom of the Rydges Capital Hill in Canberra.
With entertainment from Earthly Delights, the nearly 70 ball-goers minueted and reeled their way through a delightful evening.
While the dancing and costumes were charming, the undoubted highlight of the evening was the sumptuous Regency feast* prepared by the hotel’s chefs according to recipes created by Conflux’s own Gillian Polack.
Ball guests feasted on three incredible courses:
- A pretty dish of eggs
- Chicken forced with caper sauce
- White mushroom fricassee
- Mashed parsnips
- French beans
- Almond cheesecakes
- Brentford rolls
- Roast sirloin with mustard sauce
- Salad with salad cream
- Green peas soup
- Savoury vegetables
- Burnt almonds
- Ginger drops
- Rice cake with raspberry cream
- Almond jumbles
- Moonshine pudding
- Royal cake
- Apricot ice cream
* Your correspondent, dear readers, is still feeling fabulously full from feasting. If you should hear no more from me, it is because I have expired. Do not be sad, dear readers, for I shall have died quite content.
The Conflux 9 Art Show is open. With a range of speculative fiction-related works, there’s something for everyone, from wearable art to mixed media to digital art to oil and brush masterpieces. Most pieces are available for purchase – auction forms are available in the Art Show room and at Registration.
The Conflux 9 Steampunk High Tea was held yesterday in the gorgeous Atrium of the Rydges Capital Hill. Gorgeous frocks and sumptuous delights vied for attention of Conflux members. Another scone? Or find out who is beneath that fabulous cyber-samurai costume? Oh, the dilemmas!
As you can see from the pictures, spec fiction fans of all ages are keen to snap up a new read.
Dealers are: Storm Glass Books (Conflux 9 Bookseller), Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Australian Romance Readers Association, The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, Celestial Cobbler, Creative Corsetry, Fablecroft Publishing and Twelfth Planet Press.
Join them at the Con. Opening hours are:
Thursday (today): 1-5.30pm
The Market Day will be held on Saturday. Check your Con program for details.