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!
At the Conflux Incorporated AGM on Monday November 4, a new anti-harassment policy was ratified.
Conflux Incorporated wants to make it clear that they will not abide any behaviour that makes an attendee at a Conflux event feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Anyone who registers for a Conflux event is agreeing to abide by this policy.
Conflux Incorporated would like to acknowledge the guidance of Nalo Hopkinson and Russell Blackford in developing this new policy.
President, Conflux Incorporated
Mark 12pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Sunday 1 December into your calendars because that’s when registrations will open for the Conflux Writer’s Day.
Registrations will be online and available on a brand new website, www.confluxwritersday.com, currently under construction.
The first 30 registrations will cost just $90 for a full day of professional development by some of the best writers in Australia, catering for the day and other extras.
The full program will also be live next weekend, so make sure you don’t miss your chance to attend.
With the first steps for planning Conflux 10 underway, we’d really like to have YOUR input into what worked/didn’t work at Conflux 9.
It’s one of the weird facts of running a con that the committee (particularly folks like Donna, Karen and myself) that have NO IDEA what the convention was actually like to attend.
So please, fill in the survey. Leave your name and email address at the end and you’ll go into the draw to win some prizes.
After 18 years the Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, finally make it to the nation’s capital. The owner of the Aurealis Awards, Chimaera Publications –the publishers of the Aurealis magazine and book imprint – have reached agreement for Conflux Inc to administer the Awards for the next two years.
The Awards’ founder, Dirk Strasser says, “SpecFaction NSW took the Aurealis Awards to new levels of professionalism during its three years in Sydney, and the energy, enthusiasm and experience in the Conflux team indicates the awards will be raised to even greater heights. With Canberra now joining past hosts Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, we can truly claim the Aurealis Awards as fully national.”
Conflux Inc President Nicole Murphy said Canberra and the Aurealis Awards would be a great match. “Conflux has always had the support and promotion of Australian writing as an important part of our charter, and we’re delighted to be hosting Australia’s premier speculative fiction awards,” she said. “Canberra has a long history of involvement with science fiction and we’re going to do everything we can to make the coming ceremonies match up to that history.”
Currently the awards are calling for expressions of interest from potential judges. Information can be found at the Aurealis Awards website www.aurealisawards.com. Judging is open to any Australian with a love for speculative fiction and a willingness to read and judge the best works published this year.
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.