John Birmingham

Conflux 16 Guests of Honour



Conflux 2021 features two Guests of Honour.



John Birmingham has published lots of books. So many that he sort of loses track of them. He wrote features for magazines in a decade before publishing He Died With A Falafel In His Hand, working for Rolling Stone, Playboy and the Long Bay Prison News amongst others. He won the National Award For Non-Fiction with Leviathan: an unauthorised biography of Sydney. He started writing airport novels because they were more fun. His most recent series of books that improve with altitude are the Girl in Time novels. He blogs at the and can be found on Twitter as @JohnBirmingham.




Helen Marshall is a Senior Lecturer of Creative Writing at the University of Queensland. Her first collection of fiction, Hair Side, Flesh Side, takes its name from the two sides of a piece of parchment—animal skin scraped, stretched and prepared to hold writing. Her second collection, Gifts for the One Who Comes After addresses the shaping and persistence of memory in the wake of dangerous upheaval. Rather than taking the long view of history in my first collection, it negotiated very personal issues of legacy and tradition, creating myth-infused worlds where “love is as liable to cut as to cradle, childhood is a supernatural minefield, and death is ‘the slow undoing of beautiful things'” (Quill & Quire, starred review). Collectively, her two books of short stories have won the World Fantasy Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror and the dark fantastic.

She is the editor of two anthologies, Imaginarium 2015: The Year’s Best Canadian Fiction and Poetry and The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume 4.

Last year, her debut novel The Migration was released by Random House Canada, Titan in UK, and New South Books in Australia. It finds parallels between the emergence of the Black Death in the fourteenth century and the ecological crises of the twenty-first century—that is, periods when humanity has had to confront the possibility of widescale loss of life. What interests her about the topic is not its bleakness but on the possibility of a “beautiful apocalypse”. It was one of The Guardian’s top SF books of the year.

Master of Ceremonies

Australian author, artist, and award-winning filmmaker Aaron Dries “helps lead a new generation of Splatterpunk for a new dark age” (Brian Keene, author of The Rising). His debut novel House of Sighs was written whilst back-packing through South East Asia, including Thailand, where inspiration struck for his book A Place for Sinners. Aaron won the Leisure Books/ChiZine/Rue Morgue Magazine Fresh Blood contest, and later released The Fallen Boys, described by filmmaker Mick Garris (director of Stephen King’s The Stand and Masters of Horror) as “beautiful and brutal”. He collaborated with Mark Allan Gunnells on the apocalyptic thriller Where the Dead Go to Die, and recently published the novellas 

And the Night Growled Back (Cemetery Dance) and The Sound of His Bones Breaking (Crystal Lake Publishing). His short fiction has appeared in numerous horror anthologies. He is currently at work on a new novel and multiple screenplays. For more information visit or contact him on Twitter @AaronDries 

Master of Ceremonies

Cat Sparks is a multi-award-winning Australian author, editor and artist. Career highlights include a PhD in science fiction and climate fiction, five years as Fiction Editor of Cosmos Magazine, running Agog! Press, working as an archaeological dig photographer in Jordan, studying with Margaret Atwood, 78 published short stories, two collections – The Bride Price (2013) and Dark Harvest (2020) and a far future novel, Lotus Blue. She directed two speculative fiction festivals for WritingNSW and is a regular panellist & speaker at speculative fiction and other literary events.