My first choice for a speculative fiction convention with a heavy writers’ stream is my local, Conflux. I’ll probably talk about that from time to time.
But for those of us who can’t make it to Canberra in October (as indeed, I can’t this year), allow me to propose my very-close-second choice: Brisbane’s GenreCon 2017.
As the name suggests, GenreCon steps back from one literary ghetto to embrace all the big ones at once: speculative, crime, romance, and probably others I’m forgetting. The cross-pollination of ideas and approaches to fiction is eye-opening and well worth it, especially if, like me, you mostly tend to stick to one patch of the territory.
I’ve only been to one GenreCon, back in 2013, which I believe was the second time it was run. Every year since, I’ve regretted not being able to make it. That first one was such a blast. First of all, the guests are top notch: the year I went, Chuck Wendig was one of the guests of honour. Chuck is one of my writer heroes – it was partly his relentless and hilariously crass blogging about writing that pushed me off the fence and made me start writing again. Getting to meet him in person was a rare treat. That was also the year I kind of fell in love with the passion and humour of Anita Heiss, who is an amazing speaker.
This year’s guests look every bit as amazing – Delilah Dawson and Nalini Singh for the international guests, and a slew of big Australian names – Sean Williams and Angela Slatter from the speculative pond, Amy Andrews repping for romance, and Emma Viskic for crime.
If you are a working genre fiction author or aspire to be one, I can’t recommend GenreCon enough. Peter M. Ball and the whole GenreCon team put on a good, focused con that really digs into professional techniques, writing skills and the business side of things.
If I recall correctly they run two parallel streams of panels and workshops, which means you are only ever in the position of having to agonise over two options at a time – but agonise you will, because the program is always, always dripping with that good juice. Choosing which sessions to attend and which to forego is brutal: it will help with that resilience thing writers are always talking about needing.
(Pro tip I learned at GenreCon: If you have any contact with the publishing industry as part of your writing career, you owe it to yourself to attend Alex Adsett’s workshops on publishing contracts. Seriously. If you plan to avoid being screwed over by an unfair deal at any point in the future, Alex is a very good person to know).
(Pro tip I confidently predict about this year’s GenreCon: Delilah Dawson’s pre-convention seminar on How to Write Sex and Violence will be equal parts hilarious and horrifying, because damn, she knows how to write some great sex and violence).
I still don’t know if I can go to GenreCon this year, and it hurts to think I might miss out. If you’re on the fence about attending, let me know and I can definitely give you a push in the right direction.