Jane Espenson Panel_1

L-R: PRK, Me, Jane Espenson, Claire Boston

My time at Swancon 2016 is over, and a wonderful time was had. It’s always great to catch up with ‘old’ friends and meet a bunch of new ones like you do at every convention. And as always, I find them to be inspiring and thought-provoking. A big thank you to all the organisers of Swancon for their passion and hard work – pulling together a great con!

My three panels went very well. Here’s a snapshot:

Do I Need a Website? The panel consisted of both writers and website experts and everyone agreed that yes you do! A website is the equivalent of a business card and is a marketing must. Not all readers use social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc), so they need a place they can go to discover more about you. Equally important is a mailing list (which readers can sign up to via your website) to enable those not on social media to receive your updates via email. Your website is your hub and all social media, etc should be linked back to it. It doesn’t need to be overly fancy or technical, but it does need to exist.

Being an Author in Perth This panel consisted of four published Perth authors from a range of backgrounds and genres. A couple of the panelists had been published for years, others like myself were fairly new to it. Some weren’t fans of the digital age, some of us were. What all authors did agree on however, was the importance of networking. Whenever you can, try to attend conventions and join writing groups because it’s where you not only find awesome writerly support and develop strong friendships, but it’s through those friendships that you hear of writing opportunities or meet the who’s who of the publishing/agenting business. You can’t put a price on networking. It’s worth every penny!

Not Writing in a Bubble. This was an interesting session, where we talked about our writing processes, the level of interaction we have with fans, and whether the ‘outside world’ influences our work. Both Claire Boston and myself are fairly ‘new’ novel writers, whereas Jane Espenson is a very successful TV writer of such shows as Once Upon A Time, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Buffy, Angel, etc, etc. So naturally we’ve had different experiences. Where both Claire and myself welcomed fan interaction, Jane obviously gets overwhelmed with it. We all agreed that to a certain extent all writing was effectively Fan Fiction as we are all subconsciously and consciously influenced by books, shows, films that have inspired us. We all draw from daily life, the news, etc, and are often surprised how the subconscious manages to resolve over-arching plots and character arcs without us knowing it at the time we’re writing it. A really great discussion!

My other highlights from Swancon included watching panels on topics ranging from contagious cancers, to writing campaigns (games) vs writing stories, writing comics for women, undertaking a lock-picking workshop, a playwriting workshop, watching a live screening of the Aurealis Awards, listening to the Guest of Honor sessions from Lian Hearn (author) and Jane Espenson, and I also enjoyed the session where an episode of Firefly was screened while Jane gave us the background on the making of it. Interesting stuff!

I also attended the Tin Duck Awards, in which I had two books shortlisted for Best WA Professional Long Written Work. The award went to Juliet Marillier’s Tower of Thorns, and quite frankly I was amazed to have my name written on the same piece of paper that hers was (not to mention Glenda Larke’s or K.A. Bedford’s!). The highlight of the Tin Ducks for me, however, was the awarding of the Silver Duck – something that has only happened a handful of times in its 41 year history. The award was given to a group of people, ‘Gynaecon’, who have worked tirelessly to make Swancon an event that is inclusive of women and children. So a massive thank you to those who have helped make Swancon the event it is today – I have attended the last four years and have always felt very welcomed!

So mark your calendars for the next Swancon event, which will be held over the Easter long weekend in 2017. I have no doubt it will be another great event!

About Amanda Bridgeman

Author of the science fiction space opera series, AURORA, Amanda Bridgeman studied film & television/creative writing at Murdoch University (BA Communication Studies) and has been published by Pan Macmillan. Aurora:Meridian was a finalist for Best Science Fiction Novel (Aurealis).