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This post is a little belated, but as usual I have been busy! But more on that later… Last weekend I attended Swancon in Perth. Swancon is the longest running speculative fiction convention in Australia. I’ve been attending for the past five years and each year I find myself spending more and more time there. It’s great to catch up with the friends I have made through the convention, and I always end up meeting a new bunch each year too! Best still, I get to listen to interesting panels and presentations with some very knowledgeable speakers. And occasionally I fan-girl over some of the guests.

So here’s a snapshot of my experience at this year’s con. Hopefully it will inspire some of you to attend next year!


Post Aurealis Awards drinks with Russell B. Farr, Liz Grzyb, Melissa May, Anthony Panegyres, Cat Sparks and Sarah Parker

This was a pretty big day! It started fairly early with a presentation on Xenobiology by Jessica Davey. Basically it gave an overview of the types of aliens in film and fiction and looked at which types stood up to the rigors of science and which were complete nonsense. Next I watched a panel on the Best Reads of 2016, featuring some of this year’s Guests of Honour (Traci Harding, Alan Baxter, and Sean Williams. And it was hosted by Gina Goddard). After a bit of lunch I then caught most of Joyce Chng/Damask’s GoH Q&A session, before I had to set up for my workshop. It was the first workshop I’ve ever ran but it seemed to go really well. Basically I led the audience through an exercise using images to get the imagination flowing. I saw a lot of pens furiously writing so I think it worked a treat!

After that, I caught up with some friends over dinner, then it was off to the Aurealis Awards! I tweeted the results, and boy did that give me a workout. I think it was the fastest awards ceremony ever! Then, of course, there were a few drinks after the awards ceremony to finish the day. Congrats again to all the winners. You can find the list here.


Ticonderoga Book signing (L-R): Stephen Dedman, Anthony Panegyres, Alan Baxter, Cat Sparks, Liz Grzyb and Russell B. Farr.

I was back at Swancon relatively early, because I wanted to see Jessica Davey’s presentation on ‘The Mind of a Murder’, which looked at the psychology of serial killers and mass murderers. It was interesting, but I must say it was a little odd trying to take that session in while there was a session of laughter yoga in the next room! Next it was off to watch the GoH Q&A session with Traci Harding, who told us about her start in writing, her research, her inspirations, etc. I had to leave the con then to attend to some business, but I made it back in time to catch a bit of the Ticonderoga Publishing book signing before it was off to the GoH Q&A session with Michael Troughton (actor, son of Dr Who Patrick Troughton and author of his biography). Then it was off to catch readings by Joyce Chng/Damask and Alan Baxter, before heading off to the 2018 Swancon launch event – where they announced the guests for next year’s event will be Kameron Hurley (author of novels such as the Worldbreaker Saga, The Stars Are Legion and The Geek Feminist Revolution) and Ryan Griffen (writer/creator of Australia TV show Cleverman). To finish the day, I finally caught up with Joyce Chng/Damask in person. We’d known each other on Twitter for a couple of years, so it was lovely to finally say hello in person and talk books and publishing!


Me and Glenda Larke at the Tin Duck Award presentation

After a family Easter Brunch, I managed to catch the last half of the ‘Serial Killers and Me’ session that Jessica Davey held, which compared and contrasted fictional serial killers with their real life counterparts. Next, I watched a panel on ‘Writing: From Idea to Page’ featuring panelists Glenda Larke, Meg Caddy, Satima Flavell and Luke Kendall. After a bit of lunch it was then time for Sean Williams’ GoH Speech which included an exclusive reading of his new book with Garth Nix (Have Sword Will Travel). Next up was ‘From Script to Performance’ with Michael Troughton who shared some of his acting experiences. Then, it was off to a panel on ‘World Building: The Near Future’ with Cat Sparks, Glenda Larke, and Luke Kendall (and another woman whose name I unfortunately missed and who wasn’t in the program), which generated some interesting discussion and lots of plot fodder for future stories.  Next it was off to the ‘In The Wash: Fighting Appropriation’ panel with Grant Watson, Cade Henley, Joyce Chng/Damask and Sean Williams. Lastly it was off for a spot of dinner before the Tin Duck Award ceremony. The Tin Ducks celebrate Western Australian creators and I was very pleased to have been nominated for Aurora: Decima (Aurora 6). It was up against some very tough competition, however, with the likes of Glenda Larke, Juliet Marillier and Lee Battersby who are all multi-award winners! The award was won by Glenda Larke, who is a friend and a lovely person, so I was very happy for her!!


Goofing around with Alan Baxter and Glenda Larke

The last day of con arrived and I was starting to droop a little with tiredness. Alas, I still caught the ‘Big Finish Panel’ with Michael Troughton, Christy Leitch and Aaron Creaser. I hadn’t heard of Big Finish Productions before, but they sounded pretty damn good, so I’ll have to check out some of their audio productions soon. Next, I was on a panel regarding ‘Publishing: Where to Begin?’, and we had a good mix of traditionally published panelists and self-published panelists – and some of us who sat somewhere in between. Lastly, I finished off the day with Sean Williams’ panel: ‘Sean On Ice’ about his recent trip to Antarctica. I’ve always wanted to go there, so I found his talk really interesting. Maybe one day I’ll get there!

So that was my Easter weekend. Phew!

As always, I have a great time at Swancon, and I can’t wait for next year’s event. I think it’s going to ROCK!

I hope to see you there!

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Amanda Bridgeman

Amanda is an award-winning writer of both original and tie-in fiction. Her works include the near future crime thriller, THE SUBJUGATE, which is being developed for TV; Scribe Award winning procedural thriller, PANDEMIC: PATIENT ZERO; and Marvel X-Men novel, SOUND OF LIGHT, which has been embraced by Dazzler fans around the world.


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