In a couple of weeks, I'll be going to Continuum X, this year's Australian National Convention. It will be a particularly exciting one for me because we're releasing my very first edited issue of ASIM. Well, I have worked on one before, but it wasn't really mine, though I wrote the editorial. The thing was nearly done, it just needed one more story because the editor had handed one over to someone else, leaving a gap, so I got to choose one story for it. The rest was tying up the loose ends left by another member of the ASIM Co-op who had unexpectedly vanished for several months, to the extent that some of the writers had assumed ASIM was gone and sent their work elsewhere, meaning one of the stories was now a reprint. (She did come back, eventually)
However, that's another matter. This time it was all mine. All the choices of stories and artists were mine to make. And with that gorgeous cover, I just can't wait to hold my first copy in my hands. The reviews will be what they are. I chose stories I thought were good - stories that made me smile or touched me or made me breathless with their beauty. Let's hope this will be the same for those who buy it.
I'm doing some panels. The first one, in which I interview three YA writers, is at 9.00 am on Saturday - groan! If I had been at home it wouldn't be so bad - I could just catch a tram into town and then another to the hotel - the Rialto, would you believe! I didn't even know it was a hotel! It used to be the HQ of the Victorian Education Department. Goodness knows, I've demonstrated outside it often enough in past years. It has an observation deck on top, where, for a fee, you can look out over the whole of Melbourne. But a hotel?
But I stay with my mother on Friday nights. It's a bit further, plus I will have to disturb her when I leave at about 7.00 am.
The interview will be good, though. I'm speaking with George Ivanoff, Edwina Harvey and Ambelin Kwaymullina, the author of the wonderful Interrogation Of Ashala Wolf and Disappearance Of Ember Crow. Ambelin has informed me she intends to read something by everyone on the panel, including me, which is nice of her, but I'm basically the moderator, so my books don't come into it - George will be interviewing me and others on Monday. She can come to that as part of the audience if she likes - there are bound to be some of her young fans in that audience. The panels are aimed at teenagers, let's hope we can get some. I've been on panels where the audience was at best one more than the panel! Still, we've agreed that if this happens, we'll just sit around in a circle and answer questions.
I'm doing a panel called "YA All Grown Up" which is meant to be about why adults read the stuff, but we'll also talk about why we write it and read it. (Because it's better than adult books? Because it has story and characters and important themes, not just "beautiful writing"? I've seen adult books win awards for stuff that kids would throw against the wall because you can't fool them the way you can adults.)
I'm also on a panel called "Live Slushpile". The original blurb said we'd be reading from stories that had made it or not, and why, but nobody felt comfortable with that, so we'll be talking slush in general and what we look for when we pick up a story submission. I will say, among other things, that I read slush as a reader, not an editor. I ask myself if I, as a reader, would enjoy reading this story in a book or magazine I'd paid for. I am not a professional like Jack Dann, who will also be on the panel; he no doubt also has to consider if this story theme has been published about a million times before and other things that I don't have to worry about. But it should be interesting.
There's one panel that's happening because I arranged it. I'll be moderating a panel on small press in Australia. The theme is that small press here punches well above its weight, with big publishers being mainly limited to Fat Fantasy Trilogies, so anything else has to be published by small presses that can take chances big ones can't. I'll also mention that in this country, at least, small presses can persuade big name writers to sell them work for a much smaller fee than they're used to, and not just bottom-of-the-drawer stories either. My panel is Edwina Harvey, representing Peggy Bright Books, Tehani Wessely for Fablecroft, Simon Petrie for ASIM and Canberra SF Guild and Paul Collins for Ford Street. That will be a very interesting panel and I hope we get an audience. Usually the audience for a small press panel is largely composed of writer hopefuls who want to see if there's advice on how to sell to it. So we should have those if not anyone else.
More when I get back from the con!