Aside from their impressive encyclopedic knowledge (on everything from the oral traditions of our earliest ancestors to 1930’s comic books to genre fiction on the screen), what struck me most about yesterday’s Speculative Fiction Festival at the NSW Writers’ Centre was how familiar with each other’s work the panelists were.
‘We are all fans here,’ explained Festival Director Cat Sparks and as I watched the sell out crowd excitedly exchanging stories, I realised how wonderfully true this was.
There was an incredibly positive buzz in every one of the sessions I attended and the authors were very generous about sharing their own, often rocky, roads to publication. In the final panel discussion, both publishers and authors alike answered ‘it depends’ so often, it became the theme song of the session. Although there was no easy answer to the ‘how do I best publish my work’ question, there was certainly some wonderful advice.
For those that couldn’t make it, here are some of the highlights from my day:
On the lack of diversity in Urban Fantasy:
- ‘I write what I want to read.’ Maria Lewis
- ‘If you can’t find it on the shelf, write it!’ Angela Slatter
On the tricky topic of what makes a book YA:
- ‘Write the story and the age group will find it.’ Maria Lewis
On the topic of writing to market:
- ‘Write what you believe in… and have a day job.’ Garth Nix
- ‘No reading is a waste of time. Fill your head with stuff.’ Garth Nix
On becoming known as a ‘weird’ writer:
- ‘I wanted to write bedtime stories for adults.’ Julie Koh.
- ‘My kids will read my fiction one day and say WTF Mum?!’ Kaaron Warren
On how to be a successful author:
- ‘I have ten commandments. The first two are: read a lot and write a lot.’ Sean Williams
On self publishing:
- ‘It’s a business.’ Joel Naoum (Critical Mass)
On publishing houses:
- ‘Publishers can help you find the professionals suited to your work.’ Joel Naoum (Critical Mass)
- ‘It’s important to find the right place for you.’ Alison Green (Pantera Press)
- ‘Do your research. The inside covers of the books you like to read is a good place to start.’ Alison Green (Pantera Press)
On changing publishers:
- ‘Yes, I have the old ones killed.’ Garth Nix
Happy reading and writing!