Erk Pod 279 – The Worldcon Special That Never Ends
Welcome to an extremely long episode 279 of Erk Pod. This episode was recorded at Worldcon 68/Aussiecon 4 (you will hear me alternate between these titles) at the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre, primarily recorded on Sunday 05 September 2010. Worldcon is an annual event for the sci-fi & fantasy communities to gather together in a different city each year. This year is Melbourne’s turn with Worldcon 69 being held in Reno in 2011 & Chicago in 2012. There are a mixture of panels about writing, television and more, readings by authors, parties, Kaffeeklatsches (small groups of people having coffees with authors etc at set times), autograph signings, book & merchandise sales and a lot more going on throughout the weekend. A highlight of Worldcon is the annual Hugo Awards that are awarded to people in various categories across the sci-fi/fantasy arena for the previous year.
Erk attended the convention on Saturday and Sunday although the convention did run from Thursday to Monday. There are multiple things happening in multiple rooms at the one time so it is impossible to see & cover the various events. This episode gives a small sampling of how I saw the event. With a couple of exceptions, I did not go to the panel presentations. I mainly preferred to go to the author readings where (usually) an author read from their own work. It was my view that most of the readings were done by women so that is partly why most of the interviews on this episode are with women. I went to the readings or panels of each of the interviewees and then approached them after the panel for a short interview at a mutually agreeable time. While there were a couple of people who agreed to interviews that I did not manage to find later (or was otherwise engaged), no one that I approached actually did say no, despite often being very busy during the convention.
There were 3 main people who have appeared on Erk Pod before that I did want to talk to during the weekend and I managed to do that which was great. Meeting up with people at a large convention like this is not easy and there are times where people are having private moments, eating (when that is possible) or simply “off the clock” and I respect that – the record button is not always on. It was an interesting weekend which was very handy in relation to the novel A Moment In Time that I am writing. I even managed to write 2500 words over the weekend! Thank you to everyone involved on the weekend. I met so many interesting people both face to face and via Twitter. The ability to be able to find people and what was going on while at the convention was a lot different for me compared to my experience with Balticon last year. Future possible similar events for Erk to attend include Sydney Freecon 2010 (19-21 November 2010) & Natcon 50/Swancon 36 in Perth (April 21-25, 2011.)
Many thanks to the interviewees for sparing me some of their valuable time during the convention.
The first interviewee for the episode was Brisbane based writer Grace Dugan. Her first fantasy novel The Silver Road was published by Penguin in 2006. She also has written short stories that have also been published in magazines and anthologies. During the interview, Erk finds out about Grace’s writing style, her inspirations and her feelings about this convention as a person who has been to several similar conventions.
Like many writers, Grace does not write fulltime and fits her writing around other commitments. During her reading at Worldcon, Grace read from her yet to be published second book The Motherland Garden. In some ways, the book that Grace was reading from reminded Erk of the book that he is writing because some workplace experiences form part of the story. At the end of each reading, there was a Q & A session so Erk asked Grace about setting a story in a workplace and how much detail was required.
Worldcon was an interesting experience for New Zealand author Karen Healey. Very early on Saturday morning, a large earthquake hit Christchurch which devastated parts of the city. After assuring people that she was in Melbourne and safe, a few hours later she did her reading. Her first novel is Guardian of the Dead which is based in New Zealand & Christchurch which is quite ironic due to the events of Saturday morning. With more than a few Kiwis at the convention, there was a lot of concern shown towards them and their family & friends back home.
Her second book (planned for a 2011 release) is based on a west coast New Zealand town with a dark side. One of Karen’s adventures was a couple of years in Japan teaching people about New Zealand and teaching them English. For some of the students in the rural area she was in, she was the first non Japanese person that they had met. Some people did not know much about New Zealand at all. During the interview, Erk and Karen talk about getting started as a writer, her writing and inspirations and compare to writing in a real setting versus a fantasy.
Erk first met Mur in person at Balticon in 2009 (see photo) after being a long time listener to her writing podcast I Should Be Writing. She has also written the novel Playing For Keeps which is about second rate super heroes and is the current editor of Escape Pod. During her time in the podiosphere, she has been involved with many different projects including her audio series Heaven and the zombie audio drama The Takeover. Making the long trip from the US, Mur tells Erk about her normal winter compared to winter in Melbourne. She is delighted to know that she has fans in Australia.
During the interview, we talk about being well known by listeners and fans and her Worldcon experiences. The interview was conducted at the autograph table on Sunday afternoon so Erk grabbed the chance to have a quick chat. During this interview, Erk was (for some reason) kneeling in front of the autograph table. If anyone managed to photograph this scene or can figure out why Erk decided to kneel in front of the desk, please let Erk know.
From outside the speakers’ green room, Erk spoke with new Young Adult author Leanne Hall who rode her bike to the convention. Shortly before the interview, Erk attended a panel discussion on writing a novel for the first time. Leanne was one of the panelists, having been published for the first time during the previous month. Her debut book is called This Is Shyness, set in a town where the sun never shines.
Find out during the interview about what happened the first time she saw her book cover for the first time. Apart from being a writer, Leanne also works in a bookstore and yes, you can buy her book at her bookstore. Does working in a bookstore help her writing? You would think that Leanne has listened to one of Erk’s interviews before (she assures me she hasn’t) as we discuss writing. She is based in Melbourne and this was her first major convention. How exactly does a first time attendee get there and present on a panel?
Flying the flag for the Australian male podcasters is Terry Frost. His podcast is called Paleo-Cinema Podcast and is a review podcast about classic movies including sci-fi. He has an interesting schedule which is every 3 weeks. There’s a good reason why which is very relevant for this particular podcast. Most of his podcast listeners are outside Australia as are most of the podcasts that he listens to. One Australian podcast that he did mention (that Erk did not know about) was the Boxcutters podcast which features television news & reviews.
So how did I find Terry? I was in a session on Saturday afternoon (Mur Lafferty was one of the panelists) about online personas for writers when I was looking at the Twitter stream from people at the conference where I found him pimping his panel that was based on micro audiences & online criticism and it included podcasting. That panel was on immediately after the session I was in and if it was not for Terry’s online tweetpimping, I might not have heard an interesting discussion about criticism compared to reviewing, especially when it came to movies. Terry is an experienced convention attendee including previous Aussiecon events. Like Erk, he was glad to find a vacant couch in the autograph room late on Sunday afternoon.
Philippa Ballantine & Tee Morris
You’ve partly got Tee Morris to blame for Erk Pod. If I didn’t read his book Podcasting for Dummies (co-authored by Evo Terra) after around Erk Pod episode 40, you might not be reading this sentence or listening to this episode. One of the best Erk Pod episodes ever was when partners-in-crime Tee & Pip (or as Erk likes to call them, The Sarge & The Kiwi) was in 2008 when they were pimping a couple of books as a part of the Double Trouble rush on Amazon. Needless to say, they are both authors & podcasters who are well respected by many people.
Erk met Tee at Balticon last year but Pip didn’t go. This year, Pip went to Balticon and Erk didn’t. So Worldcon was the first time that Erk & Pip had met in person (no, Kiwi, I’m not a mythical person!) and Tee’s first trip to Australia (via New Zealand). Due to time constraints (and Erk being a peanut?), despite chatting with both people for some time and being in some readings, Erk didn’t record any of it! Conventions being conventions, you can’t always bump into people at good times. So indeed, here’s some 2008 audio from Pip & Tee on Erk Pod.
On Saturday night, Erk was back at his motel monitoring Twitter when he saw a question from Ellen in relation to a time clash that she could be going to have in relation to her reading late on Sunday afternoon. So like the good Twitizen (if that’s not a word, it should be!) that he is, he suggested a swap with the other author. Luckily for both Ellen and her audience at the reading, she was able to swap her reading around.
Ellen is a New York based author with a lot of experience in the writing industry. At Worldcon, she read from her 1990 novel Thomas The Rhymer. Many of the authors had simply read from their books (in most cases) but not only did Ellen read but she sung from it as well! I recorded part of the reading and with Ellen’s permission, it features here. In addition to that, Ellen likes my bowling shoes.
I was lucky enough to meet Rachel straight after the Hugo Awards. She is the Editor-in-chief of a relatively new online magazine called Geek Speak Magazine. We talk a little about the magazine, have an interruption or two and talk about the Hugo Awards.
We find out a little about the local sci-fi community in Melbourne. It’s Rachel’s first real convention (not including a Buffy teenage fangirl convention). We talk about how good social networking has been at this convention. Like me, she has been to Reno which is the home of next year’s Worldcon.
Non Channel Erk Promos:
- Murder at Avedon Hill by PG Holyfield
- Dead Hunt by Kenn Crawford
- Dreaming of Deliverance by RE Chambliss
- Plane Crazy Down Under