GenreCon is a convention for people in the writing game, rather than a fan convention. It focuses on all kinds of genre, but primarily crime, romance and speculative fiction, although I suspect any writer would get a lot out of the convention.
I certainly get a lot out of GenreCon. This is the third time I’ve been along, and each time I find it a recharging experience. It is great to hear from various interesting writers, editors and publishers, and get a sense of what is going on in the writing community more broadly. Because the focus of the convention is on the professional side of the business, it has a very different vibe to the various fan run speculative fiction conferences around the country. Obviously the sessions in the convention are all focused on different aspects of the writing craft, but this also impacts everything from the type of people who attend through to the conversations that go on in the breaks.
The administration of the convention is great. The registration process is smooth, and everything seemed to run seamlessly over the weekend. Being fully catered keeps everyone in the same place, which means you’re more likely to bump into people and have various discussions. The only small glitch for me this time was my own fault – I completely missed the email that came out asking people to register for some of the workshops. There were a couple I would have really liked to do (especially the workshop on editing/polishing your fiction by Angela Slatter), but by the time I arrived in Brisbane they were all booked out. So, tip for young players – always make sure you register for workshops well in advance!
I got a chance to catch up with quite a few people over the weekend, which was fantastic. Special shout out to Geneve, James and the gang, who entertained me through many breaks. Rivqa and the Sydney based crew were all doing some fantastic work – look forward to catching up more through the year. And there were quite a few speculative fiction authors who I’ve seen at other conventions (e.g. Tansy Rayner Roberts and Alan Baxter) who it was good to touch base with briefly. I always attend conventions thinking that I’m going to end up sitting in the corner by myself the whole time, and there always end up being so many interesting people to talk to!
I had one particularly interesting conversation with Carmen Jenner, a powerhouse indie author in the romance genre. Carmen had some fascinating insights into what makes indie authors successful, and I learnt a lot from our conversation. This illustrates to me the power of a convention that reaches to a broad range of genres – you can get a lot from the different perspectives out there.
All the sessions I attended had a lot of value, sometimes with specific advice, sometimes more general interest. I really enjoyed a plenary session that Kaaron Warren ran on some research she’d done as a part of a research fellowship she’d won in Canberra (intriguingly titled The Prime Minister and the Granny Killer). The banquet was also a lot of fun, interesting conversation and Tansy Rayner Roberts did a great job interviewing the international guest of honour Mary Robinette Kowal (who even put on a puppet show)!
One observation was that in previous years there seemed to be greater representation from publishers, editors and agents on the various panels. This convention was much more focused on writers, and I missed the broader industry feel of the previous conventions.
So, an excellent conference all around. I returned to Sydney with a bit of a boost to my writing batteries. If you get a chance to attend any future GenreCons I highly recommend it – one of the best writing conferences in Australia.
Editors note 12/1/16: this article was supposed to publish on Sunday 10th January with the miracle of scheduling. The scheduling didn’t work! I promise to build in an appropriate checking process to the publishing schedule from now on.