An Australian SFWA?

I’ve been musing on the role of a peak body for writers, particularly spec fic writers, for some time now.

Marty Young, Kirstyn McDermott, Mick Piemontese (you deserve a mention, Mick!), Carl Schaller, Angela Challis, and James R Cain have done a bang-up excellent job in establishing and running the Australian Horror Writers Association. For a while there, it was just the Southern Horror yahoo group, but Marty and co have established an ever-expanding web presence full of links, articles, news, and now an online storyboard for critiquing of stories/novels etc. They’ve established an annual fiction competition, the Australian Shadows award, had a 14-day podcast of members’ stories in the US, and there’s no doubt more good stuff from them on the way.

In short, Horror and dark fantasy are rocking in Australia right now. Sure, there are others, like Shadowed Realms/Brimstone Press (us), Bill Congreve/MirrorDanse, Robert Hood/Lothian Books, and the hard-working HorrorScope team, who’ve thrown time, money, and effort into the genre, but the AHWA has been a part of the renewed vigour.

But where does this leave everyone else in the speculative fiction fold – the fantasy and science fiction writers?

In the US, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) are without question the peak body for *professional* spec fic writers. Similarly, the Horror Writers Association fills the role for *professional* dark fiction writers. Australia doesn’t have the population of professional writers to support a viable local version of SFWA, but is it worth considering taking a leaf out of the Aussie HWA and just representing *all* writers of the genre, not just those able to prove professional sales?

No doubt this question has been raised before, but why don’t others in the speculative fiction fold form an Aussie Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association? Even better, what about a combined SFWA/HWA – an ASFFHWA (Australian Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Writers Association)? Or better yet, the Australian Speculative Fiction Writers Association.

While such a body could not do what the international version does (particularly with legal representation etc), they could undertake activities similar to those already being done by the Aussie HWA, plus things like mentorships, market reports, sharing information like submission and agent acceptance/rejection logs (like on the Speculations Rumour Mill or on the HWA message board).

I’m happy to continue to have an Aussie HWA working hard for me. Perhaps strength is drawn from specialisation. Maybe a broad spec fic body would be too unfocussed? I don’t know, but I was wondering what readers of this blog may think – is there room for an Australian SFWA? Or an Australasian SFWA (not forgetting our NZ and other near neighbours)?

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