Swancon thoughts

I’m never sure what to say after events like Swancon. Glancing around the blogosphere, it appears a great time was had by all. There’s also been some post-con discussion on alienated new members, and how to attract and retain these people. I think my experiences fall somewhere in the middle.

I was only there on the Sunday, but I still crossed paths (albeit briefly) with some great people: Matt Chrulew, Ian Mond, Dirk Flinthart, Satima, Helen, and some the KSP SF crew, Tehani, Tim from White Dwarf Books, Russell and Liz, etc etc. Also had what I thought was an entertaining and thoughtful panel on Australian horror with Stephen and Lee. I especially enjoyed sharing a couple of Tigers over lunch with refreshingly like-minded mate Robert Hoge and discussing all things dark and scary with HorrorScoper Craig Bezant.

My experience was somewhat muted by my lack of sleep. Because of a few issues to do with completing the Black Box e-anthology, I didn’t sleep the night before, and had only slept a couple of hours the night before that. I have no idea whether the giant black boxes we put so much time and energy into has helped Fantastic Planet sell the CDs. I hope so. It’s all a blur.

The awards ceremony was a good one. There was plenty of emotion in the room with the awarding of the Mumfan and Silver Swan awards. Lots of woo-ing, too, when names were called. Alisa and co took home a trolley load of awards, and it was especially great to see Russell win a Ditmar for Fantastic Wonder Stories. He reckons 10% of it belongs to me (which is about how much of the book “Yamabushi Kaidan” takes up), but I don’t think I’ve added all that much to the momentum he’s created with Ticonderoga Publications. It was also nice to see Rick Kennett, that quiet achiever of Aussie horror, win a Ditmar for “The Dark and What It Said”.

No awards from my seven nominations, but that wasn’t a surprise. It’s always a thrill and an honour to be nominated, and as I’ve said previously, Swancon doesn’t really cater to the horror crowd. Also, I don’t think I’m all that well known locally, and I’ve put a few noses out of joint (inadvertantly or not), so I’m sure that’s a factor when it comes to a popular vote. That said, in my sleep-deprived state, I was sure I heard a boo from one small section of the crowd when my name was called out towards the end of the evening, although Russell and Liz assure me this wasn’t the case. I had planned to hang around and share some drinks with the winners, but after going non-stop for days and feeling (perhaps wrongly) not all that welcome, I had nothing left in the tank and so left for home and some sleep (although not before posting the award winners on HorrorScope).

Rather than dwell on perceived negatives, I’ll offer a suggestion for those contemplating programming for future Swancons: take Grant Watson’s lead (with my participation in the horror panel), be proactive, and invite suitably qualified panellists. Not everyone hangs around blogs and websites (as I’m doing a lot less these days), so if you have a panel on a specialised topic and are aware of people who may be experts in that field, then why not drop them an invite? There was a flash fiction panel at Swancon, for instance, but people like myself and Angela Challis weren’t contacted. There are only half a dozen spec fic editors and one to two dozen spec fic writers in WA, so there’s a natural resource to tap into. It’s also a great way to make people feel more welcome.