GenreCon Australia was one of the most enjoyable conventions I’ve ever attended. It was quite small as far as conventions go – and yet that was one of its strengths: it was a convention for writers, not fans. I’m also sure it will grow exponentially.
Upon arrival on the Friday afternoon I was greeted by Queensland Writers’ Centre CEO Meg Vann, who couldn’t have been more helpful or friendlier, and she even offered to introduce me about (as I was clearly there on my own). How great is that?
The cocktail party that night was one of those affairs that could have been awkward (being alone), so I sucked it up and said G’day a couple of blokes having a chat over a beer – and we got talking.
Turns out that one of the guys I was chatting with was Joe Abercrombie. You know, bestselling fantasy author? Thank God I didn’t have a clue at the time – I’d never of had the guts to go up to him otherwise. Really. I tried to speak to Literary Agent Ginger Clark all weekend just to break the ice for my later pitch, and the closest I got was pointing her out to other people.
I have to say, Joe is bloody fantastic bloke. Casual, unassuming, all-round nice guy. He didn’t like XXXX beer though. Fair call – who wants to drink beer brewed by people who can’t even spell?
The next couple of days passed in a bit of a blur – workshops and panels on writing, mixed in with too much food and too little sleep.
The panels were pretty good. Ditto with the workshops, with Karen Miller’s a bit of a stand-out for me (she’s a very down-to-earth woman who knows her stuff). Karen had a couple of tips I’m sure to take advantage of.
The social highlight was the Pistols and Parisols banquet (though I’m still reeling that Joe Abercrombie actually came up to me on the Sunday and asked how my pitching session went).
Fantastic costumes at the banquet, and I met some more great people. I just wish I’d had the foresight to grab the camera or at least pull out my phone. I left fairly early – around 11pm or so – as I didn’t want to blow my pitching session with Ginger Clark the following day due to tiredness or a hangover.
Pfft! No chance of a hangover, but sleep eluded me for the second night running.
A fistful of coffees the next day got me going, and I was ready for my pitch late that afternoon.
Yeah, about that. I thought I was ready. Prepared, certainly. Ready? No.
All the preparation in the world can’t help you put on a good show when you get the sweats the instant you shake hands.
Yes – if I’d been a woman I’d have been ‘glowing’. Instead, it was more like that scene from Flying High… Epic fail.
After sitting down I managed to say I was pitching an epic fantasy, and that’s as far as I got in the ‘doing well’ stakes. Despite practicing my one-liner a thousand times, I couldn’t remember it.
Fortunately, I had it written down. Yay me!
So I tried to read it out. Tried really hard, too.
All I can say is that I don’t normally stammer. After a massive six words, Ginger interrupted me (for which I’m eternally grateful), and asked me: ‘Why isn’t this a YA instead of an epic fantasy?’ (My protagonist is a 16-year-old, which was about all I’d been able to stammer out.)
And this is where it pays to know your stuff. To be honest I hadn’t actually considered it, but I did know something about YA books.
My answer? ‘Because she’s 26 by then end of the second novel.”
She gave me a ‘fair enough’ look, and I moved on to stammering out the rest of the pitch.
Unble to read a single sentence without restarting it three times, I was pretty sure I’d blown it even after answering a couple of curly ones.
Yet, despite my dismal performance, she asked me to send the first fifty pages.
The moral of the story (as far as I can tell) is:
- I’m sane, and that appeared to have come across.
- I knew my stuff and was well prepared (despite my inability to articulate it coherently).
- (I suspect there was a 3, anyway) she felt sorry for me, but lets not go into that.
And that was GenreCon 2012 for me. Very seriously looking forward to GenreCon 2013.