I had stuff scheduled from 10AM to 11PM on Sunday, including another hour of reg desk at 11AM, to the point where I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to either Sunday Market or the Fan Fund Auction, both of which were things that I wanted to recklessly hurl money at. What I had planned and what I actually did ended up being quite different.
I started by waking up at 8, entirely by accident, and actually feeling refreshed and awake. I was confused and suspicious, because that made no sense. I don’t have good mornings. It’s a thing. So I got up, showered, got dressed, gathered up the cash from the previous night’s dinner, and went out for a hot breakfast (okay… okay… McDonalds). Went down to my bank branch on Elizabeth Street that does cash-in deposits now and tipped in the bag of coins from the dinner then fed in the notes, except for what I’d told myself I could spend. Coin deposit machines are deeply satisfying things and I hope they think kindly of me come the robot uprising.
Then I went back to the hotel.
10AM: Adults in Kids’ SFF (Earth room)
I feel like including the panel description here is important: ‘Is our affection merely nostalgia, or were they actually good? Also, why do some people get snooty when adults read children’s literature?’ Basically the whole panel revolved around nostalgia. George had brought in examples of books he’d loved as a kid and enjoyed rereading when he was older. Fran asked us all to write down one or two examples of books that worked that way for us. (I may have written ten or twenty examples. Oops.) The whole room went ‘awwww’ periodically as people mentioned books or authors that brought back memories. (A few of us went ‘Oh noooo’ when George said he hadn’t read Bridge to Terabithia until he was an adult.) The bowdlerisation of certain Enid Blyton books got a mention and audience hisses. I didn’t come away from this panel with a list of new books to read so much as a list of books I’ve already read to reread.
11AM: Reg desk
I was rostered on with Bis. I gave them a vegan yo-yo biscuit and was well pleased with how they received it. Apparently it is not that hard to make vegan yo-yo biscuits. Because most of the con attendees had already gotten their badges, most of what I did was hand out market stallholder passes, write receipts for stall costs, and stare longingly at the stalls that I could see from my seat. I did have time to get up and have a look around and bought a couple of things, mostly badges from Dorian. Which was ironic (maybe just in an Alanis way), because they were the one who was kindly giving me space to sell my own product… which was also badges. (I sold two at $2 each, which was nice, but not really worth making the box to display them in and cart them into town. Ah well. Live, learn, and maybe create an etsy shop instead.)
12PM: Guest of Honour speech: Tansy Rayner Roberts (Earth and Fire rooms)
Tansy’s speech didn’t make me cry, which was nice. It made me giggle a lot. But it also impressed me with Tansy’s amazing wealth of knowledge about the history of SFF, specifically of Australian women writers in SFF. Again, I hope she posts the speech on her website or blog, because it was really amazing.
This was my 7-11 sammich lunch day because I had a panel at 2, but let me tell you, 7-11 sammiches can be darn good and I just miss that they don’t do the ham and cheese and capsicum salsa one they used to do.
2PM: Writing LGBTI Characters (Sun room)
This was the panel that I had been set on being on from the start. I thought I’d suggested it, but apparently Emma got in first. Not that it mattered. I was moderator, and it was going to be a panel workshop, where we were meant to talk for a bit, then split up and have small group chats before coming back to discuss what came out of those chats.
The audience were packed into the room so tight we didn’t have anywhere to split up to.
I made an executive decision as moderator that stuff it, we’d do a normal-style panel, since we all had notes about what we wanted to cover. Considering that the panel was me, Hespa, Cecil, and Narrelle, all of whom I felt comfortable bossing around, and Emma, who I’d just met but was cool with going with the flow, that wasn’t a problem.
We crammed a lot of stuff into a 50 minute panel, starting with ‘Okay, we’re not saying LGBTI; it’s QUILTBAG or just queer’. As the panel included a spectrum of queer people (plus Narrelle as our token cis straight woman friend), there were a lot of perspectives and we were able to answer everything the audience threw at us. Which wasn’t much because Cecil and I are incapable of shutting up once queer issues come up. I was really pleased with how it went and I got no negative feedback about it, so yay, that was great.
3PM: Book Launch: Mary Borsellino’s Thrive (Sun room)
Mary! I ran out of the room to get water for myself and Narrelle, as Narrelle was launching the book and we were both dying of the heat and stuffiness, and came back ASAP. I’d read Thrive as an early draft two titles ago and was looking forward to seeing where she had taken it. Spoilers: it’s fucking awesome, get it and read it right now.
Along with Mary being awesome and doing a lovely reading from the book (some people suck at reading aloud. Mary is not one of them), there were audience members I hadn’t seen in a while, so it was great to catch up with them as well. But as I could not monopolise Mary’s time, I ducked out for a breather before my next panel. I dropped into the Fan Fund Auction, where Justin looked at me until I upped my $5 bid on a first edition John Wyndham to $20. (It was in pretty crap condition, but $20 was fine for a good cause. Justin was also the auctioneer for the ARC of Clariel that I bought last year for $50. I am reasonably certain that I should just redirect a portion of my wage into his bank account.
4PM: No Spoilers (Fire room)
I had a great deal of fun with this panel because every so often I would lean into the microphone and whisper, ‘The Titanic sinks’ or ‘Rosebud’s his sled’ or something like that; Melina and I did ‘Snape kills Dumbledore!’ in chorus. It was great to discuss the Game of Thrones book/show spoiler disparity, although Darren did most of the talking there because I don’t like it at all. I did (and do) apologise for making generalisations about everyone disliking spoilers as we had audience members who don’t mind them. We also touched on content warnings and trigger warnings and I’d love to do that as a panel in its own right someday.
Also, neither of my fellow panelists set the room on fire, which was good as I had had to explain to them that just because it was called the Fire Room didn’t mean we could burn it.
At 5PM I was going to go to the talk about Sir Terry, but I was very worn out and needed to re-energise, and going to a panel where I would definitely wind up in tears didn’t seem like the most effective way to do that. I still had a panel coming up at 10PM so I was going to need to rest up for that. Plus checkout the next morning was right in the middle of other things, so I was going to have to check out early. I spent most of an hour repacking my suitcase, which now had 20 new books and some Sunday Market goodies to fit in. Luckily I’d packed with that in mind and had space.
6PM: Book Launch: Gillian Polack’s The Art of Effective Dreaming (Sun room)
Gillian intercepted me in the foyer and asked me to be in charge of the knife. For the cake. Because Lucy Sussex had made kumquat cake, and there needed to be a knife to cut it. I went to fetch said knife from reg desk and Bis wouldn’t let me have it until I said ‘The Lannisters send their regards’. Despite not being a Game of Thrones fan, I still got the reference, because some things just enter the mind via cultural osmosis.
Nobody died. Stephen did wave the knife around at one point, and the Morris dancers were lovely and loud but didn’t get their revenge on Gillian, but nobody died. We had a singalong (Neko NYAA!). Stephen threw lollies at people. (I am starting to think I need to be afraid of my publisher.) Gillian did a reading for us and then signing; I kept an eye on the knife and took it back to reg desk once the cake was all cut up. Gillian’s own account of the con is here.
After I got my book signed I made way for others (the room was pretty small) and went into the foyer to help Julia decide what she wanted from Yoyogi for dinner, and got my tablet out to check whether Grill’d at QV or on Little Bourke was closer to the hotel (Little Bourke was probably closer, but QV was likely to have more seating), as it had been floated as a possible venue for the hosted dinner.
7PM: Dinner Break
I was all set to go along with the hosted dinner to Grill’d at QV, until the intended host told me that she couldn’t do it as something had come up and could I host again, please? I said yes, because I am prone to doing so, and got the list of attendees from reg desk, and ushered most of them over to QV. We couldn’t sit together because a group of three people had decided to take the one big long table (thanks, rude people), so we had three tables of four and one table of two, which was Melissa and me. I liked that because she’s moved interstate and so we could catch up a bit.
I ate my dinner, reached into my bag for I don’t remember what, and realised that my tablet was missing.
‘Okay, gang, it’s 7.45, so if anyone has 8PM panels to get back to, eat up!’ I said while trying to pretend I wasn’t totally freaking out about my tablet (I failed, but Melissa and Sharon told me to just go, so I did). And I scampered back to the hotel, tweeting with the con hashtag on the off-chance that someone had picked it up, and then texting the person who’d originally meant to host the dinner on the basis that she did have something else she was dealing with, but I at least knew for sure she was in the hotel.
I got a text back saying ‘Found it, taking it to committee room’. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved in my life, at least about a piece of technology. I raced downstairs into the committee room and hugged the tablet (and the finder), and then my legs decided I was going to sit the fuck down and not go anywhere.
Instead of hitting up the ‘Is Orange the New Diversity?’ panel at 8PM, I instead played Munchkin: Apocalypse. As Darren was playing the outcome was pre-ordained (he is a scion of Tymora, and also very very good at all iterations of Munchkin), but it was so soothing to just sit there and play and calm down. If it hadn’t been for my still impending 10PM panel, I might have gone upstairs and just flaked out. I was glad I didn’t, though.
9PM: Filk 101 (Harmony room)
Ann and Narrelle were very tolerant of me asking if I could play a filk example; they had a lot of amazing songs with bands and even full orchestral backing, but I had Seanan McGuire’s ‘Fly Little Bird’ that’s all just voices overlapping and is amazing (I have a tattoo including a line from it, I love it so). It was fantastic to hear about filk in Australia, because it’s so huge in the US but this was the first time I’d encountered it at a con (even considering this was only my second con, last year was Natcon as well as Continuum, so it was a bit bigger). I was sad that I was going to miss the filk concert after it, but Narrelle suggested we try to stay in contact about it so maybe we could revive the Melbourne filk scene a bit. I also felt remarkably validated when I asked if my Red Dwarf themed rewrites of 90s pop songs counted as filk (yes, they do; no, they’re not fit for public consumption).
10PM: Twin Peaks (Sun room)
Four panelists, two audience, but we went ahead anyway because Andy was dressed as Dale Cooper and I’d changed into my flannel shirt for the occasion and we just really wanted to talk about it. Bis did a great job of keeping us more or less tangent-free, and it was a lively conversation. I was particularly pleased because one audience member said they had only seen season one of Twin Peaks and now wants to go back and watch it all as we reignited their interest in it.
I figured that was a good note to wrap up the night on and went up to bed.