NatCon – or What I Did in Adelaide that Didn't Involve Frog Cakes

I arrived a day early, which was great because it meant I got to spend some time with the awesome La Belle Hannett, my fellow Clarionite and the other half of my brain. We found a cafe, Notcoffee (which provided much bacon) and talked; we talked a lot; then we talked a bit more. Her partner Dr Chad had cleverly acquired a set of earplugs to make sure his five days went smoothly.

So I guess if we just cover the highlights or Good Stuff that Happened:

The wonderful Sean Williams’ pirate party – an event filled with Haighs choclit frogs, munchies, drinkies, and much talk. It was also a great chance to catch up with Kirstyn McDermott, Jason Nahrung, Kate Eltham and Rob Hoge.

Notcoffee (for the second time) in Rundle St, where LBH and I met with the most excellent Peter Ball and Jason Fischer for a writing intensive. We wrote, ate more bacon and drank a lot of coffee and wrote a lot more. A major distraction – which I was lucky enough to have my back to – was a series of paintings on the wall. One of them the one we named ‘Baboon Goat Butts’ and I give it to you below:

A rocking dinner at Concubine in Gouger St, in the company of the superb Ron Serduik of Pulp Fiction Books (and Press), Sean Williams, Karen Miller, Jonathan Strahan and Dr Helen Merrick. It was noisy, it was fun and it was clever. And I had duck – duck for entree and duck for mains – had there been, as Sean suggested, duck ice cream, I would have had that. It was ducktacular.

Two hours spent with Karen Miller discussing novels – specifically my novels – she knows her stuff. Any time you hear the words ‘Don’t worry about making word count: you’ve got enough there for two books, maybe three’  is a good time.

Guest of Honour Julie Czerneda was superb. She totally rocked – she’s funny and smart and was, unfortunately, a bit underutilised.

Caught up with the inimitable Dirk Flinthart – this con was good coz this time he didn’t attempt to use me to demonstrate martial arts throwing techniques. And we scoped out a new novella (working title of Flying Willow) and generally did what writers do best: see who can tell the biggest porkies and exchange the most unusual and useless facts. [Ten points to Mac North, who managed to tell DF something he did not know … I don’t imagine it’s happened very often and has earned Dr North as much Jameson whisky as he can drink for the rest of his life.]

Jason Fischer provided the frog cake – which I must say was delicious. It was filled with cream and covered with icing is so thick and gooey it will stop your arteries.  And it inspired this t-shirt design by Jason’s mate Liam, and the Lovecraftian wordery by JJ Irwin:

Peter Ball’s launch of Horn – which both rocked and scared small children. It’s put out by super indie press Twelfth Planet Press. You should go and find it on the TTP website http://twelfthplanetpress.wordpress.com/.

Ditmary goodness went to Sean Williams, Dirk Flinthart, Alisa Krasnostein and Kirstyn McDermott amongst other legends.

Lowlights? All the goodwill in the world cannot make up for a lack of organisation. This con was almost completely uncontaminated by any kind of organisation. The program felt very much last minute and by-the-seat-o’the-pants. Panels had no designated moderator and not all of them had the ideal number of members (three panellists, one moderator – and ideally those people will have had a chat beforehand). For those of us who had people to catch up with, professional contacts and the ability to network, it was okay – we had the time and the place to catch up with folk. However, had I been a newbie, someone who didn’t know anyone and had paid my money for the con and the flight to Adelaide for an experience that included learning opportunities as well as the chance to discuss the state of the genre, I would have been a bit disappointed. This is to in no way denigrate the hard work put in by volunteers and the committee … a con is not an easy thing to do, it is time-consuming and can’t be done well at the last minute. Personally, I like organisation. I like certainty. I don’t necessarily cope with with a mid-range chaos factor, but I recognise that may just be me. But hey, everything happened that was supposed to happen; the launches were terrific, the dealers’ room was filled with books; the Maskobolo was superbly DJ’d by Sean Williams and some of the costumes were amazing. People were friendly and I guess it wasn’t intimidating – I was at the EasterCon Orbital last year in the UK and that was intimidating.

Ultimately, a good con had by most of my crowd; a chance to relax, chat, drink and eat too much, sit on our backsides and make up stories. And eat frog cakes. Huzzah.

This entry was posted in Cons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to NatCon – or What I Did in Adelaide that Didn't Involve Frog Cakes

  1. Flinthart says:

    Organised Cons have their place, but they can be depressing. I went to one in Canberra back in 2006 that had so much good shit going on it was impossible to catch up with anyone. I mean… tele-interviews with Ray Bradbury and Arthur Clarke are okay, sure, but they cut deeply into the time I get to spend on my butt in the bar with really good friends I see only once or twice a year.

  2. angelaslatter says:

    Everyone has a different agenda when they go to a con – but if I bother to go to a panel, I want a sense that there’s some organisation and thought behind it and that the panellists are comfortable in what they’re doing, that they feel supported by the group that’s put ’em there. Also, I can phone or skype my friends – don’t get to see Ray Bradbury every day as a matter of course.

  3. MudCrab says:

    “However, had I been a newbie, someone who didn’t know anyone and had paid my money for the con and the flight to Adelaide for an experience that included learning opportunities as well as the chance to discuss the state of the genre, I would have been a bit disappointed.”

    So… was my expectations lower? Friday night was incredibly behind time with the quiz starting at least 90 mins late for reasons that seemed to be very excusable but the rest of the weekend seemed to move along in a charmingly harmless choatic way. I had a great time, although I will confess that MIGHT have had something to do with the huge sugar high I was on at the time… 🙂

  4. angelaslatter says:

    🙂 If you got what you wanted out of it, then that’s great :-). And it *was* very enjoyable … just … chaotic in places.