I had the pleasure of attending the Aurealis Awards on Saturday night, and what a fabulous night I had! So many wonderful people from the writing business attended, and I had the honour of meeting some very talented people (and managed not to make a fool of myself by blabbering too much to some of my literary heroes!)
The Aurealis Awards recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers. The categories also include awards for short stories, young adult and children’s fiction.
I arrived alone, and soon struck up a conversation (glass of wine in hand) with the lovely Katherine Stubbs. Katherine is a novel reviewer (what a great job!) and was judging the Anthology/Collection award this year. It was wonderful to get an insight into the judging process and how heated the discussions can be!
I then had the pleasure of chatting with Deborah Kalin, who was nominated for her fantasy short story “First They Came” (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 55). Deb had brought her gorgeous 4 month old daughter and we instantly struck up a conversation about all things baby related, as our daughters were born only 7 days apart! I simply had to know how she writes with a baby – the answer is, its tough! Deborah was so down-to-earth, and so lovely, I could have chatted to her all night! I can’t wait to hunt down her short story and read it. Her partner Stu was equally nice and I spent quite some time grilling him about what it is like to live with a writer. He made a comment almost exactly the same as my husband makes, that we amaze them, especially when we come out of writing upset that our characters did something unexpected, or won’t to what we want them to! I could totally relate.
I also had the chance to chat to the very engaging Jason Nahrung. Jason was nominated for two of his novels in the Horror category, Blood and Dust (Xoum) and Salvage (Twelfth Planet Press). In the end he was pipped at the post by his equally talented wife, Kirstyn McDermott, who took out the prize for Best Horror Novel for Perfections (Xoum). I chatted to Jason for quite some time. I meant to ask him about how he got into writing and his writing journey, but once I found out that his wife was also a writer I was so intrigued that I shamelessly grilled him about all aspects of what it is like to have a partner who also writes. It was really fascinating! Look out for Jason and Kirstyn’s work, they are very talented and working a niche field. I’ll definitely be reading their novels now, but maybe not before bed!
The writing goddess Kate Forsyth was also in attendance, nominated for her exquisite historical fantasy Bitter Greens (Random House Australia). I love Kate’s work (see my review of Dragonclaw here), and I’ll be reviewing Bitter Greens very soon. Kate and I managed a brief chat, and a quick photo opportunity.
The gorgeous Margo Lanagan scooped the pool at this year’s Aurealis, winning multiple categories including; joint winner (with Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney (Allen & Unwin), Best Young Adult Novel for Sea Hearts (Allen & Unwin); Best Fantasy Short Story for “Bajazzle” (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press); Best Fantasy Novel for Sea Hearts; and Best Science Fiction Short Story for “Significant Dust” (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press). After congratulating her on her win, she was very gracious in letting me take a photo with her and even let me hold one of her awards (eeeekkkk! – how exciting!)
Other award winners included Best Children’s Fiction (told primarily through words) for Brotherband: The Hunters by John Flanagan (Random House Australia); Best Children’s Fiction (told primarily through pictures) for Little Elephants by Graeme Base; Best Young Adult Short Story for ‘The Wisdom of Ants’ by Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld); Best Illustrated Book/Graphic Novel for Blue by Pat Grant (Top Shelf Comix); Best Collection for That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote by K. J. Bishop (self-published); Best Anthology for The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume 6 edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books); Best Horror Short Story for ‘Sky’ by Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press); and finally, Best Science Fiction Novel for The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (HarperCollins).
There were just so many fabulous writers in attendance, that I couldn’t possibly name them all. I managed to exchange a few words with steam-punk author Richard Harland (author of Song of the Slums, Worldshaker and Liberator – there’s a great author interview with Richard at my friend Maureen’s blog ‘Ink Ashlings’, here.), and also the beautiful Cat Sparks (a amazing, multi-talented woman who is a writer and editor amongst so many other things!).
Everyone was extremely friendly and it was so easy to strike up a conversation. There was no pretence, and even though I am only a fan quietly working on a first manuscript, I found that the community was very welcoming. The fantasy, science fiction and horror genres really have do have the best people working within their realms, that’s for sure!