Why I am going to Swancon Thirty Six | Natcon Fifty

Glenda Larke is an invited guest of Swancon Thirty Six | Natcon Fifty. Here she tells us why she loves conventions, and why you will too.

Back in the days of yore…

Ok, back in about 1997 or 1998, my agent, who lives in UK, told me I should start going to science fiction conventions now that I had my first book accepted for publication. I said, ‘Conventions? What are they?’

She explained, and it all seemed rather strange and alien. I couldn’t imagine me, all alone, rolling up to a place where I knew no one and no one knew me – and not just for one day, either. For several days, and at great expense, seeing as I live in Malaysia where there is no such event.

Yeah, well, I’ve come a long way since then. Once I got the hang of this thing called the internet*, I investigated and it all seemed intriguing. So I decided I’d give one a try. I timed a visit to Perth to see my sister with the Easter holidays, then twisted her arm to come with me for the first day of Swancon 2004. Fortunately she’s an ex teacher-librarian with a love of SF/F, and she was happy to oblige.

No one knew who I was, my first Oz published books were not long out, but I was welcomed, shoved onto panels, met a whole slew of terrific people many of whom are still friends, and generally had a ball. Tim Powers was the main guest, and was totally delightful. I still remember his GoH speech.

I was hooked for life. I’ve loved cons ever since. Donna Hanson somehow got me to go from Perth to Canberra for Conflux 2004 immediately afterwards. That was the first time I met Russell Kirkpatrick… The main GoH was Greg Benson. I went back the next year to another Swancon (Charles de Lint was the main guest). Even now, I still haven’t got over being on the same panel with famous writers.

In 2008 I was totally gobsmacked to be asked to Swancon as their Australian GoH. I was incredibly moved to have my hometown ask me back as a guest. Even more fabulously, the international GoH was Ken McLeod, and writer Rob Shearman of Dr Who fame was a guest as well. What a great con.

So, above you have several reasons to go to a SF Con, especially ones in Perth.

Reason No 1: You have a ball
Reason No 2: They have fabulous guests
Reason No 3: You make lifelong friends
Reason No 4: You can end up on panels — or attend them

I’ve been to other Australian conventions since: Continuum 2005 in Melbourne, which had one of the funniest debates I’ve ever heard — after all how can you go wrong with Neil Gaiman, Russell Kirkpatrick and Kim Wilkins (Lord, how could ANYONE ever forget her speech???), Poppy Z.Brite and Richard Harland taking sides on the subject of whether humans are creatures natural or unnatural…

Reason No 5: Writers are often also very witty speakers…

Most of that con I actually spent with the Harper Voyager and their authors, including Robin Hobb. I think that was the time I first met author Karen Miller, whom I now count a very special friend. Then there was Natcon/Convergence in Melbourne in 2007, which was where I first met Dave Freer, who was one of the guests, and was later enticed back to Oz to live.

Reason No 6: You meet some of your favourite authors…

And in the meantime I was also investigating my first Worldcon, in Glasgow in 2005, and my second in Denver in 2008, my third in Melbourne last year.

So, if you live in Oz and aren’t going to Swancon Thirty Six | Natcon Fifty – the 50th Natcon, by the way – why not? Come to think of it, you don’t have to live in Oz to go. I don’t.

See here for more info. It’s 21st-25th April (Easter) 2011. And I am one of a whole stack of invited guests. Don’t miss it.
*I was a very early user of a PC — Apple IIe anyone? — but came somewhat late to the internet.