I said I would get around to a quick wrap up post for Conflux 9, the 52nd NatCon, that happened last week. It’s fast becoming history and life is barrelling on (seriously, May, calm the fuck down) and so I thought I’d better get around to it now or I never would. First and foremost, congratulations to co-chairs Donna Hanson and Nicole Murphy and the whole Conflux team. They did an amazing job and it really was a great con. Conflux is always my favourite of the year – open, friendly, inspiring – and this year it had all that in spades.

Much time was spent in the bar with friends old and new, drinking too much and talking shit. Which is, after all, one of the main purposes of a con. I have a few highlights persisting through the alcoholic haze. If this con had a theme beyond the official one, it was book launches. So many amazing books were thrust out into the world at Conflux 9.

Cat Sparks’ new collection, The Bride Price, was launched and sold out. Highlights there included Cat drinking champagne from a mug (classy lady, is Cat Sparks) and telling people during her little speech to “Now go and buy my fucking book!” This was particularly entertaining as she was standing three feet from Thoraiya Dyer’s four year old daughter at the time. I don’t know why, I just find that stuff hilarious. Especially when Thoraiya stepped up to buy a book and said to Cat, “Thanks for swearing in front of my kid.” Ah, I laughed.

Rob Hood also launched his amazing novel, Fragments of a Broken Land, which also sold out. And seriously, go and buy that book, folks, because it’s brilliant. Something actually different and dark and bloody good. And Jo Anderton sold out at the launch of her new collection, The Bone Chime Song & Other Stories, which is also dark and different and also fucking brilliant. Such talented writers making work in Australia.

I enjoyed the panels I was on too. Talking horror with Kaaron Warren, Kirstyn McDermott, Jason Nahrung and Terry Dowling was probably my favourite panel of the con. I also really enjoyed talking about authors and social media with Alex Adsett, Abigail Nathan, Zena Shapter and Russell B Farr. The best bit about that panel was that we got the panel trending on Twitter while it happened. Fuck yeah, social media masters at work!

Another highlight, as it always is at the NatCon, was the Ditmar Award ceremony. Loads of lovely people being justly rewarded for their fantastic work. Deb Biancotti did a great job of hosting and the thing even ran to time. There was a live Twitter screen by the stage, too. Look at Conflux all up in the future. And a particular highlight there was Russell B Farr getting the A Bertram Chandler Award for his services to SF. Russ has been an amazing advocate of Australian specfic since around 1996 and his press, Ticonderoga Publications, puts out seriously brilliant books. He really deserved that award and I’m glad he got it. I’m also glad because it made him generous with the whisky in the bar afterwards. Russell, and his partner in crime, life and publishing, Liz Grzyb, have been kind enough to publish several of my stories over the years and I hope they continue to do so. I’m very proud to be a small part of the Ticonderoga legacy.

I also sold all bar one copy of Dark Rite that I took to the con with me, so that’s another highlight. I must thank profusely the CSFG for letting me have my books for sale on their table in the dealer room.

I’m sure there was a lot more I should be talking about, and I apologise for anything I’ve missed that really needs a mention, but it’s all blended into that delicious post-con haze of friendship and inspiration. So I’m off to write now, and see if I can’t try to be even a fraction as talented as some of my wonderful friends. If you’d like a pictorial idea of what happened, check out Cat Sparks’ Flickr stream here, with loads of pics from throughout the con.