Conflux was as amazing an experience as ever. I really enjoy going to cons – making & remaking friends, the constant atmosphere of creative and inspiration, the lack of sleep, the caffeine intake, the late night CSI-bagging sessions.

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The main highlight of this year was the people – the difficulties of knowing screen-names and real names and some faces and not being able to put any together were overcome sooner than usual for me, and it was fun to crash in the foyer with people, make up random dinner parties, and simply fall into friendships and conversations. I keep missing people. Jason, Peter, Adam, Julia, Shauna, Emma, John, Liz, Rachel, Gillian – and everyone else whose names escaped my tenuous grasp! All fabulous, generous, talented people with apalling senses of humour.

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Lewis Morley was demonstrating modelling techniques, so I sat at his table and learned to soften Super Sculpy with a pasta maker, and the uses of metho and turps, and that in the absence of an oven you can find a kettle in a hotel room and pour boiling water into a cup of models which hardens them up enough to transport them. I made a miniature sleepy pink wombat leafy mask (as you do):

Miniature mask

The 1921 banquet was exquisite, and I particularly commend the icecream to you. Recipes are on Gillian’s food history blog. Costumes were striking and fun. I found that my green satin was very slippery when worn over stockings – the drop waist rapidly descended further than expected. Angela had made a dress from a genuine 1925 1-hour dress pattern, and looked much more of the era than I did. I think the dress looked much better in person than it did between the dim hotel lights and a harsh flash on satin.

Roaring '20s

On Sunday night, after a lively dinner expedition (on which I in a rarely precedented fit of having eaten far too much couldn’t finish my lemon meringue pie) we went to the open mic night. I hope they have more of these – poems, stories, tributes and unexpected physical comedy. I read the first half of Ella and the Flame and people were very kind about it. (One of the girls came up the next day and asked what happened, so I let her read the rest).

Monday morning, I was sitting listening to a panel and Karen H snuck in and whispered, “Come see me after this!”. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, so (I thought) it must be something good. It turned out they were down a gender for the panel on The Curse of Gender: Do Men and Women Write Differently?. So I sat up with … and … and tried to sound sane and intelligent and had a great time, which means I probably failed. It helped that it’s a subject that interests me, although given the grand total of my published works I did feel like I was putting myself forward.

Book launches. Lots of book launches! It is odd and fun to realise that these people I know, or who at least get a funny look when they see me, are real writers, signing things!

On Monday, Liz and I were eating lunch in the foyer and she was advising me on comic cons and swag and preparing portfolios when a man walked over and said, “Are you Liz who works in comics?” It turned out to be Gary Erskine, an artist for DC, Vertigo, Dark Horse, etc, who was about to check in when he asked what was going on and was told it was the last day of a con. He and his wife Mhairi had just come from the comic con in Singapore, and on disclosing this he was sent to Liz. So he and Mhairi sat and talked with Liz and I and a gathering circle for almost three hours before checking in – advice and anecdotes and general conversation. He looked at Liz’s material and at my sketchbook (since it was out for Liz to look at) and said mine was better suited to magazine illustration (which is exactly what I am interested in), or possibly Vertigo. He also drew Dan Dare in my sketchbook:

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