Cabinet of Oddities concert – also rewards

This Sunday, 4 October 2015, I am taking part in The Cabinet of Oddities, a concert at The Novotel Canberra, 65 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra, at 7pm. I am not playing an instrument. This is a very special concert, with brand new Australian flute music played by some of Australia’s finest flutists, which this audience will be the first to hear, and some new stories by some great science fiction writers, and new art by me!

The concert is FREE to members of Conflux and of the Australian Flute Festival. Others are welcome to buy tickets at for $15 (adults)/$10 (concession).

If you can’t come, there is still an opportunity to be involved (see below the flier)


In addition, because the crowdfunding didn’t work out, but the organisers still want to pay their artists, Dr Laura Goodin opened up a PayPal account into which you can donate, should you wish to support us. The address to donate to is

The account open until October 31, at which point everything collected will be divided amongst the project participants and the account closed.


Conflux 7 Sketches

Over the first weekend in October I went to Conflux 7 in Canberra. I had a wonderful time, talked to nearly everyone, went to book launches, drank coffee, was given a beautiful bouquet of flowers, banqueted like it was 1929 (I have no pictures of that, but there are quite a few around the traps), spent time with some of my favourite artists, writers and people, then spent several days afterwards simply recovering.

If I do a full con report, you won’t get any report at all, so here are the sketches (the cartoon ones are the sketches I draw and upload on Twitter and Facebook as I go). Clicking on pictures should give you an option to see them at a larger scale.

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Conflux 6, Canberra

And so Conflux is over, the last of my conventions for the year, and I am back in Brisbane with a few extra books and… a lot of mat board, for some reason.

Guests of honour this year were Jim Minz of Baen Books, Marc McBride (illustrator of Deltora Quest) and Emily Rodda (author of Deltora Quest).

There were some external complicating factors, but I had a great time and got to catch up with old friends, make new ones and transact some bookplate business (of which more once the file is signed and sent).

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I ended up being on three panels – Short Story Writing (the one I was meant to be on) with Cat Sparks, Simon Petrie, Mark Farrugia and Yaritji Green, Dealing with Writer’s Block (as an ersatz-Karen Herkes) with Jack Dann and Richard Harland, and one of two extras on Australian Comic Writers and Artists with Mik Bennet, Liz Kenneally and Jon Sommariva. The differing dynamics of panels are fascinating, but I learned a lot on all of them (and discovered that the ultimate power of being a panellist lies in people taking your book recommendations seriously). Also, I have a dream panel which would put artists, authors and publishers together talking about book covers.

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And of course we dressed up. It was 1880s style for the banquet, although in my case that was a tiered green cotton skirt, a sofa cushion and my year 12 formal dress (!) with a number of safety pins. The masquerade was a prelude to a concert, so we didn’t have many attendees, but I was there (with the heavy black plastic frames from a pair of 3d glasses, a cute white blouse half-unbuttoned and a Superman t-shirt) and in one of those unexpected twists of the universe shared the dancing prize with Richard Harland (just be careful mixing bouncy soles with Footloose).

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Outside of the convention, I managed to drive my older sister’s car rather hi-tech car (you know that scene from Independence Day – “Oops – oops? What do you mean oops?!”). I caught up with an old friend I haven’t seen for 9 years, and today I went to Floriade with my older sister and nephews before flying back to Brisbane.

Splendour Falls

I was on a panel about short story writing yesterday, and two ASIM editors mentioned issue #41 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine , but I had only received issue #40 recently and didn’t register until after the panel that #41 was out and for sale in the dealers’ room.

My story “The Splendour Falls” is in this issue It’s about wishes and dreams, and getting them and giving them up, and possums and housemates and Kismet and literary references from Shakespeare to A. A. Milne. 

Conflux is going very well and we ate a great deal at the historical banquet last night (1883 Louisana, this year) and I know photos were taken of costumes, so I am sure they will show up the internet at some point.

Conflux 5

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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Knitting at the Con

Originally uploaded by tanaudel
Quick sketch of an attendee knitting at Conflux 4. This is a biro sketch from the border of a page of notes in my sketchbook.

I was thinking of Illustration Friday while I made this series of sketches. Ballpoint pens have been the tool for many of my drawings – mostly thanks to 7 years in uni drawing in the margins of my lecture notes.  So, this is my Illustration Friday contribution for the theme “Blue”.


Originally uploaded by tanaudel
Biro sketches from Conflux 4 – two from life and two from photos on my phone. These border a page of notes in

my sketchbook.

A wide range of what would otherwise be eccentric behaviour is tolerated and even expected at conventions. Knitting and sketching other attendees is fairly tame.


Conflux 4: Escape from the ACT

Conflux 4 is over. I have abandoned Aimee to Emma and Gillian and a tour of the culinary oddities of the Canberra Centre, and am back in Brisbane. My throat very decently held off becoming sore until after the closing ceremony.

Five highlights of Conflux 4:

  1. Eating Drunken Dalek Cake with our hands out of a tupperware container in the dealer’s room.
  2. Dancing at the Masquerade to 99 Luftballons, Neverending Story and a mashup of Green Day’s Graduation Day and the Dr Who song.
  3. Discussing full-face casts, moo cards and Victorian women’s literature while sitting on the floor of the hotel conference level.
  4. Conversations with random (non-con) hotel guests in the erratic lifts about Pan’s Labyrinth.
  5. Subversive cartography.

Five highlights of Canberra:

  1. The painting my brother-in-law made for their remodelled lounge room, and my sister showing off my nephews in their sleep.
  2. Sharing a Belgian Spoil with my sister at Coco Black.
  3. Live Leunig theatre in the tulip fields of Floriade.
  4. Reading the first 6 chapters of Ibbotson’s The Secret Countess at Borders.
  5. Maximum temperatures several degrees below Brisbane’s minimum.

Five slightly odd things:

  1. The lifts at Rydges, which operate (traditionally) on a principle similar to Russian roulette.
  2. The bar staff, who may or may not have been burglars who tied up the actual bar staff and were themselves trapped when customers began arriving.
  3. Both A & I being complimented and pursued.
  4. Not eating dessert. (More particularly, being physically unable to confront dessert after the first two courses of the Regency Banquet).
  5. The products the self-confessed mystic (consultant and singer-songwriter) who feels I will meet my husband in New York advised me to obtain there.

Five books I bought:

  1. Lucy Sussex – A Tour Guide in Utopia
  2. Daikaiju
  3. Kelly Link – Magic for Beginners
  4. Stephen Dedman – Never Seen by Waking Eyes
  5. Mike Resnick – The Dark Lady

Five disappointments:

  1. Not being able to meet up with Deb.
  2. Not returning to Floriade to buy chai.
  3. Unrequited love.
  4. Not trying out room service.
  5. Being invited to join the Australian SFF writers at a function at the Australian Consulate in New York and then finding out it is on the same night as the night for which we have bought Broadway theatre tickets.

Oh, how annoyed I am about that last.