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.

Continuum 5 and Ekka 2009 sketches

Request: If you recognise someone in one of the Convention sketches and I haven’t labelled them, would you please let me know? If you want to see more detail, clicking on a picture will take you through to its Flickr page, then you can click on “all sizes” above it.

On Wednesday last week I went to the Ekka (Brisbane Exhibition = Queensland Show = State Fair), and on Friday morning Aimee and I flew to Melbourne for Continuum 5 (had to get up incredibly early – I booked my tickets when I lived closer to the airport).

The loop train which runs to the exhibition grounds was a steam train! Also, I love the boat at top left – it is always moored near the city botanic gardens and looks like the wooden shoe from ‘Winkun, Blinkun & Nod’.

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They are redeveloping the RNA Showgrounds and this is the chairlift’s last year. I took it and it was a wonderful slow ride over the halls and the stalls and the rides.

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Sheepdogs are difficult to draw. If you blink, they are suddenly in the same pose but a different position.

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Lots of dogs! I almost lost my heart to a greyhound. The tiny little dog at the bottom right is from Pompeii. That is Aimee getting stuck into the icecream.

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The Pompeii exhibition at the Melbourne Museum had a number of the plaster casts. The most affecting part of the exhibition for me was looking at a display on the history of the archaeology, and seeing drawings of Victorian (era, not state) children looking at some of the same casts we had just seen. We also saw Phar Lap and the mechanical chicken, from Cole’s Book Arcade, which – according to the caption – “boasted 5 mechanical hens to enliven the shopping experience”. Cole seems to have been the Willy Wonka of bookstores.

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If you want to sketch fast, sketch fencers! These are mid-battle-between-airships. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro was the international guest of honour. Those backs at the bottom right belong to Marilyn Pride and Lewis Morley.

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Maskobalo! I am still twinging from dancing all night (except, obviously, for when I was sketching). I wore the dress I wore to the Regency banquet in Canberra a few years ago and will post photos when I track some down.

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Juggling. Too early. Too much chasing things across the floor. Lucy Sussex has edited a book of Australian travellers’ diaries which should be out later this year and sounds fascinating. Jack Dann set up the direction of the panel to allow Gillian Polack to lower the tone of the panel on history :) Later, Gillian, Aimee, Julia and I saw an exhibition of Regency dresses at the art gallery. Most were of their era, but Aimee swooned when Julia pointed out Colin Firth’s costume from the BBC P&P.

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Rachel Holkner was c0-chair of the convention. On Monday, Aimee went to see a Star Wars exhibition. I went to St Kilda by tram, then back to the city.

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There was a Dali exhibition at one of the galleries, but I didn’t go in. I looked at the collections and found the little Madonna Joan Lindsay wrote about her husband (who was director) acquiring under the Felton Bequest. There were some excellent exhibitions on at the State Library (also, a churros cafe nearby!) including Changing Faces of Victoria, where I saw Ned Kelly’s armour, and Independent Type which had an incredible array not only of Australian books and early editions and paintings of authors, but manuscripts: Peter Carey, Manning Clarke, Ned Kelly, dozens of others, and even one of the “original” Ern Malley poems with the telegram indicating it might be a hoax.

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Continuum 5 is over. Talked out, overfed, underrested – all as it should be. I have several pages of sketches to scan and upload when I get home (which is late tomorrow, so sometime after that) and will locate photos as other people post them (I’m not traveling with a camera lately).

Illustration Friday: Electricity 2

I completely forgot that I’d forwarded Emilly links to some of my older sketches (posted for Illustration Friday back in May last year) and so was pleasantly surprised to see them in the con program book!

Also, as Gillian mentioned, I am working up ideas for a small-scale project for her (elegant but with whimsy, boldness and feminity, which will be fun).

Post-con post

Natcon has finished. I’m staying an extra day in Adelaide to see the sights (although going to the gallery today with Dirk and Jason has given me a new perspective on art history) and should be back late Tuesday night, assuming I survive frog cakes, chocolate frogs and a hotel which appears to be acquiring a reputation for being haunted.

I’ll upload con sketches when I get back. In the meantime, here’s a page from the last batch (and next in the sequence of tv sketches):

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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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Writing Updates

October Blog Header

New blog header for October! The theme is for Conflux 5 in Canberra this weekend, where we are having a 1920s banquet.

‘The Splendour Falls’ was gone for four months. Three weeks ago it boomeranged through my inbox. I’m managing not to take rejection personally. The latest submittee usually has a good turnaround time, so hopefully I can continue to develop callouses on my sensitivities (the alternative is to soak them in metho).

I wrote another fantasy/fairy-tale story, ‘Ella and the Flame’, in one go on Tuesday evening, which was a surprise to me as much as anybody. It’s only 2,500 words and I rather like it, but it is pending second opinions. (Aimee kindly read and critiqued it for me – congratulations to Aimee on her short story ‘A Drowning’ being published in ASIM!)

CoL (aka the semi-secret project) progresses, despite my crippling bouts of doubt. I am trying to keep what attracted me to the source stories without tipping into triteness on the one hand or angst on the other. At the moment it is ideally kind-of-sort-of Ivanhoe meets Peter Pan. Or maybe Into the Woods meets The Once and Future King. With a bit of The Ordinary Princess.  It is also an excellent excuse to read Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of England and buy all five volumes of Child’s English & Scottish Ballads.


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.