Guest post by Nicole Murphy

One of the great things about being a speculative fiction writer in Australia is the speculative fiction community and the way it supports and encourages writers of all levels.

Here in Canberra, there’s a couple of opportunities for people interested in writing spec fic to gather with others and not only talk writing, publishing, industry, but do courses, workshops and become better writers.

CSFG was established in 2000 and since then has grown to be one of the most active and interesting writing groups in Australia. Whether you write short stories or novels, there’s a part of the group that can help you write and polish your work. The monthly members’ meetings go into various types of writing craft and industry talk with sessions on things such as characterisation, self-publishing, robots and even writing sex scenes. (Ed: Go explore the website to find out more!)

The annual Conflux Science Fiction Convention is another opportunity for writers in Canberra. 9837 Conflux 10 LogoWriters from all over Australia converge to join in panels and discussions about writing, industry and our love of everything spec fic. There’s writing workshops and the opportunity to meet and pitch to editors. As a result of last year’s Conflux, a Canberra writer has signed with Angry Robot Books, one of the most famous publishers in the industry.

Then there’s the two brand new events happening this year which will make Canberra the focus of the speculative fiction publishing industry in Australia.

On Saturday April 5, Canberra hosts the 2013 Aurealis Awards Ceremony. The Aurealis Awards areAurealis Awards Australia’s premier jury judged speculative fiction awards. The awards cover childrens fiction; young adult; horror, science fiction and fantasy (both short stories and novels); graphic novels and anthologies and collections. Tickets for this event are on sale now at so if you want to come, make sure you book. You could find yourself rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the industry.

To take advantage of everyone being in town, during the day on Saturday we’ll be holding the inaugural Conflux Writer’s Day. This is all about craft, publishing, industry. The theme of the day is9837-Conflux-writers_blk ‘The Writer’s Journey’ and it will be explored through the subthemes of ‘Writing Skills’, ‘Writing Processes’, ‘Submitting and Publishing’ and ‘Building a career’.

Presentations will be given by some extremely successful and experienced writers and editors. Topics to be covered include: The six inevitable mistakes of first-time writers; You are not alone: the power of writing relationships; Character motivation: getting away with murder; From verisimilitude to value adding: enhancing your fiction with research; Planning your writing business; Building an online presence: social media for authors and The secret of survival.

Our four keynote presenters are Ditmar Award winning author Joanne Anderton (Building Working Worlds from Weird Ideas); Shirley Jackson Award winning author Kaaron Warren (Using the Minutes When You Don’t Have the Hours); Aurealis Award winning author Ian McHugh (Rejectomancy and the Dark Art of Getting Your Stories Published) and New York Times besteller Keri Arthur (The Career Path of a New York Times Bestseller).

And because we love the ACT Writer’s Centre so much, members will receive a discount to attend! Register at

Payback is a big thing in the Australian speculative fiction community. Everyone who has reached some level of success has had a helping hand along the way and its important to everyone that help gets passed on.

In a formal way, a lot of us teach workshops, at conventions and at writer’s centres. Here in Canberra, not only do I teach the Year of the Novel courses at the ACT Writer’s Centre, but people like Gillian Polack, Ian McHugh, Alan Baxter and Rik Lagarto give workshops on lots of aspects of the craft. At the conventions, professionals like World Fantasy Award winner Jack Dann and bestseller Karen Miller give workshops, sometimes for free but always at very reduced prices.

Informally, a lot of action happens in the bar at a convention. People meet, catch up, share their war stories and cry into a scotch over the latest unfairness. So at any of these events you’ll find people like publishing powerhouse Trudi Canavan, literary giant Margo Lanagan, multiple bestseller Sean Williams or editrix extraordinaire Stephanie Smith willing to chat, give advice, tell you that you’re doing well and encouraging you to keep it up. Everyone is very approachable, and they want to help you.

Because we all know that the success of every Australian author means a greater chance of success for the rest of us.

So if you’re interested in writing science fiction, fantasy or horror, come along to one of these events and become part of the gang.


This article originally appeared in the March 2014 edition of ACTWrite, the magazine of the ACT Writers Centre. If the Conflux Writer’s Day interests you, check out these posts on The Elements of Novels by Chris Andrews, on using technology to help your writing by Marcus Amann and on Step 2 by Ian McHugh.