The Importance of Community

Last year, an editor friend of mine asked me to take part in the Australian Speculative Fiction Snapshot 2016.

The SF Snapshot is a biennial project, interviewing authors in the Australian speculative fiction industry — capturing their recent work, awards and professional milestones.

A team of 16 of us — led by the indefatigable Tehani Croft of Fablecroft Publishing — interviewed 194 Australian authors, editors, artists, designers, and so forth, from the speculative fiction industry.

Now, I’ll admit, it did steal ever-so-precious time away from my writing.

But I felt, having benefited from Aussie editors taking chances on an unknown author, as well as from author-led workshops and mentorships, I should give something back.

And in the end it was fun.

As the publication date approached, and we zeroed in on the total number of interviews from the 2014 Snapshot, a real sense of camaraderie and belonging developed.

Even though my part in the total Snapshot was really quite minor, it felt amazing to see them all come together.

And, it afforded some unexpected benefits.

First was an interview of my very own — performed by the talented Helen Stubbs.

These interviewees were the creme de la creme of the industry — Tansy Rayner Roberts, Kaaron Warren, Garth Nix, Alan Baxter — and there was my interview, my very first interview, alongside theirs.

Second, when I attended Conflux in Canberra last year — this is the speculative fiction convention run by the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild — I was stunned at just how many people were familiar with the work of the SF Snapshot.

It opened many a door for me — or at least many a space at the bar for me to sit.

Lastly, and most surprising of all, is that the Australian Speculative Fiction Snapshot 2016, a few weeks ago won, a Ditmar Award in the category of Best Fan Publication in Any Medium.

The Ditmars are Australia’s answer to the Hugo Awards, celebrating achievements in the speculative fiction and speculative fiction fandom.

I am fairly chuffed, to say the least.

If I never win a Ditmar for my writing, I will always have me name attached to this one.

The speculative fiction industry — especially in a market as under-represented (publishing-wise on the international stage) as Australia’s — needs community to survive.

I am already blocking out time in mid-2018 to take on more interviews in the next Snapshot.

To be honest, I would have so even without the unexpected rewards.

I love working in the Australian Speculative Fiction industry.

And as self-serving as it sounds, I will continue to do what I can to keep it alive.

All images from Australian SF Snapshot Project, Pixabay and thiefofcamorr’s Instagram feed

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