Speculative Fiction Festival 2015

Speculative fiction is the literature of unbound imagination, an umbrella term broadly encompassing stories that feature fantastical, supernatural, or futuristic elements. Tales set in, at or on the fringe, teasing the peripheries of WHAT IF?

Contemporary speculative fiction comes in many forms and flavours: from robots and rocketships, through time travel, alternate history, steampunk, magic realism, apocalyptic futures, ghosts and the supernatural, superheroes, magic, fantasy, both high and urban, space opera, cyberpunk, biohacking and the singularity — anything that reaches beyond contemporary day-to-day existence to push the boundaries of the imagination.

Whether you like your SF short or epic, flavoured with dragons, dystopian landscapes or transhuman futures, the 2015 Speculative Fiction Festival will delight and inspire you.

Come along to hear a selection of well-seasoned authors, editors, publishers and academics share insights and discuss aspects of all the genre has to offer. Professionals with a passion for story outline some of the challenges and pitfalls of the contemporary, ever-changing publishing landscape: slushpiles and submission protocols; the bourgeoning YA boom; the state of the short fiction marketplace; what’s hot and what’s not; the genre vs literature divide; symbolic possibilities of fantasy and methods of building cultural frameworks for thinking about the future.

Panelists include leading practitioners such as Garth Nix, Trudi Canavan, Kate Forsyth, Bruce McCabe, James Bradley, Marianne de Pierres, Isobelle Carmody, Terry Dowling, Pamela Freeman, Robert Hood, Kaaron Warren, Richard Harland, Amie Kaufman and many more.

Join us on Saturday July 18th to explore a literary field that seeks to go beyond the farthest reaches of the imagination, to engage your sense of fear and wonder, and shed light on the possibilities and dangers that lie ahead.

Cat Sparks

Festival Director


You can read a Storify of tweets from the day here.

Read a blog post about the ‘Everybody Loves YA’ session here.

To read the full program, click here.

Authors participating in the Kaffeeklatsches will be Isobelle Carmody, Marianne de Pierres, Richard Harland, Terry Dowling, Pamela Freeman, Robert Hood and Trudi Canavan. Each group will be limited to 20 participants. Sign-up to these groups will be on a first-come, first served basis on the day of the festival. Festival registration will begin at 9am. Once attendees have registered and received their name badge, they can proceed to the verandah, where Kaffeeklatsch sign up sheets will be located. Attendees will receive a coloured sticker corresponding to the author of their choice, to be affixed to their name tag.



Joanne Anderton cooks up speculative fiction stories for adults, young adults, anyone who likes their worlds a little different. She sprinkles a pinch of science fiction to spice up her fantasy, and thinks horror adds flavour to just about everything. Her adult science fiction/fantasy novels have been published by Angry Robot Books and Fablecroft Publishing. Her short story collection, The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories was published by Fablecroft Publishing. It won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection, and the Australian Shadows Award for Best Collected Work. You can find her online at joanneanderton.com


James Bradley is an award-winning author and critic. His books include the novels Wrack, The Deep Field and The Resurrectionist, a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus, and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. His fiction and poetry has won or been shortlisted for a wide range of Australian and international literary awards and widely translated, and in 2012 he won the Pascall Prize for Australian Critic of the Year Award. His latest novel, Clade, was published by Hamish Hamilton earlier this year.



Trudi Canavan lives in Melbourne, Australia. She has been making up stories about people and places that don’t exist for as long as she can remember. While working as a freelance illustrator and designer she wrote the bestselling Black Magician Trilogy, which was published between 2001 and 2003 and was named an Evergreen by The Bookseller in 2010. The Magician’s Apprentice, a prequel to the trilogy, won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 2009 and the final of the sequel trilogy, The Traitor Queen, reached #1 on the UK Times Hardback bestseller list in 2011. For more info, visit trudicanavan.com.


Isobelle Carmody wrote her first book, Obernewtyn, when she was 14. Since then she has written more than 30 books and many short stories. Her most recent book is The Cloud Road, which she also illustrated. She is currently completing the last book in her Obernewtyn Chronicles series and writing a screenplay from another of her books, Greylands.





Terry Dowling is one of Australia’s most respected and internationally acclaimed writers of science fiction, dark fantasy and horror, and author of the multi-award-winning Tom Rynosseros saga. He has been called ‘Australia’s finest writer of horror’ by Locus magazine, its ‘premier writer of dark fantasy’ by All Hallows and its ‘most acclaimed writer of the dark fantastic’ by Cemetery Dance magazine. The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror series featured more horror stories by Terry in its 21-year run than by any other writer.

Terry’s award-winning horror collections are Basic Black: Tales of Appropriate Fear (International Horror Guild Award winner for Best Collection 2007), regarded as ‘one of the best recent collections of contemporary horror’ by the American Library Association; Aurealis Award-winning An Intimate Knowledge of the Night; and the World Fantasy Award-nominated Blackwater Days. His most recent books are Amberjack: Tales of Fear & Wonder and his debut novel, Clowns at Midnight, which London’s Guardian called ‘an exceptional work that bears comparison to John Fowles’s The Magus.’ His homepage can be found at terrydowling.com


Thoraiya Dyer is an Aurealis and Ditmar Award-winning, Sydney-based science fiction and fantasy writer. Her short story collection, Asymmetry, and time-travel pirate novella The Company Articles of Edward Teach are available from Twelfth Planet Press, while the first book in her Titan’s Forest fantasy trilogy is forthcoming from Tor. Thoraiya is an archer and a lapsed veterinarian. Follow @ThoraiyaDyer or peruse thoraiyadyer.com



Rochelle Fernandez is the Commissioning Editor for HarperVoyager, an imprint of HarperCollins. Voyager publish George RR Martin, Robin Hobb, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov internationally alongside Australian authors Kylie Chan, Jo Spurrier and David Henley. Rochelle has been an editor for ten years and has worked in various publishing roles including digital editor where she oversaw the production and conversion of ebooks.


Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at seven, and is now the award-winning and internationally bestselling author of 36 books. Recently voted one of Australia’s favourite 20 novelists, Kate has a doctorate in fairy tale studies and is an accredited master storyteller. Her adult books include The Wild Girl, the story of the forbidden romance behind the Grimm Brothers’ famous fairy tales, and Bitter Greens, called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’. It won the 2015 ALA Prize for Best Historical Fiction and came in at number 27 in Dymocks’ 2015 list of Australia’s Top 101 Books. Kate’s exciting new series for children The Impossible Quest weaves together battles, beasts and bravery in a magical world under threat from dark forces. Read more at kateforsyth.com.au

Pamela Freeman is an award-winning author of speculative fiction books for both adults and children. Her last adult fantasy, Ember and Ash, won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and was published worldwide by Orbit Books, as was her Castings Trilogy (set in the same universe). Pamela’s children’s fantasies include the classic Victor’s Quest and the Aurealis Award-winning Victor’s Challenge. Her most recent children’s series is set in the fantasy world of Floramonde. The first in the series is Princess Betony and the Unicorn. The next Floramonde book will be Princess Betony and the Hobgoblin. Pamela has recently also begun to write historical fiction, and The Soldier’s Wife was published in April by Hachette Australia under the pen name Pamela Hart.

Liz Grzyb is the award-winning editor of acclaimed paranormal romance anthologies Scary Kisses and More Scary Kisses, the Orientalist pantomime Dreaming of Djinn, steampunk romance anthology Kisses by Clockwork, co-editor of paranormal noir anthology Damnation and Dames and of The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror. She is often to be found sipping champagne and debating the fate of the Oxford comma.



Richard Harland played folk-rock music around Sydney, lectured for ten years at the Uni of Wollongong, then became a full-time author of speculative fiction. He lives in Figtree, south of Sydney, with partner Aileen and cat Habibi. He has collected six Aurealis Awards, the A. Bertram Chandler Award (Australia) and the Tam-Tam Je Bouquine award (France). His 17 novels have spanned adult, YA and children’s, and fantasy, horror and science fiction. His big international successes have been his three steampunk fantasies, Worldshaker, Liberator and Song of the Slums (published in the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany and Brazil). Richard’s website is at richardharland.net. He has put up a free 145-page guide to writing speculative fiction at writingtips.com.au.


Robert Hood has written fiction since primary school. His first professional sale was a short science fiction tale that won the Canberra Times National Short Story Competition in 1975. Subsequently he has published nearly 200 stories in magazines and anthologies worldwide, as well as six novels and 16 children’s books. He writes crime, fantasy and science fiction, but is best known for his dark fantasy and horror tales. His most recent collection is Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories, which includes 44 stories dating from 1985 to 2015. His fantasy novel Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead (2013) won the Ditmar Award for Best Novel in 2014. His website is roberthood.net


Louise Katz lectures in academic writing at the University of Sydney, writes fiction and has been the recipient of 2 Aurealis awards – one for the novel The Other Face of Janus, published by HarperCollins, and the other for the short story Weavers of the Twilight, Agog Press. This year her dystopian novel, The Orchid Nursery, is scheduled to be published with Lacuna. Louise’s fiction and research interests often cross over and she has published articles and book chapters on subjects such as the cultural imaginary, manifestations of monstrosity in culture and politics, and notions of creativity.


Amie Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling co-author of the Starbound trilogy, a young adult science fiction series published in 13 countries. These Broken Stars won the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel, was shortlisted for the Gold Inky Award, was the Huffington Post’s Best YA Book of 2013 and is in development for TV. The first book in Amie’s new co-authored science fiction trilogy, Illuminae, launches internationally in October 2015. Raised in Australia and Ireland, Amie has degrees in history, literature, law and conflict resolution. She lives in Melbourne with her husband, their rescue dog, and an extremely large personal library.


Stephanie Lai is an Australian of Chinese descent (and a left-handed archer). She is paid to train people in surviving our oncoming climate change dystopia. She likes penguins, infrastructure and Asian steampunk. She has had fiction and non-fiction published in The Lifted Brow, The Toast and Peril. She hates everything you love. You can find her at @yiduiqie and stephanielai.net, and talking about drop bears and popular culture at no-award.net.


Joel Naoum is a Sydney-based book publisher, editor, blogger and writer. He is running Pan Macmillan Australia’s new digital-first imprint Momentum and in 2011 completed the Unwin Fellowship researching digital publishing experimentation in the United Kingdom.

A full-time writer since 2001, Garth Nix has worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve. More than 5 million copies of Garth’s books have been sold around the world, his books have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, The Guardian and The Australian, and his work has been translated into 40 languages. He lives in Sydney, Australia. His website is at garthnix.com


Bruce McCabe is the author of Skinjob, a cutting-edge thriller following the lives of an FBI agent and a policewoman as they work frantically to solve a high-pressure case. Bruce lived in Kenya, Fiji and Japan before returning to Sydney, where he is now based. He is an expert on innovation and how technologies impact people, wrote a weekly column in The Australian on this subject for three years, travels widely, writes constantly, and is currently finishing his second novel. www.brucemccabe.com




Ian McHugh’s debut short story collection, Angel Dust, was a finalist for the 2014 Aurealis Awards and is available from Ticonderoga Publications. You can find more of Ian’s stories, which have appeared in professional and semi-pro magazines, webzines and anthologies in Australia and internationally, at ianmchugh.wordpress.com. His stories have won grand prize in the international Writers of the Future contest and been shortlisted five times at the Aurealis Awards, winning in 2010.



Ben Peek is the Sydney-based author of The Godless, Black Sheep, Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, and Dead Americans and Other Stories.




Marianne de Pierres is the author of the popular Parrish Plessis trilogy and the award-winning Sentients of Orion and Peacemaker series. The Parrish Plessis series has been translated into many languages and adapted into a role-playing game, while the Peacemaker series is currently being adapted into a novel adventure game.

Marianne has also authored children’s and young adult stories, notably the Night Creatures trilogy, a dark fantasy series for teens.

Marianne is an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and three galahs (and once upon a time three sons – before they grew up). Marianne also writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt. Visit her other websites at tarasharp.com.au and burnbright.com.au


With a background in communications, James Read lives for the written word and believes everybody has an important story to tell. As part of the Pantera Press Editorial team he is actively involved in reading and editing the many manuscripts submitted to Pantera Press; a firm believer that when you read a thousand books, you live a thousand lives! When he’s not reading his favourite books, you’ll find him practicing his killer backhand on the tennis court or tap-dancing to funky tunes (the faster, the better!).From romance to thriller, tragedy to satire, James is constantly on the lookout for the next best-seller; the crème de la crème of Australian storytelling. He wants to share your unique story with the world and propel it into the spotlight!


Tristan Savage grew up in Townsville and graduated from JCU with an honours degree in theatre. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength. In 2011 he won first place in the Deadly Funny stand-up comedy competition at the Melbourne Comedy Festival; in 2012 he toured his theatrical comedy show Australian Ghost to audiences across the country; in 2013 he was awarded a Black&Write! Fellowship with the State Library of Queensland for his sci-fi adventure novel Rift Breaker; and in 2014 he was the recipient of the Kris Hembury Encouragement Award for Emerging Artists.


Cat Sparks is an award-winning author, editor and artist whose former jobs have included media monitor, political and archaeological photographer, graphic designer and manager of Agog! Press. She’s currently fiction editor of Cosmos Magazine and partway through a PhD in YA climate change fiction. Her short story collection The Bride Price was published in 2013.


Keith Stevenson is the editor with award-winning independent press coeur de lion publishing, which produces Dimension6, the free electronic magazine of Australian speculative fiction. His science fiction thriller, Horizon, is out now as an ebook from HarperCollins Voyager Impulse. keithstevenson.com



Bram Stoker and World Fantasy Award Nominee and Shirley Jackson Award winner Kaaron Warren has lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Fiji. She has sold almost 200 short stories, three novels (the multi-award-winning Slights, Walking the Tree and Mistification) and five short story collections including the multi-award-winning Through Splintered Walls. Her latest short story collection is The Gate Theory.

Kaaron is a current fellow at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, where she is researching Robert Menzies, Sir William Ashton, and the ‘Granny Killer’, John Wayne Glover. The resulting crime novel should see print in 2016. You can find her at kaaronwarren.wordpress.com and she tweets @KaaronWarren

Tehani Wessely operates FableCroft Publishing, a boutique press dedicated to the future of speculative fiction in Australia. She has edited several anthologies and original novels, and has a charter to promote emerging and established authors and artists in the speculative fiction field. Tehani has judged for several major literary awards, including the CBCA Book of the Year Awards, the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards, and the Aurealis Awards. Her most recent publishing projects include the crowd-funded anthology Cranky Ladies of History and the unthemed anthology Insert Title Here. Work Tehani has published over the years has been shortlisted for the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award, and the Aurealis, Ditmar and Australian Shadows Awards.



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