I met Australian author Nicole Murphy during my GUFF trip in 2013. She was one of the people running Conflux, and since it was the 52 Naton that year, I was there as GUFF delegate. Today, she is not only an author in two genres, but also running for GUFF and I am one of her nominators.
You have four more days to give her a vote!
How did you discover SF?
Everyone can blame my father. He is an SF nut and I was brought up on it. My earliest memories of watching television was hiding behind his beanbag (it was the 70s!) because it was a cyberman episode on Dr Who. The Daleks never really bothered me but the cybermen scared the CRAP out of me – I think because they were humanoid.
We were avid watchers of Dr Who. Dad took my brother and I off to see Star Wars when it opened and whenever we went anywhere in the car, inevitably Dad would end up playing Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. Once that was happening and we were on a country road and then just at the ‘ooh ahh’ lights appears on the horizon and my brother and I screamed and clutched each other. Then there was Dad’s library, which was mostly science fiction and fantasy.
So really, I had no hope. My entire family is SF nerds – I feel for people who had to discover it themselves or hide it from their family who didn’t get it. In my family, the shock was when I discovered Grandma’s Mills and Book collection and started reading romance!
What’s the best thing about SF fandom?
Normally, when you meet new people you are wondering if you will meet anyone with similar interests or anything you can talk about. In general situations, I can be quite shy meeting new people. But in fandom, you know that you have things in common so you can be more comfortable straight away. You don’t have to do the dance of unimportant questions to get to know someone – you can get to the important stuff straight away. Which Dr are you? Star Wars or Star Trek or both? Marvel vs DC? Are you still in mourning for Carrie Fisher? I’m much more interested in the depths of a person than the superficial things.
What was you first convention like?
My first convention in 2003 I was on the committee. I was running the short story competition, and helping out, which was great because it enabled me to hide behind desks rather than have to talk to people – I was yet to realise how these are truly my people. It was very full on, finding this entire community of people who loved what I loved.
At one point, I got really overwhelmed and wanted to talk to my husband (who is not an SF nerd and doesn’t come to cons) and my phone wouldn’t work and then I went and found a public phone but then I didn’t have coins and couldn’t find anywhere to get coins and it was all too much and I sat down and had a good cry. Then I dusted myself off, went back to the con, threw myself in and had a great time. In the end, that little moment of despair was well and truly overwhelmed by the joy of cons and I have been going ever since.
And how did you get sucked into organizing them?
That is Donna Maree Hanson’s fault. She and I were friends, and she took over organising the first Conflux convention in Canberra. She roped me into organising the short story competition. I love organising things (I now work as an event manager in real life!). So the next con I took on the art show and the publications, and then the following con, I was running the trade room and for Conflux 4 I was the chair.
I adore cons in general, and Conflux in particular – we have developed such a fabulous little family at Conflux. We all have such a blast at that con – it’s not the largest con in the world, and some people object to the fact that we focus on creatives, but I think there is a place for a range of different types of cons, that can cater to different needs.
What con-running job do you hate the most, and what do you love the most?
I am not a fan of the sponsorship/marketing side of things. I am NOT a salesperson and I hate having to try to convince companies to support us.
But I love everything other aspect. I particularly like the creativity that comes with working out new and interesting ways for people to connect and be inspired.
I loooove programming. Which probably makes me weird, but I do.
How did you discover fan funds?
The first Conflux we ran was a Natcon, so I started to become aware of them then. I loved the idea of the community coming together to send ambassadors around the world and making connections. I have attempted to run a couple of auctions and would love to try that again if I do get to come over in August.
What do you think is the single best thing you bring to the fan funds?
Tim Tams! Best biscuit ever. Also, I want to do everything I can to raise awareness and funds. I think keeping up connections around the world is becoming more and more important, as the world seems to be trying to split itself apart. And my experience as an event organiser will help, I hope.
In the US and the UK, it seems to me, the demarcation line between pro authors and fans is a bit more felt than in Australia and Croatia. What do you think about that?
I think that some pro authors bring the problem upon not just themselves by being all about the marketing of themselves and their books and tainting other authors.
But in reality, authors start out as fans and the really good ones remain fans. Sure, they want to see people reading and loving their books, but more than that they want to sit down and discuss in great depth what is happening in other books, in movies, in tv, in the zeitgeist. They want to get into those juicy chats with kindred spirits.
In Australia, we are helped by the fact we are a small community, and often the authors start off as fans attending cons. So there isn’t a sense that authors are above, or different, or special.