I’m currently researching the establishment of an Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Association by surveying local authors and creative professionals. This research was part of my grant I got from the UNESCO City of Literature last year.
One of the reasons I’m keen to research this topic is because for a long time I didn’t know the science-fiction and fantasy writing community existed. The whole time I lived in Sydney I had no idea where you could meet other genre fiction writers. Part of this was growing up in the west and feeling disconnected from the creative writing community; while the internet has changed the landscape, it’s still difficult to find information. And sometimes taking that first step is scary – if you’ve never been to a convention and you don’t know anyone, it’s hard to even to walk in the door.
Fast forward several years, and I moved to Melbourne, where I knew all of three people. I’d been involved in a non-genre writers’ group in Sydney and really enjoyed it, and I thought it would be great to meet other like minded people in my new city. Through Writers’ Victoria, I started the Melbourne Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Association which meets monthly to workshop with and encourage other emerging genre writers. Turns out, there’s a whole bunch of people who were in the same situation as me. Within a year this group had expanded to twenty members. Now I have to regularly turn away new members just to manage the meeting space. Which I don’t like doing.
Over the past year, I’ve had the great satisfaction in seeing writers in this group improve, some achieving their first short story publications, some even publishing their first novel. I believe that some part of this success is due to having support networks to encourage talented people to put their work into the world.
I have a huge passion for connecting and advocating for fellow writers; too often I meet genre fiction authors who write alone or without support networks. While I am a big supporter of state based writers’ associations, I also believe there is a place for genre specific associations too (sometimes you just need someone who understands why you’re writing about dragons).
I’ve put together a survey to gather opinions on this idea. If you’re involved in the SFF publishing industry in Australia, I’d love it if you could take part and give me your honest feedback.
Please feel free to share this survey link with your networks.