Writer off to Sci-Fi convention

26 June 2014

ANU academic, writer, and Sci-Fi/speculative fiction fan Gillian Polack has a busy few months ahead of her.

The 53-year-old has been chosen by members of the World Science Fiction Convention, known as Loncon3, as the Australasian representative to take part at the convention from 14-18 August in London.

A writer for more than two decades and known for books, Ms Cellophane and Illuminations, Polack is the 'GUFF' delegate for the August convention, meaning she was picked by fans to attend and will have her airfares and expenses paid for.

It's also the first time that an ANU staff member has been honoured by attending the convention as a fan as well as a writer and an expert.

At first, she says she felt a bit intimidated when it came to being chosen.

"I'm used to being an academic, I'm used to applying for funding for grants, I'm used to being a writer, doing readings and talking to students," she says.

"But I'm not used to, publicly, being a fan of Speculative Fiction, and suddenly I am - plus I'm all the other things."

Polack says she was already scheduled to deliver an academic paper, on Indigenous Australian Speculative Fiction, at the convention.

"I'm one of the few speculative fiction editors who has worked with Indigenous writers and respects the traditions," she says.

Her appointment as the GUFF delegate means she also plans to use the experience to build her profile as a writer who is trying to break into a larger audience.

"There's a big discussion online at the moment, because all of the female spec fiction writers are still writing but they're not being published because of the view that 'they're women and they're boring' while men are still being published," she says.

"I'm facing that too because I'm a late career starter. I'm an academic as well, after having served 10 years in the public service, so it's hard for anyone to break through. But it its triply difficult for a woman to break through and quadruply difficult for anyone who comes from an ethnic minority, and I'm all of those."

Polack says her biggest piece of advice to aspiring writers is to be authentic and maintain a "unique voice".

"It can take years to break through with a unique voice... but it does happen."

Details about the Loncon3 Science Fiction Convention can be found on their website.