Another Lovely Surprise

Over the Nat Con weekend Marianne asked me if I wanted to come to the Ditmar Awards with her because she had to present the SF book award. (Congratulations to all the nominees and winners by the way). I thought it would be a good chance to catch up with the friends I only see once a year at conventions.

Here we are in the bar, where all writers end up during a Con.

Marianne, Rowena, Dirk, Trent and Grace

Marianne, Rowena, Dirk, Trent and Grace

So there I was in the Ditmar Awards ceremony, clapping in the right places and enjoying the vibe when Sean Williams started to present the Peter McNamara Lifetime Achievement Award. (Peter McNamara was involved in small press publishing and established, then nurtured the Aurealis Awards back in the 1990s. He was a stalwart of speculative fiction in Australia).

Next thing I knew my name was read out and I realised that Marianne and Tehani (who was the judge this year) had been really sneaky!

Pat McNamara, R and Sean Williams

Pat McNamara, Rowena and Sean Williams

It would be honest to say that I was stunned.

When I went up to accept the award and had to stand there while Sean read out my list of achievements. It was excruciating.

In my acceptance speech I told the story of my meeting with Robert Silverberg at the Australian World Con in 1999. We’d been wedged in a corner at an industry party where, being the socially awkward creature that I am, I’d said, ‘How does it feel to be the Grand Old Man of Speculative Fiction.’ To which he said, ‘Pretty strange considering that I used to be the Bright Young Thing.’

And there I was, giving an acceptance speech for a Lifetime Achievement Award when I used to be one of the vanguard of new faces.

I’d moved to in Melbourne in 1976 (aged 18) with Paul Collins, just after the first Australian World Con which was held in 1975. Back then there weren’t very many published authors in Australia and it was SF fandom, with lots of keen young people meeting to discuss ideas and books. Naturally, we all wanted to be writers. When he learned I wanted to write, Wynne Whiteford gave me the old portable typewriter that he had taken through World War Two. After my first book published in 1999, I acknowledged Wynne at the trilogy launch and sent him a copy of the book.

In 2005 at the National SF Con in Tasmania (where the lovely Anne Bishop was GOH) I’d shared a coffee with Stephanie Smith from Harper Collins and Marianne McNamara, never dreaming that one day I would receive the award named in honour of her husband.

Now that is is 2016, it is a funny feeling to realise that I have been involved in SF Fandom for forty years.

Hopefully, this Lifetime Achievement Award will not mean that my life or my achievements are over. :->

Thank you to everyone this weekend.I’m touched by the support and kindness of my peers.

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