Gold Coast Writers Fest: Daniells, Bell and Smith talk Spec Fic

Today GC Speckies were delighted to attend The Gold Coast Writers Festival session about Science Fiction and Fantasy. Authors Rowena Cory Daniells, A.A. Bell and Jill Smith talked about their writing and our favourite genre. We also got to chat with them afterwards!

On the panel the writers said that Queensland was producing some great writing. They also discussed their first explorations of Science Fiction as children, from Lost in Space to the Jetsons.

They talked about how Science Fiction foretold the future.

“Who has a mobile phone?” Bell asked, and all but three of the audience members raised their hands. Science Fiction predicted those, but it didn’t predict the internet, Daniells said.

Bell said she would have her eye on the “black sheep,” those trying out different things in their writing than the rest of the flock. Those in the audience without the mobile phones might be in the new wave of big writers, she said.

Bell also discussed the distinction between Sci-Fi, S.F. and Science Fiction, and this was new and interesting to us. She said Sci-Fi was the more popular and fun end of the continuum, whereas Science Fiction was the scientific, political and intellectual extrapolation of science.

Daniells, Smith and Bell saw the future of Science Fiction and Fantasy as positive and dynamic. Publishing developments like small independent publishers, self publishing and e-books have allowed cross genre work to find readers, whereas mainstream publishers traditionally shied away from cross genre work which wasn’t marketable to a defined market.

Daniells said that Fantasy was growing up, from traditional and quest based fantasy to grittier and multifaceted work. She said that Science Fiction raised the ethical issues of science that the real world will one day have to face, such as genetic predisposition to disease and the effect that might have on insurance policies.

When asked about dystopian cyberpunk, the authors said readers prefered positive fiction, and negativity in Science Fiction may have pushed readers toward Fantasy. Smith said readers love strong characters who triumph in a happy ending. Bell said she encouraged readers to enjoy story shapes and the mood and technique of novels, rather than focusing on which part of Speculative Fiction a novel fell into.

The writers also said the internet has enabled Queensland writers to sell their writing in other states and countries, the only inconvenience being the time zone differences.

Daniells said she saw herself as a citizen of the world and her writing reflects the greater human condition.

Rowena Cory Daniells is author of the King Rolen’s Kin trilogy, A.A. Bell is author of the Diamond Eyes trilogy and Jill Smith is author of Dual Visions.

GC Speckies Helen, Janis and Adriana attended the session and handed out some cards, hoping to recruit more local readers and writers to our meetings on the 3rd Sunday of the month at Ashmore. One fan we met recommended Arctic Rising by Tobias Buckell.

It was great to see these award-winning and knowledgeable authors! I hope I’ve relayed their panel accurately and would love them to clarify or expand on their views, if they wish to do so.

Cross posted at


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