I'm just back from the 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English in Vienna. There were parallel sessions running each day, along with up to five different readings to choose from, so sadly I had to miss lots of great-sounding events. But there were lots of highlights to compensate:
- an all-round great panel, The Writer's Perspective and Influence on Form, featuring Pat Jourdan's wonderful story-paper "Various Exits" on 11 stages of closure in the short story, Louise Ells' inspirational "What can we learn from Alice Munro?", and the very different approach of Lisa Smithies on how human behavioural biology influences the creative writer (and congrats to Lisa on winning the overall conference short story competition).
- meeting Robert Luscher, whose theories on short story sequences saved me oodles of time during my own sequence writing crisis.
- meeting Elke D'hoker, whose work on short story cycles I've encountered and admired.
- the warm and lively response to my reading, in no small way thanks to the lovely Rebekah Clarkson and my high-energy co-reader, Ida Cerne.
- the relief of finishing my talk "When is the story no longer a short story?" and the pleasure of listening to, and meeting, my fellow panellists, Paul Mitchell and Neta Gordon, and of course our kind and humourous co-panelist and moderator, Allan Weiss.