Sarah Parker is a well known personality in the Perth specfic community. This year she won the Mumfan award at the Tin Ducks for her work behind the scenes at Swancon. She is also very dedicated to the advancement of feminism (see below).
Q1 This year you won the Mumfan Award at the Tin Duck Ceremony at Swancon. What does this award mean to you and what kind of recognition do you think it gives to fans?
I never ever thought I would win an award at Swancon. I love helping out, and to be given a sign of appreciation from so many people is simply breathtaking. I think that it’s recognition of a number of things all at once – a celebration of the open and helpful attitude that makes fandom welcoming, as well as an appreciation of the hard work that comes along with that. I am also completely blown away by the sheer number of people who said I deserved it! I’ve always loved the communal eating aspect of conventions, and inviting any one along the way, especially people who seem uncertain about the etiquette of joining in. I hate feeling uncertain and left out, and would much rather just know what’s acceptable up front in these sorts of situations, and figure every one else must feel the same.
The other thing this award did mean to me is that I can have a place in the community that is not just ‘writer/author’ or ‘Big Name Fan’ (cos I’m neither!) And I feel that this award has given me more focus on the opportunities available to being in Fandom. I’ve always recommended Swancon and conventions for any one who feels they lack experience in working situations, or need to learn to work with committees, or want to meet new people and make new friends. There’s something very special about working with a committee for a huge group. And it *is* hard work to do on top of your normal life.
Q2 You have recently taken an interest in promoting the various Fan Funds in Australia. What role do you see these funds, and the fans who are awarded them, play in the local scene?
I see the Fan Funds as a cross pollination of ideas and people. We’ve had some fantastic people from over east come to Perth, and we’ve sent some equally fantastic people back, and every time we do the Swancon community grows bigger and better. I hope it works the same for the Eastern states communities! It’s also another great opportunity to meet other people who are supportive and you know will have an instant ground in common with you. The Fan Funds also provide so many areas for personal growth. The expedition alone is only half of the fun. The fundraising and co-ordination is work, but it’s done with old friends, and new friends. The support, relationships, and experiences all make these things worthwhile.
Q3 You are also an active supporter of Femmeconne and Gynaecon. Can you tell me a bit about why you see it important to have these female spaces and how you think they contribute to the overall scene?
Femmeconne doesn’t really have a lot to do with Specfic, however Gynaecon is totally on target. I do think it is important to have “other” spaces, not just female. I was on a panel on Taboos of Fandom, and it’s not just female spaces that get marginalized.
I think it is important for people to have space to air their ideas and discuss things, and quite simply most of the panels at conventions tend to be very authoritive in their set up and their structure, which tends to lend a certain semiotic authority to the discussion at hand. So few women on panels means that our voices rarely get heard, and often when we do get heard we get talked over or ignored. I find the Gynaecon spaces allow for more peaceful, less authoritive discusion – we feel more comfortable speaking about how we feel, and don’t get defensive enough to need the text on hand to back up our experiences. Gynaecon is an open space, men are MORE THAN WELCOME. It’s great when men do turn up! A part of interacting with a text is to feel about it, and I don’t think we talk about that very much in standard panels.
I also found it fascinating to listen to what women and others want from their SpecFic. If i ever get a writing career together, there was a million ideas in a one hour panel. I don’t find that sort of inquisitive playfulness in many of the conventional panels.
Gynaecon also encourages women to join into Specfic on their own terms, and not just the terms as displayed by the dominant system. And I think we also encourage community above Specfic, with clothes swaps, art, and dance, exploring the liminal space provided by the convention.
Q4 Do you read much of the Aus spec fic scene? What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?
I’m in “breeding season” at the moment, and so my reading time is pretty much non-existant since looking after my son and trying to stay sane and get enough sleep. I loved reading ASIM, and occasionally find a story where I think “I wish I could read a whole novel in this world,” but that’s pretty rare. The only things I have read this year have been a Traci Harding novel and Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding. Oh, and the last Harry Potter. Of course. My little boy was quite put out that day! I enjoy Ticonderoga, but suffer the same problem with a lot of other stuff – I get 2 or 3 minute breaks at the PC before someone comes to lead me away, and often forget what I was reading/doing before I come back.
Q5 – And finally, if you had the chance to get it on with the fictional character you fancy most, who would it be?
Mohiiiiinnnndddddirrrrrrrr…. He’s such a GOD. Oh, and Captain Jack. And…
Ok, maybe we should stop there before I get too carried away.