Q&A with Kat Clay – GUFF candidate

One of the people I met during my GUFF trip back in 2018 was Kat Clay. She interviewed me at Continuum 14 and our picture from this programme item is one of my favourites. This year she decided to stand for GUFF herself. I had the pleasure to be one of Kat’s European nominators. I thought it may be good to introduce her to my readers and hopefully convince you to vote for her (and the vorting period clsoes next week!).

Alqua: When and why did you join the fandom?
Kat Clay: I nearly joined fandom in 2010 for Aussiecon, but as I was living in Sydney at the time, I decided not to go. Why? Because I was too scared of not knowing anyone there! I wish present me could go back in time to tell past me to go, because knowing what I do now about fandom, I would have had a brilliant time.

But fandom just wouldn’t let me go. I moved to Melbourne in 2013, and I heard that there was a local science fiction convention called Continuum, where authors and fans talked about SF books! This was really exciting to me, because I’d wanted to meet more genre fiction writers for a long time. Despite my anxiety about not knowing anyone there, I decided to go along. And I have been back every year, and participated in many more conventions since.

A: What are the fannish activities that you are especially involved in?
K: I’ve held fan blogs in various forms for many, many years, where I’ve reviewed SFF books, games, and movies. I’m also an avid cosplayer, and you’ll often find me wearing outrageous outfits to the masquerade or panels. I’ve been on the Continuum committee, and try to be involved most years in an unofficial capacity by volunteering for programming or wrangling authors. You’ll also find me belting out the tunes whenever karaoke is on. Turning up and having fun is my superpower.

I personally love going to the fan fund auction, because it’s a comedy act as the host tries to auction off many absurd and interesting items – I’ve seen everything there from rare Shaun Tan drawings to toilet paper. And it’s great to be able to support the fan fund.

Another fan area people might not know I’m involved with is that I’m a SF history nerd. I collect science fiction and related works from the 50s and 60s. I even contributed an essay on Judith Merrill to the Locus award winning and Hugo nominated Dangerous Visions and New Worlds. I’m interested in writing about the history of science fiction and fantasy, reading classic works, and looking more broadly at the history of SF movements outside the US and UK.

A: What made you stay in fandom?
K: I found my people! Studying writing at university, there were often a lot of aspiring literary authors, but not many science fiction or fantasy writers. Conventions allowed me to find a community of people passionate about genre fiction, but more broadly, the things that I have always loved. My parents are both big nerds, and we grew up watching a lot of Star Trek and playing video games together as a family. I get so much creative energy from being around like-minded people. I really missed this during the pandemic, and am thrilled to be back attending conventions.

A: Should you choose one thing that you treasure the most in fandom what would it be?
K: Oof, that is a hard question. Sure, I could say my broken Obi-Wan Kenobi and Data figurines from the fan fund auction, but in the end, I treasure the friendships I’ve made through the years. I met two of my best friends at conventions, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Two people sitting behind a table and posing for the photogrpah with their right hands on their chins.
Picture taken just before Kat started to interview mee during Continuum 14.

A: You are also a professional in the broad SFF field – please tell a bit about this part of your life.
K: I’m a writer across multiple genres, including fantasy, horror, crime, and historical fiction. I’ve had short stories published in Interzone, Aurealis, and Cosmic Horror Monthly, to name a few. And in the past few years, I’ve moved into game writing for the Call of Cthulhu TTRPG system, with great (and unexpected) success. My two scenarios, The Hammersmith Haunting and The Well of All Fear, have become bestsellers on DriveThruRPG, and I’ve recently contributed to an upcoming Cthulhu Invictus book from Golden Goblin Press.

You might think it’s strange that I don’t include science fiction on this list of genres. For a long time I didn’t write SF, because I consider myself a fan first and foremost. I love Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Ira Levin, Philip K. Dick, the classic Twilight Zone authors like Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, and more broadly fiction from the 50s and 60s, because they knew how to write punchy stories. I’ve had some of my science fiction published, and maybe I’ll write more in the future, but I will always think of myself as a fan before a professional in this particular genre.

A: Now let’s get to the Fan Funds. When have you first encountered them?
K: I think it might have been when I met Jukka Halme at Contact 2016 during the fan fund auction (can you see a theme here?) and then Paul Weimer as the DUFF delegate the following year. I also had the delight of interviewing you at Continuum and still have my Imladris convention t-shirt! I love how fandom can connect people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. As I participate in the fan community, I hope to help build similar relationships with fans around the world.

A: What motivated you to stand in the GUFF this year?
K: Despite being a part of the fan community, I have never been to Worldcon! I have always wanted to go to Scotland, and had been eyeing Glasgow with some interest since it had been announced.

So when the opportunity to stand as the fan representative came up, I took the chance! More than a trip, I want to represent the Australian fan community well in Glasgow, and hope to meet new fan friends. I do have a sincere passion for broadening horizons, and hope to introduce people to work they wouldn’t know about from the Asia Pacific region. It’s important to me that Worldcon is representative of as many countries and cultures as possible, not just the US and UK.

A: What do you plan to bring to the European fandom and what are you hoping to get back to Australia?
K: I’ll bring my sheer joy for being a nerd! And my passion for SFF, especially books and games.

What I’d like to bring back to Australia is a better understanding of how large conventions like Worldcon work. I’d like to learn more about what makes a great con – from communications to programming, as well as seeing the Hugo award ceremony in person. I want to think about how we can use international experience to make our own local conventions and award-ceremonies better.

During the time I’m there, I’d also love to build better connections with fans from the UK and further abroad, as well as get an understanding for the history of science fiction in the UK. I think there’s a great place here for knowledge exchange between international fandoms. Personally, I feel like there’s a lot I don’t know about fandom outside of Australia, and I’m very willing and open to learn from other members of the community!

A: Assuming you would become the GUFF delegate how much time do you intend to stay in Europe?
K: I’ll plan to be in Europe for two full weeks. I’d love to stay longer, but I have to go back to work…

A: Did you already consider some plans as to what you would like to do apart from attending Glasgow 2024?
K: I have some plans to meet up with members of the amateur game writing community after Worldcon. There are a lot of community content creators for Call of Cthulhu games in the UK, who, like many writers (myself included), work during the day and write games outside of work.

While I don’t have definitive plans for either side of the Worldcon, my loose plan would be to spend some time exploring Scotland and the northern UK before returning to London to fly home. I’m very open to hearing from fans who would like to meet up and share their communities with me. I would be especially interested in seeing collections of rare science fiction books and magazines, works related to 19th and early 20th century British horror, or meeting people in game fandoms. As a YouTuber, I’m also hoping to document the trip on video, and would be more than happy to chat to any enthusiastic fans on my channel!

A: Thank you for the interview!

Should you wish to find out more about Kt and her works you may also check out her website: www.katclay.com.

I would be glad should you consider voting for Kat in the ongoing GUFF Race.

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