2015: Donna Maree Hanson

A. Bertram Chandler Award 2015 presented to Donna Maree Hanson

Donna Maree Hanson
Donna Maree Hanson

You’ll come across few people more talented and generous than Donna Maree Hanson. Looking at the timeline of her work in the community, both fannish and professional, is enough to make someone come over all faint at all that work. The list also makes very clear something I’ve long thought – the Canberra SF scene would be a vastly different place right now if not for Donna Hanson.

She started her involvement in 2001 when she joined the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild (CSFG) and the following year, she was part of the committee for the Canberra SF Con. Within a couple of years, she was basically running both entities.

At CSFG she was a hugely involved in getting ‘Elsewhere’ to print, then became the force behind the guild, helping to get meetings up and running, encouraging people to be more active.

In 2004 she and Maxine McArthur edited ‘Encounters’ and in 2005 she edited Kaaron Warren’s first collection, ‘The Grinding House’ for CSFG Publishing.

In 2006 CSFG was incorporated– an action mostly inspired by the realisation we needed to take the load off Donna. That said, she was the inaugural president and then acted as vice president for a number of years. The CSFG today is a vibrant, active writing community but I bet most of the current members
don’t realise the debt they owe to Donna.

She’s probably better known Australia-wide for her con-running. She ended up chairing the inaugural Conflux, the Natcon in 2004 and it was a smash. She then chaired the next Conflux before taking a break (although she was known for years after as the Conflux goddess). She was the chair of the Communications committee for Aussiecon 4 for six months before circumstances forced her to retire.

However, it re-awakened her love of con-running and in 2013 she was the co-chair with yours truly of Conflux 9, the second Conflux Natcon. Behind the scenes from 2012-2014, she was the Conflux bookkeeper and worked hundreds of hours getting the books and paperwork in order. Conflux exists in no small part because of Donna.

In 2005, Donna created what I believe is her greatest contribution to the community – ‘Australian Speculative Fiction: A Genre Overview’. This took thousands of hours of her own time, and thousands of her own dollars and the result was truly astonishing. A complete snapshot of the profession in Australia at that moment, including interviews with most writers, examples of the artwork being produced and even introducing us to some of the up and comers.

The company she formed to produce this then went on to publish ‘Kered’s Crown’ by Kaaren Sutcliffe (saving this fabulous trilogy for never being completed due to publisher issues) and finally bringing the fiction of Robbie Matthews into the spotlight with his ‘Johnny Phillips Werewolf Detective’ collection.

Donna’s involvement with the overall writing community deserves mention. She was treasurer of the ACT Writer’s Centre for two years, was a slush reader for Angry Robot during their first open call for manuscripts in 2011 and in 2013 was an Aurealis Awards judge.

Throughout all this, Donna was also chasing her own passion – writing. In 2013, all her hard work started to bear fruit with the publication of ‘Rayessa and the Space Pirates,’ a Young Adult space opera with Escape Publishing. The sequel is due out in 2015. In 2014 Momentum published the first book in her DragonWine fantasy trilogy in two parts, ‘Shatterwing’ and ‘Skywatcher’.

'Shatterwing' cover detail
‘Shatterwing’ cover detail

Under her pen name Dani Kristoff she publishes paranormal romance. In 2014 ‘Bespelled’ was published by Escape (the sequel is out this year) and ‘The Sorceror’s Spell’ was published with HarperImpulse.

So what will Donna do next? Well, it’s a ‘watch this space’ thing. But you can be sure that whatever it is, it will bring a lot of joy to a lot of people and have long-lasting implications.

Nicole Murphy, March 2015