I quite infamously went to my first Fantasycon two years ago and went nearly the entire weekend without a person speaking to me.
It’s tough if you’re a newbie. Fantasycon is such a tight-knit group that even though they are genuinely very welcoming, they are always huddled in little groups, making it impossible to just join in.
My second year was better (to be fair they did respond to my criticism) but it was still quite a lonely experience.
However twitter has been a real life-saver this year. Through it I’ve met and got to know some lovely new ‘genre friends’ who made this Fantasycon the best yet.
Of course it didn’t start that great. After assuring my disease-ridden friend on Monday that he shouldn’t worry “as I have an over-active immune system and don’t catch colds” driving up on Thursday I came down with the mother of all colds. So Thursday Night and Friday up until the convention started I spent in quarantine, which was extra depressing as it was my birthday.
However, I rested enough to feel better (and when I wasn’t sleeping I did work on the novel, including writing an entire chapter at 3am in the morning when I couldn’t sleep). Come the start of the convention I was over the worst of it.
First person I saw was @hagelrat of Unbound where I got to see another side to her. Now, you may think Adele is sweet and dear. Don’t believe it! She’s a tyrant, gathering her minions and plotting blogging domination. I only hope she wasn’t too hard on newest minion Chris that he had a good time!
I also saw Sharon AKA @dfreview (http://darkfictionreview.net/). I think I’ve only ever said hello briefly once before but I got chance to chat with her over the weekend at various points. She too celebrated a birthday over the weekend.
Friday night saw a meal with @alrutter, @ghostfinder and his lovely wife Sandra, and @gavingsmith. Brilliant company, and lovely food. Amanada reviews books over at Floor to Ceiling Books (as well as a million other things) but she writes some of the best reviews in the business. Adam is a very talented writer (www.AdamChristopher.co.uk) whose work has appeared in Hub and a load of other places. He won the Sir Julius Vogel Award this year for editing (New Zealand’s answer to the Hugo) and most of the humour of the evening came from trying to come up with different ways he could display the trophy. Gavin G Smith is a published novelist with Gollancz (http://www.gavingsmith.com/) whose novel first novel Veteran is out now. I’m personally not big on Sci-Fi novels but hearing him describe his makes me want to pick it up.
From the meal we went to the Heavy Metal Karaoke. This is where I discovered I have now become old and find it “all a bit too loud”. I also didn’t recognise any of the songs. I doubt whether I would have even if they’d been sung perfectly, so I left early, thinking I should take it easy given the cold.
Saturday was a fab day. Normally at conventions I plot out my panels, rushing from here to there, trying to pick up information that will be of value to me in my career. I either know it all now or am beyond help, as I spent most of the day in the bar. There we were joined by Mark and Liz De Jager from My Favourite Books. Lovely, lovely people. And you’d think a day of sitting in a group drinking and chatting with people popping off here, there and meeting back up would make for a boring day but the constant flow of people made for such a interesting day that I was glad I was there rather than going to panels.
I did go to one on “How Not To Get Published”. I don’t know why I subject myself to these things. I mean the panelists made it interesting and entertaining but I have to accept that I know not to include rose petals and perfumed paper with my submission. I get a little disappointed when I come away from a panel not learning anything new, but then there is only a finite amount of information you can impart in an hour.
Of course, it’s impossible to go to these events and not talk writing. Just four and a half chapters from completing the novel writing is very much on my mind (I’ve stopped giving drafts numbers and am now on to letters. I think this is draft M). Whilst I think the ‘pitch’ needs a lot of work and hence didn’t get rolled out, I think I managed to talk about it without sounding like an idiot or boring everyone.
It appears a few of us are going on a pulp SF binge, but I won’t say any more about it for fear of pre-empting something.
I did see @markcn (www.MarkCNewton.com) briefly, but he was as in demand as ever.
We didn’t go to the banquet but instead, @alrutter, @gergaroth, @lizuk, @ghostfinder, Mrs Ghostfinder and myself went out for food and cocktails. This is where things start getting murky.
I may (at some point) said I could take George R R Martin and Neil Gaiman in a fight. I did not say I could take Joe Abercrombie – I know my limits.
We came back for the awards. These were the awards my non-fiction book got longlisted for. Lee Harris went and collected the award for best non-fiction winner and then put it down on the table next to me. Evil plots were indeed plotted but I do like Ansible and think it a worthy winner, so nothing was carried out (quite literally).
The downside to missing the banquet is the free books. Free Gollancz books may I add. At some point someone may have given us theirs, so I did come away with King of the the Crags (Thank you @kaisavage for your retrieval skills).
I took very few pictures at Fantasycon and this is probably well as I do have photos of Amanda and Mark making leopard poses that I only sort of remember. The one thing I do remember was Mark telling me about his book, which just sounds awesome and I want to read.
Another person I met was Will Hill. He’s a new YA writer whose book sounds interesting but I won’t say any more as I think Harpers has various things planned for launching him. Just remember the name and keep an eye out on all your favourite blogs.
If Saturday was the party, Sunday was the hangover. Mrs Ghostfinder came down with a cold. I maintain it takes 48 hours for a cold to develop so couldn’t be Liz or I, Mrs Ghostfinder is blaming the dirty wine glasses, so we’ll leave it at that and just hope she feels better soon. Likewise Liz and Mark decided to head home early, turning Sunday into a Ghost town.
There seem to be a lot of complaints that Fantasycon is more horror than fantasy but as an fantasy person I do have to say that if only horror people are joining and taking part in the British Fantasy Society, you can’t really blame them if things get skewed towards what their members want. The only way it will change is to start to get more of the fantasy writers there. I don’t think it would be resisted either. In fact I’m almost positive that it would be welcomed.
But I had a absolutely brilliant Fantasycon, in no short part to all the great people I met up with and talked to (only some of whom are listed above). Next year the event moves to Brighton after years of being in Nottingham. Hopefully that will mix things up a bit and see another big influx of new people.