It wasn’t that I expected Bradford to be a bad Eastercon, I just had really low expectations. For that reason, my entire focus leading up to the event was on my panels and trying to ensure they were as entertaining as possible. But it turned out to be a truly exceptional con.

I travelled up on Thursday (a little later than I had hoped due to an appointment to get the dressing changed on my leg) and was surprised to see that Bradford still had lots of snow. Down south, we’ve really escaped the snow of recent weeks, the most being a light dusting that had melted by 9am. I was in one of the satellite hotels but the con had arranged a bus service and given the amount of antibiotics I was on, I wasn’t going to be drinking and could drive.
Friday started out setting ourselves for disappointment as hanging out with friends Cara Murphy, Stephen Aryan and Ruth Booth we spent the afternoon coming up with a ever greater list of friends who were not coming. It started feeling a little lonely.
Friday also saw my first two panels. The first was Games in Fiction. I was a little worried about this, and did a lot of research but still didn’t feel comfortable about the subject. As a consequence, I stayed fairly quiet on this one, although moderator Lee Harris did a fantastic job of ensuring I was included.
I think if this had been my only panel I would have been annoyed with myself – no major fubars but I don’t think I had a lot to add to the discussion. However, I looked at it as the panel to get the nerves out my system and so when I went straight from there into the debut authors panel, I felt a lot more relaxed.
The time seemed to fly here. Bella Pagan was another excellent moderator and with a large number of authors, managed to give everyone time to speak. I thought it went well, and I hope those of you in the crowd got something out of it. Those of you who came up to me afterwards seemed to think so.
Friday night, I went to support my friend’s Stephen Arayn’s comics panel. It was a great panel with each panellist giving some great choices.
Saturday saw me on another two panels. I’d done a lot of prep for the Twitter panel but knew that when you’re on a panel with Cory Doctorow and Farah Mendlesohn you’re going to defer to their expertise. I think I raised a few good points though and felt included by the other panellists.
My final panel was the Reinventing Urban Fantasy panel and this was SO MUCH fun. I had a lot of people tell me it was one of the best panels of the weekend. There was a real positive buzz amongst the panellists (I think it was obvious we all love Urban Fantasy) and we got a real buzz from each other. I think if no-one had turned up we probably would have had the same conversation in the bar.
Indeed the conversation did seem to extend to the evening where Steve, Ruth and I hung out with CE Murphy and her partner Ted, as well as Mike Shevdon, David Tallerman, Jobeda Ali, John Lenahan and his partner (whose name escapes me).
And this showcases the real trouble with writing a blog post on Eastercon. Because normally, you write a blog post and list a few names of people who really made your weekend. You might add the names of some people’s partners to be polite, and then apologise when you forget the name of someone you spent hours talking to.
This year it was different though. It just seemed everyone mixed whether they be a pro, an aspiring writer, a fan or someone who’d come along to support their partner. There were just so many people, so many new friends, so many great discussions. People have nicknamed it ‘Chilledcon’ not just because of Bradford’s snow but because of the relaxed atmosphere. I chatted with people who are working on novels, people who have novels coming out (Libby & David – look forward to seeing you on the debut authors panel next year). I discussed the difficulty of shopping in Tescos when you’re disabled, I talked about collectibles, I talked Warcraft and Warcraft novel tie-ins.
I also talked to (amongst others & in no particular order) Kev McVeigh, Colin Tate, Ian Whates, Terry Jackman, Emma Newman, Marcus Gipps, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Francis Knight, Gareth L Powell, David Towsey, Gillian Redfearn, Anne Lyle, Sarah Newton, Brian Turner (who always seemed to be outside smoking whenever I returned to the hotel like he was waiting up to make sure I returned back safe), Adam Osbourne and probably a few more that I will remember the moment I hit publish on WordPress (Sorry!).
I’m sure in the weeks and months to come there will be plenty of analysis as to why it was such a good con: holding it away from London? The panels? The wide range of panellists? The venue? Whatever it ultimately turns out to be, at the heart of it will be the simple fact that the conrunners put on an exceptional Eastercon that future ones will be compared to for years to come.