Nine Worlds – A Second-Hand Blog

Matt BlakstadNine Worlds? Honestly, I didn’t see that much of it.

There was a fun combat panel first thing Friday morning and a sneaky couple of G&Ts in the bar on Saturday night – but I’ve never <ever> been that quiet (or that sober) at a Con before. Maybe age is catching me, who knows. Anyway.

So – this is a second-hand blog. A blog that tells of happy people buying lots of books (and I mean LOTS of books) which always makes the weekend go well. A blog that tells of happy people in every kind of cosplay; a blog that tells of an excellent venue and hotel, where the staff were sincere and helpful (and the bloke behind the bar mixing a Mai Tai (not for me) was an absolute God, a Dionysus for the modern age). Where was I? Yes – happy. From our nailed-by-our knees vantage, everybody had a very happy Con.

Now, that may not seem like a big deal – but getting this shit right is bloody difficult. Over the years, we’ve seen so many events die, or suffer from falling attendance, or become plagued with industry hamster-fighting… but with four years’ experience, Nine Worlds has absolutely got it right. People feel welcome and confident, they can dress in anything the bloody hell they want, they can attend a whole wealth of panels across every kind of format and topic. and learn about every aspect of this ever-expanding business of ours. Props to committee and program organisers for a top effort all round.

NPC Quest GuyMan of the match, though, goes to the Side-Quest Guy, handing out little Quest booklets for people to follow – I didn’t get time to follow mine sadly (missed my Gold, there) but the work and through that had gone into his costume and supporting story were amazing.

Above all, this is a blog to thank all of the lovely people that came to sign for us at our table – and those who also came to have a natter and sign their stock.

We had a bloody fabulous Con. More like this one please!

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Nine Worlds – Where I’ll Be

Nine Worlds Nine Worlds this weekend, which means you’ll find me, as ever, nailed by my knees to the trading table with a big piles o’ books, a full schedule of signings and (hopefully) a lot of tea.

I shall be on the Getting Fighting Wrong panel (not advisable, if you’ve ever tried it) alongside a suitable line-up of worthies: James Barclay, Liz de Jager, Sebastien de Castell, Oliver Langmead and Lucy Hounsom. The fur flies (or not) at 11:45am on Friday morning.

I’m also (so I’m told) on the LGBT Characters panel at 10:00am on Sunday morning – so I’d better not overdo it at the Cabaret the night before, I guess…

Signings ScheduleYou’ll also find me in the bar, as ever. And possibly dancing, but that depends upon my intake of gin.

Ah, but I shall miss the Radisson with its mad glass fish and its smell of air fuel and its…erm… character…

Of Battles and Book-Sniffing – Where I’ll Be at FantasyCon!

Saturday morning at FantasyCon, I’ll be the one belting off the train at high speed and racing straight into the Conference Theatre for the ‘Fighting The Good Fight’ panel – the one where we talk about the battle tactics, the merits of cold steel, and how many Orcs one uber-Barbarian can really take down in a scrap. From the emails that have already been flying around, this promises to be a LOT of fun, and there may just be some propage…

At 2pm, you’ll fine me being rather more sensible, in Suite 2, and talking about book marketing. You know the stuff: social media, what works and what doesn’t, how much is too much and why you should never send a new follower a DM telling them to buy your book.

Or you can find me reading from Ecko Endgame at 4:40pm… plus ther are wicked rumours that Titan Books may have some advance copies, so be very very nice to Lydia, and she might let you sniff the pages.

The one place you won’t find me is behind the booksellers’ table. Because it’s not Forbidden Planet and they’re likely to ask me what in the ever loving fuck I think I’m doing monkeying with their till.

Find the rest of the gleefully awesome FantasyCon programme here!

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BristolCon

#squaresbygeeksAfter so many years of trading, being free to roam at BristolCon was a very odd feeling indeed. It was slightly nebulous, somehow, almost as if I’d missed something or there was something I should have been doing… for the first couple of hours, sitting chatting and drinking tea, I kept fidgeting, as if there was something I’d forgotten.

But no! After a while (and a very fine sarnie at the St. Mary Redcliffe just up the road), it finally dawned on me that I didn’t actually have to do anything, and if I wanted to sit on my arse, play with Lego and admire Emma’s sewing and crocheting skills (and all those lovely NERF guns, Ben!) then that was – actually – all fine.

Jen's DragonBut there was a reading (from the screen of my mobile phone as my iPad, dutifully lugged with me all the way from The Smoke, decided it wasn’t having any of it, thank you), a group signing (and actual people bringing actual books to be signed – even ones with my name on them), a book launch, (well done Jo on the almighty sales of Spark and Carousel), and the attending of the panels and the readings (including a very funny conjured-on-the-spot short story from Jasper Fforde featuring a wall of death and a pet lion in a sidecar, all good and blackly-oily fun).

Jasper FfordeAnd the best thing about not being nailed by my knees as usual? Proper time to catch up with people I don’t see nearly enough of, particularly old Vike buddy Ken, who’s now featured in Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion. And yes, I did buy a copy and he did sign it for me!

Well done to all involved for a fantastic event – a real family atmosphere and all very welcoming and laid-back. And, next stop FantasyCon, another event where I shall be a free and unbound creature, roaming widely and signing books and stickering unsuspecting passers-by!

Who knows, I could get used to this…

 

 

 

BristolCon

No Tables! Well, fuck me ragged, it’s a miracle – I will be at a Con, and without those firmly hammered-in nails that attach me to the FP table.

Yes, I will be at BristolCon on Saturday 26th, and will be giving a quick’n’dirty (no, not one of those) reading from Ecko Endgame in the Summit Suite at 13:50 – which will leave plenty of time for all you lovely people to get to Jo Hall’s Spark and Carousel book launch at 14:00.

No idea how it will feel being at an event without my table to hide behind – kind of feels like being bereft of both armour and safe retreat – but this is BristolCon, after all, so it’s all good.

Plus, Des will be there flying the FP flag, so I guess I’m sort of on range patrol…

May also be signing Endgame at the Bristol FP, but more news on that to come!

Full BristolCon schedule is here…

Nine Worlds

Staypuft Marshmallow LadyIt’s always hard to write a review of a Con when you’re trading from behind a table piled creakily high with ALL THE BOOKS – and this one was sans dealers room, our usual partners in crime replaced by a lot of Gundam Mech building and some highly amusing-looking D&D (not envious, honest). Trading table or no, however, Nine Worlds continues with its own particular achievement – to bring new people into fandom with the confidence to be themselves.

Gundam Mech MasterAnd this means that, from a traders’ point of view, we see more people buying books, and reading books, and picking up new things to try… and as we cautiously stray from behind our table, we see more people able to dress and express themselves however they wish, to meet their tribe and make new friends. And lots and LOTS of wonderful Cosplay, this AoT salute one of my favourites – unsurprisingly!

Attack On Titan Survey CorpsShifting away from the demographic, I always do a certain amount of hat-swapping at Conventions. This time, much hilarity ensued from me swearing four minutes into the first panel of Friday morning (in strict disobedience of the five o’clock watershed. (In my defence, I have no recollection of seeing an email about the ban… either that or I get possessed by Ecko at critical moments, (and I know which of those worries me more)). The panel was great though, and it’s always good to not only share, but to learn from the authors with you, and the questions from the audience. Special mentions to Al Robertson and Sebastien de Castell for their wonderful senses of humour.

The Endgame ComethThere was some excitement for the publication of Ecko Endgame (hurrah!), and for the forthcoming Fight Like A Girl anthology. There was much tea (thank you Em and Cara) and much wine (no changes there) and a great fun Saturday night that ended with the sun rising at the end of the Heathrow roadway – and a reminder that I can, apparently, still get up and go to work on two hours’ sleep… it just takes me longer to recover.

Su as Tiny TinaAn overall thank you to Paul and Nazia for all their help and support, Program is a horrible job (and we all know it) and they came through it with flying colours. Thank you to Erich for his tireless help and patience, and to all the authors who signed for and with us – a huge list of mighty talent which, frankly, leaves me exhausted.

Joanne HarrisAnd finally, a particular mention to the lovely Laurell K Hamilton and her crew – a perfect fusion of charm and efficiency!

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EasterCon Program – or, Books, Monsters and Popping my KaffleKlatsch Cherry

dysprosium_final-01_200Just to be difficult, my schedule at EasterCon is going to differ from that listed by the program.

As ever, you can find me nailed by my knees to the Forbidden Planet stall, safely secure behind our groaning tables of titles, and drinking lots of tea. Please come and say hello, buy books, sign books (your own by preference, but, you know…) and keep us entertained.

On Saturday evening, you will find me in Armstrong at 21:15, with wine, and reading one of my favourite scenes from Ecko Endgame. No spoilers (promise) but action-packed and definitely worth tearing yourself away from the bar to enjoy. With me will be Tej Turner, reading from The Janus Cycle.

And on Sunday you’ll find me popping my Kaffeeklatsche cherry at 13:45, also in Armstrong, along with the Mighty Jim Butcher, Gareth L Powell, and Caroline Mullan.

Posted with thanks to a thoroughly stressed Judi!

LonCon 3: Madhouse!!

Hula DalekThere are some unwritten rules to bring a bookseller at a Con. For example: you’ll hear the following phrases many times over the course of a weekend: ‘I’ve got too many books at home, I can’t buy any more’, ‘I can’t buy books, there’s no space in my luggage’, or the slightly more extreme, ‘If I buy any more books, I’ll need a new house!’

Apparently, there are a lot of SF/F readers with money to burn, not only on books and luggage space, but on the inevitable new house when they try to squeeze one more Kingkiller Chronicle into their already bulbous bookshelves.

IMG_2485Seriously, I’ve never seen anything like it. Not the bulbous shelves, (though our stall was buckling under the weight of fantastical literature), but the willingness of people to buy books. Those from over the water must’ve come with empty flightcases, because there were no concerned comments about luggage space. People were picking up five and ten and fifteen books at a time, hardcovers and signed books, books to enable them to meet their favourite authors, books to take home to friends, books that just looked interesting…  In a world where bookshops close faster than you can list them, something in me was jumping with childish glee at so much pleasure taken in the printed page.

Titan Books!One American fan commented that you only get a 20% – 30% crossover of SF/F books between the UK and the US. It hadn’t occurred to me before – but of course that’s why. If you go to a WorldCon, then the opportunity to broaden your horizons (and collection) is tremendous. Not only books, but authors and friends – no wonder you travel with only a clean pants and a Visa.

Slenderman Vs. MarkAnyway. More unwritten rules: usually, at Cons, we have time to escape our shackles and explore. Not this time! The sheer mass of fans might have been deceptively diluted by the size of ExCel – but all of them came to see us, sooner or later. I escaped for my couple of panels, and a slightly leftfield 40-minute session in the basement with the cleaning team, going through bin bags and looking for my wallet (thrown away earlier in the day, and fortunately retrieved). Even from behind the stall, though, the whole experience was intense, exhilarating, exhausting and wondrous, all in equal measure.

My Sigismund SistersMore than anything, it was fantastic to see so many people, so many friends, all together in one place. Friends from my twitter days, met in the flesh for the first time; friends from my Norwich past, back in the present as our lives rotate towards each other, friends from fandom, all over the world.

@ksonney and @ursulavAll-in-all, it was quite overwhelming. And after Nine Worlds and the Week of Madness between, its no wonder everyone came home saying, ‘Look, I love you all. But leave me the fuck alone ’til at least next Thursday.’

Free Universe!Well done, LonCon. That was tremendous!

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Worlds – London Geekfest

IMG_2406So – there was headbanging to Rhapsody, there was Max dressed as Sharknado, there was Cards Against Humanity as the rain poured down just past our shoulders. There was that strange, polish-smell that only the Radisson has, and the hotel’s latest menagerie of odd glass animals.

There was Toothless, there were early morning doughnuts, thanks to Pornokitsch, and a whole conversation about Adrian Tchaikovsky’s eyebrows. There was talking Social Media with Adam Christopher, Sophie Calder, James Oswald and Tom Hunter (the thing about Merlin is absolutely true, okay?). There was much wine, and much garage food, and the usual round of Con-scurvy. And there were many friends, Dragonladies and Fox Spirits and Genki Gear and Soapasauruses (Soapasauri?) and a much-welcome visit from Rufus Evsion, whom I haven’t seen in far, far too long.

IMG_2410And all that’s before I even <get> to the books. But you know about those, right?

IMG_2421Nailed by knees to the Dealers’ Table or not, I can see that Nine Worlds has managed something wonderful – it does ‘welcoming’ better than anyone else. Don’t misunderstand, our community is family and has always been open to all, but Nine Worlds is like a sampler, it offers a little taste of everything. It’s a perfect place for a newcomer to find out what they like, and where they’re happiest. With badges on offer for personal pronouns and levels of sociability, it’s also a safe environment, where everyone can be themselves. For those not new to Cons, it’s the perfect place for people to cross the streams – to uncover the mysteries of Greater Geekdom, and find new avenues to explore.

IMG_2425As ever, thanks to the host of authors who came to sign for us. I’m always sorry that I can’t get to more panels (program was packed and it all sounded like SO much fun), but there was plenty going on everywhere in the hotel, and everyone was having a blast.

A new generation is born, it seems. We already know they’re cosplayers, and they play games – but it seems they’re readers and comics-readers too. And that must be a win!

Gail Carriger's fans!

 

 

 

Social Media, Clerics and a Very Large Gin – the Stuff I’m Doing At Cons

Large GinOkay, you know those ubiquitous blog posts where authors list all the stuff they’re doing at forthcoming Cons? This would be one of those.

But first, a quick apology.

If there *is* still anyone tentatively now brushing aside the cobwebs to see what’s lurking in this abandoned and distopian blog, it will be back soon, I promise. It’s partially a genuine lack of time, and partially an equally genuine lack of getting around to it. Procrastination, it seems, is directly proportional to weariness.

Anyway! As the disturbed dust tumbles from the long-forgotten ceiling, we brush it aside to see the wonders we had so long missed…

Tomorrow, Thursday 7th August, I will be at Nine Worlds Geekfest, and you can find me nailed by my knees to the Forbidden Planet trading table as usual (though I think it’s closer to the bar, this year). Feel free to bring savoury snackage and gin to Alex, Sarah, Craig and myself, as we wrangle both tills and authors into submission.

You can also find me on the Social Media panel on Sunday in County A at 11:45am, along with Tom Hunter, Adam Christopher, Sophie Calder and James Oswald, all of whom will tell you that you need to blog more than once every three months.

Next weekend, I will be at LonCon, again behind the Forbidden Planet table, but also at the following events: –

The Social Media panel (again), Friday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 10, this time alongside Wesley Chu, Julie Crisp, Max Gladstone, and Emma Newman

And on Saturday 13:30 – 15:00 in Capital Suite 8+11, I’ll be with
Django Wexler, Scott Lynch, Den Patrick and P. C. Hodgell, discussing the humble Cleric – and why exactly your party needs one. Or does it?

In between the two, on Wednesday 13th August, I will be joining a HUGE host of Titan Books and Angry Robot authors at the Summer Invasion of Forbidden Planet.

And honestly, by the end of all of this, I may well be in need of a cleric myself. 4d8 hit points back and make that a double with ice, please, Mother Superior.