Last Night’s Book Launch!

BooksSometimes, you sit behind a table with a pen and it’s all terribly formal.

Cakeage!And then sometimes, you don’t actually get to sit down because you’re so busy, chatting, greeting old friends, putting names to faces to twitterhandles.

Sometimes, the energy generates itself and the tables are groaning under the weight of Krispy Kreme (thank you Stephen J Sweeney!), chilli chocolate cupcakes and gloriously sugary cinder toffee honeycomb (as we couldn’t have branded matches, it seemed like the next best thing)!

Sugar Rush!Sometimes, everybody just gets into the spirit of the evening and has a fantastic time – through that might have been fuelled by sugar.

Sometimes, the rather staid image of the traditional ‘book signing’ just goes straight out the window and people make a community all of their own.

Tees!With thanks to Titan Books and Lou Hellbaby, last night was awesome.

Tees!

The SF Weekender

sci-fiweekender_506eaac9f294fTake a long drive via the scenic route, the rising slopes and rearing rocks of Snowdonia, the sheep in the road, the tumbledown stone cots and the villages on the edge of nowhere.

Take a holiday caravan with a choice of old VHS tapes. Take giant deckchairs and cawing rooks and strange chainsaw-carved creatures that looked like something out of Spirited Away. Something waiting.

IMG_1036Take twelve-hour days on our feet, selling copies of Avengers Vs. X-Men and Assassin’s Creed cosplay stealth blades (so was there that game of Dancefloor Hitman in the end?). Take many friends, old and new; take a very different kind of stock, and a very different kind of fan.

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Take a plethora of authors at the Forbidden Planet table. Take notes on how appearing on a panel can affect a subsequent signing. Take nineteen copies of Ecko signed and sold – and take an interesting lesson in authordom from, at various points, David Moody, Stacia Kane and Peter V Brett. Take time to wonder: just how much of an author’s persona is donned?

IMG_1021Take costumes (of course) – take a cardboard Blood Angel and five fans dressed as a game of Pac-Man. Take every kind cleavage, every pattern of waistcoat, every steampunk cog and goggle; take every lightsaber, every sword and bow and zap-gun. Take every plastic and pointy ear.

Take a breath, and go outside.

P1050250And finally, take a walk in the early morning, down to a beautiful little beach and great shadows of mountains – take a moment of tranquillity that makes the high energy madness of the Con all wonderfully surreal.

And take a consensus?

A subtly different event – very much a con for cosplayers. In some ways, it felt more like Expo than EasterCon. The facilities were better than previous years and the business was very good, but perhaps a little bit warmer, next year?

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Westward Ho – a Weekend at BristolCon


Bristol is one of those places that’s always drawn me back – friends there, and events, and FP. A slightly more hip Norwich, a slightly less smug Brighton, it’s a city that has a geek magnetism all of its own.

And nowhere is this magnetism stronger than at BristolCon.

This year, the Con seemed to be all readings and beer – thank you to those who braved the Big Hill and came up to the Megastore to the Ecko Rising signing, and to those who loitered after the Women in Sensible Armour panel for the hit’n’run five-minuter that was fluffing for Guest of Honour Gareth Powell. The panel itself was half-fun and half-serious – thank you to Philip Reeve for elegant and flawless moderation, and to fellow panelists Jonathan L Howard, Jo Hall and Foz Meadows and for getting a serious message across with a laugh.

Back in the dealers’ room, a big cheer for FP’s Dez who was a star at the trading table, and for Terry Martin and his uke (who knew?) Was good to meet Ben Galley in the flesh (nice stall, Ben) as well as to foist copies of Ecko onto some old friends (Ken and Nick, always unchanged) and some newer ones (Marc and Cheryl, be gentle with me!)

It was also a weekend of artwork – another painting by Jennie Gyllblad, featuring a lemur no less!, and I was fortunate enough to be given a piece of art by Tom and Nimue Brown – both of which are now in my front room and looking very fine indeed.

Finally, the event can’t pass without a mention of Colin Harvey, Ghost of Honour – someone I only really knew in passing, but well enough to spend my last hour at the Con listening to readings from his work, and to the voices of those who knew him far better than I did. It was a touching thing – and carried across the very strong sense of community that BristolCon is all about. You can find the Colinthology here.

So well done to Jo and her crew – may it get bigger and better with every passing year!

(And yes, David. I did have a hangover. Curse you and your pub-crawling!)

BristolCon Schedule

If you’re at a loose end in Bristol, this weekend, BristolCon has perhaps the best sense of family you’ll find at a Con all year – it’s a small outfit but a rapidly growing one, and has a wonderfully welcoming warmth.

Before Con kick-off, I’ll be reading and signing up at Forbidden Planet Bristol on Friday lunchtime, from 1 – 2pm. Please come and point and laugh and throw things; I’m sure Tim won’t mind clearing up the eggs and flour.

At the Con itself, you can find me behind the FP stall as usual, sneaking out to participate in the Women In Sensible Armour panel in Room 1 at 3pm, along with Philip Reeve (mod), Jonathan L Howard, Joanne Hall and Foz Meadows – after which they’ve got me giving another (very short!) reading at 3:50pm.

Can’t promise I’ll be in armour for it, though, sensible or otherwise. Bit far to lug the plate on the train…

Ecko Risen or How Bloody Surreal Was THAT?!

Nine years of signings. Spreadsheets and phone calls and emails; readings and Sharpies and biscuits and beer. Times when the books department has been so full we couldn’t move and we’ve all sweated our arses off – times we’ve watched the tumbleweeds and tried to make a joke out of the whole thing.

Nine years – you become completely familiar with the process, convinced that there are no surprises left.

Yeah, right.

Last night was an A1, tip-top, clubbing, jam fair. It was a sandwich of fun, on ecstasy bread… I’m sure you know the rest of it. With every stage of Ecko’s rising, so the surreal has felt just like that. The finished book, the wrapped pile of them in the foyer at Titan Towers, the posters, the copies laid out on the table as so many new titles have been displayed before… I had no words then and can’t find them now. It’s overwhelming.

The double-vision is wonderfully bizarre, still hard to wrap my brain round this morning. It’s not only the personal ‘surreal’ of seeing such an old story finally in the light, or actually sitting at that table with a pen in my hand, it’s the whole process, the book from manuscript to publicity – and understanding, from an author’s point of view, how Forbidden Planet’s events fit into that structure. It’s been quite an eye-opener (and I had no idea that reading was so fucking terrifying)!

But thank you to everyone who’s been so incredibly supportive – those who were there in person, those who sent love and best wishes via every media channel known. It’s been a long journey, and being able to share it is the best, and perhaps the most surreal, feeling of all.