World Fantasy Con – All The Hoopla!

PopcornOne word for this – that word is ‘family’. With all of the fussing and fighting, my friends, that led up to the event, one would’ve expected fireworks and drama and fuck knows what else…

ALL THE BOOKS!…but what we got was a old school, traditional Book Convention and (from what I’ve seen) one enjoyed by all. An event run, you might say, by the book.

Titan BooksFor me, it was about family. About the Forbidden Planet family, with the huge agenda of signings and events that bracketed the weekend. About the UK SF/F family, the thing that supports us all. About the international family, the thing that surrounds us. And on a personal level, about the Titan family – the thing that came into its own at the WFC weekend.

Dealers Room

Dealers Room

As ever, I’m rather caught behind the Dealers’ Room table, but I did manage to escape for long enough to share a signing event with Francis Knight and her awesome Cake Noir – an hour that championed everything I’ve always harped on about as regards cross-pollination of readership.

Cake NoirAnd for long enough to attend the Titan party, a Saturday afternoon win complete with wine, popcorn machine, crossbows, and a signing table shared with Guy Adams.

IMG_1795Though it was rather surreal seeing people trying to win Ecko on a hoopla stall…

IMG_1790Family, too, in events run by Team Gollancz and their gin, Team Tor and their music, and by Jo Fletcher Books – though I’d been on my feet for twelve hours by the last of these and my appreciation may have faded to a weary croak that needed wine badly (thank you Snorri Kristjansson!)

Nice HatIn conclusion – an awesome Con. Something that surpassed its own rumblings and reminded all of us why we actually do this stuff.

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!

Signings and Cons and Things

ecko-burning-uk-cover-150pxSorting my own signing always feels ever-so-slightly odd – particularly this year as we’re SO busy with all the exciting authors arriving for World Fantasy Con. I managed to set up half a dozen events  before I realised I’d actually forgotten to set a date aside for myself…

Anyway!

Jojn me at the London Megastore, reading from and signing Ecko Burning on Thursday 17th October. There will be cakes and potentially other goodies  – I’ve been promised Krispy Kremes – plus I’m still trying to talk the company into letting me have wine. Whatever happens, there will be pubbage afterwards!

I’ll also be at WFC myself, nailed by my knees to the trading table as usual, plus taking part in the Titan Funfair on Saturday afternoon! (They’ve said something about giving me BB guns, but hey, who knows – they might come to their senses!)

Plus there will be a proper signing signing (if you see what I mean), as well.

Sadly, the one thing I am missing is BristolCon, but will be there in spirit and I hope it goes well. I’ll hopefully see most of you at WFC anyway!

 

 

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…

FantasyCon Schedule

FRIDAY

From 11:00am we’ll be setting up the Forbidden Planet stall in the usual place. Please bring coffee and biscuits!

1:00 – 2:00pm panel – ‘ How Important Are Blogs? The Relationship between Bloggers and Publishers’.

8.00 – 8.30pm I’ll be reading from Ecko Rising in Room 134. Come and watch and listen and throw things!

 

SATURDAY

10:00 – 11:00am Forbidden Planet will be selling books at Robin Hardy’s book launch in the Regency Lounge

11:00 – 12:00pm Still in the Regency Lounge, I’ll be miraculously changing hats to be ‘author’ Danie at the Titan Books launch, drinking wine and eating Sophie’s awesome cupcakes – plus Forbidden Planet will be trading there as well.

12:00 – 1:00pm Forbidden Planet will be staying the Regency Lounge for the James Herbert signing.

3:00 – 5:00pm More Forbidden Planet trading for the two Robinson ‘Mammoth’ signings.

9:00 – 10:00pm – Forbidden Planet’s last event of the evening – we’ll be at Jo Fletcher’s book party in Bar Rogue!

This is the first event I’ve done in both hats. Nothing can possibly go wrong…

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.

 

 

SFX Weekender – The Con Comes of Age

Pontin’s. In Wales. In February. Eight (yes, eight) trains and eight-and-a-half hours from Sutton – by the time I rolled in, a G&T was necessary and the travel chaos was having a similar ‘blitz spirit’ effect to the chalets at Camber.

The weekend’s been maniacal, fantastically busy – we’ve had non-stop a stream of signings, as well as a huge array of fans and costumed characters, buying t-shirts and goodies and books. We’ve met John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra; we’ve seen Daleks and K9s and giant Predators and hot girls on stilts. We’ve seen robots, large and small. We’ve seen Steampunk, we’ve seen superheroes, we’ve had a large amount of beer. We’ve seen Pat Sharpe and Craig Charles, spinning their tunes, getting us all up to dance our arses off.

Thanks go to all of the publishers and guests who signed for us, to Suzanne and the girls for letting me nab chalet space (and bacon), to Gollancz for letting us nab taxi space, and to Alasdair Stuart for extremely well-timed coffee runs (did I mention we were busy?)

Memorable moments include Al Ewing’s tunes, Raygun Rankin’s ink and Sam Sykes’ thighs (don’t ask). Oh, and the gorilla with the unlikely banana.

Through all of the event though, there was a common theme of conversation. Namely – the face and content of the ‘SF con’ is changing. Angry Robot’s Lee Harris drew the difference between the ‘fan convention’ – the cons that we know and love, the ones at which we see the same faces, the same friends – and the ‘commercial convention’. The SFX Weekender was the latter, it was more like Kapow! than it was like EasterCon – it’s a con that’s opened out to new ideas and new demographics, to more people and younger people, to new blood and enthusiasm. China Miéville said the ‘Geek Pound’ is still strong – and he’s right.

SFX got the mix right; they’ve effectively blended the traditional ‘book con’ (panels and signings) with geek-cool celebrity, with cosplay, with props and monsters and movie culture, with music, with glamour, with in-jokes and eye-candy… all of this explodes out of the traditional mould and comes together to bring us something new.

We like it. The Con has come of Age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empire State Launch

Point before opening: filming Adam reading from Empire State has apparently done for my little Lumix camera. Dagnabbit, there was going to be video footage and everything.

Anyway. Where was I?

I was here: debut signings at FP. Thanks to the meticulous records of Mr. Veasey, we’ve had a look back through them – at Gareth Powell, at Mark Charan Newton, at Scott Lynch, to name but a few. I haven’t got accurate attendance figures, but Adam’s was way up there – an event that came together with support from family and friends, journos and bloggers, publisher(s) and fans, where every layer of the industry joins in to give someone a proper flying start.

And Adam (I must stop thinking of him as @ghostfinder, damn you Twitter!) is the New Face in more ways than one. This is not only a new book – this is a new World. The Empire State really is a parallel dimension – in the World-Builder project, everyone can play. It hearkens back to the gaming of my youth; those bright-eyed and idealistic role-playing sessions where there was no GM and everyone could share in the creativity, man. This time, though, I suspect a stronger structure *g*.

Find details of the Empire State World-Builder, and how you can help create and populate it, here.

Thank you to Lee and AR for their support, and for bringing both Adam and the Empire State to us… and to everyone who came and broke that bottle of champagne over the author’s head.

The humble book signing is currently subject to a lot of doom-saying – I’m sure I don’t need to go into why. Events like last night prove that ‘doom’ is not necessarily the case.

What is, is change.

*Never* be afraid to do the new thing.