This year was my third FantasyCon and the best so far (although last year’s has a special place in my heart, of course). The venue was an improvement on recent years – albeit very hot owing to an unseasonably sunny October weekend – and the programme was a lot better too: awesome guests of honour like Brian Aldiss and Joe Abercrombie, lots of panels and readings, and a great disco hosted by Sarah Pinborough, Guy Adams and Rio Youers.
For me, the weekend fell into three distinct phases. Phase one was arriving and catching up with lots of old friends from previous cons plus trying to identify online friends and put faces to name badges. I met up with Laura Lam, one of the Angry Robot open door month “finalists”, and introduced her to Lee Harris – who proceeded to take great delight in showing her his ereader, which was on chapter four of her manuscript!
I attended a couple of fellow authors’ readings and went to the mass book signing, where I got my copy of The Blade Itself signed by Joe Abercrombie. Mostly though I hung out with the rest of the Angry Robot crew: Marc Gascoigne, Lee Harris, Adam Christopher, Mike Shevdon, Lavie Tidhar and David Tallerman, picking up some very interesting gossip and rumours that I can’t possible reveal on this blog
Phase two occupied the middle of Saturday: getting nervous about my upcoming reading, doing the reading, then chilling out afterwards. The reading itself went very well and I was absolutely bowled over by the level of attendance; admittedly the room was not large, but all the seats were taken and a couple of people had to stand (or sit on the floor). I read the first half of Chapter One of The Alchemist of Souls, which seemed to go down very well, and then answered a few questions from the audience. Although I wasn’t hugely nervous – I give presentations all the time at work – it was still a tiny bit stressful because I’d never done anything quite like it before, and it was a great relief to have it over and done with so that I could enjoy the rest of the weekend stress-free.The final phase of the con was the most fun – more hanging out with my friends, but now without the pre-reading nerves. I met up with some online friends including Vincent Holland-Keen, Mhairi Simpson, and Fran Terminiello and her writing partner David Murray; and made new ones: YA author Alex Bell, writer/blogger Harry Markov and probably a bunch of other people whose names are temporarily lost in a haze of post-con exhaustion (for which, my apologies). Part of said exhaustion may be put down to the fact that I was up until 3am, booging on down at the aforementioned disco…
On Sunday I went to the banquet and awards ceremony, the highlight of which (for me) was seeing the great Brian Aldiss in the flesh. Aldiss got a standing ovation, mostly (I hope) out of respect for his contribution to genre fiction, but also because it’s always amusing to hear a man who looks like your favourite grandad swearing like a trooper!
Needless to say, I’m now feeling shattered – not to mention having a mild attack of “con crud” – and wondering if it really was a bright idea to fly straight out to Venice the morning after the convention, but I had a glorious weekend and am so looking forward to going back to Brighton in two years’ time for World Fantasy 2013!