Sunday, 15 July 2012

Some Thoughts on Edge-Lit

Yesterday I went to Edge-Lit, a one-day convention of horror, science fiction and fantasy writing. I've never been to anything like this before, but this was just down the road (well, train tracks) in Derby, and I'd met the organiser Alex Davis at a writing course before, so I bought a ticket.

I went on my own and didn't know anyone there personally; I recognised a few name badges from Twitter and probably should have plucked up the courage to say hello. But I'm really not the type who can just walk up to strangers and introduce myself, despite the fact that I know from experience if I just forced myself people would probably have loved to say hello & shared a beer, just as I would have in their shoes. So there was a bit of drinking on my own in the bar. Nevertheless I did chat to some people during some of the events, and have got in touch with a few of them on Twitter since (internet socialising I'm fine with...)

As for the event itself it was tremendous and my brain was buzzing with ideas all day, and well into the night until my thoughts were blunted with a glass of wine or two. All the authors on the various panels were excellent, but naturally the words of some of them stuck with me more than others:

Obviously I went to the What Makes a Great Story? panel chaired by Marie O'Regan. The answer to the question seemed to be pretty much 'that indefinable something that we can recognise but not pin down' which I'm sure we all knew really, but the discussion around it was fun and interesting. Particularly where Simon Bestwick starting ranting about haunting "fucking copy editors" from beyond the grave if they started messing with his work after he died.

Emma Newan wasn't a writer I'd ever heard of before, but by chance I ended up seeing her on a number of panels, and a lot of what she said was really great, particularly talking about The Writer And The Internet. Her comments on drawing a line and social anxiety (see above!) struck a chord. Despite proclaiming she was afraid of "everything" she was also on the excellent Are We Still Afraid Of Monsters? panel, alongside    Simon Bestwick , Ian Culbard, and Paul Kane. Being a horror author this was the panel I was most looking forward and it didn't disappoint: lots of Lovecraft; The Birds; disdain for sparkly vampires; human monsters; whether right-wing governments cause a resurgence in the horror genre... - scattershot and marvellous.

The Ray Bradbury retrospective was also fun and a tad moving, although I most liked the part where Sarah Pinborough and Graham Joyce had a bit of a spat... But an good-natured and erudite spat, so it was all okay.

As well as the panels, I also went to a workshop run by Simon Bestwick  (yep him again) about Making Monsters. This was the best part for me, doing some actual writing, albeit rushed and in public. Obviously we had to create a monster and after staring at an empty page for what seemed like three quarters of the wriring time the idea I came up with seemed really solid, and I tinkered with it on the train on the way home. My monsters were The Men Who Value Everything In Money and I have a feeling in my gut that there's a good story of that name in me somewhere. I read out my piece to the group, which as you can imagine from the what I said above I found particularly nerve-racking, but people seemed to like it.

I asked Simon to sign a book after the workshop, and was really chuffed when he recognised my name from the interview I did with Cate Gardner recently (he being a big fan of hers) & signed my copy of The Faceless "from one Abominable Gentlemen to another".

Oh and I came home with a ton of books (many by the authors mentioned above who particularly impressed me). Huzzah!

So overall a great day, and hopefully I'll be back next year and be a bit bolder in the forcing myself on people in the bar department. Knowing me I'll probably wildly overcompensate and be the drunken twat everyone can't stand - the title of next year's shamefaced blog post no doubt.


Cate Gardner said...

Are you going to FantasyCon, James?
I may go to EdgeLit next year if I'm not traumatised by FantasyCon.

Oh, and that Bestwick is evil making people read stories out in his workshop (note to self: do not sign up for a Bestwick workshop).

James Everington said...

Hi Cate - I'd like to, I need to see whether work commitments etc. let me...

Cate Gardner said...

I hope you do :D

Mark said...

Hi James!

Very pleased you enjoyed Edge.Lit. You should find once you've broken the ice, as you have now, they get easier!

Just thought I'd clarify one point though, in that Graham and Sarah, as far as I know, are still friends! Wouldn't really call it a spat - otherwise I'd've stepped in! - though they were both pretty emotional about how they felt.

And for what it's worth, I think both had valid points. Sarah was talking about how strong her emotional response was to Bradbury, Graham was pointing out that, in his opinion, Ray's best work for that was pre-1960.

Differences in opinions are usually good (or at least more interesting!) in such matters, I find.

I hope that you found both views of use, even if you agreed/disagreed with at least one of them!

Interestingly, two of the comments made to me at the end were: "I must go read some!" and "I must go reread some!" Either of which I'd personally be happy with.

Best wishes

Mark Yon

James Everington said...

Hi Mark - oh yes I realised it was all between friends, that's why it was still interesting from an audience perspective. A real argument would have been very uncomfortable to watch...

Cheers for the comment.

Mark said...

Agreed. I have seen some arguments on panels that have been 'quite uncomfortable', to say the least.

This wasn't one of them, I'm pleased to say.