It was also the first convention where I'd specifically arranged to meet people there - indeed within 2 seconds of walking through the door I'd bumped into Phil Ambler. After signing in and getting our goody bags we went to the cafe at The Quad where we briefly caught up with Paul Holmes from The Eloquent Page.
Phil and I then headed up to the first panel we liked the sound of - Ghost Stories Today with Andrew Barker, Johnny Mains, Marie O'Regan and Niki Valentine. This was certainly interesting, with the conversation referencing many of my favourite stories and authors, including The Turn Of The Screw, Dark Matter, The Willows and Afterwards. For me, those was a slightly awkward part where members of the audience were invited to share whether they had ever seen a ghost in real life, and one lady told a story about her child dying, but moderator Johnny Mains handled it really well.
After that, we finally meet up with Mark West and Steve Harris/Byrne, who introduced us to Alison Davies, John Travis, and Christopher Teague. Phil, Mark, Steve, John and I headed down for a few drinks, and we exchanged stories about the worst rejection letters/emails we'd received in the same manner as that scene in Jaws when they're talking about shark bites.
|Mark West, Alison Davies, me, and Phil Ambler.|
Then a few of us went out for a quick lunch, our gang now including Richard Farren Barber and Ross Warren. Somehow we ended up in a cafe that did pensioner specials and cheap liver & onions. Myself and Phil then had to hoof it back to The Quad in order to be in time for our reading - it was also Phil's first time, reading from his story in the Potatoes anthology. The Worms launch and my own reading seemed to go really well, at least as far as I could tell. Phil did a good job too, although I think we both felt upstaged by KT Davies (who it was lovely to meet again) and her excellent reading from Worms; she did different voices and funny swearing and everything. Now the reading was done I helped myself to the free launch wine and olives, as well as signing a few copies of worms. My handwriting is truly shit, so I drew a little worm cartoon character in each copy too.
Then it was back down to the bar again for more drinks and chatting - we met up with Paul M Feeney, and I also had a nice talk with Andrew Barker about his book The Electric. Then it was time for the raffle - we didn't win as many prizes as at Andromeda One, but on the plus side that meant we weren't scared of being lynched on the way out this time.
Phil had to leave at this point, which left the rest of ready for 'Operation Curry' - we found somewhere that had been recommended and had a lovely, if slightly pricey meal. It was a nice end to the day, talking about books and drinking beer and eating nice food, with friends both old and new.