Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Edge-lit 4

Edge-lit 4 took place on Saturday, and as usual I went across to Derby for the day. I remember when I first went to the first Edge-lit (my first ever convention) I was pretty nervous as I didn't know anyone. Okay, very nervous. And yet somehow, in the intervening three years, I've met so many in the horror community that this post is mainly just a list of people I spoke to. I include as many people as I remember not to name drop, but to sincerely thank them all for being such a friendly and inclusive bunch. (And if I've forgotten to mention you, sorry - it was a hectic day!)

Things started well when Phil Sloman and I continued our habit of arriving in cities within 60 seconds of each other – despite having been travelling for hours, he was loitering outside the station when I arrived, so we headed up to the venue, talking about The Quarantined City, dodgy cafes and publisher foibles. Once at the venue we quickly bumped into Dion Winton-Polack and Lily Childs – the first of a number of Facebook friends I met for the first time in the flesh that day.

In the bar I went for drinks, spying Graeme Reynolds in the queue, and then in quick succession spoke to (deep breath) Paul Holmes, Neil Snowden, Adele Wearing, Mark Morris, Kit Power, Vicky Hooper, Ross Warren, Lisa Childs, Steve Byrne, Alison Littlewood, Stephen Bacon, Richard Farren Barber, John Travis and Terry Grimwood. I made a valiant attempt to actually get upstairs to the venue itself, but then bumped into Dan Howarth and his partner Jenny so we had a chat in the lobby. I must have been back to the bar and decided the sun was past the yardarm at this point too, for I definitely had a pint of Pedigree in my hand.

I tried to get upstairs again but ended up talking to Andrew David Barker (author of the fantastic The Electric) instead. Moving closer, right at the foot of the stairs, I bumped into Simon Bestwick, Cate Gardner and Rosanne Rabinowitz – Cate and I have been saying we’ll meet up at a con since 2012 but the fates have always been against us before, so it was fantastic to finally do so.

Shortly  before my first aborted attempt to leave the Quad bar.
And then it was lunch time, and I’d not even made it to any panels or events. A group of us went to a café which served lovely ‘artisan sandwiches’, although quite how they took so long to prepare I’ll never know. After lunch, Mark West lead a contingent to a local second hand market stall, but I figured I’d better go back to The Quad and actually try and make it upstairs – which I did, sort of. I stopped to chat to Theresa Derwin of Knightwatch Press about a 'Top Secret Project' (TM) myself, Dan Howarth and her have been working on… After that, I saw Hic Dragones had a stall so I went over to talk to head honcho Hannah Kate and posed with a copy of Hauntings. Then back downstairs, and I bumped into Ross Warren again who was talking to Ray Cluley who I’d pre-order a copy of Probably Monsters from. Ray signed it for me and with a cry ‘pick any card’ he flourished some old school horror postcards which he’d wrote mini one-off stories on the back. What a guy.

Pimping Hauntings
Finally at that point I went up to an actual to goodness Edge-lit event, a panel on Monsters – along the way bumping into Tim Major, who came and sat with myself and Ross. The panel was hosted by Adam Nevill and featured Sarah Pinborough, Mark Morris and Alison Littlewood. Then it was straight over to the Spectral Press launch event, where books by Stephen Volk, Mark Morris and Cate Gardner were being launched. I've already had the pleasure of reading Stephen's Leytonstone to review for This Is Horror, and was chuffed to see a quote from my review appears in the front of the book. Cate and Mark's books sounded great too.

In the audience I spoke to Paul Feeney (later on buying a copy of his debut novella The Last Bus), met Dean M Drinkal and Tony Cowin for the first time, before catching up with Dan again, passing on the info from Theresa about the Top Secret Project' (TM), which as it turns out wasn't to remain fully top secret for much longer...

Book (and CD) haul for the day.
Next up was the Knightwatch Press event, which was truly one of the most entertaining launches I've been to. Dion was there to launch Sunny With A Chance Of Zombies, and his daughter was dressed up for the part as a brain eating zombie (with an actual brain to scoff in her hands). She was brilliant and never broke character once. The readings for Sunny... and Chip Shop of Horrors were all funny as hell (deliberately so) and Phil knocked his reading out the park, especially when he did a mini song and dance in the middle. Then there was brain-cake, some free wine, and Theresa letting slip to the audience about the 'Top Secret Project' (TM) I mentioned above. So I guess I'll be mentioning it on here too soon...! All in all, a fantastic launch.

Then a group of us now including Fiona Ní Éalaighthe heading out for the traditional convention curry - after a walk in the rain we ended up in the same restaurant as last year. Because of course we did. Lovely (if very spicy!) food though and some great conversation about just what made conventions such fun. Which in short, was the people. (And the shit loads of books, too).

Handsome people eating a curry. If you're wondering where Fiona is, like a gentlemen I'm blocking all sight of her save ear.
We headed back for the raffle, which was a bit of a blow-out as far as our group was concerned - I did win a signed copy of some fantasy book so I suppose I shouldn't grumble... plus with Sarah Pinborough and John Connolly presenting it was full of laughs (many of them filthy ones). And then, too soon, the day was done (and hay-fever had about killed any chance I had of saying anything coherent anymore) so I headed back to the station. It felt especially bittersweet on the train back this time - I met great people some of whom I count as genuine friends, but I only get to see them a few hectic days a year like this one. But still, it was a great event, maybe the best Edge-lit to date and I for one can't wait for the next one.

(One of those good friends is Mark West, who has written his own take on the day here. I have also shamelessly nicked a few photos from him...)

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