Saturday, 27 October 2018

A Few Thoughts on Fantasycon 2018

Fantasycon this year took place in Chester, and was once again a wonderful, hectic, stimulating, scary, exhausting and uplifting weekend celebrating genre fiction - not to mention celebrating friendship, great curries, and the odd drink too. It's hard to do these posts each year without a sense of repetition, but that's part of the charm: Fcon is a fixed point of the year, always different but always the same.

This blog is really only my selected highlights of the weekend; there's so much going on, so many people and books and conversations, so much laughter, that it's hard to fully take in at the time, never mind recall it all afterwards (mind you, Mark West always seems to bloody manage it). So, a few things:

Book Launches: I bought a one , a few, many, um, 'quite a lot' of books, again, including The Dark Masters Trilogy by Stephen Volk, The Alchemy Book Of Horrors, the third volume of Great British Horror, and not one but two books by Ramsey Campbell. The launches for the two books I had stories in were two of the best I've been involved in. Early Friday saw the launch for The Black Room Manuscripts IV which was staged as a mock-funeral, and then on Saturday NewCon Press launched Best British Horror 2018 where at least half of us contributors were there to sign copies: the launch seemed to go well, seeing the book in the flesh was wonderful (the hardback is beautiful), and overall it was a huge thrill.

Black Room Manuscripts IV Launch

Readings: I saw lots of fine readings over the weekend, but my three favourites were George Sandison at the Shadowbooth event, Eliza Chan's reading from her forthcoming novella during our fantasy reading slot, and of course John Llewellyn Probert's restrained, hushed, and sombre reading from his new Doctor Valentine novel...

I read my story 'Drones' from Falling Over, a piece I've never read live before (and only decided to do about an hour beforehand). As ever, I was nervous doing it but it seemed to go okay and hopefully my naturally dull monotone deadpan reading style hid any nerves from the audience (the glass of wine helped too, apart from the moment mid-reading I accidentally inhaled some of it).

My Fantasy reading slot with Mike Chinn and Eliza Chan 

Panels: I was on two panels: Being BFA Nominees (aptly, for Imposter Syndrome) and Strange Fiction. The latter especially was both huge fun and intellectually stimulating (or maybe that was just the bottle of prosecco Georgina Bruce cracked open at the start). Of the panels I attended as an audience member, my favourite was probably Fantastic Inspiration, which explored mythologies, tropes and narrative forms from cultures and traditions other than the usual—every year, I try and see something that broadens my horizons, that talks about books, authors, and fictional approaches that I'm unfamiliar with, and this one really hit that spot. More like this next year, please.

Georgina Bruce opens the 'Strange Fiction' panel in style.
The People:
God, where to begin? Or more accurately, where to end as I'm sure to miss out some of you out. But, cliche or not, it's the people who make Fcon what it is, so I do feel it's important to try and mention as many of the you who made my weekend so special. So, in no particular order:

Friends I bumped into 30seconds after arriving in Chester station: Jim McLeod, Marie O'Regan & Paul Kane
'The Reverend' Justin Park, Tracy Fahey, Duncan Bradshaw, Penny Jones & the rest of the SHC crew
Charlotte Bond (great cake!)
Birthday Boys CC Adams and Ross Warren
Andrew Hook (finally we had our Fall conversation)
Ray Cluley (finally we had our poetry conversation)
Jess Jordan (a bad influence, frankly :) )
2am Saturday buddies Eliza Chan & Tim Major
Morning-after breakfast buddies Dion Winton-Polak & Lisa Childs
Laura "award winning" Mauro, Mr. Mauro, & Keith
G.V. Anderson (*waves from across hotel room*)
Neil Williamson (super-sub who never was)
+ Tom Johnstone, Dan Coxon, Mark Morris, Gary Budden, James Bennett, Geogina Bruce, Kit Power, Alison Littlewood & Fergus, Simon Bestwick, Cate Gardner, Chris Jones, Ren Warom, Steve Shaw, Ian Whates, Stephen Volk, Priya Sharma, Richard Farren Barber, Terry Grimwood, Ben Jones, Maura McHugh, Jan Edwards...

And last but never least, fellow Crusties Mark West, Phil Sloman, Steve Byrne, John Travis, Timothy Jarvis, Linda Nagel, Peter Mark May and Stephen Bacon

Dion Winton-Pollak, Mark West, Ross Warren, Steve Byrne, me

Chester - really quite lovely

Sober and dignified at the Best British Horror 2018 launch

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