You’re going to want the version which assumes I’ve actually slept a bit, aren’t you?
Let’s start again.
Fantasycon is renowned for being one of the most relaxed conventions out there, and is a highlight of the SFF/Horror year in the UK. It’s fun, laid-back and – from next year, will escape the bounds of Nottingham and move to Brighton (have you booked? No? Why the hell not?) The programme isn’t too frantic and has a good mix of authors and guests. Readings, panels (Stephen Jones on how to get published? He’s thanked in virtually every book released by British horror authors – and a hell of a lot of American ones. That’s advice), signings, launches, interviews – and, of course, the British Fantasy Awards. It’s a thing of legend.
And yet with all this stuff going on, it’s still possible to just stop and talk to people – which is always the best part. The experiences I’ve had at WHC (where I turned up knowing absolutely no-one, and had made some extraordinarily good friends by the time I left: people I see and speak to regularly) and at Fantasycon (where I made even more, all of whom are delightful and with whom I hope I’m in contact for a very long time to come) are what conventions should be about.
I’m always slightly puzzled by comments that the BFS and its members are cliquey – to the point where I wonder if people went to the same convention I did. The BFS is one of the warmest, most welcoming societies I’ve come across, made up of people who are not just professionals in the field, but fans of it themselves. They’re always happy to stop and chat, to introduce newbies to others. Somewhat appropriately, I remember being taken under the wing of Allyson Bird at WHC until she was sure I had found my feet, and I occasionally exchange e-mails with an author whose work has been incredibly significant in my life. These are the kind of people in the society, the kind of people at these conventions. And that’s what makes Fantasycon what it is–what all conventions should be, to an extent.
That’s until you get to the books. Oh lord, the books!
And that’s me being restrained. Good few freebies and raffle wins, plus the Zombie Apocalypse! mosaic novel – and a couple of books I’d been meaning to pick up for a while. (Like I’d expect to make it out without a copy of Guy Adams‘s book. He did a spot-check and everything.) Scarily, I also came away with one of the uber-cool raffle prizes: a signed, illustrated copy of PS Publishing‘s edition of “One for the Road” by Stephen King.
This made me very happy, and a little nervous at the prospect of schlepping it home on the train.
There were so many things about Fantasycon that made me happy: the people, the books. Abaddon Books‘ heavy metal karaoke (where Rio Youers, as always, rocked). Arguing about compound bows – with authors who really should know better – late into the night*.
And yes, the BFAs. Which came with added me this year, as I was on the judging panel of the Sydney J. Bounds award, and co-presented the award with Jenny Barber. It went to the thoroughly deserving Kari Sperring for Living with Ghosts. Read it. She’s going places. It’s a real shame she couldn’t be there, but she did send an acceptance speech.
(with thanks to Vincent Holland-Keen, or @fiskerton on Twitter, who recorded the whole ceremony. If you couldn’t be there, or if you simply want to relive it, you can see it on his youtube channel).
Congratulations to all the BFA winners (listed here) and to all the nominees.
Quick name check to people I definitely wish I’d spent more time with: Rhube, Charlotte Bond, Will Hill, Gary McMahon (as always), Kai Savage, Mark Charan Newton and Vinny Chong, who is never less than great company, amongst others.
Still, there’s always next year, isn’t there?
I might have just about caught up on my sleep by then…
*by the way, Mr Shevdon, you need to get yourself a Jedi stick, and soon. Be no more of the Sith!