So this weekend was my first ever Fantasycon. I had been hearing about the convention for years through a friend who has been attending for a number of them but was always stuck on the South Coast while the drunken antics, readings, signings, chatter and further drinking took place somewhere up in the dark and unfamiliar North.
This year though, the Con was being held inBrighton, just along from me and a great place to have my first experience.
I arrived at the Royal Albion around 12.45 after dropping my stuff in a cheaper hotel just a few minutes walk (or a few more minutes stumble) away. From there, I headed into the bar and bought what was going to be the first of many beers.
I was alone, my friend having not arrived yet, so I joined newbies corner and proceeded to meet a few new people, get a couple more drinks in me and then start discussing books I didn’t like.
Why did I do this? Why would my first conversations with strangers at a convention that was all to do with the love of the genre and its forms be about things I hadn’t liked?
Couldn’t tell you, not a single clue. But it’s not like I said it once and stopped, I was somehow compelled to be negative, right from the off.
So, if you were there during any of my negatively spouting pronouncements at the convention, I would now like to take the opportunity to apologise.
But from newbies corner I spread out and headed to my first panel of the con – maintaining your online presence. It was this panel that has made start work o this here wordpress site. The idea that I had to have somewhere to call my own properly, and keep it maintained was repeated often, so here’s the result.
From there I went back to the bar, found another shining pint of the good stuff which I finished and then found my mate standing in the huge queue to check in to the hotel.
I look at the schedule for Friday now and am quite shocked to see that was the only panel I went to.
The next and only other item I attended on Friday was to see Louise Morgan’s reading at 9pm. And I’m glad I did. The reading was wonderfully performed by Lou, who was unnecessarily nervous before going on. The chapter she read was full of little incident and details that brought it to life and I am looking forward to checking out Blood and Feathers in August next year.
But all that means I did little but stand around, drink and chat with a good number of people for about 7 hours.
I went on a Gary McMahon hunt as we said we’d look for each other there and was finally able to track him down after meeting his delightful wife, Emily.
Jonathan Green and I had a good old chat about steampunk – he being possibly the most prolific steampunk novelist writing at this very moment, me trying to get a short done for an anthology.
Trying – and succeeding – not to gush too much over Kim Newman, whose Anno Dracula series I really enjoy now and his Warhammer stuff as Jack Yeovill I adored as a kid.
Then Lou took us out for a Vietnamese and I was introduced to the walking ball of energy that is Gardener (I forget his surname, I’m sure you all know who I mean).
Then it was back to the hotel for more drinking and me not winning anything in the epic raffle of epicness that went on for a very long time until I staggered away at 1.30 so as to have some hope of getting up the next day.
And get up I did. Eventually. After my hangover had died away some and I could think again. When I first woke up I could not for the life of me figure out how long it was between 7 am (the time I had awoken) and 9.30am, which was when my hotel stopped serving breakfast.
I got back to the Con and started a full day of going to panels based purely on their titles, or at least that was the plan. In reality I saw 2 panels, 1 reading and spent another large part of the day in one of the two bars drinking and chatting.
Occasionally I would wander down to the dealers’ room to spy out what books I wanted if I hadn’t drunk all of my money away by Sunday.
Of course, there were free books to be had, courtesy of Solaris. Eight Books, 7 authors, 1 editor and assorted writers of short stories in the anthology, all lined up at one table. Take your free book, get it signed by the author, have a chat and move on to the next. Plus, free wine.
Saturday night after I’d had dinner started off wonderfully with the Teatro Proberto production of Blood on Satan’s Claw. A fifteen minute, 2 person pantomime version of a 70’s horror film, which I now have to seek out and see so that I can compare the 2. I’m willing to bet good money the panto is funnier though.
After the play there was burlesque, a first for any FantasyCon I’m told, and it was interesting. I still haven’t decided if I was entertained or intrigued by it.
But after the classy portion of the Con, we moved on to the disco. There I saw a lot of people I had met throwing shapes in theChurchofDancewith wild abandon. Highlights were – Gary McMahon’s Madness walk. Simon Bestwick “dancing like a bastard”. Scott K Andrews most enthusiastic dance moves that kept leaving him needing a quick sit down to rest. Simon Bestwick and Sandra (Sondra?) – who I had met at newbies corner – dancing to Don’t You Want Me? And turning it into a little dance play all of their own.
And, of course, as many writers as there were available cutting a rug to The Beatles “Paperback Writer”.
Sunday morning I woke up and my legs didn’t work.
Two hours later I made my way back to Royal Albion carting my bags full of books I had obtained so far. Constantly stopping to switch books from the holdall to my backpack until both were manageably heavy.
But Sunday was my day to buy more books! So I picked up PS Publishing’s grab bag of six novellas because I have long sought after owning some PS books, but they’ve been just too expensive for up until then. 2 chapbooks from Pendragon Press, Charlotte Wood’s novella because she had tasty fudge as a way to lure potential buyers in.
An anthology of steampunk shorts because I need to be more widely read.
And then I looked at the other books available and thought “I’m done, now I can use the rest of my money for more booze!”
And so I did continue to drink until it was time to go.
So thank you to all those people I met this weekend who made my first FantasyCon so enjoyable.