FantasyCon Day 1

After all the anticipation, and travelling up the day before, it didn’t look good on the first morning. I went to breakfast already feeling down after waking up troubled with earache, to see the restaurant full of people I recognise and admire, but who don’t know me at all. Inferiority complex abounds, shyness takes over; Jay speaks to no one. I wallowed in my solitude and misery, and pined for the cavalry.
The first pick-me-up came on registration though, and the bag full of swag I got my hands on: three guys named Joe (Abercrombie, Hill and Lansdale, four Jo’s if you count Harris), two Toms (Lloyd and Fletcher, no sign of Pollock), two Pauls (Kane and McAuley), and more besides.
Best of all was when the friends started rolling in, starting with the svelte form of Mark West. I should take a leaf out of his book: after running the London Marathon six months ago, and smugly reminiscing on it rather than running more, my own weight is close to an all-time high.
Ben Jones arrived just in time for his own reading, and fared quite well, but really came into his own on the Weird Western panel, a subject he is very knowledgeable and passionate about. In between, Emma Audsley overcame first Con nerves to moderate a fascinating panel on the writing of Fear in front of a packed room, and lots of people missed a treat as Joe Hill and others shared laughs and insight aplenty at an excellent End of the World panel in a half-empty room.
Later into the night, and it was about attending readings and actually meeting people, some for the first time in two years, some for the first time ever. Ray Cluley signed my copy of Water for Drowning, which if it wins the fiercely competitive Best Novella award, might be unique in having two BFS award winners between its covers (bonus story Shark! Shark! a winner in 2013). Ross Warren came and went with a fiver of my money (absolute bargain for Bacon & West’s Lost Film novellas), I finally got to meet Lisa Childs and Carole Johnstone, (five and a half years after we were supposed to meet up at WHC 2010!), and had the joy of discussing Nik Kershaw’s underrated songwriting genius with Priya Sharma. I also got to right last week’s wrongs, collecting a souvenir poster from V.H. Leslie for her forthcoming book launch of Skein and Bone, and meeting James Barclay to warn him of the danger of a beating at the fight panel, and I myself avoided a beating as Graeme Reynolds forgave me for the most overdue rewrite ever.
All the readings were very good: V.H. Leslie, Carrie Buchanan, and Simon Bestwick, but perhaps best of all was from Marion Pitman, the hilarious story delivered with real flair and gusto.
Tomorrow looks like an even busier day, including CurryCon and the disco, as well as all the book stuff. I can’t wait!

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