FantasyCon Day 2

More crowded breakfast room on the Saturday, and lots of people to nod, wave or wish good morning to, but I had to eat in a hurry after struggling to get up for the 10am fight scene panel. Said panel was hosted by new chum James Barclay, with lots of good insight from Juliet McKenna and Jo Thomas. Good tips, very interesting, but I think it would have benefitted from the live demo which illuminated a similar panel back in BristolCon 2010. I would have put my hand up to request this, but for the fear that do so would be to volunteer to be the victim.
After grabbing John Connolly for a signature on my current read, it was into the reading room for Ray Cluley, to find that he had Joe Hill in tow as his warm-up man! Hill’s forthcoming novel Fireman sounds brilliant so far, and the reading contained a superb mix of high concept, clever humour, and a decidedly liberal political take that issues a sharp riposte to the Sad Puppies and their ilk.
After a stint catching up with Christopher Teague in the dealers’ room, and a short break for lunch, it was back to the reading room for Joanne Hall, who read an entertaining passage from Spark and Carousel. Then it was on to the panel on marketing, which was about to get underway when the fire alarm went off. I remember this also happened during George R.R. Martin’s talk at EasterCon 2012, but he ignored it and no one moved a muscle, and he just spoke over it until it stopped. No one present could command that level of authority, so we all traipsed out in typically British good humour, and what a sight we made! Hundreds of speculative fiction authors congregated in close quarters outside the doors like a polite and better-looking Dawn of the Dead; an image captured by Neil John Buchanan in what must be the selfie of the Con.
The panel resumed after a short interlude and was well worth the wait, and this gets my vote for best panel of the entire Con. It had individuals coming from different perspectives but finding a unified voice and an encouraging message, with a great mix of useful info and humorous anecdotes. The general agreement is that you can promote yourself effectively, even on a minimal budget, if you’re smart with your online presence. This probably includes not changing your name to a Monty Python character, but I was already coming round to that way of thinking anyway.
After a panel on the state of British horror, I retreated to prepare myself for an evening of CurryCon and a night at the disco. CurryCon saw 30 or so of us taking over Beeston’s best (only?) curry house for the night, and we stretched their waiting staff to breaking point. I ended up on a table of six with Steve Byrne, Stuart Young, John Travis, Terry Grimwood, and next to me, one of my favourite authors Simon Clark. We shared our love of Day of the Triffids, and our naan breads and rice, before we were thankfully the first table to get the bill and could get back to the Con, while others faced an interminable wait for service. I was still too late for V.H. Leslie’s book launch, but consoled myself at the Fcon disco. It hadn’t got busy yet, and I started to worry that it wouldn’t, but by the time I’d changed from my sensuously tactile long sleeved shirt into my Atticus t-shirt that glows in the dark, and heard an excellent short story at Kit Power’s reading, the party was really kicking in. Cue strutting, spinning, jumping and shaking, and working up an epic sweat to an eclectic music mix with a cool and talented crowd. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Boom!

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