I thought I’d leave it a few days before I wrote my post World Fantasy Convention blog, partly to get over the fatigue it induced and partly to give myself musing time. In the meantime countless posts have been written by people in far more coherent and considered accounts than mine has any hope of being.
I absolutely had a wonderful, highly enjoyable weekend. I think though that this was as much about the people I was with as it was the event itself. For starters I got to spend the weekend with my awesome friend Liz and see first hand the buzz around her debut novel Banished – ARCs of the book were at the event and getting to see her sign her first… second… and a fair few more copies was truly wonderful. I also got to spend plenty of time with other friends including ones I’d met before, ones I’d only had the chance to interact with online, and ones I’d never had any interaction with before but absolutely will have now.
There was, as there should be at all good events, a good sized dealers room with plenty of browsing opportunities. There was also an art show that included all manner of fantasy related art, including some gorgeous cover art and Lisa Snelling’s lovely Poppets. I was very good and kept my limited budget in mind the entire time, it’s probably a very good thing that the Poppet I fell for was already sold – I think it would have been pretty hard to resist! I did pick up a few very exciting books courtesy of the tables in the registration area, my ARC of Banished is already situated on my shelf of most highly prized items.
There was a wide range of panels on offer over the course of the weekend, I only made it to five of them though. Sadly two of the panels (Fangs for the Memory: Have Vampires Lost Their Bite? and The Mainstream and Us) suffered for having one very dominant voice and we didn’t get a chance to listen to a range of views on what should have been interesting discussions. The two YA focused panels, Not in Front of the Children: How Far Should You Go in Young Adult Fiction? and Are All the Best Genre Books Now YA? were wonderfully entertaining opportunities to hear from some very brilliant YA authors and whilst neither necessarily had anything new to say I enjoyed them both (I took detailed notes at both of these and will put them up once I’ve had a chance to tidy them a little).
The highlight of the panels I attended, and probably the entire weekend, was called 2013 Life Achievement Recipient Susan Cooper in Conversation with Neil Gaiman and delivered just that – two utterly wonderful authors in conversation, the only criticism any of us could levy at it afterwards was that we wanted another hour or two of the conversation!
I also attended one additional event that didn’t come from the main programming. The Popup Pirates set themselves up a few days before the convention to organise a few additional sessions – I went along to their Saturday evening reading to hear my friend Mark H Williams read from his debut novel Sleepless Knights (I reviewed it earlier this year). There was a good range of readings, Tom Pollock’s reading of a scene from the third book in his The Skyscraper Throne trilogy in particular left me wanting more.
In addition to all of the organised, both official and unofficial, aspects of the weekend that I went along to were many, many more that I didn’t. It was great when chatting with people to be able to compare notes about what we’d each seen and heard. The unscheduled part of the weekend though, the time sat chatting with people, was absolutely brilliant. I’m a pretty quiet, shy person really, once I know you I’ll chat away forever but before then I’ll generally keep quiet. The large scale side of the event did leave me feeling overwhelmed a few times, but chilling out with friends completely made up for this (escaping the convention hotel to go to a nearby pub on the Saturday afternoon felt a bit naughty, but most welcome).
The most unexpected aspect of the weekend was how inspired to keep writing I felt by the end of it. I’m sure I’ve talked before about how much I enjoy talking about writing and with writers, for the first time I had actually got a concrete, well underway, work in progress to talk about, and the hugely friendly encouragement I got from the friends I chatted with gave me a huge boost. I’ve come away refocused and with a much clearer understanding of what I’m writing, who I’m writing for and probably most importantly why I’m writing. That in itself was well worth the trip.