Release the Bristolcon! AWOOOGA AWOOOGA

That’s it, the Bristolcon siren has sounded. Genre-related shenanigans have been spotted cavorting off the port side, and will be arriving with us Saturday 26th of September. All hands brace for AWESOME.

Oh I do like Bristolcon. It’s enormously friendly and relaxed, and Bristol is an odd and funky place (with excellent graffiti and its own Forbidden Planet). I have been a zombie in Bristol, and chased a helium-filled Spiderman down a street. Anyway.

Here is the programme. I’m on a panel in the evening on editing, my books will be there is some form, and I’ll be generally mooching about so do say hello if you see me! I won’t be dressed as a zombie but I will have had to get up very early, so take pity.

Where am I? What’s going on? Cons and wotsits UPDATED

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Yes, you too can witness me awkwardly signing books, IN FLESH SPACE

I’ve been putting off writing this post slightly, because I haven’t actually known what I’ll be doing, really, over the next few months, but August is suddenly looming and it occurs to me that I should probably get my finger out. As I gradually learn stuff, I will update this post, and wave it about some more. So this is the rough draft, as it were.

So! Hello! Convention season is upon us. What am I up to? Where can you find me should you need a dragon drawn in a book?

6th of August Fantasy in the Court

Come and hang out at Goldsboro Books, one of the loveliest bookshops in London, with a bunch of fantasy authors. What could be better than that? I always look forward to this event.

7th to the 9th of August Nineworlds Geekfest

On the Friday I will be chatting dragons and griffins and giant spiders on the “It’s ALIIIIIVE: Creating a Monster” panel, 1.30pm to 2.45pm

On Saturday morning, I’ll be on the panel for The End of Author Mystique, where possibly I realise that after 105K tweets, I am probably not that mysterious any more. From 10am to 11.15am.

On Sunday morning, the excellent writer Den Patrick and I will be hosting a special “pastries and coffee” edition of the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. Readings tbc, and there will be a chance to win a copy of The Folio Society’s gorgeous edition of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. Chat and shenanigans will take place from 10am to 11.15am, and we hope to see you all there. Our early morning wakefulness will be sponsored by Orbit!

Then, on the Creative Writing track, Den and I will be making another appearance on the “Support Groups for Writers: How to make them work” panel, at 1.30pm to 2.45pm.

On September the 26th I will be at the lovely Bristolcon, and from the 23rd to the 25th of October I will be at the fabulous Fantasycon. I’ve no clue what I’m doing yet, but I am always ready and willing to sign books, draw in people’s books, or generally bore on about Dragon Age or Mass Effect, so please do say hello if you see me.

 

Nine Worlds Geekfest: The Best of All Worlds

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Gosh, Nine Worlds was fun.

I’m not hugely experienced in the ways of the convention – probably the biggest I’ve been to was the SFX Weekender, out in the wilds of Wales – but I feel fairly confident in telling you that Nine Worlds: Geekfest is gonna be a big deal. This is a convention about the future of SFF and its community, and that makes me very happy indeed.

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Me and Marty enjoying the fancy lifts

 

I braved the tube with my fellow con attendees, Doug Strider and Agent Bro Den Patrick, had a remarkably easy journey to Heathrow (pausing only to mock Den’s choice to bring along emergency apples) and had to wait all of, ooo, thirty seconds to be processed at registration, before wandering off to find hotel rooms. This experience characterised Nine Worlds; everything was easy, relaxed, and incredibly smooth. As ever with these things some of the loveliest moments were just chatting to people; new people, people I’ve known a while, people I previously only knew via the medium of twitter. I won’t drop a huge list of names, because it would be loooong, but suffice to say the company was excellent. Aside from hanging out in the bar and rabbiting on, here are 9 random highlights from Nine Worlds:

1 The first panel I attended was Cake or Death, with the marvellous line up of Paul Cornell, Zen Cho, Marcus Gipps, Charles Stross and (Agent Bro!) Liz de Jager. There is something especially cheering about a con where your very first panel has you roaring with laughter within minutes, and Zen Cho in particular was a hysterical delight – so much painful truth about fanfiction, so much. I also enjoyed how, when one panellist described books where the “cake” we have been promised doesn’t exist, the room was filled with the susurrus of a hundred geeks murmuring “the cake is a lie”.

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Me in typical con mode. Not drunk at all, obviously.

2 Drinking mead at the book launch for The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock and Swords of Good Men by Snorri Kristjansson. I mean, mead. At a convention. Let’s face it, I would have given it top marks for this alone. Snorri and Tom also knocked everyone’s socks off at the New Voices Book Slam on Saturday night, giving electrifying (and in Snorri’s case, mildly Brian Blessed-esque) readings of their new books.

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Some of the New Voices crew

3 I did a reading from The Copper Promise myself, on the Friday night New Voices Slam, and managed to get through it without cocking up – a significant personal highlight. Huge thanks to everyone that came along and listened, and even huger thanks to my excellent agent, Juliet Mushens, who made reassuring faces in the audience, and those lovely writerly friends of mine who kept me from freaking out all day as I got more and more nervous about it. (Big thanks also to Jenni Hill, who did a fantastic job of running the book track and was kind enough to let me join in!)

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Reading from The Copper Promise. No cock-ups.

 

4 Cosplay, of course. I always love cosplay at a con, even if I’m not quite brave enough to do it myself, and I greatly enjoyed seeing various Princess Bubblegums, Colonial Marines, Xenomorphs, werewolves and steampunk ladies and gentlemen glamming it up.

5 The sheer range of panels and activities was amazing. I kept largely to the Book Track, because let’s face it I’m a massive book nerd, but I was frequently torn over what to attend. Honestly, if you’re a geek, there was something here for you. I managed to see talks on ghosts, mythology, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones – the Heroes vs Villains debate was particularly brilliant, veering wildly into fashion and genocide – and I listened gleefully as Milos Yerolemou talked about his time playing Syrio Forel, all while various planes taxied past the giant windows behind him. And if none of that floated your boat, there was tons more stuff – science, scepticism, knitting, My Little Pony, geek feminism, gin appreciation, Harry Potter, RPGs, Queer interest, comics, Cthulhu… and that’s just the half of it.

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Staying at the actual Overlook.

6 Being interviewed about The Copper Promise by Max from @onechaptermore. They were good questions! And I even managed to answer them!

7 Having lunch with Doug Strider, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Adam Christopher and Pete Newman, where we discussed Pacific Rim and the perils of cheese while the most inappropriate music possible played in the background.

8 Discussing fashion mistakes with Den, Juliet and her awesome sister Lucy after several glasses of dodgy wine. You guys, I will never forget the koala pocket. Never.

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Convention mascot Momo taking a breather.

9 The biggest highlight for me though, was just the atmosphere of the con. It was joyous and accepting and utterly inclusive, and I felt completely relaxed. I saw no sign of creepiness or ill feeling, only lots of people obviously very comfortable with themselves and each other, and I had a really lovely sense of the SFF community at its best.

We’ve had a rough time of late, with various sections of the SFF world not looking at its best. This just shows we are better than all that, and that when we come together in an inclusive environment we can make something really beautiful, man.

So huge congratulations must go to the entire Nine Worlds team, who’ve done the impossible and created a fabulous, joyous experience for all of fandom, and I will totally see you there next year.

(Ps The breakfast at the hotel was amazing. Fried breakfast, smoked salmon and chocolate pancakes? Thankyouverymuch.)

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Nine Worlds: Geekfest 2013

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What-ho! Just a quick note to remind you that the first ever Nine Worlds is happening next weekend, and it’s probably something you want to get your geeky butts to. I shall be there, reading an extract* from The Copper Promise as part of the New Voices Slam Session on Friday night, trying not to freak out or lapse into comedy voices.

But aside from me making a fool of myself in public, there is an actual shit-ton of exciting stuff going on. I mean, have you seen the schedule? It is huge. It is a behemoth of a convention, full of mad interesting stuff, and once I’ve gotten through my five minutes of terror I’m very much looking forward to filling my head with loads and loads of excellent SFF gubbins.

If you’re coming along, do come and say hello! I’ll probably be in the dealer’s room, looking at My Little Ponies.

*Chapter 2, I think, because it’s quite gruesome but also has funny bits, and one of my favourite images in the entire book. No silly voices though. No.

My Day at EdgeLit 2: Living on the EDGE *air guitar*

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This Saturday I was in blisteringly hot Derby for the achingly cool EdgeLit 2. Above you can see a photo of me trying to look like I know what I’m talking about on the “Where Next for Fantasy Fiction?” panel (mainly that involved nodding at everything Adrian Tchaikovsky said). With thanks to Annie Catling for kind use of the photo!

It was a strange and slightly nerve-wracking day for me. I’ve been involved in talks on a smaller scale before – I sat in on a podcast/interview on steampunk at Alt.Fiction – but I’ve not really participated properly in a panel, particularly not one where you’re actually sitting on a little stage and have to hold a microphone and such. I did have a sense, sitting next to Adrian Tchaikovsky, Anne Lyle, Gav Thorpe and Freda Warrington – all writers with a number of books under their belts and well-deserved respect within the community – that I might be slightly out of my depth. I’m a debut author who hasn’t even debuted yet, after all. But I muddled through, largely thanks to my lovely panel colleagues who were very supportive and kind, and I managed to drop in a reference to Mass Effect*, so job done.

In the afternoon I had another panel, this time “How has the Internet Changed Writing?” with a trio of excellent chaps: Adam Christopher, Emma Newman and Andrew Hook. This time I felt a little more at ease, as I know Adam and Emma of old, of course, and Andrew, it turned out, had done a fabulous job of planning the panel so the whole thing had quite a natural structure. And let’s face it, I can talk about the internet all day with hardly any prompting at all.

Once I’d sweated my way through the panels I could relax a bit and have a few icy ciders. EdgeLit, like AltFiction, is a cosy convention with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and as ever it was marvellous simply to hang around the bar and café area, bumping into people and catching up. I went to Mike Carey’s reading, which turned out to be a little slice of awesome, and then spoke to him afterwards about Studio Ghibli films, of all things. I had dinner with Adam Christopher and the fabulous Lou Morgan, where we discussed our favourite serial killers and the disturbing fact that Adam has never eaten a Percy Pig. We skirted around the giant beer festival that was happening in the middle of the square, and admired the CAMRA members’ amusing balloon hats. I ate one of Andrew Reid’s legendary peanut butter cookies, and had too much wine, and met so many twitter friends I completely lost track, but it was fabulous to finally put face to twitter handles. Other random highlights included: talking Gaie Sebold, who was very funny; catching up with Del Lakin-Smith and laughing hysterically about something I can’t even remember now; Kim Lakin-Smith‘s amazing emergency shoes.

So I was nervous about everything, but as ever with this sort of thing it was all a lot less scary than I thought it would be, and the cheerfully welcoming atmosphere of EdgeLit meant I had a totally excellent day. AND the late night music in the bar played the theme tune from Cowboy Bebop, only the best theme tune of all time. I actually bopped around in excitement.

* “Mass Effect rules, AMIRITE?” More or less. And someone in the audience wooped. Whoever you were, I salute you.

Edge-Lit 2: The Edgening*

Since it just this minute happened, I am quite tempted here to tell you the story of how I nearly collided with a dead pigeon this morning, BUT I shall spare you the gruesomeness of that. I’m actually here to say that I’m at EdgeLit 2 in Derby this weekend, talking about fantasy and the internet (two of my favourite subjects, natch) and you can see the schedule here. Fox Spirit are having a launch too (how cute is the panda on their site?) and there will be cakes and chatter, and generally a rather funky time to be had by everyone, so if you’re around come and say hello.

 

*totally stole this off Andrew Reid, soz.

Alt.Fiction 2011: Cakes, Raffles and the Shepard Shuffle

Things I learnt about at this weekend’s Alt.Fiction: the direction of modern science-fiction, John Wayne, 1980s toy related comics, memetic theory in relation to religion and mythology, the Gordon the Gopher novel, waxed moustaches, Thai food, and… lots of other great stuff.

 

Alt.Fiction is like that. It’s a whirling multicoloured pinball machine of an event, where you bounce wildly from one interesting talk to another- whether that’s in a panel, a podcast or just by the bar while you’re drinking a cider. I think this is why it is regarded as one of the friendliest of conventions, the one where you make new friends in a short space of time and have more giggles over the drawing of a raffle than is strictly healthy.

 

In my opinion the real heroes of Alt.Fiction* are those writerly people (I’m including all manner of authors, publishers and publicists here) who probably were amazingly busy and probably did have a hundred people they had to meet up with but still stopped to say hello and have a natter. It’s easy for the writer at the beginning of his or her career to feel like publishing is a big exclusive circus on the moon with clowns made of gold, where everyone already knows each other and you are a tiny orphan child with a homemade t-shirt saying “I luv cirkuses”: the publishing people who pause to make the experience an inclusive, positive one are absolute stars and I cannot praise them enough.

 

I was involved in two podcasts this weekend and was pleased (and slightly alarmed) at the number of people who turned up for both, even the one on Sunday when we must all have had thumping headaches and delicate stomachs. Big thanks to Adam Christopher and Kim Lakin-Smith who spoke more sense about steampunk than I was capable of, and much slightly hungover gratitude to the lovely Jenni Hill, Mark Charon Newton and Graham McNeill who were all utterly charming and gave me an excuse to blather on about video games. Adele Wearing and Vincent Holland-Keen kept the whole thing running smoothly with style and panache, and indeed were true podcasting heroes.

 

Other highlights include meeting up with twitter buddies Andrew Reid (@mygoditsraining) and Hollie Chapman (@holliechapman86); talking to Graham McNeill about Dragon Age 2; the Mythology in Writing podcast where a brass band attempted to upstage the panel; and Dave Moore’s impromptu grammar demonstration over sticky rice. There were loads of other great moments but I think I’ll need a few days for my brain to process them all, and indeed I wish I’d had the good sense to bring a camera- a few pictures would have helped me remember everything beyond the haze of coffee and alcohol.

 

Looking forward to next year already!

 

*the bar staff were also heroes.