Posts belonging to Category public appearances



Fight Like A Girl – the anthology and the launch event!

I honestly cannot recall what started that particular Twitter conversation. I’m guessing it was probably something about ‘fight like a girl’ being used as some throwaway insult, prompting derision from the very many of us women with hands-on experience of a broad range of martial arts and skills. Somehow – rather splendidly – the discussion morphed into ‘how about an anthology…?’

The rest is history. The future is this splendid book from Grimbold Books, who ask

“What do you get when some of the best women writers of genre fiction come together to tell tales of female strength? A powerful collection of science fiction and fantasy ranging from space operas and near-future factional conflict to medieval warfare and urban fantasy. These are not pinup girls fighting in heels; these warriors mean business. Whether keen combatants or reluctant fighters, each and every one of these characters was born and bred to Fight Like A Girl.

Featuring stories by Roz Clarke, Kelda Crich, K T Davies, Dolly Garland, K R Green, Joanne Hall, Julia Knight, Kim Lakin-Smith, Juliet E McKenna, Lou Morgan, Gaie Sebold, Sophie E Tallis, Fran Terminiello, Danie Ware, Nadine West “

Fans of The Tales of Einarinn might like to note that my story, ‘Coins, Fights and Stories Always Have Two Sides’ takes place in during the Lescari Civil Wars, before the events of the Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution.

When can you get hold of a copy? Well, we’re launching the anthology with an event in Bristol on Saturday April 2nd from 1-5.30pm, at the Hatchet Inn, 27-29 Frogmore St, Bristol, BS1 5NA in association with Kristell Ink and Bristolcon. (Isn’t the collaborative, supportive nature of SF&F great?)

It’ll be a sociable and fun afternoon including swordplay and display, discussing the role of women in SF&F (both as characters and authors), excerpts from the book, and a buffet. Whether you’re a budding writer, established author or genre fan, there will be something for everyone!

You can book tickets here – please note that the £5 is to cover the cost of the buffet (and the 95 pence is Eventbrite’s administration fee). Overall, the event is being funded by the Bristolcon Foundation.

I’m really looking forward to it. See you there, to help fly the FLAG?

Key differences between Literary Festivals and SF Conventions when it comes to payment

I’m extremely pleased to see Philip Pullman making a stand on the issue of literary festivals not paying writers – when everyone else involved gets paid – and to see a host of other authors backing him.

But I am also seeing a degree of confusion, particularly from SF&Fantasy fans/writers who think this is a call to pay programme participants at SF conventions. Some clarification may be useful. As well as regularly attending conventions, I’ve long been involved with non-genre literary festivals thanks to working with The Write Fantastic and also as a committee member for my old Oxford college’s Media Alumnae Network. Consequently I have observed how very different their approaches are.

Literary festivals organise their programming primarily around publishers’ schedules and offer one or two writers per slot an opportunity to publicise their current book. The biggest names with the highest media profiles get the biggest venues and the best time slots because these are commercially-minded enterprises whether or not they’re structured as charities like the Oxford Literary Festival. Everything from venues to publicity to technical support must be paid for and that means selling tickets to fill the seats. None of this is criticism. I always enjoy hearing a talented author share their enthusiasm for their work, fiction or non-fiction, as I sit in a quietly attentive audience. And yes, the big name events do help fund the lesser known and special interest authors’ events – such programming is assuredly valuable for readers and writers alike.

But make no mistake; this is work for an author. It’s essentially an hour’s professional performance or presentation. It’s just not treated as such. Over the years, as a contributor at assorted festivals, I’ve turned up, got a cup of coffee in the green room, done my thing, and that’s pretty much that. Depending on the time of day I might be offered access to a buffet lunch (problematic for anyone with dietary issues). I’ve generally had my travel expenses covered but in all but a very few cases, I haven’t been paid for my time on the day or for the essential preparation. And no, the royalties I might get from however many of my books are sold at the festival wouldn’t come anywhere close to a reasonable fee. I might get a ‘goody bag’ with something like a bottle of wine, maybe some perfume, and a couple of books (which alas, I seldom actually want). I would usually get one or two complimentary tickets for my own event, nice for friends and family, but if I want to go to any of the festival’s other events, I have to buy tickets like any other punter.

SF conventions are very different. From their earliest days, conventions have been fan-led events. Readers and writers alike are encouraged to get involved, exploring their shared enthusiasm. Those going to SF conventions pay for memberships rather than tickets. People aren’t buying a seat to passively attend a one hour event. They’re investing in the funding of a collective enterprise over several days, run by volunteers for fellow enthusiasts.

A weekend’s membership gives access to dozens, even hundreds of programme items. There are fact-based sessions, where fans and authors alike share their knowledge and expertise on everything from science in all its ramifications to historical, linguistic, political and psychological scholarship – just a few disciplines which underpin the ever-broadening scope of speculative fiction. As well as sessions exploring creative writing, programme items explore visual skills and disciplines from fine art providing inspiration to writers and artists alike, to comics and graphic novels. There’s discussion of SF and fantasy in film, TV and audio drama, from author and audience perspectives. Then there’s the fun programming, including but not limited to games and costuming events, ranging from the admirably serious to the enjoyably daft.

At a literary festival it’s rare to see a handful of writers talking more generally about their writing, about the themes and topics which their broader genre is currently addressing, about on-going developments in their particular literary area, comparing and contrasting their own work and process with each other and with the writers who’ve gone before them. It does happen, particularly with crime writers, but it’s still nowhere as prevalent as it is at SF conventions. I think that’s a shame, because audiences so clearly appreciate such wide-ranging discussion. It’s rarer still to see a fan/reviewer taking part in literary festival panels to broaden the debate with their perspective whereas such participation is an integral and valuable facet of convention programming.

Traditionally, at SF conventions, no one gets paid for the considerable amount of time they contribute, by which I mean none of the organising committee or any of those people who help out with such things as Ops, Publications, Tech and any amount of other vital support. Membership revenues cover the costs of venues and the various commercial services essential for the event to take place. Those authors who have been specifically invited as Guests of Honour have their expenses covered as a thank you for what will be a hard working weekend but they’re not paid a fee as such. Some conventions offer free memberships to other published authors on the programme and believe me, that’s always very much appreciated, but even then, those writers are expected to cover their own travel, hotel and sustenance expenses.

Is that fair? Well, an author assuredly has the opportunity to get far more from a convention than they do from a literary festival and not just a thoroughly enjoyable social event. It’s a weekend of networking and catching up on industry news, of benefiting from other writers’ experiences and perspectives, of learning things that are often directly relevant to whatever they’re working on or which will spark their imagination for a new project, of engaging with established fans and readers new to their work, often getting valuable feedback and usefully thought-provoking questions. Opportunities for paying work often follow from contacts made and conversations had.

Which is great – as long as you can afford to get to the convention in the first place and with authors’ incomes dropping year on year, that’s becoming an increasing issue for many SF&F writers. Plus the line between fan-run, non-profit events and overtly commercial enterprises has become blurred in some cases in recent years. I’ve been invited to SF&F events where I’ve discovered media guests are being paid fat appearance fees but the writers are expected to participate for free, in some cases without even expenses paid. You won’t be surprised to learn I declined. Then there have also been events where I’ve discovered some writers’ expenses are covered at the organisers’ discretion – but not others. That’s wholly unacceptable as far as I am concerned.

So do I think writers appearing at literary festivals should get paid? Yes. They’re doing a job of work to a professional standard and everyone else involved is getting paid.

Do I think programme participants at SF conventions should be paid? In an ideal world, yes – but doing that would force up the cost of convention memberships far beyond what the other fans could afford, especially once their hotel and other expenses are factored in.

Should all conventions factor in the cost of free memberships for programme participants? Personally, I’d very much like to see it. It’s saying ‘this is the value we put on your contribution and thank you’ as opposed to ‘kindly pay us for the privilege of working this weekend’ but once again, that would force up the cost of membership for everyone else with implications for levels of attendance and thus funds for essential expenses. Some conventions will decide their event can sustain this, others will decide that they can’t. As I know from my participation in running Eastercon 2013, a big convention’s budget is a dauntingly complex affair.

But the crucial distinction remains. Literary festivals and other commercial enterprises should pay the writers without whom there’d be no event. Non-profit conventions where readers and writers are sharing their common passion as fans are something else entirely.

Contemplating 2016 – some thoughts on the year ahead

Well, I know this much; my year will be bookended by teaching. I’ve got a trip to Lancaster University scheduled for late January and in early December I’ll be tutoring alongside Pippa Goldschmidt at Moniack Mhor’s residential creative writing course on Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’m very much looking forward to both trips. George Green at Lancaster is both a good friend and amiably shrewd educator. Pippa and I have been bouncing ideas back and forth for a while now and finalising/integrating our workshops promises to be most rewarding.

In fact my diary is already fuller for the end of the year than it is for the early months. In November I’ll be the Guest of Honour at Novacon in Nottingham; an unlooked-for honour, offering interesting opportunities to discuss our genre and related issues. In between times, I have a couple of new short story commissions and some of my last year’s writing will be published. All things being equal, I hope to be at Bristolcon in October.

What else will I be doing with my time – alongside getting the latter two Aldabreshin Compass books out in ebook editions? I think this is where the flip side to my last blog post becomes relevant. Listing my achievements in 2015 was as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s, because I’m very conscious of the things I had planned a year ago and which simply didn’t get done, given all the other calls on my time.

I didn’t write a full length work of fiction last year – for the first time since 1997. To save you counting on your fingers, yes, this does mean I have already-completed, as-yet-unpublished novels sitting on my hard drive. Finding the right agent/editor for one or more of those, to get the fresh professional eyes and input needed for a final rewrite so they make the mainstream publishing grade, is something else that didn’t happen last year. In two cases I already have ideas for significant revisions but it’s been impossible to schedule the necessary time and mental space to do such work.

I have assorted short stories and the novella ‘The Ties that Bind’ set in the River Kingdom milieu which I want to see published as ebooks, as well as novel proposals complete with opening chapters set in that same world which I want to get in front of an agent/editor. That didn’t happen last year either. Nor did investigating crowd funding systems such as Patreon – beyond establishing that crowd funding’s handling of EU digital VAT is a confused mess on all sides.

All of which has had a significant impact on my professional cash flow. If you’re wondering why I’m not listing any other convention trips as currently planned, bluntly, I cannot afford them as the writerly finances stand.

I didn’t contribute to any of the ‘Best Read of 2015’ pieces I was invited to take part in towards the end of the year, because I cannot recall when I was last so woefully under-read in both fiction and non-fiction. The folders of unwatched television drama and documentaries on the DVR tell the same story. As does the folder of internet bookmarks and notes for a good few blogposts that never got written.

Just to be crystal clear, this is an assessment not a lament. There’s no need for anyone, however gently and/or well-intentioned, to point out that I made my own choices and set my own priorities last year. Quite so. I’ll be doing the same in 2016 and I rather think those choices and priorities will be markedly different in this coming year.

Fantasycon 2015 – the good, the great and the startling.

Getting ready to go to Nottingham for Fantasycon last Thursday, I told myself resolutely that this was going to be a weekend about the art, craft and business of writing. If only for a few days, I was going to be an author again, not an EU digital VAT campaigner. Not just for my own sake and sanity – though that was a large part of it – but because the convention deserved my full focus. I was going to be Mistress of Ceremonies and that’s not a gig I’ve ever done before so I was intent on not making a hash of it.

Making that conscious decision soon paid dividends. On the drive up, I found I didn’t want to listen to the radio or any music. Solitude and lack of distractions meant I could think through various ideas I’ve been mulling over for my forthcoming story in ZNB’s Alien Artefacts anthology. Being away from email, social media and those stacks of paper on my desk about EU digital VAT really helped. By the time I reached the hotel, any number of things were slotting into place. Excellent. Better yet, on the writing front, I woke up on Saturday morning and about two minutes later, suddenly realised what I need to do to rewrite the opening chapters of the As Yet Unsold Novel which I had out on submission to a few agents earlier this year but which only gathered ‘interesting, thanks, but just at the moment, no thanks’ responses. Which means it needs more work but I’ve been struggling to find the time to even think what that might be, uninterrupted, in recent months.

That said, it seemed an awful lot of people at the convention wanted to talk to me about VAT once I got there. That was fine, though. Actually, it was a lot more than merely fine. I got involved in this campaign because I could see just how many people I know personally and professionally, working in independent and small press publishing, were going to be hit really hard by such badly framed legislation. So having them take a moment to say how grateful they are for all the EU VAT Action Campaign is doing was welcome validation for all that time and effort.

My first MC duty was hosting the convention’s opening ceremony where I covered the practicalities briskly and focused on introducing the Guests of Honour. This was always going to be a pleasure. I’ve admired and liked Jo Fletcher since first going to conventions a decade and a half ago – and she publishes excellent books. I met John Connolly some years ago in Dublin and found him as rewarding to talk to as his books are to read. While I’ve never met Brandon Sanderson before, I find his work very enjoyable and mutual friends have always spoken very highly of him. The four of us talked a little about what brings us to conventions, and keeps us coming back. It was immediately apparent that the weekend was going to be about sharing our enthusiasms with established pals and with the new friends we’d be making.

The programme was packed with good things as well as new faces and voices. Alongside the full schedule of readings and book launches, the Fantasycon 2015 organisers’ efforts to broaden participation meant 170 of the 500 pre-registered con members were on panels. Bringing new perspectives and different experiences to even the most familiar topics does make such a positive contribution. My own panels were extremely rewarding; on the uses writers make of history in fantasy (and pitfalls to beware of); on writing fight scenes, and on the uses writers make of religion in genre writing, which has a different array of pitfalls. These were all wide-ranging and constructive discussions, with keenly engaged audiences. As seemed to be the case through the entire programme for the whole weekend, judging by the chats I had with other writers at various times in various bars.

As MC I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Brandon Sanderson, who really is a thoroughly nice guy as well as a consummate professional. It’s great to get a chance to ask the particular questions that have intrigued you about an author’s work and career. Like why has he written about Evil Librarians when most writers see them as heroes? What sequence of events led to him taking on the challenge of completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time? How does he manage to write so many different things?

There was one question I didn’t have to ask. We talked about Barbara Hambly’s Dragonsbane – the book which got him back into reading as a teenage boy after so many stories had disappointed him. I remember the impact it had on me but I’m ten years old than Brandon and have been reading fantasy for as long as I can remember. What was the book’s appeal to someone without that grounding in the genre to see how Hambly was challenging conventions? It turns out a large part of that was Jenny Waynest’s struggle to choose between family and wizardry, since young Brandon could see the choices and challenges women face over pursuing careers in action in his own family. Enthralled, he headed straight for the library’s card catalogue to see what titles came after Dragonsbane. Turns out those were Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey and Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn. So that made the ‘what’s the origin of strong female characters in your work?’ question wholly redundant!

In between times, as MC, I got to play with the venue’s tannoy system, to announce the Guest of Honour programme items. Oh…. the temptation. I mean, it’s just cruel giving a writer that sort of job. Granted, I don’t have the baritone for ‘This is the voice of the Mysterons’ but how about ‘Warning. You have ten minutes to reach minimum safe distance.’ in calm and cultured tones? The possibilities are endless – but I resisted as that wouldn’t have been professional. In any case, there was more than enough hilarity to go round. Particular highlights on Saturday night included a live edition of Tea and Jeopardy with Brandon Sanderson as the guest. If this writing thing doesn’t work out for him, I’d say he’s got a good chance at a career in sitcoms. Then Gillian Redfearn chaired a game of Just a Minute with contestants John Connolly, Jo Fletcher, Juliet Mushens and Gareth Powell. Hilarity doesn’t begin to describe it. If you ever see a group at a convention hysterical with laughter over the word ‘boudoir’ you’ll know that they were there.

Sunday was back to serious stuff, for me at least. The MC’s role included presenting the British Fantasy Society Awards and this year, I was to do pretty much the whole thing, rather than having guest presenters for each award. So I had some thinking to do. It’s been a year of controversy over the Hugos which has spilled into conversation about genre awards in general. I didn’t feel I could ignore that – but at the same time, this ceremony wasn’t about that. So here are my opening remarks.

“There are a great many science fiction, horror and fantasy awards. Different countries, different conventions, different communities use them to celebrate their particular interests and enthusiasms and as a rule, those of us looking on take the opportunity to make note of books or writers or artists working in whatever media which we might not have come across before. This all contributes to the wealth of shared knowledge that makes speculative fiction such an endlessly inventive genre.

Which is why this year has felt so exceptional, and not in a good way, to so many of us. We’ve been unwilling onlookers as those who for whatever reason have felt excluded from one particular convention’s awards decided that the way forward isn’t dialogue but attempts to direct and to dominate the conversation across our genre.

What has that got to do with today? Well, as far as I’m concerned, it makes it all the more important and all the more pleasing, to celebrate the British Fantasy Society’s ongoing determination, with all the hard work that entails, to broaden participation at all stages in these awards in recent years, to welcome newcomers to nominating and to voting, to encourage everyone to have their say and to feel included. And let’s take a moment to honour the memory of Graham Joyce who was absolutely bloody determined that was going to happen.

Which is why it’s a genuine pleasure and an honour for me to present these awards today, on behalf of the British Fantasy Society and the ever growing Fantasycon community.”

I’m pleased to say nods and applause around the room endorsed this view. So on I went with the Awards. You can find the full list of winners here and it was lovely to see the recipients’ mingled astonishment and delight, as well as hearing the cheers and whoops from their families and friends. As well as the applause and heartfelt congratulations from everyone else with no personal stake in this year’s nominees but simply there to celebrate and reward their peers and colleagues.

Okay, I’m clearly a bit slow on the uptake. I genuinely had no thought of being honoured with an Award myself. Yes, alright, I knew Ramsey Campbell would be presenting the Karl Edward Wagner Award but I didn’t think anything of that. Ramsey’s the BFS past-president and it’s the Committee’s special award so I assumed it would be going to someone Ramsey’s worked with or has some other significant connection with. Then he started reading the citation and I realised he was talking about me. As well as editorialising and embellishing the words he’d been given as only Ramsey could, so if he writes something spine chilling about a monstrous creature rising from a vat of eldritch mess, you’ll know where he got the idea. And everyone cheered and clapped and well, if I don’t say so, Jo Fletcher will repeat her editorial note from Facebook saying I should mention the standing ovation…

I didn’t know what to say. I was utterly astonished. To the extent which my elder son describes as ‘I cannot brain!’ I suppose that’s because over this past year, my writing and my VAT campaigning have been so entirely separate in my own mind. Yes, I’m doing this because of the legislation’s disastrous impact on the book trade but I’m working alongside people striving just as hard because their own industries and interests are equally if not even more badly hit. And to get things done about it requires complete focus on the matter in hand. So as I say, the two things have been wholly separate for me. While the BFS Awards are for writing and allied trades in artwork and editing, surely? Well, evidently the Committee knows better and chose to honour me for both my writing career and for this past year’s work on the EU digital VAT issue, on behalf of all those affected.

You may rest assured that I am deeply and sincerely honoured. And if I’d been able to brain on the day, I would have said something rather more coherent along these lines.

So that was my Fantasycon 2015. Memorable in so many ways!

BFS-award

Fantasycon – my schedule

I’ll be at the UK Fantasycon in Nottingham from Friday afternoon and through to Sunday’s banquet and BFS Awards ceremony.

And I’ll be busy – it’s a packed programme. Those of you there will be spoiled for choice, given the range of panels, kaffeeklatsches and readings.

My personal timetable is:

Friday 23rd October

3.00pm Opening Ceremony
It’ll be my pleasure at Mistress of Ceremonies to welcome everyone to the convention, to introduce the Guests of Honour John Connolly, Jo Fletcher and Brandon Sanderson – and to see what indiscreet notable convention memories they might care to share.

5.00pm Stealing from the Past: Fantasy in History
I’m very much looking forward to discussing how fantasy writers use – and misuse – real world history, with Susan Bartholomew, Jacey Bedford, Susan Boulton, Anne Lyle and Toby Venables.

Saturday 24th October

10.00am Blades, Wands & Lasers: Fighting the Good Fight-Scene
We’ll be looking at the realities of fight scenes, from one-on-one to full-scale battles, and the writerly challenges of conveying all this to readers in a meaningful way. That’s me, James Barclay, Clifford Beal, Kevin Andrew Murphy, Jo Thomas and Danie Ware.

2.00pm Guest of Honour interview: Brandon Sanderson in Conversation.
I have the very welcome opportunity to chat to epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson about his writing, career, inspirations & influences. Don’t worry, I will make sure there’s time for audience questions as well!

Sunday 25th October

10.00am By the Gods! Religion & Beliefs in Fantasy
I’ll be moderating this discussion on how and why to include plausible belief systems in genre writing – and the pitfalls for the unwary writer. I’m very much looking forward to hearing the opinions of John Connolly, Adam Dalton, Iain Grant, Jasper Kent and Susan Murray.

2.30pm The British Fantasy Awards Ceremony
After the banquet at Sunday lunchtime, I’ll be hosting this event, and we can all find out who’s won what, among this year’s nominees. Remember, you don’t have to attend the banquet; you can join the audience as the coffee cups are cleared away to be part of the ceremony.

Apart from these commitments, I’ll be around and about, so feel free to come and say hello and have a chat.

If you have any free time. It really is a programme with plenty for everyone, wherever your particular interests are within the fantastic scope of speculative fiction.

History & Fantasy in Bristol. A day of two halves.

Actually, the first – and really irritating – bit of my day wasn’t even in Bristol. It was in the gridlocked traffic around Swindon where I got thoroughly stuck, thanks to an accident and road closure just ahead and at a point on the route where I had no hope of escape. So I never did get there in time to chat on Ujima Radio – which just goes to show the risks of arranging single-guest events. I’m always an advocate of having at least two authors along, in case of unforeseen gremlins. And thank goodness for mobile phones – since texting from in a stationary car with the engine turned off and handbrake on doesn’t contravene the law.

Happily Cheryl Morgan and Lucienne Boyce were at Ujima to have what sounds like a fascinating conversation about what history is versus what people think it might be, touching on issues like the persistent and false belief that multi-cultural communities are a recent development in England. The briefest glance at a city like Bristol’s history shows that for the tosh that it is.

Anyway, once I got out of the traffic jam, the day improved enormously. I got to Bristol without further incident, met Cheryl for lunch and we discussed life, the universe and future plans for my writing with Wizards Tower Press, of which more news as various projects develop. Then we went to the Bristol Museum and Gallery. I love visiting local museums, especially to look at their paintings and not just for any big names like Pissarro or whoever they might have on hand. It’s the local artists I like to find and in this case, I was very interested to discover the work of Rolinda Sharples (1793-1838). She was a female artist specializing in portraits along with some larger pieces, who was good enough to be exhibited at the Royal Academy. The whole family were successful and commercial artists including her mother (unlike a good many of those big names) living at various times in England and New York. Tell me again how women didn’t get to do anything noteworthy in days of yore. And as anyone will know who’s heard me talk about using visual references, work like Rolinda’s is a source of invaluable historical detail and unexpected inspiration.

Then we headed to Foyles in Cabot Circus, and that’s a lovely bookshop with great staff, well worth checking out if you’re in the area. It was a pleasure to meet Helen Hollick and Jack Wolf, along with Lucienne and we sat down with Cheryl to discuss the relationships between history and fantasy. We touched on what does or does not constitute ‘accuracy’, and the challenges of making the past accessible without obscuring the very real differences in how people thought and felt – and those are important, especially if we’re hoping our writing will make readers think (as well as enjoying an engaging, exciting read), whether it’s fantasy or history or as was apparent for us all, somewhere between. We talked about the challenges of the correct versus the appropriate language in our writing, in using real people and real events – and not for the first time, it was soon apparent that formal, academic education is in no sense required for an author to do solid research to underpin their work. All that’s needed is the curiosity and the common sense to spot what assumptions or agenda might lie behind a source.

We had a good audience, in terms of numbers and most importantly, in terms of people keen to listen and think and ask questions and discuss. Oh and a handful of local steampunk fans turned up in splendid costumes which added a further dimension to chatting about the relationship of history and the modern day. As with all good events, we could have gone on talking as a panel and then informally afterwards for hours. As it was, we writers headed out for a meal before we went our separate ways, and yes, the conversation did continue round the table in many, varied and fascinating directions.

I had an entirely uneventful trip home, so a day that started mired in frustration got better and better and now I have three new-to-me authors to add to my Must Read list.

Historical Fantasy Event at Foyles Cabot Circus, Bristol on 12th November.

A quick update for those of you who prefer to keep in touch through the blog rather than Facebook or Twitter, I’ll be over in Bristol on 12th November for an evening event discussing the fun and frustrations of writing historically based fantasy fiction, and doubtless we’ll get onto actual historical fiction as well. It’ll be from 6.00 to 7.30 pm and it’s free, though booking is essential so they know what numbers they’re expecting. I’ll be chatting with Helen Hollick, Jack Wolf and Lucienne Boyce. You can find full details on booking here

Earlier that same day, I’ll be on Ujima Radio talking about the event and the subject.

I’m really looking forward to it all!

A quick Fantasycon update

I’ll be heading up to York tomorrow for the UK Fantasycon, where I’m really keen to hear Guests of Honour Kate Elliott and Charlaine Harris talking about their lives and writing. Not to forget Toby Whithouse who’s written fine genre TV drama notably but not limited to Being Human, and artist Larry Rostant whose artwork brings fresh vision to classic fantasy book cover themes. I look forward to learning more about their creative process and inspiration and its similarities and differences to my own.

There’ll be lots of other writers there, working across the spectrum of speculative fantasy, from epic to horror and every variation in between. So there’ll be plenty of chances to sit and listen to them on panels and in readings and generally chat and socialise with like-minded folk.

My own programme is discussing Doctor Who, Classic and New, at 3pm on Friday afternoon, along with Joanne Harris, Guy Adams, Mark Morris and Jon Oliver. I’ll also be available to sign books at 5pm on Friday, so if you’d like a signature on a book, in your programme or simply want to say hello, stop by.

On Saturday morning at 11am I’ll be on a panel discussing the Pen vs the Sword, specifically the realities of sword fighting compared to what we read on the page or see on the screen. That’ll be me, Marc Aplin, Fran Terminiello, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Clifford Beale. Between us we have a range of skills and experience in different styles of sword fighting.

After that, I’ll spend the rest of the day between time with pals and the excellent convention programme, full details here.

After the convention, Husband and I will be staying on in Yorkshire for the rest of the week, since this month sees our 25th wedding anniversary and we spent our honeymoon in the county so we plan on revisiting a few places and seeing some new sights. It’ll be interesting to see how clean and tidy (or otherwise) the house is when we get home, after the sons spend the week here fending for themselves…

After that, I have assorted short stories to write and some longer term projects to plan.

Off to Worldcon in London. If you’re there too, feel free to say hello!

That’s pretty much it, really. I’ve had ideas for various posts these past couple of weeks but not found any time to write them up. The last week of July was spent in rural Ireland with no internet access (bliss!) and since then I’ve been getting all sorts of things done before Worldcon – and realistically, things won’t let up before the first weekend in September, when I’m in York for the UK’s Fantasycon. So if you see me there, feel free to say hello as well. :)

Loncon3 – my worldcon programme.

The short version? Lots of excellent topics for conversation with some splendid people!

A couple of quick notes. I’ll be arriving late-ish on Thursday as that’s A Level Results Day here in the UK and Junior Son will be heading up to the school in the morning to find out how he and his pals have fared. Then we’ll be coming into London, departing Tuesday morning.

You’ll see no mention of ‘signing’ below – that’s not a problem as far as I am concerned. Feel free to catch me in passing, though ideally not just as I’m about to go into a panel. Afterwards? Fine, as long as we make sure to clear the room for the next set of folk coming along.

Reading. Hmmm. What shall I read? One long thing? A couple of short extracts? What do you generally prefer?

And so to the detail –

Liveship Trading: Fantasy Economics
Friday 18:00 – 19:00, Capital Suite 8 (ExCeL)
You want to take an army of 10,000 to lay siege to Mordor; how exactly did you plan to provision this? You live by robbing caravans; how many merchants can you rob before they stop coming your way? You’re a merchant eyeing the road ahead warily; what are you carrying, and where and how are you going to sell it? Our panel discuss the economics of feudalism, quests, sieges, and market towns.
Dev Agarwal, William B. Hafford, Robin Hobb, Juliet E McKenna, Max Gladstone.

The Problem with Making a Living Writing SF&F: Have We Become Too Niche?
Friday 19:00 – 20:00, Capital Suite 4 (ExCeL)
Many successful SF&F authors still maintain day jobs to make ends meet. Is this a new phenomenon, or has it always been this way? Are science fiction and fantasy too narrow for a vast numbers of authors to make a living in? How do we expand the markets available to genre authors? And what financial tips should authors bear in mind if they’re thinking of striking out into writing full-time?
Scott Lynch, Leslie Ann Moore , Tim Susman , Juliet E McKenna.

Scientists vs Authors Quiz
Friday 22:00 – 23:30, Capital Suite 14 (ExCeL)
After their narrow defeat at Eastercon, will the Authors get their revenge or will the supremacy of the Scientists go unchallenged? See what SF writers know about science and what scientists known about SF at the rematch!
Christine Davidson, Michael Davidson, Amanda Kear, Brian Milton, Charles Stross, Nichola J Whitehead , Juliet E McKenna, David L Clements, Ken MacLeod

Kaffeeklatsch
Saturday 11:00 – 12:00, London Suite 4 (ExCeL)
Guy Consolmagno SJ, Juliet E McKenna

Reading: Juliet E McKenna
Saturday 15:30 – 16:00, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)
Juliet E McKenna

Meet the New King, Same As The Old King
Saturday 19:00 – 20:00, Capital Suite 14 (ExCeL)
Why is fantasy so often about making the world better by getting the rightful king on the throne, rather than by doing away with monarchy entirely? Where are all the revolutions? Why don’t wizards use magic to create indoor plumbing and better infrastructure?
Juliet E McKenna, Joe Abercrombie, Peter V. Brett , Rjurik Davidson, Delia Sherman.

The Seriousness Business
Sunday 18:00 – 19:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)
Perhaps the two most critically acclaimed SF series of the last decade are Battlestar Galactica and Game of Thrones, and in each case the most common reason for that acclaim is their supposed seriousness: here are SF and fantasy with depth and darkness. Why is this the kind of genre material that the mainstream has embraced? Does the presumed “realism” of this approach hold up to scrutiny? Has seriousness become a cliche? And to what extent do these shows, and their imitators, tell original stories, and to what extent do they reinscribe a normative straight white heroism?
Juliet E McKenna, Mélanie Bourdaa, Saxon Bullock , Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Amateurs talk tactics; professionals talk logistics
Monday 15:00 – 16:30, Capital Suite 5 (ExCeL)
How are wars and other conflicts won? It doesn’t matter how good your troops and generals are if they don’t get the resources they need, so the logistics of warfare, and the economics that drive them, play a far larger role than usually appears in fiction. What is the real story from history and how can science fiction get it right?
Phil Dyson, Nigel Furlong, Glenda Larke, Juliet E McKenna.