For those who might be curious, this is what I’ll be doing over the Easter weekend, as well as seeing established pals, making new friends and a whole lot more interesting things besides.
If you’re at the convention, feel free to say hello, and I’m always happy to sign books and chat – as long as I’m not actually on my way to a panel.
Hey, you! Pay me!
Balmoral – Fri 12:00–13:00
Even the most experienced authors sometimes find invoices unpaid. Our panel talks about the art of valuing your work, and getting what you deserve – and some of the barriers to that.
With Wendy Bradley, Mike Brooks, John Jarrold
Readings: Adult Orientated and the Fantastical
Balmoral – Fri 19:30–20:30
With F. D. Lee, Sandra Bond and Wole Talabi
I’ll be reading from The Cleaving, and remember, Books on the Hill in the Dealers’ Room will have advance copies.
GoH Interview: I have the pleasure and privilege of talking to Kari Sperring about her work and her involvement with fandom, and doubtless other things as well.
Queens – Sat 12:00–13:00
Thirty-four years, and an interim survey
Sandringham – Sun 13:30–14:30
In 1989, Paul Kincaid surveyed working UK-based science fiction and fantasy writers, and wrote up the results for Mexicon. In 2009, Niall Harrison repeated the questionnaire, and wrote up the results for the BSFA, considering the changes in the SF field during those twenty years. We’re not quite due another iteration, but this panel will ask some current writers to answer some of the questions.
With Niall Harrison, Stew Hotston, Anne Charnock, Neil Williamson, Nina Allan
Queens – Sun 15:00–16:00
As a canon written by many authors down the ages, Arthuriana is uniquely flexible in letting you choose which version canon you want, and how you want to adapt it.
With Russell A Smith, Gillian Polack, Kari Sperring, James Bennett
In a couple of weeks, 7th – 10th April, I’ll be at Conversation, the 2023 Eastercon in Birmingham. I’ll have the tremendous pleasure of interviewing Guest of Honour, Kari Sperring, as well as discussing assorted aspects of the craft and business of writing fantasy and science fiction with interesting people. I will also be reading from my new novel, The Cleaving, and discussing Arthuriana in its various forms.
The Cleaving is officially published on 11th April 2023, but Books on the Hill should have advance copies at Eastercon. If you want to buy sets of the paperbacks of either The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution, or The Hadrumal Crisis trilogies, for the at-convention price of £5, email me – firstname.lastname@example.org . Then I’ll know how many books to stick in the boot of the car, and you can pay me at the Convention.
If you’re not at Eastercon, but you’re within striking distance of London, I’ll be at the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club on 11th April, celebrating the official publication day of The Cleaving, along with Anna Smith Spark, and Michael R Miller. This monthly event takes place as The Star of Kings pub near Kings Cross and I recommend you check it out regularly. We’ll give short readings from our upcoming books, and talk about writing, reading and well, whatever else comes up in conversation with everyone there. It’ll be a really fun evening.
In May, I’ll be at the Milford SF Writers Retreat in Trigonos, North Wales. As long as everything’s still going to plan, I’ll be polishing up this year’s Green Man book before sending the draft over to Editor Toby. No spoilers, but I am really pleased with how this one’s coming together…
Looking forward to 2nd – 4th June, I’ll be in Edinburgh for Cymera, Scotland’s festival of science-fiction, fantasy and horror writing, as a guest speaker. This will be my first time at this particular event, and everyone I know who’s been before has enthusiastically recommended it. It will also be great to visit Scotland again. We’ll take the opportunity to have a holiday there as well.
So I’ll be getting out and about. That’s not possible for everyone of course, and the SF&F genre is very fortunate in the range and variety of online events and podcasts that fans and creators now support. I’ve recorded a good few interviews and chats lately that will be coming your way over the next few months. I’ll post links when I have them.
Meantime, you can check out this year’s panels at TBRCon – there’s loads of good stuff. Scroll down and you’ll find me and others discussing ‘Slice of Life Fantasy’.
More recently, I joined children’s writer Abie Longstaff, poet Katrina Naomi, and crime writer Sam Blake in her everyday persona of Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, to discuss making a living as a writer, as part of the Society of Authors’ ‘At Home’ programme of events. You can catch up with the video here. Again, there are a whole of of other videos available, and you don’t have to be a member of the Society to access any of this invaluable advice. (You might like to think about joining the Society, do take a look at what membership offers.)
I had an excellent time at Fantasycon, in that I saw established pals, made new friends, and had some really interesting conversations on my panels and informally. Readers’ interest in The Green Man’s Gift, and in The Cleaving is rewarding and encouraging in equal measure.
Massive thanks and congratulations to the BFS team and volunteers for putting together a really great programme, in monumentally difficult circumstances this year. It was so good to see the community of readers, writers and publishers supporting them.
And everyone was very clear that the issues with the hotel were completely beyond the Fantasycon organisers’ control. UK conrunners should note that the problems evident at Eastercon with the reservations and check-in system do not appear to be resolved. New problems now add to that. There were simply far too few staff, and those present were clearly inexperienced.
I’m guessing that explains the cut backs on food service – no bar food, lunch was a one-price, expensive take-it-or-leave-it buffet, and not just for people at the convention. This is an airport hotel, so weary travellers couldn’t get food either! For Fantasycon folk, the petrol station over the road did a roaring trade in takeaway sandwiches. The evening restaurant menu was a stripped back version of what had been the bar menu – all at London prices and with 10% service automatically added to your bill, so declining meant telling your already overworked server they weren’t good enough, which I consider inexcusable. The food itself was fine, but the coffee from the bar was during the day was utterly revolting!
Unless and until major improvements can be guaranteed, fan event organisers should avoid this as a venue – and yes, I am well aware how difficult finding SF convention venues already is, so I don’t say this lightly.
So let’s look forward! Fantasycon 2023 will be at the Jury’s Inn, Birmingham, where we had a very good time in a decent venue last year, with amenities and food options within easy reach. Great!
The British Fantasy Society is 50 years old this year! There’s going to be a day of celebration online on Saturday 26th February, and I’m delighted to say that I will be having fun discussing fantastical creatures with Anna Smith Spark and R J Barker at 10.15 am.
There’s a great programme of readings, panels etc soon to be revealed, so mark your diaries. You can find more details here.
I was in Birmingham this past weekend for the British Fantasy Society’s annual convention. I don’t mind saying, it was a rather strange feeling to be travelling up there. What was meeting up in person for the first time in so long going to be like? As it turned out, it was lovely. It was also rather a relief to find the event was smaller and quieter than some past years’ events, so we could all ease ourselves back into the convention routine. I must have had that conversation independently with at least half a dozen people through the weekend.
This is absolutely no criticism of the convention organisers, to be crystal clear. Putting on any event in the current circumstances is an achievement in itself, and putting on one that was so friendly and sociable, with a varied and interesting programme is a triumph. I was particularly pleased to find myself talking to a good few people attending their first convention, and delighted to hear that they were having a really good time. That bodes well for the Society’s future, along with the Committee’s energetic determination to take the BFS onward and upward.
I very much enjoyed the panels and talks I sat in on, and the panels I was part of went with a swing. We discussed genre-splicing and explored the ways in which mixing and matching different ideas gleaned from wide-ranging reading is a great way to create something new and exciting. I was also part of a discussion about writing as a business. That could have been a tricky one as there’s a lot of outdated and misguided advice out there that needs correcting – but none of us on the panel wanted to crush new writers’ hopes and dreams. Judging from the positive feedback I got all weekend, we struck the right balance.
The Jury’s Inn was a good venue – with the usual allowances to be made for bar staff who’ve never encountered SF and fantasy fans before, plus added pandemic allowances. Conrunners might like to bear it in mind, and there were a range of other hotels within sight of my room for anyone considering a bigger event. As a city centre venue, there are a good range of food options within easy walking distance as well. Granted, driving in was a challenge for my satnav, which ended up having conniptions, but random streets being closed so that tramlines can be laid will only be a temporary state of affairs.
We launched The Green Man’s Challenge, and with Cheryl running the Wizard’s Tower Press table in the dealer’s room, I signed a whole load of other books as well. It was particularly lovely to learn that readers were buying a copy of The Green Man’s Heir, or another title from the series, because they’d enjoyed it so much in ebook they wanted a copy for their shelf.
Next up is Octocon – 1st-3rd October – and that’s a virtual event this year. It’s also free, so I heartily recommend you check it out. I’ll be discussing the resurgence of fantasy on TV, as well as writing fight scenes. I’ll also be doing a reading, so those of you who weren’t at Fantasycon will be able to get a taste of The Green Man’s Challenge online.
On the 30th October, I’ll be heading down the M4 for Bristolcon – an in-person event – which promises to be another step on the road to a new normal after these strange and unpleasant months. It will be lovely to see established pals and to make new friends. As ever, I have no doubt that the convention programme will be excellent.
If I don’t see you at one of these events, let’s hope our paths cross in real life or online real soon.
So that was an interesting experience. I had a lot of fun catching up with pals I haven’t seen for far too long in Gathertown – but I was evidently running the optimum software on a relatively new, hi-spec computer – I know other folk had serious issues with access.
I had some interesting panels which turned into really good conversations – but online panels are much harder work than in-person events, and having no sense of an audience was disconcerting. Plus lack of info on the tech requirements beforehand and ongoing tech issues made for added stress I could well have done without, especially given the heightened level of background stress we’re all living with at the moment.
I watched some very good panels and talks, and being able to catch up with recordings of panels I’d had to leave early because of my own programme commitments was a real plus – but it’s very frustrating trying to decide how long to spend looking at a black screen when you have no idea if the thing you want to see is going to happen in the next two minutes or not at all.
The online art show was wonderful! My reading went very well, and seeing there were actually people there plus a bit of Q&A made for a thoroughly enjoyable session.
Please note – none of these observations are in any sense a criticism of the phenomenally hard working programme, tech and ops teams who did an amazing job in the face of multifarious challenges. There would have been no event without them.
Please also note I’m not getting involved in any of the debates about how things went, here or elsewhere. There are more than enough conversations ongoing. Let’s hope those lead to future conventions capitalizing on the good as well as learning where different decisions beforehand would have led to better outcomes.
Right, back to work 🙂
As you may or may not be aware, this year’s UK Eastercon is an online event – you can find all the details here
I’m on an interesting selection of panels as detailed below. Hopefully these times are now set, but do double check. The unexpected can always crop up at conventions and online events are no exception.
Friday, April 2 21:00
The last 20 Years: Fantasy in the 21st Century
Tiffani Angus, Juliet E McKenna, Jacey Bedford, Ekpeki Donald Oghenechovwe discuss how fantasy has changed, developed and grown since 2000 and talk about their favourite writers, books and trends.
Saturday, April 3 19:00
Fantasy Weapon Smackdown!
Stewart Hotston, Juliet E McKenna, Phil Nanson, Gerry McEvoy
We pit the panellists’ favourite fantasy weapons, from the sublime to the overpowered, to decide which is the greatest of them all. Excalibur or Albion? Lightsabre or well-placed flashlight? Choose your weapon!
Saturday, April 3 21:00
Male Power Fantasy: Can We Stop Now?
Fiona Moore, Tiffani Angus, E.M. Faulds, Juliet E McKenna, Ibtisam Ahmed
Mighty thewed-warriors, dashing starship captains, lone wolf heroes. Pulp sff had its roots a in culture of heterosexual white male dominance and male power fantasies. How do we frustrate these historical cliches and move into brave, diverse, new worlds?
Monday, April 5 12:00
Storytelling through repetition
Robert S Malan, Tiffani Angus, Catriona Silvey, Avery Delany, Juliet E McKenna
Time loops, time travel, and replaying games: how narratives are built by repeating actions & discovering new elements – including building relationships, and positive queer depictions
Amid the ongoing everything, talking to fellow writers and readers does make for a welcome change of pace.
Over on Facebook we went away to the unseen realm as James Chambers, Angel Martinez, Joshua Palmatier, Tamsin Silver and I talked with host Gail Z. Martin/Morgan Brice about the faeries in our fiction. I’ll post a YouTube link when that goes live.
Over on YouTube, you can enjoy Mihaela Marija Perković, Adrian Tchaikovsky and I in conversation as part of the charity event, ConTribution.
If you’re curious about the next Green Man book, you may pick up some clues…
It’s here, and I will be in conversation with Adrian Tchaikovsky and Mihaela Perkovic at 5pm UK time, 6pm Croatian time today. That will be on Zoom, and you’ll be able to see how long my hair is now, after a year without a trim! Plus there are all sorts of other things happening over these two days on Zoom and Discord.
Click here for the Convention website where you will find the timetable as well as full programme details. As well as all sorts of interesting and entertaining things, this offers a great introduction to Croatian fans – hopefully encouraging you to visit European conventions in future, when we can get together again. Meantime, hurrah for technology and the fans who work so hard to put online events together.
A reminder of this particular event’s aims. We’re raising money for earthquake relief in Petrinja and the wider area severely hit in December 2020. The convention is free, so you are invited to donate however much is appropriate to your own situation. You’ll be helping people who have lost their homes in the middle of winter and a global pandemic.
I have something to put in my diary! Croatians are organising this online event to raise money for earthquake relief after a quake on 29th December hit the small town of Petrinja – around 50 km (31 miles) SE from the Croatian capital Zagreb. Numerous, severe aftershocks followed. Seven people died and a lot of people are now without homes in the middle of winter and a global pandemic. Many buildings (which were old, to begin with) are completely uninhabitable and will have to be torn down and rebuilt.
Do get involved! Croatia is a fabulous country with lovely people – and terrific fandom.
So far there is a Facebook event page here
I’ll post full website info and further details as soon as I have them.
Please boost the signal and share the word as far as as fast as you can.