What happened at Eastercon 2015

This was my first convention of the year and it was a relatively quiet one. Despite that, and coming home before the convention ended, I was still shattered by the end of it. A painful journey down on Friday meant I arrived late but just in time to see the last half of the opening ceremony. As bad as my journey was, the guests of honour coming from America had a much worse trip. This involved having their plane return to the airport as they didn’t have enough fuel to fly around a storm. As a result they arrived late and had been awake for a very long time. At the end of his first panel, when Jim Butcher was asked for any closing thoughts it consisted of ‘I’m very tired’ which was fair enough after being awake for 30 hours!

The rest of the weekend seemed to pass in a blur. I spent it hanging out and catching up with old friends, such as my stalwart convention buddy Adrian Faulkner, plus I had a chance to catch up with Mr Gav Reads, as I like to call him. The always lovely CE Murphy was over from Ireland and it was so great to see her and put the world to rights. I met a couple of likely lads in the form of Rob Adams and Cameron Johnston and we shared writing stories over a pint of real ale from the bar on Friday night. I briefly ran into the award winning Ruth Booth, who picked up a BSFA award for a short story, so many congratulations to her.

Even though we’d met briefly in the past I was properly introduced to Lucy Hounsom by Jen Williams and we had dinner together in the pub with Adrian, my agent-buddy Pete Newman and his good lady wife Milady Emma Newman. They were both nominated for a Hugo don’t you know for their podcast. I’m not going to get into the Hugo controversy as others have done that elsewhere and with more clarity. See George RR Martin’s blog post about it for more info. I also met the friendly Ed Cox and we shared a manly hug, and Catie introduced me to Charlie Stross at one point too. I also ran into the always kind and generous Gillian Redfearn several times over the weekend, in a corridor, in the pub, during a panel, although at one point I’m sure I saw that she’s grown some horns (see her twitter feed for photos).

So a lot of names and faces, old and new to me over the course of the weekend. As ever, this more than the panels and even the guests of honour, are what the conventions are all about for me. Connecting with like-minded, creative and clever people and being able to completely relax and mention something tangentially connected and not receive a blank stare. At one point someone mentioned Star Wars and Spaced, and that set me off quoting Simon Pegg’s character as he berates a small child in a comic shop for wanting some Jar Jar Binks merchandise.

Saturday consisted of more panels and also hearing Jim Butcher speak on a few panels during his first convention in the UK. It was great to meet him in person and get a book signed. As well as being over here for Eastercon, he is also going on a mini signing tour of the UK this week. Saturday night was a fairly late one where myself, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Peter Newman and David Tallerman put the Marvel film universe to rights. I think we got it all sorted out in the end but don’t ask me what we ultimately decided.

Amazingly I only managed to buy two books at the event, but I did receive one in my bag, The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano who I met last year on a panel at Nine Worlds Geekfest. I’m also feeling briefly smug as just after Eastercon they announced the Clarke Award Finalists and I’ve already read two of them and picked up another, Station Eleven, at the weekend. I’ll attempt to read the others but I won’t make a promise as my to read pile is already hideous.

I left just after breakfast on Sunday so I missed Adrian’s talk on storm chasing, but I’ve heard very good things about it. Check out photos from it on his blog. So now there’s a big break for me between events and the next one will be Nine Worlds Geekfest in August. I’m helping out with the Podcasting track again, but don’t expect to be on any panels. In theory, this leaves me with several uninterrupted months where there’s nothing going on and I’m going to focus on chipping away at book 3. That’s the plan anyway so we’ll see how it goes. As ever I came away from the convention tired but also happy and re-energised. Being around those kind of creative people buoys me up and makes me keen to get back to the keyboard and turn out another chapter. So that’s what I’m going to do, starting….now.