Tag Archives: Peter Newman

Post-Fantasycon and Pre-SLEDGE LIT

Fantasycon is done and is now in the rear view mirror. Bye bye Nottingham and next year it is going to be in Scarborough by the sea. The event was super tiring but fun, and I had a great time hanging out with friends I only get to see maybe once or twice a year. I met a whole bunch of new people, including the great Brad Beaulieu, who was over here in the UK visiting from America. Prior to Fantasycon I’d seen photos of him going up and down the country at various signings with Brandon Sanderson, but we met across a table with only a deck of Magic: The Gathering cards between us. Den Patrick brought several decks with him and throughout the weekend we battled, sometimes head to head and once with Brad in a 3 way match. We tried to have a rematch on Sunday but didn’t manage to fit it in. There are too many people to name so I’ll just say you all know who you are and it was great to see you.

SLEDGE-LIT

So, in about four weeks time, on Saturday 21st November in Derby, I will be attending my next convention, a one day event called SLEDGE-LIT. Tickets are still available and there’s more information on the Facebook group. I’m going to be doing a reading and will be on panels, and there are also some epic guests of honour as well including Alison Moore, Adam Roberts, Robert Shearman and Charles Stross.

I’ve been to similar events at the Derby Quad before including EDGE-LIT which is normally run in July. So this is a great partner event to that giving fans an extra helping of some great voices in fantasy and science fiction.

If I didn’t see you at Fantasycon then perhaps I will see  some of you at SLEDGE-LIT or next year at another event. For now I’m going to try and catch up on my sleep…and all of the new TV that’s just come back for new seasons.

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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.

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My Fantasycon 2014 Experience

I’m back from my first Fantasycon in York which started out on Friday with some Austin Powers style car parking. I was staying at a very central Bed and Breakfast, which was lovely, and the owners kindly gave me a parking permit for the weekend. Brilliant, I thought. I could leave my car all weekend, and not have to worry about trying to move it or pay for parking. The only problem was the space was on the main road, squeezed between a car, a tree and a conveniently placed post. So while dodging traffic and waiting for the lights to change and the road to be clear, I tried several times to get into the space. Finally, I managed to reverse in, nearly ran someone over on the pavement and then preceded to reverse back and forth about twenty times until I wasn’t on the road and no wheels were touching the pavement section. I’ve seen people get tickets for less in the past from enthusiastic traffic wardens.

Thankfully the weekend picked up after that as I met up at the pub for lunch with a fairly healthy contingent of TeamMushens, fellow authors who also have the same agent as me, Juliet Mushens. The posse included Niel Bushnell, Andrew Reid, Peter Newman, Den Patrick, Jen Williams, Richard Kellum and the Grand Dame herself was also there. Being a writer can be a fairly lonely job, as it usually involves a lot of sitting quietly in a room by yourself, staring at a screen and listening to the voices in your head. Getting to meet up with fellow writers who understand all of the challenges, the angst, the editing, the self-loathing, the rewrites, is actually a very rewarding experience. Meeting up with fellow TeamMushens people is a privilege as they’re all remarkable and very talented people. All of us write in the the SFF genre space, but despite common interests and hobbies we couldn’t be more different, which I find fascinating.

Finding and connecting with your tribe is much easier now than it was in my youth, thanks mostly to the internet, but it is still not the same as meeting up in person. Unfortunately I don’t get to see this group of friends more than once or twice a year as we’re all spread out across the UK, so it’s always a genuine pleasure to see them and spend time together.

The rest of Friday was taken up with running from one panel to the next, including one about Awards and their value to a writer. I also sat on a panel about podcasting which seemed to go fairly well. After that I went to one of the bars in the hotel where karaoke had been set up. Niel and I grabbed a quick fast food dinner on the hoof, then raced back to watch some of our fellow writers own the microphone. Andrew’s duet with Juliet was a highlight as well as her solo later on. Sadly I’d wandered off to the other bar so didn’t see Pete Newman fulfil his side of a bet, but I hear it went very well. After a few more drinks and some Cards Against Humanity where Jen Williams won, I called it a night.

Saturday began with a panel about Page to Screen where people including one of the Guests of Honour, Toby Whithouse, spoke about pitching, adaptations, working in TV and film. One interesting thing Toby mentioned was that he used to be an actor and now whenever he writes anything, he always give every character a full name, first and last. This is to avoid what often happens such as Policeman3 or Thug2. It also ties in nicely to something I mentioned on the podcast panel. One question from the audience was to name our favourite podcast, and mine is The Tobolowsky Files (also on iTunes), where character actor Stephen Tobolowsky talks about life, love and the entertainment business and he has a theory that you can tell the value of a part by the name of the character. A  job title is low on the totem pole, like Judge, then you get titles and numbers Doctor3, then it goes up to just a single name and right up to a part with both names. The name convention indicates the number of lines and how important the part will be. Toby was very aware of this having been an actor for years, so he wanted to ensure that every actor who had a part in any of his shows would have two names so it looked better on their CV. He also tried to ensure that if they had even one line that it was a joke, so that it mattered.

The panel that followed, The Reign of the Geek, was very interesting and as with many situations, it’s while I’m thinking about it later that it affects me. It was something Joanne Harris said about being an outsider that really struck a chord with me, and I’ll come back to it in another post soon once I’ve found the right words.

Jen Williams and I then attended a panel with Charlaine Harris in conversation and it was fantastic. She’s a fascinating woman and had a lot of wisdom to share about her experiences with writing novels and seeing her work adapted for television.

I find going to several panels in a row can be exhausting, so after that I took a bit of a break and left the hotel, had some lunch in a quiet place, then came back for a panel on Grimdark, and how it has evolved from a joke to an actual label people have started using for a particular type of fantasy novel.

After more panels I found time to sit and chat to some old friends who had come to their first Fantasycon. Then there was the brilliant and funny live edition of Tea and Jeopardy, with Emma Newman and Pete Newman in costume as her surly and dodgy butler, Latimer. He stayed in character throughout and was very funny indeed!

After a quick curry with Niel and James Oswald I  caught up with some other people from TeamMushens including Laura Lam, Syd Moore and lots of other friends I don’t get to see very often. I went to the very well attended Super Relaxed Fantasy Club where there were four readings and James Barclay interviewed Simon Spanton.

I must mention that the army of volunteer redcoats did a great job of coordinating everything at the convention and it wouldn’t have run as smoothly without them giving up their time.

By the time I got down to the party on Saturday night it was in full swing and it had been a long day. Somehow I managed to stay awake and was sat chatting to people when they closed the bar and turned on the lights indicating that the party was officially over.

I had to head back home first thing on Sunday morning so I said goodbye to everyone that night and I felt quite sad at the thought of not seeing them again until next year. We’ll talk online via social media and email each other, but it’s not the same. So I’ve found myself looking ahead to conventions next year already and wondering when I’ll run into them.

Fantasycon2014 was a lot of fun, for the social side as much as the panels. It was also exhausting but thankfully I didn’t have too far to travel compared to some. York is a fantastic city and for those who had time to spare they explored some of the remarkable sites, went on a Ghost Walk, popped into the famous Betty’s tea room, explored the cathedral and wandered around the Shambles.

So for now, it’s back to the writing and the editing on book 2, and I’m looking forward to attending at least a couple of conventions next year and the build up to the launch of book 1, Battlemage.

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