Tag Archives: RJ Barker

Back home from Les Imaginales

I’ve just returned from Les Imaginales, a French literature festival which takes place in the town of Epinal. Without a doubt it’s the best book-related event I’ve ever attended.

In terms of organisation and how it is run, it is very different to UK, or US conventions from what I’ve been told about them. Sponsored by the town, and a number of local businesses, the four day event is free to attend and held in a park. With dozens of craft and book tents, 3 big marquees for panels, and a huge signing tent for authors, the all-ages crowd could come and go as they pleased. With lots of shady places under trees to get out of the sun (it was super hot and sticky in the tents) crowds of people drifted about to visit the festival or wander into the nearby town centre for meals.

On two of the days bus loads of local school children were brought in and there were also art exhibitions, period weapon demonstrations, body painting competitions and all kinds of stuff going on that I didn’t have time to see. A real festival of the creative arts. There was also a fair bit of cosplay. Bravo to the guy dressed up as Conan and also the stormtroopers who must have been sweating so much!

 

 

I’m starting to recover now from the event but my voice is still a bit tired from talking so much. The festival celebrated fantasy, SF and the fantastic, which the French use as an umbrella term to include horror writers and I believe the supernatural. The event was brilliant, the organisers couldn’t do enough, and the many volunteers who helped run the event worked tirelessly, including all of the great booksellers.

Also, because my ability to speak in French is limited to what I learned before I did my GSCEs I had to work really hard to break the scar tissue off some old memories. It allowed me to speak to people on a very basic level but everyone genuinely appreciated the effort which was lovely. Thankfully RJ Barker, Ed McDonald and I were provided with interpreters who did a brilliant job translating what other panellists and the moderator were saying, and then they had to translate our rambling nonsense into French. So my thanks to Helene, Romain and Claudine for all of their hard work.

I also had a chance to get to know some lovely authors including my fellow UK peeps, RJ Barker , Ed McDonald, Al Robertson and, of course, Christopher Priest. Also, over the course of sitting beside him for 4 days straight I got to know Steven Erikson a little too. Below is a picture of Steven Erikson, me and Romain, trying our best not to look tired and sweaty!

I met a number of other lovely authors including Marie Brennan, Robin Hobb, Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, plus too many great European authors to name. At times the whole thing also felt a bit like a kind of holiday camp for writers, especially the long breakfast chats which were worth the trip alone.

After the festival I spent a couple of days in Paris with my French publisher, Bragelonne, during which I had a little time to explore the city. It’s an amazing city and I need to go back and see more of it.

If any author has the opportunity to attend Les Imaginales I would highly recommend it. The French fans are so passionate about fantasy and the festival was just a brilliant experience. Now, I’m off to get some sleep and rest my voice.

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Les Imaginales Festival

I am delighted to be able to announce that this May, from 24-27th, I will be attending my first convention overseas, Les Imaginales in Epinal, France.

Les ImaginalesAs well as a host of European authors there are 5 British authors attending (RJ Barker, Ed McDonald, Al Robertson, Christopher Priest and me) and 5 American authors (Marie Brennan, Ellen Kushner, Nnedi Okorafor, Delia Sherman and Robin Hobb).

I am very excited to be attending this event for so many reasons, not least of all the amazing company I will be keeping. I’m going to really struggle not to fanboy over Robin Hobb but I’ve had a few months to prepare myself. I only started reading her work in the last few years. I was aware of her for a long time but as ever it was a matter of only so many hours in the day and too many books but I was determined to fill in that gap in my reading history. After racing through the first Assassins trilogy I’m now taking my time with the Liveship Traders trilogy.

Last year I visited France for the first time ever and the offices of my French publisher, Bragelonne in Paris, where I was awarded the first Hellfest Inferno prize for Battlemage. I had an amazing visit and everyone was so nice so I’m really looking forward to catching up with people.

Also from talking to other authors who’ve attended in previous years they’ve told me how wonderful a time they had at the festival. All of which adds up to me sitting on my suitcase as I can’t wait to go and meet French fantasy readers at the event!

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October and November events

It’s less than a month until Mageborn is launched so in a few weeks time I will be leaving the writing cave and venturing out into the wide world to meet other people. Seeing an author in the wild is a rare event so you should try to get to at least one of these events before they go back into hibernation for winter.

Both of the Mageborn events are free but you need to contact the organisers to reserve a seat.

Wednesday 4th October – Birmingham Waterstones – RJ Barker and I will be in conversation, with Tom Bissell setting the questions. We’ll be talking about being a published author, magic, world building and having a bit of fun, and maybe a beer or two.

Thursday 5th October – Blackwell’s Bookshop in London – This time I’ll be sitting down with the fantastic Ed Cox for some one on one discussion about writing other races, magic in our worlds and our origin stories. I’ve sat with Ed before on panels but never had a chance to do a proper uninterrupted chat so I think it will be a really interesting discussion.

End of October – I’m probably going to be appearing at another event in London, more info when I have it.

Sledge Lit – Saturday 25th November – This one day event in Derby will have a host of fantasy and science fiction writers on panels talking about all manner of things related to fantasy, science fiction and horror. There will be workshops as well and there are guests of honour. I’ll be on some panels and signing books. You have to buy a ticket to attend this one day event.

That should be it before Christmas, but you never know…..

 

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MCM London Comic Con Roundup

MCM May 2017

MCM May 2017

A little over a week ago, during the bank holiday weekend, I attended the MCM London Comic Con which is the largest convention we have in the UK. Last year had a record crowd of about 133K and I expect the numbers for this year will be as high. It takes place twice a year and the next one is in October, so make a note in your calendar.

 

It’s a real cross genre geek pop-culture event, with a mix of TV and film stars,  games companies, film and TV companies like DC and Warner Brothers, comic book creators, manga and anime, lots of cosplay and a whole gaggle of fiction authors.

Batman catching up on the news in Gotham

About thirty authors over the course of weekend took part in a range of panels and discussions covering all sorts of topics from the weird to the hilarious. I took part in two panels on Sunday, but before that I popped by on Saturday to take a look around, catch up with some old friends, make some new friends over a few pints, and nose around the convention.

The event itself was packed and it was a gloriously hot summer day, so the outdoor area was awash with hundreds of people enjoying the weather, many in bright and colourful cosplay. From a distance it looked like a weird field of moving flowers dancing about in the sun.

Cosplay in the sun

Inside it was cooler but there were so many people it was difficult to move around in the main foyer, but the halls themselves were large enough that you were never squeezed in too tight and there was a lot to see in the two massive halls. I picked up a few bargains on Saturday, then did the usual author thing and went to the pub with some fellow writers.

Big thanks to the kind traffic warden on Saturday night who helped me find my hotel when the maps on my phone proved to be utterly useless. I was down to 1% battery at this point and I was starting to think I’d have to just call a taxi. It turns out it was only a couple of minutes walk from the DLR station but it was a totally new part of London to me, but I will know for next time if I ever stay there again.

Sunday was a lot more relaxed with one panel focused on Orbit, old versus new. Somehow Jamie Sawyer and I, despite both only having one trilogy out each, were on the Old side of the table, versus the youngsters who had just debuted or are due to later this year. It was a funny and weird panel and despite it being fairly early on a Sunday morning it went well and the audience seemed to enjoy it. The afternoon panel was about creating fight scenes and that led to a few laughs from the audience. Afterwards I signed some books and then it was all over. I was super tired after a long day and a half, but it was really good to meet up with some fellow authors.

I also got to meet fellow Orbit author, Nick Eames, who made the long journey from Canadia-land for the event. Sadly I didn’t have any Timbits to make him feel welcome, but we are getting our first Tim Hortons in the UK very soon. Also a quick hello to lots of other authors I chatted to over the weekend including Jamie Sawyer, Jen Williams, Adrian Selby, Ed Cox, Ed McDonald, Claire North, Mike Carey, RJ Barker, GX Todd, Laura Lam, Kim Curran, Jason Arnopp, and anyone else I’ve forgotten. The moderators on our panels were also awesome and thanks to the press officer at Orbit, Nazia, for being excellent as ever. Organising authors is much like herding cats and we had several examples of that over the weekend!

If anyone took any photos during the panels please let me know and I’ll add them to the post. Right then, back to the first draft of book 5 for me.

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