Tag Archives: world fantasy convention

December Update

Christmas is just around the corner and everything is starting to wind down at the end of the year. I’ve got a couple more weeks at work before I break up for a lovely break over the holidays, so I thought I would do a quick update.

I’m still editing the novel, it’s gone through another round and is currently with my agent for feedback. The comic book projects are inching along, but they all take a lot of time so I’m seeing sketches and pages in progress, but there’s nothing to post.

A couple of weeks ago I took part in a round table podcast about World Fantasy Con 2013, which I attended in Brighton this year. Scrolls is a SFF book podcast, part of the Geek Syndicate network, hosted by the lovely Dion, and he guided the discussion of four people about WFC. We talked about what we enjoyed and didn’t, the panels, the hotel, and basically gave as much information about this sort of convention as possible. I’m guilty of doing this myself, but I sometimes talk about events or comics or books, and just assume other people are aware and have the same level of knowledge as I do about that part of geekdom. So we break down the convention and give people a general idea of what to expect at this type of event. Karen Davies, Paul Holmes,  Phil Ambler and myself shared our impressions of WFC.

You can download and listen to the podcast here or look for it on iTunes under the Geek Syndicate podcast.

Might squeeze a couple of short posts in before the end of the year, but they’re likely to be brief and one or two might be real ale reviews as I have been sampling a few and just haven’t got around to writing down my thoughts about them just yet. I hope you all have a lovely and relaxing holiday.


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Filed under Books, Events, podcast, Writing

6 Things I Discovered at World Fantasy Convention 2013

1. Some panellists like to talk a bit too much. To the point where others panellists can become silent witnesses. The point being raised may be valid, but time is always limited and panellists need to be mindful of that. Personally I always like to hear a range of opinions and everyone is up there for a reason, so they should have an opportunity to speak. On one panel I attended, it was dominated by one speaker, on another, the panellist actually said ‘I’m talking too much, someone else go’ and he zipped his lip and sat back, so he was very aware of how much he talked and made a conscious effort not to talk too much.

2. Joe Hill is a really funny guy. I was genuinely surprised, although I’m not particularly sure why, as I’d never met him before. But we all create versions of people in our head from the little information we know and we fill in the gaps ourselves. I didn’t expect him to be brooding and sulky, or maybe I did, but he was warm, witty, very friendly and he spoke with great passion about his books and comics collaborations. Listening to him speak during his guest of honour panel made me want to go out and buy his new book Nos4R2, or Nos4A2 as it’s known in the US. I was already a big fan of Locke and Key, but I saw several people picking up comics in the dealer room after he’d spoken about the comic book series.

3. Moderators are there to moderate, not be an active participant. Quite often the moderator is knowledgeable about the subject, so they can offer interesting counterpoints, or use their experience to raise interesting and thought provoking questions. There’s a huge difference between that and actively talking as much, or more than one of the panellists. Some people might not mind that and might disagree with this, but to me sometimes it felt as if the moderator felt snubbed for not being on the panel as a participant, so they took the opportunity to insert themselves into the discussion. The best moderators at WFC guided the discussion, made sure everyone had an opportunity to speak, even brought someone else’s comments to a close in order to hear from someone who had not spoken very much. Some had a list of questions and they ran down them one by one, others picked up on points raised in the discussion and then asked follow on questions, which made it more organic.

4. Authors are lovely. Speaking in general terms, of course, most of the writers I met at WFC were really, really nice people. Some I’d talked to online for ages but never met in real life (hello Liz, Jen and Den!). Some I’d never met before but was introduced to them over the weekend (hi Amy, David, Richard and James!), and some were old friends (Hi Adrian, Kim, Andrew, Laura, Catie, Mike). It was great to catch up with them as I don’t see them more than once or twice a year, as we live all over the country, so it’s great to just hang out in the flesh, talk nonsense and writing. If I’ve forgotten anyone then please excuse me as it’s not been done on purpose, but if you want to make me feel guilty then say hi.

5. Some people are just dicks. Other people have gone into the specifics of what happened at WFC in detail elsewhere, but from my perspective these events are social gatherings where like minded people can get together, have a bit of fun and relax. It’s supposed to be enjoyable and a little secret universe away from the real world and daily life. Most people during my day job and ‘normal’ life couldn’t tell you who Neil Gaiman was, or what Gollancz is or does. That’s not a criticism (ok maybe a little) but it’s just not their thing. So, in saying all of that, I am always horrified, shocked and appalled when someone from our corner, who is one of us, turns out to be a revolting, creepy and pervy dick. Most conventions have very specific harassment policies, others have general guidelines, some have none. Regardless, behaving like a creepy dick in any situation, bringing what is unacceptable behaviour in the real world into the SFF con scene, and somehow thinking it might be ok or that you can get away with it, is seriously messed up. I’ve read a number of horror stories about women being harassed, or leaving the con scene because it’s just too horrible, and I’m very sad to hear it’s still going on. However, I’m am glad to hear the WFC organisers have stamped down hard on what happened and the person responsible will be ejected from the convention scene.

6. Card and board game are awesome. Cards Against Humanity is a fun game. If you have a dark and slightly twisted sense of humour, like me, then it’s hilarious and it is not in the slightest bit politically correct. I laughed until my stomach was aching from some of the random combinations and answers Adrian and I played, while a slightly bemused and possibly scared Mike Shevdon looked on in surprise at our antics. One convention that I missed this year was the 9 Worlds, and they had a games thread with board games in there too. Hopefully I will be able to attend the event next year and if I get there, I’ll definitely take along a few games and spend some time destroying empires and so on. For all that I love computer games, and I have been playing them since the ZX81 Spectrum days, there is still a lot of fun to be had with some of the new and really interesting board games knocking around. At WFC we played a few card games, mostly because of transport and lugging stuff around, and these included Gloom, Pirate Fluxx and Cards Against Humanity. Drinking probably helps with the last one, not so much the first two as there are rules.

Overall for me the convention was a great long weekend away by the sea and I spent my time surrounded by some wonderful people from the writing world and all extensions of that area, agents, editors, publicists. Hopefully I will see some of you again at events in the near future.


Filed under Events, General, Writing

World Fantasy Con and Tabletop

Later this month I will be attending my first World Fantasy Convention. I’ve been to many different conventions over the years, but never this one, and never one this big before. WFC is also a bit different. It has not been in the UK for a few years, is typically held in the US or Canada, and several authors attend from overseas who I wouldn’t normally see at a UK SFF convention. This year there are several attending who I’ve admired but never met before, including Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss.

The programme of talks and events has not been released yet, but closer to the time I’ll no doubt be sitting down with a schedule and a marker pen, highlighting all the talks I absolutely want to see, the ones I wouldn’t mind seeing, and the ones I will get to if I have time and energy. This three tier system means I’m not disappointed as long as I get to see most of those in the first group, the rest is a bonus. Sometimes it’s not always possible due to scheduling conflicts but I guess we’ll see what happens and also how tired I am.

However, even with all of the panels and talks, there will be downtime at a convention like this. There always is, usually the time after the last panel and before the evening entertainment starts. First thing in the morning or just after lunch is sometimes quiet as well. Or there could just be a long stretch where there isn’t a talk I fancy seeing, so I find myself browsing the dealer room endlessly, talking to folk in the bar, or just wandering about aimlessly wasting time until the next thing I want to see. To combat the last, I suggested to a few friends that we spend our downtime doing some tabletop gaming. Due to what will probably be a lack of space, I’ve suggested card games only, stuff that is easy to transport, that doesn’t have lots of tiny markers, is easy to learn and fun to play.

I’ve recently been on a bit of Tabletop binge, the gaming show on Geek and Sundry YouTube channel presented by Wil Wheaton. Every week or so he sits down with some friends to play a board or card game and I’ve seen a few I wouldn’t mind playing. One card game which looked like a lot of fun, and I’ve subsequently purchased, is Gloom.

gloomIt’s the opposite of Happy Families. You are supposed to drown your Family in misery and you win when all of them die and are very miserable with negative points. You reward other players and their families by bestowing good events on them, earning them positive points. Very dark, a bit morbid and exactly my kind of thing. There is also a storytelling element to the game which is great as everyone I’ll be playing with at WFC are writers. Other people are bringing other games too so I suspect the downtime, and catching up with people on an evening, is going to be more fun than the panels during the day.

I’m going to do another WFC related panel closer to the time with something a bit different, but for now, I’m off to learn the rules of Gloom and practice my wicked laugh.

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Filed under Games, General