Wednesday, 15 July 2015

EdgeLit Impressions

This Saturday just passed was my first experience of Edge Lit, which I'd gone out of my way to make
it to this year having been told repeatedly by a fair number of people that - despite being just the one day - it was one of the better UK conventions.  And lo and behold, that was entirely true, though I'm still not one hundred percent sure as to why.

Certainly the content was the usual mix of launches, talks, readings and panels, and at least when it came to the last of those, it would be a stretch to suggest that there was anything being said that hadn't been covered elsewhere.   The only one I made it to was pleasant enough; a polite chat amongst some excellent writers saying interesting things, albeit at a volume that wasn't quite up to the task of such a big space.  Honestly, speaking as someone who's desperate to see the convention scene get the shake-up it's long overdue, the content side seemed to me a bit above fine - and under other circumstances, that would probably have left me grumbling.
Me, Del and Kim Lakin-Smith, a bar.

In the case of Edge Lit, though, it just didn't bother me a great deal.  And despite what I said above, it occurs to me that I actually have a really good idea why that was: it's absolutely the right size for the thing that it is, and it has absolutely the perfect venue, in the shape of Derby's Quad.  That space was just right to make everything feel friendly and intimate, where so many conventions are sprawling and anonymous and kind of intimidating.  And that sort of consideration ran through a great deal of Edge Lit.  Why aren't more conventions towards the centre of the country, where folks from both north and south can attend?  In cities where you can get a cheap room for the night in a good hotel?  And where there are plenty of places to pop out for food and drink nearby?  The Quad was just a damn fine venue, and the scale of everything was exactly right for the event it was, and the event used the available space exceedingly well.  With all the program items within a couple of minutes walk and a large, well-staffed bar for any quiet periods, it was downright tough to get bored.

Now, if some of what I've said sounds like damning praise then it isn't meant to be; or rather, it maybe is, but of UK conventions in general rather than Edge Lit specifically.  And though there was a considerable proportion of professional authors there, I can absolutely see that I wasn't the target audience; with its welcome emphasis on workshops, Edge Lit is clearly aiming primarily at up-and-coming writers, and I've no doubt that a few years ago I'd have found it to be just about the most useful and enlightening thing imaginable.

These days, however, my requirement for a convention has a lot more to do with a nice big bar and a location that doesn't cost me a fortune to get to, and like I said, Edge Lit nailed that stuff right to the table.  Also, as someone who's always impressed when people get the little things right, I feel I should mention that it had by far the most professionally produced program I've yet seen and the first goodie bag to contain something I actually really wanted, in the shape of a downright marvelous CD compilation put together by author John Connolly.  (Seriously, if you were there and haven't given it a spin yet, do right now.)  And lastly, since I still feel like this praise has been a little on the watered-down side, let's finish by pointing out that I had a bloody good day, that I got to hang out with a whole bunch of terrific people, and that I will certainly be going back again next year.


  1. This year was my second Edge-Lit, and it was even better than last year. It really does seem to be the little things that make it, and it truly is a very friendly, intimate, and laid back event.

  2. That's it, definitely. Edge Lit had a really nice vibe to it, and as much as something like that can look like a fortuitous accident, I've no doubt that it was actually the result of a lot of thought and hard work.