Sunday, 12 February 2012

SFX 2012: Part 2

Saturday I was up early once more, encouraged by the irrepressible Mr Lavie Tidhar.  A good job too, because Saturday was my actual work day, where I did stuff to earn my magic get-into-Pontins-free card.  Saturday, in short, was the day where all the scary stuff piled up like a motorway pile-up of scary.  Partly my fault, of course, for running into the Fantasy Faction lads at the previous night's party and arranging my first ever face to face interview with them for after my first ever panel and my first ever book signing.  I mean, there's an argument for jumping in at the deep-end, right?  What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and all that?  Absolutely.

Less likely to kill you than you might think.
I'm not entirely sure what I did for the first half of the day.  I know I hung around the bar quite a lot, was hugely impressed by Jonathan Green's vast and varied writerly CV and  wandered over to Lavie's signing of his new House of Murky Depths-published picture book Going to the Moon!, which from the flick I had at it while trying to work out if I could afford to buy any more damn books, looked tremendous.  I remember going for lunch and somehow - I really have no clue how - managing almost to be late for the panel and having to peg it back to Pontins amidst some classically welsh weather.

So.  The panel.  It was called It's Not a Story, It's a Map!, and I was there with Gaie Sebold, Sam Sykes, Ian Whates and China soddin' Mievelle, with moderation provided by the terrific, great-blurb-providing Juliet E McKenna.  So no pressure.  None.  Reliable people had assured me that although China is a living legend and looks like some kind of mythical giant-squid-hunting badass, he's really a lovely guy, (he was), and that although Juliet could talk the legs off a giant squid, she would no doubt make a top class moderator (she did.)  All was good.  My cool remained more or less intact - even when, on my third pass through the green room* I realised that the elderly bearded chap regailing all and sundry with some lengthy and bizarre anecdote at enormous volume was Brian bloody Blessed.

The suggestion to sit in name order was my only contribution, but it was a good'un.
None of this, however, dinted my surface calm - mainly because the hangover was kicking in quite hard by that point and I was mainly focused on making sure my body didn't do anything to embarass me.  And as it turned out, despite hopelessly inadequate technology that rendered it impossible for anyone on the panel to actually hear what the others were saying, I fared quite well.  I made a couple of comments that didn't seem too brazenly idiotic, no one tried to laser anyone else's face off with a clockwork heatray and we managed to come to the unanimous conclusion that maps are the ultimate evil in fantasy literature and must be burned upon the altars of our dark gods.

(Personally, I quite like maps in fantasy books, but sometimes you've just got to pick your battles.)

Next came my signing, sitting me once more besides the mighty Mr Ian Whates, and the brilliant-yet-alarming news that Giant Thief had already more or less sold out.  Great on the "wholly crap, Giant Thief has sold out" front, not so hot on the "what am I actually going to do for the next hour?" one.  But it worked out pretty well, since a couple of people came back with previously-bought copies and enough punters arrived that we managed to flog the last few.  (Huge thanks, by the way, to everyone who sought out my illegible squiggle.)

Marc, me, Paul.  Say what you like, but I shined the hell out of those Docs.
With all the really terrifying stuff over with, I was pretty relaxed by the time Marc Aplin and Paul Wiseall arrived to wisk me off for my Fantasy Faction interview.  It was a lot of fun, and I got to burble about a ton a stuff close to my heart, like why short stories are great and what a complete asshat Easie Damasco is.  Of the two live interviews I've done recently, I think this is the one that's less likely to embarass the hell out of me when I hear it.  Cheers to Marc and Paul for being almost unbelievably nice and enthusiastic, and for managing to comandeer a passing spaceship just so that we could all have our photo taken together.

Work done, I retired for dinner and then more drinkage ... and finally, late in the early hours, the delirium tremens-like flailing that must pass for dancing if you happen to have an XY chromosome.  Needless to say, it isn't a sight that needs to be inflicted on rational beings (not that there were many around by that point), so it's a damn good job I managed to switch to pained glaring mode before Jonathan Green unleashed something we'd all regret.

Four thousand people?  No problem, mate!
Sunday I was up bright and early once again, after a refreshing five hours sleep (damn you Tidhar!) and ready to brave the machinations of the British train companies - who, god bless 'em, had completely failed to notice that they'd sold about a thousand times as many tickets out of Prestatyn as they would on a normal Sunday, and had cancelled the train out in favour of shuttling everyone to the nearest city in half-hourly milk floats.  Cue a chain of events that nearly led to us being pumelled by Storm Troopers and a couple of hundred irrate, hungover con'ers. 

But that's a story for another time...

Lastly, while I remember, cheers to old friend, master comics creator and soon-to-be Solaris novelist Al Ewing for keeping my company on the journey home - and indeed to everyone who hung out with and / or and bought me drinks, the Angry Robot gang for a great first signing, and of course the SFX folks for a con par excellence.  Roll on 2013!

* See!  Celebrity terminology!


  1. Glad to hear you enjoyed the interview! Was great to chat to you and hear there are even more exciting adventures to look forward to :)

    Marc (One of the Fantasy-Faction lads)

  2. We'll have to do it again once Crown Thief comes out!