I’m suffering jet lag. Okay, the distance between Brighton and Chester is only a handful of hundreds of miles and four hours by train, but the distance in terms of literary milieu I am on the other side of the planet. A day ago I was shaking hands with Brian Aldiss. Brian Aldiss! And Christopher Priest, Ramsey Campbell, and other writer friends such as Jonathan Pinnock, Ian Whates, Robert Harkess, Raven Dane and Sam Stone. My experience became enhanced with the artists too – Steve Upham, Vincent Chong and Andy Bigwood. Then the publishers – most of whom are also fine writers but are these days mostly producing exquisite publications – Terry Martin, Lee Harris, Christopher Teague, Simon Marshal-Jones and others. My hand hasn’t been so excited for years. Loved the hugs too… thanks Sam.
Copies of my Exit, Pursued by a Bee and the Escape Velocity anthology were among other items in the FantasyCon raffle. My SF mystery might have gone unnoticed but the Mistress of Ceremonies, Sarah Pinborough was ‘tired’ by the time she had to read the title and so fumbled it. Luckily, a helper said. “Exit, Pursued by a Bee, and it is a good book!”. Yeay, Sarah can be a Mistress again!
Link to FantasyCon 2011 >>> here
Speaking of the Escape Velocity anthology, I met several of the contributors during the weekend – besides Bec Zugor (I travelled up the railtrack to Chichesterto have lunch with her and her family – excellent day). EV contributors at FantasyCon included Jonathan Pinnock, Robert Harkess, Roy Gray, Mark Lewis and Ian Whates. I also met the charming Carmelo Rafala of Immersion Press, who wrote the Mother Tongue story in Escape Velocity issue one. Jonathan Pinnock was there to launch his amazing Mrs Darcy Versus the Aliens – see the link here. I’ve known Jonathan for years on various forums and admired his writing style but I had no idea he was soooo tall. I had to stand on a box of his books to shake his hand.
I attended several literary panels including one in which graphic artists discussed cover art issues and I learned why you rarely see turquoise in digital-art covers. Thanks, Vincent, who explained it to me in detail in the bar later. Also, in a panel on the future of SF Brian Aldiss said how single-word titles work best for promotion, then quoted his own Hot House as an example. Ian Whates pointed out to him that it was two words… ha ha. But in fact it really is one word – Hothouse as it was published in 1962. Ian could have quoted his No Time Like Tomorrow title back at him. Nevertheless, a one word title does have appeal. I tend to go for two or more.
Xaghra’s Revenge is a case in point. I managed to have a quick word with the Angry Robot publisher, Lee Harris, who have had the synopsis and samples in his inbox since May. They’ve been very busy this year including having an unagented submission window with the resulting flood of novels to consider. I bought Peter Crowther’s latest book, Darkness Falling, from them. A fantasy thriller with people disappearing – unnerving when that includes the pilot of a plane you are in. Hopefully, there will be good news about XR in due course.
Besides the exuberance I went through meeting all these folk – all good people in spite of their chosen genre of unspeakable horror! – there were other moments of excitement. A burlesque show was laid on: all based on fantasy themes we were treated to playlets and delightful striptease. Of course being based inBrightonin the British heatwave (28 C shade temp in October), there was plenty of bare flesh of all sexes on display on the beach and even bikinis in the town. I thought I was inAmsterdamin some of the narrow lanes with their windows wide open and an interesting sweet aroma wafting along. I was distinctly light-headed by the time I reached the end of the lane. With that, the hot sun, the ocean, the marvellously friendly gay communities, the cosmopolitan eateries (many many veggie cafes) and the runners along the promenades, Brighton was a combo ofAmsterdam and Sliema in Malta. I hope to go back soon.