Northampton is only 150 miles from Chester but it took me 3 hours to drive there and another half to navigate the town to the venue. The old fishmarket has been refurbished nicely and though I worred that the angle of repose and low coefficient of friction of both marble and shiny book covers would see books slipsliding, it rarely happened. In fact having music, cafe, book dealers, readings, signings and discussion more or less under one roof is a benefit.
I sold a dozen copies of Exit, Pursued by a Bee and Escape Velocity magazines and a few Dimensions anthologies of mine and Robert Blevins. I felt good about those numbers until Mark Robson talked to me and author Toby Frost about how he sells hundreds at each of his signings and readings. He writes Young Adult fantasy and is invited into schools. Maybe I should take out the ‘steamy sex in space’ bit in the blurb of Exit, Pursued by a Bee. The sex inside is envigorating rather than perverse.
At the NewCon4 I’d met successful authors such as Storm Constantine (she wirtes erotic horror including the Wraethful Chronicles,Grigori Trilogy, Silverheart),
Iain Banks (a scifi biggie with Consider Phebas, The Algebraist, Matter, The Wasp Factor, The Crow Road, Simplicity),
Ken MacLeod (Newton’s Wake, The Execution Channel, Learnng the World, The Sky Road
Paul Cornell (Script writer for Dr Who, Torchwood, Primeval)
And then there were those of us on the brink of such fame as me (hah), Toby Frost, whose Space Captain Smith books in which the 25th Century British Empire takes on the menace of he evil ant soldiers of the Ghast hive. The hero wearing lookalike 19th best dressed British uniforms – red tunic, brass buttons, is extraordinarily popular with book buyers at the con, and his books are already on the shelves in our UK book shops.
Mark Hobson too, who is amazingly successful going around schools with his Young Adult scifi / fantasy adventures.
The gorgeous Sam Stone thrust her cleavage at me and left me a copy of her Killing Kiss vampire-with-a-diffrence for me to review. Allyson Bird did readings and selling her scifi anthology Bull Running for Girls. Women were well represented at the Con – nearly forget Juliet McKenna who gave a long chat with me while her son ate nearly all my white maltesers – a prop for my Exit, Pursued by a Bee stall (you can see them on the fish slab in the photo)
Many of the wandering visitors had heard of our magaziine, some bought all three issues on the spot, and others took a flyer and came back later to buy a copy.
I swapped books with the deliciously clever Jaine Fenn – I had the better of the swap with Jaine’s ‘Principles of Angels’ – Khesh CIty floats above an uninhabitable world. I also caught up nattering with agent John Jarrold, writer Sue Boulton, fellow Orbiters Nick Wood (short story award winner!), and Tim Taylor.
Nick Wood signing
Nick Wood has met other EV authors on his travels so it is good to know we are REAL people too!
Renewing aquaintances sent vibrations of pleasure too, Ian Whates – big chief of teh BSFA. Alex Davies who steers Derbyshire’s Literature, Kim Lakin-Smith is a literary fantasy writer and I look forward to beingv tutored by her in a November residential. Good too to re-meet friend, Terry Martin who runs Murky Depths – a cutting edge science fantasy magazine with amazing cartoon with lateral thinking.
The venue was served with handmade local ales, Kevin Burke – the Jester, and excellent feet tapping music by Invocal, Cerridwen, Jonny Webster & Friends. Congratulations to Ian Whates and his wife, Helen, for a marvelous event.
One aspect that hit me full on was reading a poster about the history of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA). see part of poster below. It’s isn’t the words that matter but the picture. I stagged back as I recognised his face. Eric Jones lived at 44 Barbridge Road. I lived at 43. When Was a kid my dad would create black pen and ink illustrations to be meticulously pinpricked onto Gestetner skins for the Cheltenham science fiction magazine, Sidereal. I though all dads did that! I also thought all streets had their own sci fi mags! So this is Eric Jones, neighbour, who became a leading light in the formation of the BSFA. Coincidences. My other claim to this one degree of separation with the BSFA is that I saw the same UFO as Eric one afternoon 50 years ago. Hit the papers. It could have been light on a airplane wing but the rest of the plane stayed hidden from one horizon to the other and local Staverton airport said no planes were in the sky at that time – umm. If anyone knows how Eric Jones and his wife, Margaret is and where they now live, I’d be grateful to know.
Eric Jones, founder member of BSFA
On my long journey home along a congested M6, I turned off the Satnav when it told me to ‘continue along this road for 103 miles’!