10 Things That Made the World Fantasy Convention Special
This time last week I was down in Brighton at the World Fantasy Convention, getting ready to take part in a signing session for “The Black Book of Horror” (number ten) and later that night taking part in the poetry event . It was my third World Fantasy Convention, and another great one, and here are some of the reason’s why:
Brighton – this was the fourth time I had been to Brighton since the World Horror Convention in 2010. I fool myself into believing that I know my way around, which I don’t, but love some of the pubs, some of the restaurants, the bracing walk along the seafront, the “Lanes”, and those quirky little shops off the railway station in the streets to the left.
Jonathan Aycliffe - wrote one of the all-time ghost story, chiller novels in “Naomi’s Room” (which I’ve also got on cassette and used to play in the car on the way home on dark nights, and was convinced there was something behind me). So I had to take down that book, that cassette and five other books and buy his new one and get them all signed.
The Craft Beer Company – is up the hill and up the hill some more, but worth finding. It may be better than the mighty “Evening Star” which I always thought was the best pub in Brighton. The CBC was packed with beers on tap like “Wild Raven”, “Aurora”, “Altered States”, “Electric Nurse DIPA” (that’s Double IPA) as well as a whole host of bottled beers like “Hoppin Frog” and “Boogoop”. On one visit, Big John and I were there when there was a stag party on, and everyone was wearing masks of the groom which was ever-so-slightly creepy.
Readings – excluding the poetry event, I managed to read twice, first at the “Alchemy Press” reading session (reading a short extract from “The Monster of Gorgon” from “Pulp Heroes 2”) and later at my own reading slot, framing some poems with a story at either end. Reading slots were like gold dust, so I was chuffed to get one and thought it went well (but, of course, other opinions are available).
Friends – I got to meet some old friends that I see only once a year and make some new ones, which is what these conventions are all about.
Neil Gaiman – was the surprise Master of Ceremonies after China Mieville had to pull out; much in demand I asked him to contribute to something to a Scottish anthology which he declined, but it gave me a cracking idea for a story. I also got the new “Sandman” comic signed to go along with all the other “Sandman” comics I’ve got – the tall, pasty-faced dude is back!
Books- in all my days I have never, ever had a suitcase that was over the weight limit when checking-in, until this time. 2 kilos worth of books were moved from my suitcase to my hand luggage, but the books had to be brought. When was I likely to see Brian Aldiss, or Tim Powers, or James Blaylock, or the legendary Susan Cooper again?
Book launches – you could have spent the entire convention attending book launches, or publisher parties – I didn’t, honest, but I had to attend Alchemy Press’ launch of “Pulp Heroes 2” (because my story “The Monster of Gorgon” is in the anthology) and also the tenth “Black Book of Horror” launch (because “Exploding Raphaelesque Heads is also in that). It’s a great buzz being at a signing event, trying not to get people’s names wrong when writing them and thinking up a suitable dedication – I had four which I varied, and a spare green pen handy.
The Poetry Event – all hail Allen Ashley for organising a cracking poetry event. I read two: “More Tea or I’ll Appear”, and “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Staple Removers”, and both were well received, and I’m chuffed to be part of any event which includes Joe Haldeman reading.
Halloween – it was Halloween on the first full day of the convention so Brighton was packed with all sorts of Halloweenery and you can’t beat the sight of a zombie walking down the street having a fag.
And that’s it, ten reasons why the WFC was special. Well done to the organisers, and the award-winners, especially to see Graham Joyce there to pick up a BFS award for best fantasy novel. There was much love in the room and most of it was for him. Now to get those award-winning Joel Lane and Robert Shearman books. More books, like that's all I need!