Author Topic: FantasyCon '12 review: A Newbie's Adventure  (Read 3762 times)

Offline desktopdespot

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FantasyCon '12 review: A Newbie's Adventure
« on: October 01, 2012, 02:13:28 pm »
I popped my FantasyCon cherry over the weekend. Like most virgins, I was shy, nervous, excited and curious: what would it feel like?

It felt great.

Firstly, I was relieved to see that it wasn't a 'dressing-up' fan-boy kind of deal: now, I like a fancy dress party as much as the next Shrek look-a-like, but no-one wants to see grown men in full Princess Leia costumes, do they? However, the slightly more exotic was in evidence, and was a delight to behold, from collections of piercings, coloured hair/beards and waxed moustaches to Simon Marshall-Jones' sublime pictorials (that reminds me, must dust off my old Ray Bradbury anthology).

Ordinary is way over-rated. Mixed feelings though: I felt like I had found my tribe, yet at the same time felt rather dull-looking by comparison. And besides, I'm scared of needles. Was rather taken with the waistcoat/pocket-watch combos in evidence though . . . might give that a go next time. Made me wonder: "What does an author look like?" (Answer: Pleased to be Here).

To all those 'rocking the look', I salute your style.

Secondly, I hadn't expected to walk in and see faces I had previously only seen on dust-jackets or web-sites brushing past me in the flesh. I was a little over-awed and a lot under-prepared. Can never think of a good joke when I need one . . .

As a newbie/wannabe, the networking was tough-going: it brought home to me the fact that I am no-one and know no-one. Unfortunately it didn't help that I missed the ice-breaking sessions for newcomers having arrived in the early evening on Friday (some of us still haven't given up the day job) so getting to know the people I wanted to get to know (and even those I didn't know I wanted to get to know) was challenging. Feeling a little like a wedding-crasher who might be evicted any second once someone realizes that no-one knows who I am, I skulked inconspicuously, trying to absorb the atmosphere, conversations and bonhomie by osmosis.

But actually I just hid under my cap most of the time.

This didn't stop me getting an enormous amount out of the weekend. I have never been so stimulated without stimulants! Thanks to the BFS committee for putting together such a well-run event, with such a focused yet diverse program of educational/entertaining events. If only someone had cloned me so that I could have attended all the sessions . . .

Thanks too to all panelists, readers, performers -- I gained something from each person's contribution. A few personal highlights:

-- interview with Mark Gatiss: funny, insightful and erudite; great to hear from a celebrity on why he loves the stuff we love (and at this point have to admit to something of a man-crush, such was his charm)

-- interview with Brent Weeks: a writer who was new to me, but whom spoke with refreshing self-effacement, passion and charisma (following which I went to the Forbidden Planet stall and bought the first of his Night Angel trilogy: see folks -- this face-to-face interaction stuff really works!)

-- Panels: I attended most (as time-tabling allowed) and got value from all, but those I particularly enjoyed were:
   Fantasy Fiction: Keeping It Real, chaired by Adrian Tchaikovsky
   Writing for Television, chaired by Philip Palmer
   Market Information for Newcomers, chaired by SM-J

(I'm now bursting with ideas for topics I'd like to see for future panels/masterclasses -- anyone know where the BFS Suggestion Box is?)

-- Readings: in particular I enjoyed the reading given (no -- performed!) by Mike, Lin & Lou Carey, an evocative three-way delivery of a section of their new work, 'The Steel Seraglio'. Really showed me how dynamic a reading can be when well-prepared and injected with a little creativity.

-- Freebies -- oh yes! A (literally) bursting red bag of gratis paperbacks. 20+ wonders of genre fiction to read and review: enough to feed my addiction all through the autumn and give my mind somewhere to escape to now that X-Factor season is upon us again.

All in all, I listened a lot, learned a lot, drank a lot, dreamed a lot (and spent a lot at the NCP car park -- the parking meter was running its fat little tummy and crying 'No More!' by the time I'd finished feeding it). But it was all worth it.

And just like most folks immediately after they pop their cherry, I want to do it all over again. (Just registered for WFC'13). To those of you I met, it was a pleasure; to those of you I didn't -- I look forward to putting that right in the future.

To your writing/publishing success, cheers,


Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: FantasyCon '12 review: A Newbie's Adventure
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2012, 02:35:01 pm »
Glad you enjoyed yourself. It can be difficult making friends when it seems that everyone else are already friends. Next year you'll be on the committee...

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: FantasyCon '12 review: A Newbie's Adventure
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2012, 02:42:54 pm »
Always reminds me of freshers' week... And I spent the first two days of that hiding in my room. (Till the future Mrs Theaker knocked on the door and asked if I wanted to go to a disco.)

Next time I come to FantasyCon I think I'll try to loosely arrange meet-ups with people in advance, and I'll wear a t-shirt or badge with my Twitter handle and avatar on.

Offline @mangozoid

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Re: FantasyCon '12 review: A Newbie's Adventure
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2012, 10:44:47 am »
Hiya Richard,

  So glad you enjoyed yourself at FantasyCon. To be fair, I think you'll find it was the first FantasyCon for many (myself included) -- I've been 'out of the game' for a very long time, but attended the Edge-Lit in Derby back in July (also organised by Alex Davis and his redshirts btw) and promised myself I'll make an effort to make FantasyCon, EasterCon, etc. wherever possible.

  I was quite fortunate in that I knew many people from Edge-Lit and have my active spells on Twitter (@mangozoid) so there were at least a few people that knew me. I would recommend getting onto Twitter as an easy way to meet like-minded BFS and non-BFS members in readiness for networking, etc. at future Cons.

  You missed the tail end of the BFS AGM, but I pushed the point that newbies will look to the BFS for support in their writing, and that we'd all like to see more active help and support for new writers coming from the BFS (ironically, one thing the BSFA does get right is their excellent Orbiteer email writing groups) -- this was seconded by a number of people, including Graham Joyce, and the hope is that going forward there will be a lot more support for new writers forthcoming, in the form of author lectures, masterclasses, articles, etc. Any ideas you may have for this kind of stuff can be forwarded directly to the BFS Journal editors, and if you're still after getting more involved, there's nowt to stop you stepping in to one of the vacant BFS positions (Publicity Officer would be one way to get your name around, and you have a certain amount of first-hand experience of how things can go wrong judging by your own first-time BFS membership woes as told at the AGM, but don't underestimate the amount of work it may require).

  All that said, am really pleased you had a fab time at FantasyCon, and no doubt there'll be plenty more for you to enjoy. The BFS needs people like you to come in and 'make a splash', it's one of the very things that keep the society fresh, modern, and motivated, and it's always encouraging to know there is new blood coming through all the time...

Alex (Twitter: @mangozoid)