Monday 18 July 2016

Edge-Lit 5, Derby, 16th July 2016

I’m a big fan of Alex Davis’ Edge-Lit conventions (you can read previous reports here for 2014, 2015 and Sledge-Lit) and was very much looking forward to 5, especially since an anthology of novellas I was in - Darker Battlefields from The Exaggerated Press - was being launched.  I was up early, put in my 2m power-walk, had breakfast and left in plenty of time, only to hit traffic on the M1.  Thankfully, the AA routeplanner did me proud and I got to The Quad with ten minutes to spare.
Lisa Childs, Ross Warren, Steve Harris, Phil Sloman, me, in The Box
The first person I met (I hadn’t even got through the door) was Emma Robson, from the Northampton writers group I’ve been to a couple of times.  We said hello and got signed in, grabbed our goody bags and I went into the bar and met up with Adrian Chamberlin (who edited the anthology) and Greg James, then headed upstairs to The Box for the launch.  I met my fellow Crusty Exteriors Phil Sloman and James Everington on the way and it was great to see them both - James got his new novel reviewed in the Guardian yesterday and we decided it was right to spend the day mercilessly teasing him about it (“don’t you know who this is?  He was reviewed in The Guardian!”).  I said hello to Ian Whates, saw Steve Harris and he introduced me to Amanda Rutter, which was a real pleasure and then met up with Richard Farren Barber, who’s also in the anthology with me.  We went in and got settled, Terry Grimwood (our publisher) sitting behind me, happy now the books had finally been delivered.  As we waited for the event to start I had a quick chat with Amanda - I’ve known Steve for years and he joined in a conversation I was having on Facebook with Amanda about the TV show First Dates, which led to them not only going on a date but becoming partners!  Which is great!
Phil, Priya Sharma, me
Terry goes his publisher bit (pic by me), I do my writer bit (pic by
Richard Farren Barber)
Alex Davis led the Boo Books launch and James read first from his novella Trying To Be So Quiet (which I am very much looking forward to), followed by Tracy Fahey reading from her short story collection.  Terry then stepped up and talked about Darker Battlefields - he was followed by Ade and Richard, then me.  As I stood at the podium, looking out at the crowd, I wished I’d written something down but instead I talked about where my novella The Exercise came from and it seemed to go down well.  Simon Bestwick & Cate Gardner had turned up, so I said hello to them and then got a big hug from Priya Sharma and we had a lovely chat.  Ross Warren and Lisa Childs came over to get their book signed, as did Theresa Derwin and then Kit Power came over to say hello, so that was all great.
Peter Mark May and me - the slimline versions...
We finally got shooed out (as we’d gone over time) and went into the dealer room as Gary McMahon was signing copies of his excellent novella The Grieving Stones (which I reviewed here).  After a brief chat, I headed downstairs, saw Anthony Cowin in the foyer, got a big hug from Adele Wearing then met Peter Mark May in the bar.  He’s also been losing weight and looked really well.  We chatted with Richard then I spotted Johnny Mains so handed him a book I’d got for him - Peter Haining’s The Freak Show anthology.  He was sitting with Mark Morris and Sarah Pinborough, so I had a chat with them before heading back into the bar.  We were joined by Steve & Amanda, Phil, Ross & Lisa and James, had a laugh and tried to figure out where to have lunch.  Since nobody could decide, I said we’d head to the deli we discovered last year and set off (joined by Greg and Dion Winton-Polak), filling Amanda in on the Acropolis café story (from 2014) on the way.  Great fun.  Steve & I got served first, so we sat on our bench to eat and catch up, then Greg and Amanda came out before Dion joined us.  Again, great conversation, which is what these events are mostly all about.  When the others joined us, I collared a passerby to take some pics and then led our merry band to the Eagle Books stall in the Eagle market, where we all bought something, with Steve especially thrilled to get a hardback he’d been after.  Everyone else rushed back to make a launch but Steve, Amanda, Pete & I took our time, calling into the retro shop in the smaller market on the way, where I picked up a copy of Live And Let Die.
The glamour of having lunch
(on the bench, Phil, Ross, Lisa - behind them, Pete, me, Greg James, Steve, Amanda, Dion Winton-Polak)
At Eagle Books - Lisa and Amanda have a look whilst Steve guards his treasure (look how chuffed he is)!
Back at The Quad, it appeared the carnival was in town, their sound system so loud you could feel the bass in your chest.  It made for interesting conversation.  Said all too brief hello’s to Penny Jones (“You’re so tall,” I said, without thinking and she countered with “I look smaller on Twitter”), Paul Kane & Marie O’Regan, Jay Eales & Selina Lock, Adam Millard, Kevin Redfern, Ray Cluley and Jan Edwards, but finally got my picture taken by Peter Coleborn.
picture by Peter Coleborn
I had a chat with Lynda E. Rucker and congratulated her on the Shirley Jackson Award win before catching up with Pixie Puddin, who gave me a lovely hug and sold me lots of raffle tickets.  I was chatting with James and said hello to Victoria (V H) Leslie, which reminded me I needed to pick up her book - I got it and 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, got Sarah to sign hers but didn’t see Victoria again to ask her.
Pixie and me - raffle tickets pictured...
James & I went up to Johnny’s panel - “What Is The Continuing Draw of the Supernatural in Fiction?” - and had to wait outside Cinema 2 for the other session to finish.  I found myself standing beside Kathy Boulton (she of the brief “hello!” last week at the NewCon bash) and so we finally got to have a chat (at this rate, the next Con report will have a picture of us both!) and she introduced me to her mum Susan, who is also a writer.  When we got in, we saw Pete and Steve Lockley sitting near the back so joined them and the session went well, with Victoria in particular holding her own with some very smart answers - and anyone who recommends The Silent Land is always going to be a favourite of mine.  After it was over, James & I chatted with Johnny for a while, met Holly Ice and Angelina Trevena and then headed for the bar, where we were joined by Tony and Phil.  Saw Ian Whates again and went to get a copy of his collection from Adele, which he duly signed and I chatted with Tracy Fahey for a while.  I saw Conrad Williams, said hello and shook his hands, didn’t see him again.  Back in the bar I chatted with John Travis and Terry Grimwood, talked Star Wars with Ross (mainly about the fantastic Rogue One behind the scenes video) and we all agreed we’d nip across the square to have pizza for our early dinner, since Phil and Pete were heading off on the 7pm train.
me, James Everington (he's been reviewed in The Guardian, don't you know...), Pete, Steve Lockley
Gathering everyone up - Ade Chamberlin came along too, as well as Holly - we headed across the square (the music throbbing in our bones) and went into Ask Italian who, despite having empty tables, decided they couldn’t cater for 12 people.  Oh well, their loss.  Amanda searched for curry houses on her phone and we found one a seven-minute walk away that was more than willing to accommodate us (it looked posh from the outside, we were worried) and they had a fixed price “theatre menu” which suited us down to the ground - starter, main, rice or naan and a drink for £14.95!  I sat next to James, he ordered the naan, I ordered the rice, we had half each and it was more than enough.  Although it didn’t feel like it, time whisked by in there, so much so that Peter and Phil had to leave early to catch a train and we ended up missing the raffle, even though we’d all bought tickets (and Ross and Lisa had bought a LOT of tickets).  Very enjoyable meal though, great food and even better company.
Having a curry (from left - Phil, James, me, Amanda, Steve, John Travis, Ade, Terry, Pete, Lisa, Ross, Tony, Holly Ice)
Back at the Quad, we got drinks (thanks Tony!) and sat outside chatting, enjoying the warmth of the evening and talking about lots of different things (including the etiquette of how to get away without making it seem like you're trying to get away).  Edward Cox was sitting at the next table, so I finally got to meet him in person (it seems we’ve been at loads of the same events but never seen one another to say hello).  I had a chat with Gary McMahon, said my goodbyes to everyone (“Man hug,” said Steve, grabbing me and James jumped into my arms) and headed back to the car park with Ross & Lisa (who chased up the roadway after me to give me a copy of Gary Fry’s Dark Minds Press novella).
My book haul
I drove home in a happy, positive mood, bubbling with creative energy.  Edge-Lit 5 was another cracking event, well organised (thanks Alex, Pixie and team) and great fun, with some wonderful company and excellent conversations.  Roll on Sledge-Lit!


  1. Sounds like a good time. Sorry I missed it. Maybe next year? :D

    1. Thanks Cat, it was great fun. It'll be great to see you there next year - or, alternately, would you be able to get to Sledge-Lit in November?

    2. Perhaps...will hinge on my cash flow by then ;)

    3. Shame I couldn't make it but I'm glad you all had a great time. 😊

    4. Shame you couldn't be there, Sue, you were missed!