Last weekend was FantasyCon and I went up to Nottingham for the Saturday only - one year, I’m going to do the whole weekend, I keep promising myself. Due to heavy traffic, I didn’t arrive until 11.30 but met up with Stuart Young straight away and we found a table and caught up. David Price joined us and conversation ranged wildly from what length we’re writing to at the moment (I’m definitely heading for novella/novel) to which era of Robert B Parker’s ‘Spenser’ novels is the best (perhaps unique to Stu & I, that gambit). I then went to Joel Lane’s reading, which went well and whilst there, Ally Bird bought a copy of “Conjure”, as did Gary Cole-Wilkin (and I bought a copy of his CD single).
After lunch, I bumped into Paul Meloy - who was impressed with all of the “Conjure” stuff - and Simon Bestwick and he & I went outside, so that he could have a smoke before his reading. Michael Marshall Smith also went out, but I still daren’t talk to him (one day, I keep telling myself, I’ll pluck up the courage to introduce myself) and then Gary Greenwood and Martin Roberts joined us. Gary & I caught up and had a good laugh and he bought a copy of “Conjure” too - all good stuff. Simon’s reading was poorly attended (it clashed with the launch of “Best New Horror 20” downstairs) but he carried it off well and we stayed in the room (and were joined by more) for the John Probert/Gary McMahon double-act - both very entertaining, in very different ways.
Back in the bar, I chatted with David Price, Andrew Hook (who I’d met briefly the previous year, but we’d never really spoken), Steve Mosby (who I’d just re-connected with on Facebook, from back in the Terror Tales days) and Allen Ashley. With all of the other launches going on, the Abaddon one almost passed me by, but I picked up Gary McMahon and Paul Kane’s new books (and Gary and Simon both bought copies of “Conjure”). I went to check out the dealer room (there were less people around than last year and I feel guilty, doing all that looking and none of that buying!), then met Rob Rowntree and had a chat with him, catching up on his news and talking with members of his Crit-group, including Sharon Kae Reamer.
The day had whizzed by quickly and it was time for the curry, organised by Soozy and Gary Cole-Wilkin, from the Ramsey Campbell message board (to which I’d invited Jay Eales and Selena Locke - it was good to see them again, after Leicester and they bought a copy of “Conjure” too). Our merry band - including Stu Young, Adriana, Pam, Mick & Deb Curtis, John & Kate Probert, Gary & Emily McMahon, Terry Grimwood, John Travis, Simon Bestwick (and chum from Dark Smile), Joel Lane, Gary Fry and Simon Unsworth - trooped off, took over most of Chutneys, but still got our food quickly (and very nice it was too). Back at the hotel, I finally caught up with Paul Finch, who bemoaned the fact that we hadn’t had a chance to speak or that I wouldn’t be able to join him at the bar later.
Then it was the Awards ceremony (I had high hopes for “We Fade To Grey”, but it lost out to “Best New Horror 19”) and it was great to see Ally Bird win for collection and Tim Lebbon’s moving speech for “The Reach Of Children” brought a lump to my throat. After the ceremony, I headed off, saying goodbyes along the way. I’d had a great day and really enjoyed myself, meeting up with old friends and putting faces to previously-only-online-known names. It was great fun and I was filled with a drive to write too, which isn’t to be sniffed at. Roll on next year.
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On Sunday night, back down to earth, I was watching “Top Gear” with Matthew and Clarkson was wheel-spinning in a Ferrari.
“Why’s it smoking?” asked Dude.
“It’s called burning rubber,” I said.
He nodded gravely, then looked at Alison and said “When me and Daddy go out for a drive, we burn rubber.”