Letting the train take the strain again (through 3 changes) made for a pleasant journey that saw Sue Moorcroft & I chatting the whole way. The Derby to York leg was the first clue that writers were massing - Mike Chinn was sitting a few seats behind us, Tim Lebbon a few in front. We met up on the platform, had a chat and a cuppa then merged with more writer-filled groups on the York to Scarborough train (Helen Marshall and John Gilbert were sitting in front of us and Peter Mark May and Richard Farren Barber were further down the carriage). By the time we got to Scarborough, there was a larger group and Richard led one of them (thanks Google maps) to the Grand Hotel. I’d read it was apparently once the biggest hotel in Europe and from the bit we could see that certainly seemed to be true, it looked glorious. I said hello to Andrew Coulthard as we crossed the road, then met Jay Eales & Selina Lock outside and had a chat.
|from left - John Gilbert, Sue Moorcroft, Neil Williams, James Everington, Priya Sharma, Phil Sloman, me, Lisa Childs, Ross Warren, Wayne Parkin, Cate Gardner|
"Second floor," she said with a smile.
“It’s inward facing though, so it hasn’t got a window”
|With the lovely Carrie Buchanan|
|Chatting with Conrad Williams - me, Phil, Conrad, Steve Bacon|
|The Pizza posse (some of us doing jazz hands for some weird reason - photo by Sue)|
Lisa, me, Laura Mauro (obscured), Ross, Phil, Gary Couzens, Peter Mark May, Wayne (obscured), James, Richard Farren Barber, Steve
|"Don't eat that chip! Oh, too late..."|
Steve Harris, Alison Littlewood, me, Steve
Saturday 24th September
Up bright and early (me, worried about the panel? No, never…) to a clear sunny morning, I decided to go for a walk. I went down the McBean steps (which everyone in our party quickly christened the ‘Exorcist’ steps), took some pictures of the front (only a few dog walkers on the beach and no traffic) then walked along in front of the hotel (it’s huge!) and up the switchbacks by the roundabout. Lovely view (and walk) though it was a bit chilly. I met Alex and Peter at the hotel then chatted with Tracy Fahey (who I met at Edge-Lit and who’s on the panel with me) about life and writing and what we were going to say before Steve McHugh joined us. I went back to my room, bumping into John Llewellyn Probert & Thana Niveau on the way - it’s always a treat to chat with them. I also saw Pixie again and finally got my hug from her.
I met Sue in the main bar and we went for breakfast - the cornflakes looked limp so I went for sausages, scrambled eggs and bacon (diet starts Monday…) It was lovely. Steve & Wayne joined us (he liked my A bout de soufflé t-shirt), we all had seconds, chatted and then it was time. With Laura Mauro, we walked to the Royal and got set up - Paul Finch and Tracy were already at the table and I sat next to her. Since we still had time, I decided to nip to the loo and when I got back, the room had filled up and all the panelists were all in place. People looked at me as I rushed up the centre aisle and I debated saying “I’m not late” but decided against it. The panel was great fun, the hour whisking by. Paul ran it well, he had Helen Marshall and V H Leslie to his right, Tracy, me and Ramsey Campbell to his left and I was in great company. I thoroughly enjoyed it and we got some nice feedback from the audience.
Mixtape posts and the power of Daphne DuMaurier and Angela Carter. On my way to Sue’s panel I bumped into Gary & Emily McMahon (who are only here for the day) and got a big hug from both of them.
|Some of the Ten Tall Tales signees - from left, Andrew Hook, Lynda E. Rucker, Paul Kane, Simon Clark, Ian Whates, me - picture by Maura McHugh|
|We love Bacon - from left, Steve Bacon, me Bacon, Peter Mark Bacon and Wayne Bacon...|
|The FantasyCon Boyband publicity shoot went well - Richard, Steve, me, Wayne.|
|On the harbour - Steve, Sue, Richard|
We were back at the Grand in time to help set up for the Hersham Horror Books launch. I’d been looking forward to this for a long time and as we set out the chairs, books and signing stands, there was a real sense of excitement in the air. We took some pictures and I was proud to stand alongside Phil, James and Steve (fellow Crusty Exterior folk), launching the HHB novella series - they’ve already picked up some good reviews and I’m chuffed to be part of it. For the event, I stood between James and Marie (whose collection was also being launched), Peter did this thing and the floor was open. There weren’t as many people as I’d hoped, though we signed some books and then about a third of the way through the Cocktail bar just seemed to fill up, with people, noise and laughter and suddenly we were signing lots of copies (and Peter kept coming over and giving me updates). As things calmed down, I mingled and saw Sarah Ann Watts and caught up with her before Peter introduced me to Sharon Ring who I’ve known online for years though this was our first meeting face-to-face. By the end of the session there was hardly any stock left, Peter waved his wad at me like loadsamoney and we tidied up. It was a good turnout, it was great fun (which you can see in all our faces in the pictures) and I had a wonderful time.
|The 4 Novella Writers - Phil, Steve, me, James|
|The Hersham Horror writers - Marie, me, James, Phil, Steve|
|Jay tries to get us to sign each others books - Jay Eales, Selina Lock, Paul Kane, Marie, me, James|
|Busy signing - Marie, me, James, Phil, Steve - picture by Wayne Parkin|
|Marie, me, James, Phil, Steve, Wayne, Richard and Peter's back|
|We four with Jim Mcleoad (centre), The Ginger Nuts Of Horror head honcho. GNoH have been a great supporter of the novellas and the genre in general. So good to have him there.|
|In the back bar (pic by Chris Teague) - from left (bottom) Wayne, Gavin Williams, Amanda Rutter, Steve H, Sharon Ring, me, Ross, John Travis, Peter, Lisa, Sue, Phil, Steve, James|
|Me, Alison Littlewood, Gary Fry and Gary McMahon - sarcasm not pictured|
Sunday 25th September
Light rain this morning so I didn’t go for my walk. I met Stephen Volk on the stairwell and we walked down to the main bar together. He apologised for missing the Hersham launch (he popped his head around the door and the room was full) and I thanked him for the mention in his new PS collection (it includes The Arse-Licker, his story from my Anatomy Of Death anthology) and, as ever, it was a real treat to talk to him. At the bottom of the Disney Princess staircase we met Marie & Paul, then the Williams, before Sue joined us (and we had pictures taken with Tallis’ Zombie bear). Sue & I went for breakfast and saw and chatted with Ian and Simon Morden on the stairs. In the restaurant, I finally saw Graeme Reynolds & Charlotte McDonald to say hello to.
|Tallis Williams, me and the Zombie Bear|
|Sunday in the back bar - me, Peter, Richard|
For lunch, Peter suggested we try the café at the top of the funicular and it was a good choice. We sat upstairs, all had paninis and a good chat - Wayne liked my Live & Let Die t-shirt, which led to us discussing Robert McGinnis and poster art in general (he & I share a dislike of modern ‘here’s a picture’ posters - step forward the Daniel Craig Bond’s). All too soon it was time for Steve & Wayne to go and, as ever, their goodbye hugs were just a little bit tighter than normal. It’s been great to see and spend so much time with them this weekend that it’s genuinely a wrench to say goodbye. Peter went back to the Con but Sue & I decided to go for a walk instead (she wanted an ice cream too). We walked along the front, got to the harbour and decided to keep going - the sky was clear, conversation was good and we were almost at the North Bay before turning back. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Back at the Grand, Mark Morris came over to say hello - we caught up and finally, after years of trying, had a little bit of a chat about the Three Investigators. It was really good to see him.
|Me and Adam Millard in the mirror, in the queue|
Then it was time to go. I shook hands, said goodbyes, congratulated Alex on the award and Con and headed back to the Grand. I had a chat with John Travis and Terry in the main bar, got Sue, said goodbye to Ian then went to get our cases, which was more complicated than it should have been. We found them and were joined by Laurel Sills (the mysterious girl in one of my photo’s from Brighton) who came back to the station with us.
We made our connection with minutes to spare at York, talked all the way to Kettering and got in for 8.15. Alison & Dude met me at the station - he came running over and jumped into my arms, which was a great way for the weekend to end - then I hugged Sue and said goodbye.
|Sue on the staircase|
Here's to 2017!