Monday, 26 November 2018

Sledge-Lit 4, Derby, 24th November 2018

This year saw the fourth Sledge-Lit event in Derby, held at the Quad and as I had such a good time at the previous events (I wrote about 2015 here2016 here and 2017 here), I bought my ticket as soon as it was announced.  Intrigued by the event - and my enthusiasm for it - my old friend David Roberts (who I've been co-plotting my thriller novels with) decided to come along too.  Organised and programmed (as ever) by Alex Davis, Sledge is not only great fun, it helps bridge the gap between FantasyCon (my report on this years is here) and events in the new year.
from left - David Roberts, me, Dion Winton-Polak, Tracy Fahey, Yvonne Davies
We made such good time to Derby, chatting about plots and our plans for the day, that for the first time ever I was at the Quad early.  Alex opened the doors at 10am and Pixie came out to check our names on the list which was great because it meant I got my Pixie-hug early.  Once signed in, we put our names down for the workshops we wanted to attend then headed into the bar, bumping into Dion Winton-Polak on the way.  James Everington came over to say hello (I’d told David that James was reviewed in the Guardian and liked to be reminded of the fact) and we went to sit with him, Dion, Tracy Fahey (who wore the most fantastic leggings), Yvonne Davies and her daughter Megan.  All too soon, it was 10.25 so we headed up for Cinema 2 and the first Guest Of Honour interview with Gary McMahon posing the questions to Mark Morris.  We saw them as we were leaving the bar so got to say hello and I introduced them to David.

I saw Sarah Pinborough in Cinema 2 and we said hello, she introduced me to her new partner, I introduced her to David and they talked dogs for a while as we waited for the event to start.  When it did, the 50 minutes whizzed by - Gary asked some good questions and Mark was an ideal subject, making for a terrific interview.
from left - me, Andrew David Barker, Ren Warom, James Everington, David, Neil Bond
Back at the bar, I chatted with Yvonne and Megan, then James & I spotted Ren Warom sitting on her own and went to say hello.  David and Neil Bond joined us and we chatted, Andrew David Barker arrived and sat with us, then Peter Mark May joined us.  Everyone got involved in some wide-ranging conversations, we had lunch then Sue Moorcroft turned up (fresh from a literary event in London) and it was great to see her.
David, Neil & me in the bar
Our first workshop was “Worldbuilding Through Language”, which wasn’t exactly what I’d expected it to be but ended up good fun all the same.  I nipped out to use the loo, saw Mr Mauro on the way back and shook his hand (without properly thinking it through - my hands were still wet from washing them) and then found myself locked out of the room (how on earth did I manage to do that?).

David stayed for the “Worldbuilding: A Team Sport” workshop while I went to the panel Sarah was moderating, on how to plan and develop intrigue in a plot.  The turnout was so high we ended up in Cinema 2 again and, having met Angeline Trevena in the corridor, we sat together.  The panel went really well, I picked up a couple of ideas for things to do in the thriller I’m currently writing and, again, the time flew.
from left - me, Donna Bond, Peter Mark May, Sue Moorcroft
Since David stayed for another workshop, I went to the bar where Sue, Selina and Pete were chatting, got them and headed up for the Black Shuck Launch.  On the way, I said hello to Kevin Redfearn, hugged Simon Bestwick, saw Fergus & Alison Littlewood and CC Adams - handshakes and hugs all round - then we found our seats.  After a couple of readings, I spoke to Hayley Orgill, Priya Sharma and Georgina Bruce, while getting my copy of Tracy’s new collection signed.  I also picked up the 2019 Annual from Sinister Horror and it was good to say hello to Justin Park again, who reckons a sliver of the inspiration for the annual might have come from my last Christmas post.  I’ll take that.

Back in the bar, we commandeered two tables in the corner where Sue, Pete & I were joined by John Travis, Lisa Childs, Andrew and CC.  David returned and chatted with CC while the rest of us ended up discussing pornography in the 80s, parents discovering stashes of magazines in your bedroom and how easy (or, more often, not) it was to buy them from newsagents.  Andrew also brought up the peculiar phenomenon of finding Razzle magazines in bushes - I suggested there might have been a Razzle Tree back then.
from left - me, Peter, CC Adams, Lisa Childs, John Travis and Sue.  James and Georgina Bruce are deep in conversation behind us
Pete had to leave for his train so we started the process of saying goodbye (the worst thing about Cons) then trooped back to Cinema 2 for the raffle, compered by the mighty combo of Gary and Sarah, with the wonderful Pixie (this year dressed as the worlds most pissed off looking Christmas tree fairy, complete with tree top under her skirt) on hand to give out the books (though Alex seemed to be doing more of the running about).  I also took the opportunity for a chat with Penny Jones, comparing war stories about agency submissions for novels.  Once the raffle was underway, Ross (not there in person) won nothing (the same as me, Sue, Lisa and Andrew), Pete (in his absence) won a book, James won a huge Harry Potter behind-the-scenes book (which he donated to Megan) and David managed to pick up the Patron prize from Sarah, a Kindle paperwhite.  First con and he scoops the top prize in the raffle - I mean, where’s the justice…?
In Ask Italian, from left - me, David, John, Lisa, Andrew, Sue and James
Our little band said our goodbyes and headed over to Ask Italian for dinner which, after we’d fixed a flickering light by taping a napkin and menu over it, we spent a long time chatting, eating and laughing.  It was a wonderful way to cap off a superb day.  Outside, as I was driving David and Sue home and Andrew was dropping Lisa and John at the train station, we walked back to the car park, still chatting and laughing.  We paid for the tickets, said our goodbyes and did all the hugging, then realised we were all going upstairs together.  If that wasn’t bad enough, it soon transpired we were parked on the same floor.

Another great Con, with a great programme of events and some wonderful people in attendance, I loved it and it was terrific to see David, at his very first Con, enjoy himself so much as my writing family quickly embraced him.  Roll on Edge-Lit!


  1. Nicely captured Mark, you know everyone! The two workshops I went too while Mark was meeting, greeting and hugging everyone in the building (bet he missed no one!) were very different to the first. The second one was "world building a team sport" (with Andrew Banister) great fun creating a world, and even plots, with Tim and Gavin (I think, my memory for names is not as good as Marks.... embarrassing), I highly recommend it. Finally a workshop and discussion on disability in fiction, (with Ruth De Haas) thought provoking and led to long discussions in the workshop and most of the way home. Thank you Mark for introducing me to the event and to so many friendly, interesting and creative people, could have talked for days 😊

    1. Thanks David - and it was a pleasure to have my co-plotting chum there!