Kicking the dust of the YLG Conference from my heels last Friday, I high-tailed it down to Bristol, where BristolCon was taking shape at the Doubletree Hotel. It’s the third year I’ve attended BristolCon, and this time I was to be Guest of Honour – which is a considerable honour, when you consider how many fine writers there are in or around the Bristol SF scene.
One of them is Emma Newman, whose Split Worlds series of urban/fairy fantasy stories I can highly recommend (and I’m not usually a fan of urban fantasy or fairies). She interviewed me as part of my Guest-of-Honour-ing duties, and we talked about some of the things that had influenced me, including favourite films like Excalibur and Brazil, and my own long and inglorious career as a no-budget movie director, which started when I was 12 and first got hold of a cine camera and sputtered on until about 1990, when I thought of a story so overambitious that even I knew it wasn’t worth trying to film it myself, so I wrote it down instead and it became Mortal Engines.
Unfortunately the lighting at the Doubletree always scuppers my attempts to take photographs, and this year I was so busy that I forgot to take any anyway, but here’s a snap that Ian Cairns posted on Twitter, showing me in full flow. As you can see, Emma even provided tea (future interviewers please take note!).
Two packed programmes of panel discussions and readings run throughout the day at BristolCon, which means there’s always something you want to see (and it’s usually on at the same time as something else you want to see). I managed to be in the audience for a couple of good debates, including one called ‘How to Poo in a Fantasy Universe’, which wasn’t quite as scatalogical as it sounds and was really about how such earthy details can help to make a made-up world feel more real.
There were others which I would have liked to see, too, but there’s so much else to do, and too many excellent people to catch up with! I was sorry that Tim Maughan and Kim Lakin-Smith couldn’t make it this year, and Jeremy Levett is busy being a jolly swagman in Australia, but it’s always good to talk to Gareth and Becky Powell (Hive Monkey, the sequel to Gareth’s Ack Ack Macaque, will be out soon) Ian Whates, Cheryl Morgan, and Jonathan L Howard (whose Katya’s World is also about to gain a sequel, Katya’s War). I won’t attempt to list all the people I met because I’ll only go and leave someone out, but I enjoyed talking to Lor Graham and will be listening to Rambling Through Genre, the podcast which she runs with Max Edwards and Doug Smith (who were also at BristolCon). And there were some fantastic little steampunk/goblin sculptures in the art room, the work of fantasy sculptor impsandthings… And Scott Lewis and Roz Clarke were full of fascinating folkloric knowledge, and @Mrs Hirez made the best chocolate brownies I’ve ever tasted!
It was all still going on in the bar when I went off to bed around midnight, and the tireless committee (well I assume they were tired, but they never seem to let it show) were already making plans for BristolCon 2014, at which Emma Newman and Jon Courtenay Grimwood are to be the Guests of Honour. I hope to be there too! Many thanks to Jo, MEG, Roz, Heather, Claire and the team for inviting me this year, and for running such a fabulous and friendly convention