North Cornwall Book Festival and Armadacon

Photo: Daniel Hall

Sarah McIntyre and I had a great time last Friday at the North Cornwall Book Festival. It was a long drive, especially for my son, who had had a collision with a low-flying skateboard the previous day and looked as if he’d just gone six rounds with Jack Dempsey, but once we got to Endellion there was a warm welcome from chairman Patrick Gale and the rest of the team, and I finally got to meet Matt Haig (and learned that his wife’s brother is none other than the great Dave Semple, who drew the excellent cover illustrations for my Goblins series).

Ever since Sarah and I started doing the Cakes in Space show we’ve been haunted by the knowledge that sooner or later we’d forget a major prop, and sure enough we did – the Nom-O-Tron somehow didn’t make its way into the car. But Sue Harbour-Robertson, owner of the lovely house where the festival was held, came to our rescue, providing us with random vegetables and bits of electronic equipment, so the crisis was over almost before we’d had time to start panicking.

You can find Sarah’s blog about it all here.

That was the last Cakes in Space event of the year, but we’ll be dusting off our spacesuits again for various festivals and schools events next spring.

I’ll be doing another West Country event soon; the ArmadaCon science fiction convention in Plymouth. The programme is starting to take shape over on their website, and I know that the guests will also include Doctor Who writer Andrew Cartmel. I’ll be talking about my own work from Mortal Engines to Cakes in Space, and I’m also putting together a talk about some of the things which have influenced me over the years.

Unfortunately the North Cornwall gig meant that I couldn’t make it to BristolCon this year, but I gather it was as good as ever, and next year’s has already been announced, with Jaine Fenn and Jasper Fforde as guests of honour, so I will make sure I get there on September 26th 2015.

Incoming Conventions

Next month, Sarah McIntyre and I will be unleashing our Cakes in Space show in the very appropriate  surroundings of Nine Worlds, a three day SF/Fantasy convention which is taking place near London Heathrow.  Nine Worlds is about ‘gaming, film, cosplay, fandom, literature, science, geek culture, meeting people and having a really big party’. We’ve heard a lot of great things about last year, so we were delighted to be asked to contribute to the children’s programme.  It’s nice to see a con offering so much for kids. But it offers a lot for everybody else too, as you can see from the packed programme and massive list of guests.

I’m attending Nine Worlds as one half of Reeve & McIntyre, but if anyone wants to talk about Mortal Engines or my other books just get in touch via the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook and we can arrange to meet up.

Then in November I’ll be doing a solo appearance at ArmadaCon in Plymouth, where I guess I’ll be talking more in my Mortal Engines/Larklight/Goblins/Dr Who capacity. ArmadaCon has been running every year since 1988, and this year’s theme is Fantasy. It even has a goblin on its poster, courtesy of cartoonist and illustrator Stuart McGhee

Much to my annoyance, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to BristolCon this year, but that shouldn’t stop you going; it’s a wonderful, friendly convention, and this year’s guests of honour include the very wonderful Emma Newman.

BristolCon

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

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