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

Countdown to BristolCon

This coming Saturday is BristolCon, where I’ll be doing Guest-of-Honouring duties alongside Storm Constantine and Mark Buckingham.  If you’re within reach of Bristol and like SF, fantasy and/or meeting lovely and interesting people, I’d highly recommend it.

There will be two packed programmes of panels and readings running throughout the day. My bits will include:

11. – 11.45  Kaffeklatsch – which is foreign for a cup of coffee and a natter (cake, too, if I can organise it). It’s too late to book a space, apparently, but there are four available on the day, first come, first served.

16.00 – 16.45 I’ll be interviewed by/in conversation with the brilliant Emma Newman (right) who is the author of the Split Worlds series among many other things. (I’m reading the first, Between Two Thorns at the moment, and it’s excellent.)

16.50 – 16.55 Reading – I guess this crowd will be a bit too old for Oliver and the Seawigs, so I’ll probably read from my story We Know Where We’re Goin’, which appears in the new Solaris Books anthology The End of the Road. (Editor Jonathan Oliver commissioned it at last year’s BristolCon).

18.00 – 18.45 Panel event: Beyond Arthur: We continue to mine the Arthurian legends for fantasy novels, film and TV, but there’s a wealth of more obscure myth and legend anchored in the landscapes and collective memories of Britain, including the South West. Our panel discusses some of the potential inspirations that lurk beyond the beaten paths, in the forests and lakes beyond Avalon.
With Gaie Sebold (moderating), Roz Clarke, Catherine Butler, me, Scott Lewis

The rest of the time I’ll be hanging around the convention, and watching a lot of the other sessions. The programme is packed with good stuff and great speakers, and you can peruse it here. You can also BristolCon on Twitter and Facebook
BristolCon is on Saturday, 26th October at the Doubletree (formerly Ramada) Hotel in Bristol. Membership is £20 if you book in advance, or £25 on the day.

BristolCon 2013

BristolCon, the South West’s premier science fiction & fantasy convention, will be taking place on the 26th October this year, and I’ve been invited to be one of the Guests of Honour. I’m not sure quite what my schedule will be yet, but I’ll definitely be doing an event about my work, and probably sitting on some panel discussions too, and just hanging around meeting people. I have a busy autumn of events planned, but they’re all about Oliver and the Seawigs, so this will be a chance to talk about my older books, my recent brush with the Whoniverse, and anything else you fancy, really.  I’ll post details of my full schedule when I have them.

If you’ve never been, BristolCon is well worth a visit. It’s grown from a small, afternoon event to a fully fledged one day convention, with 250 people attending in 2012, and presumably more expected this year. The programme is designed to allow people from south and central England and south Wales to attend without having to stay overnight, although ‘more bar-centered activities’ carry on late into the evening for locals and those of us who will be stopping over. (And if you do plan to stop over, there’s plenty more to do and see in Bristol, one of my favourite cities.)

I’ve been to two BristolCons now and thoroughly enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and the chance to meet all sorts of interesting and talented people. The other Guests of Honour this year are author Storm Constantine and comics artist Mark Buckingham, but there will be loads of other writers and artists there too: here’s a list of those who have already booked. There will be events and discussions throughout the day, and also an art show and a dealers’ room.

Sadly, it looks as if the Gromits which are currently decorating Bristol will be all gone by October…

                                                                 Photo: BristolCon

Membership is £20 if you sign up before October 25th, or £25 on the door. All the details are on the BristolCon website, and you can also get updates via Facebook  and Twitter. Hope to see you there!

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