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Pros & (Fantasy)Cons

I heard of Fantasycon a little while ago, and toyed with the idea of going. I say 'toyed', because I wasn't sure I'd actually get to go - what with the usual summer trip to Toronto. Not cheap. Still, there'd be a lot of opportunity at Fantasycon - as appears to be par for the course at such conventions. This one in Scarborough was billed as Fantasycon By The Sea:

As is, I actually bought the ticket for this when I was lounging in bed in at the Eaton Chelsea, downtown in Toronto. I think I'd actually bought tickets for train and hotel soon after I got back, mid-September. Props to Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane, heads of the HWA's UK Chapter who managed to swing a signing gig for interested members on the back of the Jo Fletcher Books signing. Now I jumped at the chance for this. And hit up Ben, publisher/editor at Turn To Ash for a bundle of copies of Volume 1 to take to the Fantasycon. Props to Ben for pulling out all the stops to get me the stock double-quick. And as the days counted down to the con, I realised a gross oversight.

I had booked hotel and train ticket for the Saturday 24th and the Sunday 25th. But the signing I'd opted in for was on Friday 23rd. Shit. Cue some last-minute juggling, and I now had a coach ticket to get up to the 'con on Friday 23rd. Just as well the signing was in the evening, since the coach/bus journey I started that morning took about 8 hours. Anyway, I got there about 6pm - a good 3 hours ahead of the signing. Even better, the inn I was staying at was up the incline and across the road from the Britannia Grand Hotel - the main venue for the 'con. As is, I bumped into first Eric Ian Steele and a little later, Paul Kane and Marie O'Regan. Culture shock of Scarborough is that while they had ATMs, very few places outside the venue - if any - appeared to take cards. The Italian place I got lame takeout from didn't take cards, but were probably responsible for the cold sweats and violent diarrhoea I got later that night. Anyhow. After food and a quick shower, I head over to the venue. Sign in, get my 'con wristband, etc. Lounge with Jan Edwards and hubby Peter Coleborn, as well as Eric Ian Steele and one of his guys, John Garland, before stepping to the signing. My first signing.

This is also noteworthy because this is where I finally met Theresa Derwin, who used to head up Knightwatch Press. Also noteworthy because the story I submitted for their Death By Chocolate anthology at the end of last year is the story which features in the debut issue of Turn To Ash. Theresa is an absolute sweetie, so with her and Jan keeping me entertained and engaged, the signing went down a treat.

More lounging afterwards, which is also where I got to meet Phil Sloman again, as well as editor Dion Winton-Polak: a soft-spoken guy with a beast of a 'tache and goatee. What I like about the guy is that he has both drive and vision. An example of this was in that publishers who reject solid work from slush piles for anthologies and such aren't proactive enough in engaging the author for future work. I'll admit, I'D never thought of that: despite how many submissions I've done, and how many similar rejections I've had. Plus, Dion is gracious and has good humour. A win in my book. I soon got to meet Jim "Gingernuts of Horror" McLeod.

This is also key, because back when we 'met' on Brian Keene's forum way back when (about 10 years ago), Jim mentioned his vision for Gingernuts of Horror, which is now "the UK's largest independent website dedicated to the world of horror."

Good going, boss. The next couple of days followed with signings and panels. I won't go into them all here, partly because I want to get back to submissions, edits and such. Partly because it would take too long to list everything in detail. I do need to highlight the Saturday evening. Not only for the Hersham Horror Books launch/signing, where I worked the room (despite a bitch of a runny-nose cold), but for the lazy time later that night. This is where I was talking game with Marie O'Regan and hubby Paul Kane, and then with screenwriter Stephen Gallagher. Just hashing out this, that and the third on our individual creative processes.

(Eric Ian Steele and John Garland on the right. Screenwriter veteran Stephen Gallagher on the left)

Old friends met, new friends made. It's been a good weekend with good people.

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