I'm not the most gregarious person. That's been called into question on a number of occasions, since I'd appear to be the guy who'll offer words of encouragement when someone has stumbled. Figuratively, not literally. Hell, that's just how I'm wired. Different people do things differently. I have a number of things that keep me busy on the regular. Outside of writing, I exercise. Play bass. Hang out with friends. Might go for a meal, or catch a live band on stage somewhere. Within the realm of writing, I'd say shit was pretty well-rounded. I told one peer a while ago that I had some author business to handle. They asked 'what business?' And so I told them: the business of site admin (update of content and layout), Q&A with bloggers and publishers, beta work for other authors as well as edits on my own work, handling submissions, etc. In short, everything author-related excepted the bottom line: the actual writing. Part of what I often seem to do is to talk to other authors and buoy them. In some instances, it's a chance to catch up and talk shop: what work you have coming out, what work you've just finished, what you're working on, etc. In other instances, it's a chance to offer guidance and/or support to someone. I'd appear to have not only some degree of savvy in the game, but also some degree of tenacity. So if my words and input help someone, I don't mind. It's humbling and cool to have an impact, but that's not why I do it. I do it to support someone. What you have in an event like FantasyCon is a chance to meet with those peers in realtime. Your fellow authors. The publishers. The editors. The bloggers. The Redcloaks: those good people with fluorescent waistcoats who are on hand to offer assistance, be it directions or whatever. (Yes, Babs, I'm looking at you). A whole range of people. So, for the authors, they go from spending time at the keyboard to lounging with their fellow man, as it were. Not just the authors, but the publishers. The editors. The bloggers. Those who love the genre, which falls under the umbrella of 'fantasy.' Friday 19th October to Sunday 21st October saw a whole mass of us journey to Chester for this FantasyCon thing.
The HWA Panel: as we talk honing your craft and the benefits of joining an organisation. l-r: Maura McHugh, Marie O'Regan (current co-head of the HWA's UK chapter), Ramsey Campbell, Phil Sloman and me.
Not always serious business. l-r: me, Peter Crowther, Simon Clark and Stewart Hotston.
Quiet time in the Dealer's Room. l-r: me, David Watkins, Eric Ian Steele.
What might seem ironic here is that for those in the game, those who write some of the eeriest/nastiest/weirdest fiction are some of the nicest people you could hope to meet. For my part, the 3-day weekender was truly hectic. This year, I made more of an effort to talk to more people. Mission accomplished, as was fatigue. All in a good cause though. And in a real sense, you could feel the love in the convention. There's a genuine sense of camaraderie when you actually get to hang out with the people who have read/beta-read your work and appreciate your vision. Or when you hang with those who share a similar work ethic. Those who cheer if/when you win an award. It's time spent with my tribe - and it's been great. So, to the readers? Go along and visit, see if you can grab a moment with an author who wrote something that moved you, engaged you. For those in the business, whether you write/edit/publish, whatever? The same applies. Have at it.
I do appreciate that some people may have other commitments, and as such, can't always get to a convention/gathering. Others may have less social prowess, and might not be so comfortable in a setting where you can lose yourself in a crowd. But the genre is nothing if not supportive of its own. Even if it means a quiet word with a peer beforehand on some, 'I'm not good in these situations, will you help?' I'd bet good money that most in the genre will do just that: help. Yes, I've been asked this before by a few people. In a genre where much work is done at the keyboard (pc or laptop), it's good practice to actually meet the people you'd do business with, as it were. We don't bite; but our creations do. Ultimately, if you have love for the genre, if you have love for the game? Hang with the players. And thank yourself later.