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Edge-Lit 8, 13th July 2019

There's an irony in these conventions in that, as much as you know people there and you endeavour to catch up with them, it invariably fails to meet with 100% success. I think for this year's Edge-Lit, I only caught up with a fraction of people. What happens for a whole bunch of us author attendees is that you'll engage in convo with one person. Someone you've not see in a while will walk past or something, so you'll ask the first person to give you a few minutes while you talk to the newcomer. The flipside is to stay with the first person and let the newcomer walk on by, as it were - and risk not catching up with them later. But whichever way you slice it, your work is cut out for you trying to catch up with everybody.

First thing in the morning, I'm headed north on the Northern line and make it to St. Pancras with time to spare, despite feeling to the contrary. Again, why these trains insist on packing strangers in at tables of four is beyond me. Not only because of the legroom issue, but I don't particularly want to sit with people I don't know. Anyhow. Legroom and relative peace and quiet are in effect, so the journey into Derby is passable. Brisk walk from the station down to the QUAD, where Edge-Lit is held. Enough time to sign in, hug a few people before I head off to Wetherspoons around the corner for the morning feast. Then back to Edge-Lit, where I spent most of the day in the bar.

Fine Fellows: the majority of the This Is Horror podcast crew. l -r: Kev Harrison, Luke Kondor, Dan Howarth (who are also part of my 2017 A Story A Week challenge brethren), and Paul Feeney.

Let me clarify a thing or two. As much as I like to drink, I don't drink to excess. For the record, I've only ever been drunk once and that was half-drunk, way back in my teens. Also, one of the things that makes conventions such as Edge-Lit isn't necessarily the panels, or workshops, or launches, it's the people. That was primary motivation for staying in the bar. As much as I love all of those things, more I just wanted to hang out, and lounge, along with meet and greet. The only place I went to apart from the bar was the Dealers' Room, and even then, I didn't get a chance to catch up with everyone.

My adoptive horror parents: HWA UK chapter heads Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane.

What seems to be a thing for another people - certainly those who move in these circles of writing/editing/publishing/etc. - is a sense of social awkwardness and/or anxiety. The irony here is that for people whose craft is to present some of the darkest and unsettling art they can muster, they're genuinely some of the nicest people you could hope to meet. For my part, a portion of yesterday was spent with a newer writer and just talking shop with them and others, as well as introducing them to other exponents in the game. Finally had a lengthy catch-up with Paul Feeney, who I'd only met in passing a couple of years back at FantasyCon. Along convo on game and how to engage your audience (from giveaways to Easter eggs). Also had a similar catch up with the driven Sue York (that woman is relentless) - and finally got to connect with Gary Couzens. And finally got to meet the This Is Horror team (most of them) who are also my '2017 - A Story A Week' brethren. Long overdue. Sadly, I only saw the soft-spoken smut-hound Dion Winton-Polak briefly, and Kit Power not much longer than that. Ditto for the likes of Georgina Bruce and Tracy Fahey.

Selfie, Again. l-r: John Travis, Steve Harris, me, David Watkins, Dan Howarth, Paul Feeney.

The sense of camaraderie is also something to factor in when leaving, especially if you've got a train to catch. Considering how many people you might need to say goodbye to and how long those goodbyes could take, you might need to allow an extra half-hour for them. As is, I barely made my train: when I got to the platform and boarded, it set off about a minute later. A half-hour later, at around 8pm, I'm back in London. An hour later, I'm back in the house. About 21:25, I'm passed out from exhaustion (and I only know this because I got a missed call from one of my guys I hit up 10 minutes earlier). Some hours later, I wake up in the middle of the night, somewhat recharged. So I can feast, and then go back to bed. So, yeah, Edge-Lit - like many conventions, is a chance for meet and greet. Hanging with the like-minded for panels, readings, book launches, etc. Along with friendship, business, networking: and celebrating all our genre has. They're essential.

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