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FantasyCon 2022

After much to-do with the convention being scheduled as 'on', and then cancelled as 'off' - FantasyCon was then back 'on' again. Reasons for the cancellation included the cost to the organisers, among other things, so there were some concessions this time around. There would be no Dealers Room. And the convention would be cut from the usual three days down to two.

Of course, I'd still attend anyway, because that's how I am; I do the rounds on the convention circuit where possible. I have my reasons. After all, I:

get to hang with my tribe and meet the usual suspects

and make new connects

and drum up new business

while keeping my ear to the ground about the state of the genre

all of which gives me something else to talk about (e.g. on social media, podcasts, etc.)

Plus, FantasyCon this year was set in my town (London, in case you didn't know) but I also have an upcoming book which had its pre-launch there. And that book, like most (but not all) of my published work, is set in London.


With FantasyCon being cut from three days to two, I still had an early start to the weekend - since I'd made arrangements for the 3-dayer a long while ago. Friday afternoon saw me up in Central London hanging with Canadian author and poet Colleen Anderson and eventually getting a late lunch in at Mandaloun; a Lebanese restaurant in Shepherd's Bush. Talk of the hustle, state of the genre and joys of dating - in terms of slang, I think 'beardsplitter' doesn't have the might and majesty of 'twathammer' (sorry, Colleen). Afternoon gave way to evening and darkness where we finally found our way to Heathrow and to the Radisson RED Hotel (not the BLUE one where some convention folk thought the 'con might have been). From when I got in, I could see the place was massive; just saying it doesn't do it justice. Just one hallway alone looked like an optical illusion - it was that long. Anyhow. I managed to catch up with a few souls that night, starting with G.V. Anderson, who I've not seen in a few years, and Wayne Parkin.

What's notable here is that Mr. P is usually receptive of my work, but is also a big Spider-Man fan - and this was the first time we actually met after how many years. So it was good to finally kick convo in realtime: everything from state of the genre to favourite Spidey comics, et al. Also met the usual suspects; Andrew Freudenberg, Justin Park, Tracy Fahey, John Travis, Terry Grimwood, Simon Clark, et al. Cue the usual shop talk and mischief. What also became a theme through the weekend was the extortionate bar prices of the hotel; where the pub not a million miles away was mentioned in reverential whispers; "Three Magpies." To their credit, the food was good, filling - and, for me, that's a major ask - and cost half as much.

Saturday saw the event get under way officially with the standard panels, book launches, signings, etc. - as well as the BFS Award ceremony, which is usually on the Sunday afternoon rather than the evening before. Props to Justin Park for the magic trick before the award ceremony - I damn near wept laughing. Saturday, as with the night before, ended in the bar with the likes of Maura McHugh and Rachel Knightley (ladies, thanks for the chance to hang and chat - that was cool). The Sunday itself was good - which is when my debut collection had its pre-launch.

Prepared For Launch: among other things, a little audience participation with the chance to win prizes.

And then there was the signing.

The book, which is Halloween themed, has its official release mid-October. And let me tell you, this was truly a labour of love. As far as the launch was concerned, I appreciate it was a big ask. On the last morning of the convention, where guests are thinking about checkout, breakfast, how they're getting back to their own city ...and quite possibly dealing with a hangover from the night before, I'm just grateful the audience enjoyed themselves. Both the publisher Justin and I had a good time with it all.

The rest of that day was spent lounging - and in the Three Magpies with a lot of food, kicking convo on state of the genre, the craft of writing, exercise and injury, you name it. Props to the likes of Wayne Parkin, Tracy Fahey and Paul Feeney; I didn't bail out until maybe 18:30 or so. But then, I could afford to - for once, I was at a convention in my city.

Don't think I didn't mention *that* once or twice.



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