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FantasyCon 2023.

Easy Like Sunday Morning: shop talk on the last day of FantasyCon with Richard Clive, Adam Millard, and me.

One of my close friends once made the assertion that events such as FantasyCon are 'incestuous' - in that everyone is an author/editor/publisher, etc. That's not necessarily a bad thing. As an author, in terms of connecting with your audience at large, it's not the best place to start - again, because everyone is a 'someone.' But, if you want to connect with your community, it's a good way to go.

For this year's FantasyCon, I pushed my departure time to the convention back a couple of hours. Which allowed me enough time to hit the gym in the morning. I'm currently recovering from surgery on a myotendinous tear in the left pec/shoulder. The op, which the surgeon says was a success, was done mid-July this year, while the injury happened last July. That said, the op - so says the surgeon - needs some 4 months to recover, with my left arm in a sling for the first month. Nearly 2 and a half months in, I'm still sore and lacking full flailing mobility. So I let the genre community know that my famed hugs will need to be done with care, since I'm still healing from surgery. Most have been understanding and accommodating.

Once I arrived at the convention hotel (which is the same place I stayed in), I checked in and caught up with the likes of Wayne Parkin and Kayleigh Dobbs. Wayne, like me, is a bona-fide Spider-Man fan. And for some reason, he came through with a copy of Spectacular Spider-Man #161. A personal favourite, since it shows the possessed Hobgoblin (courtesy of Inferno) try to fulfil a hit on Robbie Robertson - and, of course, Spidey has to step in. I digress.

As a rule of thumb, I don't like to do more than a couple of panels at a convention - simply because I mostly prefer to be on my own time: eat when I want, see what panels I want, go where I want, etc. My first panel was a reading on Friday evening with Philip Fracassi and Ben Langley. Despite attendance being minimal, I'd like to think a fair time was had. As both an author and reader, I get why attending a reading can be a tall order: to just sit and listen to someone read isn't the most engaging activity for the audience. Outside distraction; joys of the convention. Listening to a story you're not familiar with from an author whose work you're not familiar with. My other panel was a discussion panel on the Saturday; talking about how we - in this case, me, Dave Watkins, Cat Cavendish, and WP Wiles with Kat Day as mod - imbue our horror with a sense of creepy.

Talking About The Creepy Things. With David Watkins, WP Wiles, me, Cat Cavendish, and Kat Day (mod, out of camera-shot).

There are a number of reasons why I go to a convention. Such as:

it gives me a chance to connect in real time with my peers.

it makes sure I remain visible (if you aren't being seen, no one will see you).

it gives me something to talk about.

more often than not, new business shakes loose.

it keeps me informed on the state of the genre.

While the attendance felt relatively sparse to me on the Friday, I got more sense of greater numbers on the Saturday; which had additional attendees. It's a sad fact that while your community is in attendance, you don't necessarily get to speak to them. You could be having a quick chat with Person A, then Person B happens along. By the time you're done with Person B, even if it's a matter of minutes, Person A has already gone to a panel, reading, meal, or some such. It can be like herding cats.

I finally catch up with Katie and her baking. And I saw that it was good (so thank you for that).

What continues to surprise me is some in the genre feel a degree of imposter syndrome: that their place in the genre isn't deserved. What makes this more ironic is that, despite the scope and depth of horror that we creators plumb, we're generally the most gracious, welcoming, and supportive community - even more so to those brave enough to confess they're not so skilled in social settings. Go to any horror convention and you'll probably see just that. You'll also see a good dose of humour, whether it's photo-bombing, some beauty-pageant variant of the The Best Legs In Horror (and Phil Sloman is forever a good sport to show off those legs), pec-popping to The Blue Danube Waltz, etc.

There's genuine enjoyment to be had from engaging with your peers. Whether it's talking martial arts with Shona Kinsella, talking contracts and rights with Jonathan Oliver, cover art with Adam Millard, etc. Time with your peers, especially in real time, is never wasted.



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