Recently, I had the email from the HWA reminding me that fees were due. Payment doesn't have to be made right now, but of course, they make the reminders to make sure that payments are timely. Will I pay the fee for another year? Most likely. After all, I've met some good people with the aid of the HWA, and thanks to them, have now done my first signing this year at Fantasycon. I only recently found out that Fantasycon is actually a BFS (British Fantasy Society) event - and that's despite the BFS banners that hung around the 'con venue.
About a week ago, I was up at Sledge-Lit - the Xmas iteration of Edge-Lit, I'm sure. A good day with good people, but not without its drawbacks. Barely making the train out of town with minutes to spare, for one. Cramped seating at tables, for another. Legroom: denied. Still, the Slug & Lettuce a minute's walk from the venue delivered a mighty feast of a breakfast (including two salmon loins) for less than a tenner. That was some good shit.
As is par for the course for these events, I meet old(er) friends and new - just getting to connect with people in the process. I was also aware that some wouldn't attend Sledge-Lit but would possibly be at the BFS drink-up in early December. Anyhow. I met with the usual suspects such as Pete Allison and Eric Steele. Also got a chance to catch up with James Everington. This part is key, because I actually picked up his "Trying To Be So Quiet" novella from an Edge-Lit convention earlier this year. And while I was moved by what proved to be a tender and heartwarming work of a ghost story, I had yet to get around to actually posting a review on Amazon. The old adage of, "if you like us, tell others; if not, tell us." As is, I finally got a catch up with James (among others, such as Dion), and got to talk game in general.
l-r: Eric Steele, Pete Indiana Allison, Krish, me, and Dion Winton-Polak. A whole spectrum here, from screenwriter to journalist to author to editor.
Fast forward to a few days ago, and the night of Friday 2nd December, which was the BFS Xmas Social. Now author Phil Sloman had told me about this a while back. I always have time for Phil, ever since having met him earlier this year at Edge-Lit. Wholly likeable and personable guy. Like many others in the horror/dark fiction trade, even if they don't necessarily like your work, they'll like your enthusiasm. As such, Phil let me know of this bash, and I asked if he could swing me an invite, to which, he did. Now I get in there at the venue, and while it's nowhere near as majestic as this year's Fantasycon, it was still enjoyable. Having met old friends such as Phil, along with Ben Jones, the wideboy type with a quip and a drink who'll never let me live down The Waitrose Incident. Rely on Ben to bring the comedy, and put a beard-lite Phil Sloman on the spot when asking which famous people have a moustache like mine. Eddie Murphy and Hitler featured. Of course, Ben lost points when he only just realised I have a moustache. I think he swapped his glasses for beer goggles or something similar.
I made new friends like Andrew Hook, a veteran author of 20 years and over 100 stories. And the likes of Rhys Hughes, an author who, at over 800 tales already, is nearing that goal of 1000. Impressive regardless, let alone to a relative newbie like me.
Aside from the issue of fees (and I've seen that the BFS is also mindful that some members may need to pay up), this is what I really wanted to speak on. The Precedent, as it were. Now. With wisecracks about moustaches and such behind us, and with Ben off to find a latrine, me and Phil have a sitdown and talk game. He asks me where do I want to take my writing. I say I want to run with it as far as I can.
And herein lies the rub.
Because while I'm aware that there is Andrew Hook, there is Rhys Hughes, there is Phil Sloman, etc., these authors will have their own individual take on the craft and where they want to take it. As such, I'm not following the model of any other author and will gladly carve my own path. Call it naivete, but I will not say I cannot do something. I will do. Those of you who can claim to know me well not that I will not fold just so the rest of the world has an easy ride. Fuck that. I stand tall, I stand proud, and I bring my A-game. At 45 years old, I still have plenty of stories to tell, and the muse continues to outrun me. In turn, I will gladly write those stories and try and keep the muse in my sights.
The bottom line? Just because something didn't work for everyone else, I won't let it deter me - not if it feels right. I'll carve my own path.
So carve your own path, blaze your own trail, however you call it. Hold out your arm. And shake hands with the precedent.