I remember from my signing at FantasyCon last year, where I was sat next to Jan Edwards. We agree that for those of us in the genre of horror/dark fiction, there are so many genuinely nice and supportive people around us. She says that this is because such people are the ones putting all the bad stuff on the page as it were. Leaves nice people behind; well, ideally.
A nod to Erik Hofstatter; the mind behind the likes of Katerina and the macabre brilliance of Rare Breeds. He tells me he's in town to catch an anniversary screening of Hellraiser at the Prince Charles Theatre, so we agree that I swing by and catch him for a drink or two. Hell, it's Leicester Square, so easy enough for me.
Let me remind you that for all the conversation on social media, I've only 'met' him once, at the inaugural gathering of the HWA UK chapter. 'Met' is a stretch, because while I'm waxing on the dark vs horror aspect of Dexter, I didn't realise the guy's sat behind me. Erik, not Dexter. Anyhow. We finally get to catch up, and this maestro of the human monster (read Rare Breeds, and you'll see what I mean), is one of the nicest guys in the business. Shy, even. So we talk shop: from short stories to long fiction, submission venues, gameplan. All that good stuff.
That was the start of the week. The end of the week sees me get the train to Peterborough first thing Friday morning for FantasyCon 2017. Held at The Bull Hotel - a place small enough that I walked past the entrance a couple of times without realising that X marked the spot.
So the day wears on with various genre heads piling into the venue. Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane, the power couple and heads of the HWA's UK chapter are first on scene along with a handful of others. As the day wears on the hotel gets more crowded, more of the usual suspects show up: the likes of Phil Sloman and Dion Winton-Polak. More nice guys. The weekend kicks off with the Black Shuck Books launch, MC'd by Steve Shaw and with a reading by John Llewelyn Probert which is best described as theatrical. After which, time to mingle; a catch-up with Dion who, among other things, suggests that now I've written 52 stories for the A Story A Week challenge from This Is Horror, some kind of retrospective may be in order. Hmmmmm.
That evening sees similar; panels, drink food - and a disco. Around this time, I got to meet Adam Millard - whose name I know because one of my earliest works sold appeared in something alongside him - and Duncan Bradshaw. Again, more nice people; welcoming people.
They tried to welcome me onto the dance floor. I wasn't having it.
The rest of the weekend proceeded in pretty much the same fashion of good times with good people. Panels, discussion, readings, food, drink - and far more cider on the first day than I'd usually sink in a 24hr space. As is par for the course, you meet existing friends and make new ones. So on that front, a shout-out goes to the likes of Joseph E. Cole, Sue York (who has the kind of enthusiasm that wild horses on speed and steroids couldn't hold down), Danny Rhodes, et al.
These are people who write about the dark and dreadful. The stuff of nightmares. Where maids get murdered, where prison inmates find out what a pool cue shouldn't be used for, where sleepwalking is the least of someone's worries, where torture lasts well beyond death. Yep. These people are my tribe.