Archive for August, 2014

Only a week after the event, here’s my event report. Just like back in school. The short version: a great time was had and lots of new and interesting people were met, including some heroes of mine in within fiction writing. Can’t say fairer than that…

 image_00004

So I arrived on Wednesday evening, and stayed through to Sunday evening. We managed to get in early on the whole registration thing, which was good because it got kind of lively when the convention proper commenced. All told, this one had 10,000 guests which makes it the biggest World Science Fiction Convention held yet! So it is just as well the ExCel Centre in which it was held happens to be HUGE. Seriously, this thing is so big, it has TWO Docklands Light Railway stations for access.

Now, I’ve never been to this particular type of convention before, and discovered rapidly that having that word in the title can mean many different things. I looked at the event and thought it looked interesting, but got a nudge to do some stuff for it several months back by some good friends in Emma and Esther and said, ‘sure, I’ll happily do a panel or two’ (having never done panels before). By the time I reached the event, I had signed up for six, and a book signing spot. I approached initially with a fine combo of eager excitement and a degree of terror, but actually found the sheer scale of fixtures a great help on this one. I spent more time on the Wednesday night finding my way around a wonderful iPad app, which essentially provided a scheduler for me, choosing which other events and panels I was provisionally interested in attending, that I kind of forgot about the pre-panel prep.

Well, apart from the first one, for which I needed to source good examples and stories behind fiction and film which ‘got London wrong’. I had a little chat over a tea with Michael, (who was kind enough to put us up for the duration, even lending us his bedroom. Hero!) and between him, Joy  and myself, we managed to add a couple of examples to the reserve. For the record, I now need to watch the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes at least twice, so I can finally get round to watching it, and to spot everything we cited both at home and at the panel . Thor’s rather curious London Underground travel route in Thor: The Dark World I knew about already.

The first panel I attended was amusingly titled, ‘LOLcats in Space: Social Media, Humour and SF Narratives’, and had a frankly brilliant line-up, including Jean Johnson as moderator and Charles Stross on bass guitar (the instrument part may or may not be an untruth).  Energetic, insightful and packed, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to have got started on my little tour.

image_00033

Then, very relevant to my current chosen path and equally entertaining, The Changing Face of the Urban Fantastic. Another cracking panel team including none other than Paul Cornell and Robin Hobb, moderated by the excellent Liz Bourke. Good as this panel was, migration started quite early, though I soon remembered why. Straight after this, A Conversation with George R.R.Martin, Connie Willis and Paul Cornell. Yep—that did mean Mr Cornell needed to run, or figure out how to co-locate. He chose the former. Luckily, that meant he could go straight in, whereas when I left at the end, I got into the first very large queue to get into the double suite that this popular fixture hosted. That was a lot of people. Paul did a great job keeping the conversation and the questions flowing, and a good time was had by all. I finally got to my panel that evening and for a first one, I was happy enough with it. I did discover a thing though; being on panels with other authors often just helps you part with money as you seek out their work. Mike Shevdon was on this one with me, and I am now the proud owner of a copy of Sixty-One Nails, following a fascinating conversation about some of London’s more interesting traditions still kept today. The source of that book title is one…

image_00042

Two readings concluded the day, catching some from Frances Hardinge, as usual sporting her trademark stylish hat, and Adrian Tchaikovsky, reading cool new things.

And that was only Thursday!

On Friday, I arrived to be overwhelmed with panels I wanted to attend, and ended up not making either of the 10ams I wanted to see. I will keep checking for transcripts. However, this was because I was queueing for a Peter V.Brett signing with Joy. Well worth it, and got Sixty-One Nails signed by Mike Shevdon in the same hour. Being there got us a chance to catch Paul Cornell just before his signing and say hi too.

image_00038 image_00040 image_00044

 I really enjoyed a swordplay for writers workshop, of which I was sure to take photos and odd notes here and there. Definitely educational. I sat on two panels, Developing LARPs—World vs. Character and got plenty of interest out of that, then Urban Fantasy: London, which I enjoyed immensely. There was a lot to talk about in an hour, including the obvious question of ‘why London’? and mentioning a bunch of other cities, with Manchester coming up too thanks to certain questions and myself and Tony Ballantyne being resident there at present. Learned a lot, talked even more, both after the panel and throughout the con. I also managed to get to the Titan/Tor party thanks to Tony, and enjoy a beer and a chat with a bunch of people in the publishing world. Finally met artist Sarah Anne Langton thanks to Ian Whates and a natter with Peter V.Brett, to name a few. Also, got a bit of tasty birthday cake.

Saturday, I went wandering around the gallery section and chatted to Ade Brown after seeing some tremendous artwork. He has the Where Angels Fall website currently under development, but I’ll be sure to check in once it is done. There were many other incredible exhibits, but no photos of course from me. However a chance wander helped me bump into none other than Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Peter Grant series [Rivers of London/Midnight Riot in US) being the first]. We ended up going for a coffee and effectively a small kaffeeklatsch, which was about as pleasant a way to spend a morning as I could ask for.

image_00086

I sat on two panels, Race and British Speculative Fiction, which may have run from 13:30 to 15:00 on the programme, but I was still talking with panellists and guests two hours later on that one. And enjoyed every minute of it. Then LARP Safe: Building Inclusive Worlds in the evening. Perhaps my smallest-attended panel of the con, but that wasn’t a bad thing. Also, I collected a surprise moderator badge for this one due to the original not being able to make it. I would like to say now that this wasn’t anything to do with me seizing an opportunity and bundling the original moderator into a cupboard for an hour. That’s not how I roll.

Finished up the day with a top-quality 80s Night Dance. No, really. It had exactly the right level of cheese for my tastes, though they almost killed this poor chap by seguing several 80s wolf-themed or mentioning songs in. Go on. Think about it. There were a quite a few. In fact, perhaps a competition is worth thinking about…

image_00090

Though the con did run to Monday, Sunday was my last day there, regretfully.

image_00091

The morning schedule proved relentless, with a signing first thing, sharing a table with the delightful Melinda Snodgrass, straight into a kaffeeklatsch with Adrian Tchaikovsky,  great fun, and then a rush out to my final panel, Representation, Whitewashing and Internationalism in Fandom. My last panel, and a superb one, thanks to a brilliant audience and a top panel in Zen Cho, Mark Oshiro, Eylul Dogruel and Andrea Horbinski. I felt we all had something different to bring to that table, and we again had a long chat afterwards. Sadly couldn’t get into the Charles Stross reading because I’d been beaten to it, and my final official thing was getting along to the Robin Hobb signing.

image_00101

A note on that signing. I thought I was mostly going along to help Joy carry some books at first, but over the panels and events attended where Robin was present, she very much sold me on reading her books. So by the time I got into this photo, I was very definitely a fan!

I didn’t attend the Hugo Awards, just because we had a long drive back that evening, so had to content myself with reading the results. But we did stop to quickly chill before we left, reminding me that I hadn’t mentioned any of the many parties going on in the evening. As well as advertising future events in the Fan Village, some other entertainments were laid on including the Tolkien Society running a big quiz, bidders for future WorldCon events giving us a flavour of their nation and city, quite literally in most cases. I’ve tried a salty liquorice liqueur courtesy of Helsinki’s bid for 2017, Kansas fed us several times some delicious pulled pork, and Japan introduced us to several fine whiskies and the wondrous green tea flavoured Kit-Kat, to name but a few.

image_00102

Overall, this was a truly amazing experience in which I got firmly bitten by the convention bug. I’m already setting plans in motion for next year! Next up this year, an entirely different affair by way of the Labyrinth Literary Festival up in Stockton, where I shall have a reading and be happily to sell you and/or sign books. I look forward to seeing some of you there!

image_00095

Advertisements

Labyrinth Literary Festival

Posted: August 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

I shall be here too, with readings ready and copies of both Oblivion Storm and Primal Storm! Come along 🙂

Lurking Musings

On September 6th I will be in Stockton on Tees attending a book festival. Click the image below for more details. There will be readings both from Transitions and Lurking Miscellany and the chance to get signed books from a range of UK based authors.

If you are a UK based author and you want in on this festival, there are still spaces. Bring some books, some swag and prepare to do a reading to an appreciative audience.

literary festival

View original post

Back from LonCon 3, and a post on that is coming up soon. Short version: it was ace.

However, as may have been guessed from the title, I have a bit more work following my post on the How I Write tour, originally linked from Andrew Knighton Writes. If you need a recap, my own can be found here.

First on the ‘next up’ from me is Author Ben Ireland, with a cracking post on his writing process. Read, enjoy, and if you wish, join in! 

Keep watching, I shall have more to report in the coming days…

I’m sorry to have misled some of you. This post has absolutely nothing to do with the X-Men. Though I did rather like that film.

Those of you on my Facebook page probably spotted a shorter version of my list of panels for LonCon3 next week. And that I promised to put up a more complete version. So here it is:

Liechester Square: Getting London Wrong

 Thursday 19:00 – 20:00, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)

If there’s one thing you can guarantee about the reaction to any piece of SF set in London, it’s that British fans will delight in nit-picking the details: you can’t get there on the Piccadilly Line! So who are the worst offenders? Whose commodified Londons do we forgive for the sake of other virtues in their writing? Do we complain as much about cultural errors as geographic ones, and if not, why not? And given London’s status as a global city, is it even fair to claim ownership of its literary representation?

Developing LARPs – World vs Character

Friday 15:00 – 16:30, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)

We’ll be talking about how to make really great characters in LARP, and how to make them fit in with the worlds they live in. Increasingly, LARP in the UK has become a much bigger hobby, with it’s own desires and needs. How do we create and realise our characters within these worlds, and what is most important when we do this? We’ll be talking about some of the differences between big and small systems, and ways in which to constructively overcome some of the recent issues that larp is dealing with on the field.

Urban Fantasy: London

Friday 18:00 – 19:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)

The early twenty-first century commercial explosion of urban fantasy — first person, coexisting supernatural creatures, often noirish — was, at least initially, driven by the American market and American writers. Increasingly, however, writers such as Kate Griffin, Ben Aaronovitch and Paul Cornell are writing contemporary urban fantasy set in the UK and, in particular, in London. How has crossing the Atlantic changed this subgenre? How is it similar to or different from older forms of British urban fantasy?

Race and British SF

Saturday 13:30 – 15:00, Capital Suite 5 (ExCeL)

Four years ago, Tricia Sullivan threw a spotlight on the gender balance of SF authors published in the UK, leading to a continuing conversation that is — perhaps — finally having an effect. However, although other aspects of representation have been mentioned in the course of this conversation, they have rarely been the focus, and in particular it can be argued that UK fandom and publishing have not talked enough about race. To use the same barometer as Sullivan, only one writer of colour has ever won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and so far this century only three have been shortlisted. Yet the success of diversity-led events such as Nine Worlds suggests the audience is there. So what else should publishers and fannish institutions in the UK be doing to support writers of colour? Whose work should Loncon attendees rush to buy in the dealer’s room? And whose novels and stories are we eagerly anticipating?

LARP Safe. Building inclusive worlds in LARP

Saturday 20:00 – 21:00, London Suite 3 (ExCeL)

Recently, UK LARP has been extremely pre-occupied with finding ways to create worlds that celebrate diversity, in particular through the actions of players towards each other. It seems that live action role-play has reached a point where a new maturity and even cohesiveness is needed when welcoming players into their worlds. This panel discusses ways in which LARP can develop – through narratives, characters and worldbuilding, in ways that make this possible.

Autographing 5 – Russell Smith

 Sunday 10:00 – 11:00, Autographing Space (ExCeL)

Representation, Whitewashing, and Internationalism in Fandom

Sunday 12:00 – 13:00

Fandoms can provide positive spaces for engagement with and education about representing people of color, for example the negative impact of “whitewashing” (see racebending.com). In recent years, there’s been a more visible push by fandom for representation that more accurately reflects the community as a whole. But the issue itself is a complex one: How can the SF/F community challenge their perceptions of representation while also taking into account how concepts including “race” and “people of colour” vary in an international context? How can fandom avoid stereotyping and exclusion? What sort of models work in a general sense, but should not be applied to non-Western nations? Join our panelists in a challenging and lively conversation about these issues.

If anyone has any suggestions for anything I should possibly look at for any of these (baring in mind an extremely limited timeframe!) then feel free to get in touch. I’m certainly looking forward to being involved in these, and as for the penultimate mention there, I will have copies of Oblivion Storm and Primal Storm on sale, and would be delighted to think of something witty to scrawl in your copies if you can’t wait and have ordered through the links provided!

In September, I also have plans to attend the Labyrinth Literary Festival up in Stockton. I shall have to think of a choice passage or two to read aloud, so will of course take any suggestions there too! 

Oh, and I’m ready for these guys now. Wigan Comic Con,  December 7. At last I will have my revenge. Oh, and have some books on sale, along with fellow Xchyler Publishing author Joanne Kershaw.

IMG_5033

How I Write Blog Tour thingy

Posted: August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hi all,

A brief interlude of blog touring as the month of chaos gets into full swing.

First off, many thanks to Andrew Knighton of Andrew Knighton Writes for the tip-off and the opportunity! At the end of this post, I will have some folks of my own who will be following up soon enough (about this time next week). The blog tour sponsor in this case is I C Publishing (www.ICPublishing.ca).

 Now, the Q&A itself!

1. How do you start your writing project(s)?

At the moment, I’ve got a series ongoing, The Grenshall Manor Chronicles. Having started the first one, I elected to ensure the main three protagonists all took the lead in a story of their own, and decided to work from there. Oblivion Storm, the first, is the tale of Mary and the last chapters in the tales of the noble house of Grenshall. Primal Storm explores Jennifer Winter’s past, present and to some extent, future destiny. And Book Three will follow Kara, the one who has no supernatural power of her own, carrying us through that particular plot arc.

In terms of inspiration, I find it comes from many a source at any given time. Book One came about a combination of an interesting news article I read and my enjoyment of the London Underground. Book Two got heavily inspired by films and short videos of parkour, hence the high pace of the novel. My next takes very different origins, but will again have elements of history within it, alternative or otherwise.

As for research? I can do some, but not all. It’s just not always possible to know the level of detail you’re going to need for a given scene. I can find I get bogged down by history books trying to figure out the name of a bag some days, and on others, you just need to know what was happening in a given country on October25th!

2. How do you continue your writing project?

Once I get going on a project, I try and set aside time daily, as long as I’m not away or anything, to give myself a fighting chance of staying within deadlines.

3. And how do you finish your writing project?

 Finishing is again dictated by deadlines and editors, I don’t generally have time to have a hard time letting go! I am generally satisfied as long as I’ve told the story I set out to.

4. One additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.

Remember: writing is not the start and end of it. Nor is editing. Network! Go to events, talk to audiences, get out there and do other cool stuff that people may notice. This brings me nicely on to my upcoming presence on several panels at LonCon3! If you would like to know more, stay with me for my post immediately following this one!

Next up:

Joy K Phillips, who is working on a very exciting project, let me tell you! Can be found at:

Scott E. Tarbet, spinner of steampunk tales, is the author of A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk from Xchyler Publishing, Tombstone, in the paranormal anthology Shades & Shadows, and the forthcoming Lakshmi, Dragon Moon, and Nautilus Redux. He writes enthusiastically in several genres, sings opera, was married in full Elizabethan regalia, loves steampunk waltzes, and slow-smokes thousands of pounds of Texas-style barbeque. An avid skier, hiker, golfer, and tandem kayaker, he makes his home in the mountains of Utah. Follow Scott E. Tarbet online at http://scotttarbet.timp.net/ or on Twitter @SETarbet

Ben Ireland, author of Kingdom City.  

 

Some bios to follow, but thought I’d just get us out there and take it from there. Any questions, you know where I am! Thanks for reading 🙂