As I sit here cuddled up on the sofa watching Netflix and nursing a slightly sore throat and cold, I both curse and praise WorldFantasyCon.
Last November, Joanne Hall asked me if I was going to go to WFC in Brighton. I’d heard of the convention, didn’t know much about it, but signed up immediately. Around 1500 Writers, publishers, editors, authors, booksellers and fans all under one roof, it sounded pretty damn awesome and worth the £125 ticket price (I paid £125, I know some people paid £75 if they booked super early, and others paid £150).
So, fast-forward to Thursday 31st, I trundled down on the train from Banbury to Brighton and met Jo at our hotel (the actual convention was being held at the Brighton Metropole about 200m from our hotel, and rooms there were pretty pricey). After checking in and quickly realising that Brighton has NO MOBILE SIGNAL AT ALL, we made our way to the check-in area where I nearly peed myself in delight. Free books! Awesome!
Loaded down, and thoroughly exhausted – we hit the bar. Ouch. Hilton Hotels know how to screw you – £12 (roughly) for 2 vodka and cokes. My poor wallet suffered all weekend.
Friday and Saturday were full on days. There were panels, talks, readings from some of my favourite people in the industry. Neil Gaiman was awesome (of course) and his stories and anecdotes uplifting and amusing. On Friday, there was the Independent Publisher panel. I took away some ideas and food for thought, and came away generally feeling confident and excited about the future.
‘Broads With Swords’ was excellent. Truly excellent. The panelists were given an original brief that was both condescending towards female writers and derogatory. They flipped it and instead (with audience participation) reeled off a list of strong and wonderful female authors who can write fight scenes, show female strength without resorting to violence all the time, and deliver great villains. I put forward Anne Lyle and Fiona McIntosh, and then cursed myself for not mentioning my all-time favourite writer, Jacqueline Carey.
Gareth Powell read from ‘Hive Monkey’. the follow on from ‘Ack Ack Macaque’. It sounded so good that I bought both books immediately afterwards. Yeah. Seriously.
I fangirled listening to Pat Rothfuss read his short story from the ‘Unfettered’ by GrimOak Press; it was beautiful and the rhythm in his words lulls you. A mix of folklore and fairytale, I loved it. I wasn’t too impressed with the fact that the organisers clashed Pat with John Gwynne . John is definitely an author to watch, and with his amazing book Malice winning the Gemmell Morningstar, I really wanted to hear him read.
Early Saturday morning I heard Susan Batholomew read. Interesting sounding book and definitely one I’ve added to my kindle.
Scott Lynch bounded into the reading room and dazzled me his reading. I do love the way Lynch is able to subtly pull together humour, darkness, sarcasm and beautiful prose. Big thumbs up from me.
Trudi Canavan read from her up-coming book. It has a definite steampunk vibe with two different worlds and points of view. Had me immediately thinking of the ‘His Dark Materials’ series of books by Philip Pullman, but with a heavier fantasy feel. I’m really looking forward to this book.
On Sunday Fox Spirit held the launch of ‘Tales of Eve’ (edited by Mhairi Simpson). I bought my copy (of course) and I’m glad I got there early as they sold out! Massive congrats, guys. Really well deserved. While there, the wonderful Juliet E McKenna signed my copy for me.
The parties each night were a definite highlight. Free alcohol (I know, I’m a monster), and free goodie bags. Titan Books nailed their party with fun fair styled games to win books. The crossbow target game was wonderful and, being a bit of an archer, I won four books. I admit, I completely took advantage, but dammit! I wanted ALL THEIR BOOKS! The Gollancz and Jo Fletcher Books were fun, and in a different bar we had the Tor and Del Ray party with music. Phew. It was a busy few days!
Saturday morning I rolled into bed around 5am and fell asleep at 6am. You know you’ve had fun when you’re kicked out of the hotel bar so they can clean!
Meeting so many lovely people was overwhelming. Over the weekend I had wonderful fun with Joanne Hall, Adam Dalton, K R Green, Sorcha O’Dowd, and Stewart Gardiner. There were many many other people, but these guys made my weekend super fun, and I hope to catch up with them again.
So, this is my quick round-up of WFC2013. Sorry it’s not that detailed, or with more pictures, but my mobile battery is rubbish and I was far too busy to snap!
I came across Exodus Lost when I was looking for something to read that explored and explained the Mayan culture and roots and the link to the Egyptians. I’ve long believed there is a link with the pyramids, and so I wanted to find something that argued the case well and eloquently (and obviously with accuracy!). I’m glad I chose this book as Compton sweeps the reader along at a fantastic pace and mixes pleasure and learning effortlessly, and not only did I learn about the Mayans, but other cultures from west to east.
When I first started reading this, I felt like a child again – voraciously devouring information at a stupid rate. I loved the explanations and the linking to the Egyptian and Aztec cultures, and the way biblical floods were depicted to show the reader that the bible holds some truths. There were sections dedicated to art and anthropology,
To make the book extra special, Compton has included engravings, illustrations and exquisite pictures. It’s the sort of book that you have to buy in paperback as the kindle edition doesn’t do the images justice.
This book was written by a well-respected scholar and expert in his field, and it shows. Definitely recommend this book if you have an interest in these special areas of cultural history.
S.C Compton BIO
Stephen Compton is a writer on Mesoamerican history. He obtained his undergraduate education from Shimer College and, via Shimer’s Oxford study abroad program, Oxford University. He subsequently obtained master’s degrees from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. In his book Exodus Lost (2011), based on 14 years of research, Compton advanced a controversial but pathbreaking thesis on the origins of the Olmec civilization, adducing powerful evidence to link the Old and New Worlds.
Book can be purchased in both paperback and kindle:
I was pointed in the direct of this book via a different social networking site, and I’m glad that I took the time to read the book and review. The author, Scott Addington (biography below), put together an ebook describing his charity ride along the entire WWI Western Front. Just under 600 miles of gruelling terrain and breathtaking countryside.
The book is short, around 100 pages I believe, and feels like a humorous diary. There’s an easy tone in Scott’s authorial voice, and I found it to be a smooth read. It disheartening and all too real to read about how some companies failed to put their hand in their pocket. Every penny helps, and for large corporations, charity donations are tax deductible, so in some ways – there’s no excuse… Anyway, back to the book.
The first section fully explains the route he took (with his friend Steve) and then comes the day by day diary of cycling and interaction with the locals. This was fun, but for me – the real interest comes with the biographies of fallen soldiers, their photos and then pictures of their graves. It’s amazing to read about heroes, real heroes, not celebrities, and being reminded that these men sacrificed their lives for their country. Poignant.
Personally, I think including photos of the gravestones was a great contrast to the joviality of the first third of the diary. It reminds the reader just why Scott and Steve put themselves through the challenge: Money for the British Legion – a fine, fine charity.
I’m glad I have a copy, and I’m a little sad that I was given a copy for free to review, because I want to donate to the charity. The ebook is priced at £2.50 and at least £1 goes to the British Legion. I fully intend to speak to Scott about donating, and when I hear back – I’ll add more to this post.
Scott Addington runs Military Research UK, a company specialising in uncovering family heroes and has always been fascinated by the individual stories that make up the wider picture of military history. This intrigue lead him to find out more about the men behind the medals in books such as ‘For Conspicuous Gallantry…’ and the soon to be published ‘Britain’s Bravest Soldiers – The First World War’.
As well as the personal stories, Scott is on a mission to open up whole subject of the First World War to children, teenagers and adults alike who would not necessarily read 900 page epics on the subject. His latest work, ‘World War One: A Layman’s Guide’ is a perfect introduction to the subject and his ‘The Great War 100′ project of telling the story of the First World War using infographics (via an iOS/Android app and a subsequent book) has won many plaudits.
In 2009, Scott cycled the entire Western Front trench line system (550 miles) raising several thousand pounds for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal and in the spring of 2013 plans to do another ride for charity, this time even longer and more crazy than the last one.
You can follow Scott on Twitter: @military_search and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/militaryresearchuk
Goodreads asked their members the questions, and then made up this pretty picture with the results. Quite interesting I think. Some food for thought.
Phew. What a busy weekend!
I worked Saturday day, socialised Saturday evening and then visited my granddad on Sunday with my husband, my sister and her partner, Ben. It was the first time granddad had met Ben, and other than me, it was the first time Ben had met any other member of our family.
Let’s just say our family isn’t exactly close… I mean, Hannah and me are close, Granddad, Hannah and me are close, but… the rest of the family?… Not so much. Long story. I’ll tell you all about it one day. Maybe.
Anyway, we got to Granddad’s, had a good natter about news and plans and then I was thoroughly told off. I mean, properly chastised by granddad. Why? My swearing on Facebook. I swear a lot, I admit it. I curse like a sailor and I think it’s because I work with a lot of ex-servicemen. My Granddad’s words: “you are an authoress, you can find more creative ways to vent your frustration.”
He has a point. A good one really. ‘In Search of Gods and Heroes’ has no swearing and this was very deliberate – I didn’t want any bad language as I wanted to show it wasn’t necessary to fill a book with swearing to make it dark and realistic. How can I then be a hypocrite and try and claim that I swear to show people just how frustrated I am when I omit it from my work for that very reason?
The final comment that really mortified me was, “How do you think your nan would have felt seeing you swear?” Aiyee… she would have been ridiculously disappointed, and I squirm now as I recall her disapproving stare. Nan never had to swear, in fact, I heard her swear just once in 27 years. Crazy.
While I was there, he gave me my nan’s old soft leather purse. I’m going to use it as my swear-purse. Every time I curse, I’ll pop some money in it. Whatever I have to hand in fact. I can’t give a definitive amount as I don’t really carry much money, but let’s see how I go!
So, Granddad, here’s my promise: I will dramatically reduce my swearing – both verbally and written. I shall scrub the F word from my list of curses and I do so for you and nanny, because you’re right. There’s no need for me to curse like a sailor and it achieves nothing.
Around 6pm, my dad turned up and it was the first time I’d seen him since Christmas 2009 (I think). He was followed by my brother Josh (been 6 months), my sister Lydia (Christmas 2009), and my brother Kris (over a year).
Hannah hadn’t seen any of them since Christmas 2009, and my dad hadn’t visited Granddad in over a year – despite living just 25-30 minutes away.
Cue Granddad digging around the freezer looking for food for the masses – we settled on bacon sandwiches and cheesecake. A rather fine combination methinks!
(I cooked and cleaned. No way was I letting Granddaddy do it!)
It was an emotional time for Granddad, and it’s clear that he enjoyed seeing his grandchildren and son. I just really hope that they make more of an altruistic effort. Granddad is 88 years old and he won’t be with us forever. No matter how much I wish it.
Here’s a picture of Nan, Granddad and me on my wedding day 5 years ago. I love this picture. It was the happiest day of my life, and I’m with two of my most favourite people. My first book is dedicated to both of them, because when others turned their backs on me, they were always there with love, support and gentle words of encouragement.