Convention Tour, Leg 1: BristolCon

Roz as Pirate
I am into convention madness season, with Juliet’s new book and the Piracity Kickstarter to promote. There is a long way to go yet, but the first leg is over. BristolCon has happened.

Friday night was the traditional open mic. I read part of a Lovecraftian story, though I suspect that many of the audience didn’t know that’s what it was. The competition was very stiff with Anna Smith-Spark reading from the first chapter of her forthcoming Grimdark novel (which she promises me is deeply feminist and homo-erotic). The star of the show was Stephen Poore who read from a Fox Spirit anthology, a story about a superhero being menaced by a man from Heath & Safety.

I overslept badly on Saturday morning and barely made it to my first duty, the opening remarks in Programme Room 2. Thankfully I didn’t have a 10:00am panel and breakfast was served until 11:00am so I managed to get food.

Both of my panels went very well. I did a lot of promotion of interesting small press projects (mostly not mine) and we gave a very good overview of the process of making books. Special thanks are due to Sammy Smith who was doing her first ever moderator gig and Nick Hembury who was on his first ever panel. Also thanks to John Meaney who stood in for Ed Cox at the last moment, Ed having been struck down by a particularly nasty stomach bug.

With the convention being close to Halloween we got more costumes than usual. That made me feel less stupid for having to dress up to promote Piracity. Roz Clarke was particularly impressive, and looked even better in my pirate hat (see above). The hall costume prize was won by a young girl in a Ren costume.

Ken MacLeod and Sarah Pinborough did entertaining interviews. Special thanks are due to Gareth Powell for standing in for Ed Cox and interviewing Sarah with zero preparation time. The art Guest of Honour was Fangorn (Chris Baker). I missed his talk but there was some very nice art on show. Jim Burns and Chris Moore attended too, so we had a really good art show.

I attended a workshop on writing characters given by Gaie Sebold. It was very impressive for a 45 minute slot. If you have a chance to do the full two hour workshop I recommend it.

Business was encouraging, with a whole bunch of River Kingdoms going and Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion still selling well. Lots of people told me that they wanted to submit to Piracity. I spent a lot of time explaining that if we don’t fund then there won’t be anything to submit to.

The writer guests of honour for next year will be Jen Williams and Jonathan L Howard. An artist guest has been approached, but said person is unable to confirm just now so you’ll have to wait.

However, the big news from the closing ceremony is that Jo Hall is stepping down as chair. She and Roz are planning to move to Wales (where property is much cheaper) so they can concentrate on their writing and editing careers. (They have plans, but that’s for them to tell you.) BristolCon has now run for 8 years and has grown from 57 attendees to well over 300. That would not have happened without Jo’s brilliant leadership. I hope she enjoys her retirement (from con-running) because she deserves it.

MEG is taking over running the committee. She has done a magnificent job running programming for BristolCon for many years so she’ll well placed to step up. Here’s to many more glorious years.

I have a couple of days at home to get turned around, then it is off to Barcelona for Eurocon. I’m picking Kevin up from Heathrow on Wednesday afternoon, and we are taking a long train trip.

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