BristolCon 2015

While BristolCon is still officially a one-day event, Friday night now definitely has programming. Other than the bar, the main attraction is the open mic reading. This year it had a room of its own, and even tech. What’s more, Roz Clarke ran a Reading Aloud Workshop before it for the benefit of those people who were a bit nervous about having a go.

We had quite a few stories contributed. I particularly liked Terry Jackman’s story. I gather she’s had a career as a non-fiction writer so her prose is great, but she’s also got the hang of character voice. The story about the were-clown was also quite good, and I was pleased to have a non-fiction piece (part of a tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett).

I read the introduction to “Camelot Girls Gone Wild”, a rather silly tale I have written for Pete Sutton’s Fantastically Horny anthology. People seemed to like it because they asked me back to finish it. My thanks to Jo Lindsay-Walton for the word “faunication”, which describes it perfectly. Sadly it is probably too rude for the Fringe.

As usual I did the Welcome talk in Programme Room 2. That was followed by a panel on mainstream writers and awards, which went pretty well.

Paul Cornell was doing a recording of his The Cornell Collective podcast at the con. The idea was raised a bit too late in the process for it to have a live audience and full tech, so Paul ended up doing it in the bar. As usual, I had my reporter’s microphone with me, so I provided the tech. The guests were Emma Newman, Jaine Fenn and Cavan Scott, and I can attest that it is well worth listening too, though there are spoilers for Tea & Jeopardy if you are not up to date on that series.

I seem to have spent much of the afternoon needing a nap. So much so in fact that I suggested to Jo that the con needed a Nap Room with bean bags where people could go for a rest. Of course what I should have done was book a hotel room for Saturday as well as Friday, but I’m trying to be sensible with money.

What the con does have is the “Brick Out Room”, which is well stocked with Lego and became the venue for Emma Newman’s crafting circle. It also had free tea and coffee. Every convention should have one of these.

Possibly I shouldn’t have a had a glass of wine with lunch, but Jo Hall had a very spectacular book launch with wine and cake. The tech crew decided that she needed an entrance that made her seem like a rock star, or possibly a professional wrestler. I’m delighted to hear that they sold 58 copies of Spark & Carousel on the back of it.

One thing that kept me awake was wandering around the art show. Having both Chris Moore and Jim Burns made for a pretty spectacular show (and great bar takings). I gave Chris copies of the new Colin Harvey hardcovers because both have his work on the cover.

I did attend the “Bad-ass with a Baby” panel. I’m delighted that we had it, though I think it might have been better if it had involved some people who had been mothers. It did have two fathers on it, but the three women were all childless.

Which reminds me, with five-person panels it is hard to have panel parity on individual panels, but overall the convention had very good panel parity.

My apologies to Jasper Fforde for not staying for his reading, but I was moderating a panel in the next slot so I had to scuttle off.

Talking of readings, one I wish I had attended was Jonathan L Howard’s. Unbeknownst to me, he had recently received a proof of Carter & Lovecraft and read from that. I’m very much looking forward to that book.

Back with panels, I was moderating “The Secret Life of an Editor”. Alex Davis and I got to explain what editors do all day, while Jane Fenn, Jen Williams and Richard Bendall were properly deferential about their importance and skills of their b/e/t/t/er/s, editors. Seriously folks, a good editor can significantly improve your writing.

Then it was my turn to don my writer’s hat again. Once again what I had to read went down well. I’m not daft enough to believe that kind words from fans at a convention make you a good writer. Only praise from professionals I respect, and sales, will do that. However, I was rather pleased with the weekend from a fiction point of view.

From the Wizard’s Tower point of view the weekend was much less successful. That’s partly because I am generally too busy at conventions to run my own dealer table, and partly because I know from bitter experience that I should never be allowed to staff any sort of sales table.

Closing ceremonies included the announcement of the Guests of Honour for 2016. They are: Sarah Pinborough, Ken MacLeod and Fangorn. That’s definitely something to look forward to.

As usual, huge congratulations are due to Jo and all of the committee. Having been part of the process for many years (and still being on the email list) I know just how hard they have to work to make the event seem flawless.

The evening programme included a games room, the notorious quiz, and a showing of Galaxy Quest. I headed off home because there was a small matter of a rugby match that I wanted to enjoy in peace. After all, with all the injuries we had, Wales had no chance of beating England at Twickenham, did they?