FantasyCon 2014, held in York, UK was my second writing convention. Last year, at World Fantasy Con in Brighton, I stayed at home, commuting each day with home-made lunches and not worrying about the logistics of getting twenty books home, which this year, was 260 miles away.
Reflecting on the experience of a convention which required finding food and trips to and from York, was a little different.
I had a blast – I was a contestant on Geek Pointless, hosted by Paul Cornell (we didn’t win, but became friends with the winners). I stalked David Tallerman for a signature, then ended up playing playing Be A Bard (card game) with him (and some others) at 2am in the bar. I played my first game of Cards Against Humanity — I came forth. I stayed for the entire Saturday night disco, and had a group of five people following my dance steps. Someone taught us a dance routine to Dr Who theme. We had dinner with Jo Hall. I attended some writing panels. Joanne Harris signed my copy of The Gospel of Loki. I met some wonderful people, and survived most days thanks to tuna sandwiches…
Here’s the brief update of the weekend’s events. Blog posts on the panel topics to follow.
Day Zero: Thursday
I arrived in York around 2.30pm, meeting Sorcha and leading the way to the hotel. We checked in, chatted about the schedule, and grabbed some snacks from the shop across the road. We met up with Jo Hall (who we met at last year’s con) for dinner, where we ordered the same meal and caught up on events since last year. Then we went back to the hotel to read and panic about pointless; which we’d discovered was ‘geek’ themed.
Day One: Friday
Woke at 9am. Attempted to make porridge in a mug with the kettle. Failed. Sorcha spent a while sat in an odd position on her bed desperately trying to get 3G signal on her phone.
Around 1:30pm, we went to register, picking up some free books. We headed back to the hotel to drop the books off and then returned to the dealer room, where we bought six books for five pounds – Sorcha picked 3, and I picked 3 (steelheart, alcatraz series, elves war fighting manual). Once more, I walked back to the hotel to drop off the books.
We attended Pointless as contestants, but were foiled by the first category – literature. I went first as this was more Sorcha’s strength than mine. Unfortunately, many of the books were published before we were born, and we only knew the answers to each other’s boards. I couldn’t remember the author of The Last Unicorn (sorry Peter!). Sorcha then didn’t know the authors of her board. I couldn’t remember Ursula’s surname for the Wizard of Earth Sea so likely wouldn’t have passed that one either. But we made friends with 4 of the contestants, and the winners even offered to share the prize (books) with us.
We met up with our ‘group’ for the evening, and visited the York Tap to play Cards Against Humanity until 1030. As we hadn’t eaten, we grabbed chips on the way home as no where else was open.
Day Two: Saturday
I attended four panels – topics covered included: economics, swordplay, loveable rogues and female platonic relationships. Sorcha grabbed a book I’d seen for my OH while I was in panels, and I took this ‘home’ to keep my bag light between panels. One of the panellists was a lady I’d met last year, so we got chatting in the bar. I then went back to the hotel for the books I wanted signed, and headed in for the mass signing. We then headed back to the hotel to have dinner before the disco.
It took a while to warm up, but soon they were playing classics and people were dancing. I made a request, we were taught a dance by one dancer to the Dr Who theme, and headed to the second bar once it finished. Someone kindly gave myself and two friends a lift home at 2:50am.
Day Three: Sunday
Woke at 8am, and headed to the world building workshop with Sorcha. I then stayed for the editing panel. We headed home (to the hotel) for lunch, and began sorting our books, including trial-packing to identify how much space we had. We surveyed the books we’d collected, deciding we’d have to take some back to the freebie table (see picture). Then we headed back to say goodbye to people, taking our ‘spare’ books with us for the freebie table.
We met an actor’s mother as we walked back. Sorcha napped while I wrote up notes.
Dinner at weatherspoons, including dessert, and then hit sainsburys on the way home to finish our cans of cider.
Day Four: Monday
Not much to say for this one – We got up, discussed train times train and then headed home. I got back in around 4pm, and began to unpack.
Not including Gospel of Loki, which I took with me, these are the books I came home with:
7 free, 3 signed, 2 as gifts.
I’m not sure if we picked up some bug while there, or if the sleep-deprivation, continual talking and exhaustion of carrying heavy bags/suitcases has just left some of us feeling ill this week. Despite this, it was a fantastic convention — everything felt pretty smoothly run, although I’m sure there must have been issues (as with any big event) and the people I met were lovely.