Writer Life & Lessons

The World Fantasy Convention 2013 – Diary Entries

This year I attended my first writing convention: World Fantasy Con 2013. As a “newbie” attendee, I did feel the communications prior to the event were unclear and not always friendly. However, over the five days, I experienced readings, talks and conversations. I met writers and readers, agents and editors. I had a fantastic time and loved it.

Here’s what happened.

Day Zero: Wednesday night.

Long story short, everything went wrong today. But I arrived at Brighton station at 6pm with fellow writer Sorcha. We trundled down to the hotel against Brighton’s strong sea-breezes and turned up only slightly dishevelled. I asked for directions from the lobby and then we’d made it! We got our badges and then got to choose some swag! Considering I was expecting “here’s a bag of random books”, I was pleasantly surprised to be have some choice in the books I took away. There were a couple of piles I wanted two from, and would happily have forgone whole other sections… but at least taking books I would never have seen elsewise might expand my reading. I might even discover something wonderful I would have missed. DSCN9396 Then we hobbled back up the hill to the station, and I stopped off for food. Got some odd looks with my two swag bags, backpack and then shopping bag on top… but never mind.  Then we came back to my flat (up two more hills… damn you sussex) and sat down to open our book bags, plan tomorrow’s schedule and eat toast.

Day One: Thursday 

I spent the morning writing yesterday’s entry and printing out a SFF Chronicles logo to add to my convention badge so that forum people can find each other! It came out pink at first, so I did a greyscale version instead; which looks slightly purple! But never mind. It does the job. DSCN9419 Today we were sort of allowed to dress up. As I don’t really like dressing up but do like to mark the holidays with something small, I wore a bat dress and my trench coat. Sorcha went as “a hufflepuff”, of course! DSCN9424 We arrived about 1:30pm, heading for the newbie area. Sorcha bought us both a sprite and we met a few other people new to WFC. I then discovered there’s no signal or wifi/3G coverage, so my tweet to Chronicles people was only saved as a draft. At 2.30, one of the girls we’d met, Dawn and I headed to the Dealer’s room, where I got to pick up a sword and spied a Garth Nix Old Kingdom book I didn’t already have. We chatted to a few stall holders, and then headed into a panel about Writing Historical Fantasy, where we caught up with Sorcha (post on panels to follow). After that panel, Dawn and I went to the Dealer’s room again, where I bought Across the Wall by Garth Nix. At 4:30, I headed up to the reading room to hear Garth Nix read.


            This was amazing. I’ve never been to a reading before, and found myself really struggling to stay still, although I enjoyed the story. I don’t know what I was expecting, but for him to read from a prequel to the series that first got me into fantasy was NOT on my list! It was lovely to be drawn back into the world of Charter Magic and I loved being able to see how he reads his own work. It helped that I also got an autograph, photograph AND a little charm of the Kibeth bell from Abhorsen’s tools. DSCN9428 Then I rushed down to my Kaffeeklatsch at 5pm.        

I was already on a high from meeting Garth Nix when I entered the room with Tor UK. Bella Pagan and Julie Crisp were funny, friendly and realistic in their comments, and there was a real focus on “If I LOVE your book, then little else matters – we’ll find a way,” which is promising!

And we were given a whiskey glass to make up for having to pay. Which, as a whiskey drinker, is perfect.


Just before we left I texted Jo Hall, and look who we found outside the bar!!!

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Me, Jo, Sammy (from Kristell Ink) and Sorcha

Day Two: Friday

Today was a blast.

As it was November 1st, I wore my NaNoWriMo pen and books top.  We arrived about 9.30, ready for “Judging a Book by its Cover.”

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Sorcha and I then headed to the signing alley, where I chatted to C R Matheson about my name (although in hindsight I missed an opportunity to attempt my pitch) and Peter Crowther about publishing. Joanne Harris signed my copy of Runemarks and then I headed over to the panel of Writing Style. At the end of that panel I met Rachel from the SFF forum, and we went down to the Dealer’s Room where we met another forum member, Ian. We then spent 30 minutes looking for the viscount café place for lunch.

In “The End Is Now” panel people discussed the difference between a satisfying ending and a happy ending. I have my own opinion on this, and think I might change some of the language I’ve used in the post due to the panel conversation.

At 3pm, we darted forward from where we’d sat in the previous panel, and I got my camera out. I would have felt embarrassed, but the chance wasn’t one I could justify giving up.

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Sir Terry Pratchett and Rob Wilkins were amazing. Rob’s northern accent as he read a snippet from Raising Steam was fabulous – and his preface of “and my favourite northern word… Pro-To-Type.  It was just amazing.

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By the time the Broads with Swords panel began, I was tired and a bit grumpy. I couldn’t hear all of it and I was just in the wrong place when I sat down.

Sorcha and I went for dinner in the hotel café and then we met Joanne Hall and Sammy Smith from Kristall Ink again. We were introduced to Adam and Stewart on their table.

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Then someone spotted Nancy Holder – bestselling author of Angel and Buffy (and other…) books. She stopped eating her dinner, stood up and we ended up having a 25-minute conversation in the middle of the café. It was amazing and she gave me her autograph.

We then attended two author parties – one either side of the main signing event – Harper Voyager, the Mass Signing and then the Bragelonne and Gollancz party.

The Mass Signing was great. I met Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Christopher Golden, Anne Lyle, Joe Hill, Ellen Kushner, William F. Nolan, Michael Marshall Smith, Gareth L. Powell, and Tim Powers (who called me ” a supremely intelligent person” because my books don’t have a “theme” either).

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We were given a goody bag with two books in the Bragelonne and Gollancz party, which was awesome. We flittered between that party and Tor UK’s 10th Anniversary party.

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Then on the way home we met a literary agent, who gave us his card. So all in all, a great day!

Day Three: Saturday

Today I attended two panels.

The first one, on world-building, was AMAZING. Easily the best panel I had attended up to that point. I’d also probably say it’s “joint-first” in terms of my favourite panel of the weekend. Patrick Roffuss made so many good points and examples that I went to the dealer’s room later and bought his book. Purely based on that panel and the conversation we had at the mass signing about all writers beginning as readers.

Then we had the Agents panel, where we decided that “yes, agents probably are still useful”. I recognised someone as the agent of an author I love, and I actually approached him later and was given his card.

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After the panels, I headed to the dealer room to grab PR’s book and then headed off to a corner to sit and novel-write for a bit.

I finally caved in and returned about an hour later to buy Eon (by Alison Goodman) – after three days of speaking to the book seller about wanting to limit the books I bought but really wanting it.

I then went to the café with Sorcha, we met an American author, and met a ghost-writer for a really well known celebrity!

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Spoke to that agent of a famous-author and then headed to the bar, where I chatted to a man called Justin about plot holes and editing.

We then headed to the Titan Books party, where they had crossbow and quoits in order to win free books. I won three books – two at crossbow and one at quoits; and then we got them signed! So I can add to my list of awesome people I met: James Lovegrove, Freda Warrington, Tim Lebbon and Danie Ware.

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As we waited for our dinner party to assemble at the stairs, the Australian bookseller I’d bought Eon off of pointed at me and then ran off. He returned steering the poor Alison Goodman so that I could ask for her to sign it and have a photograph. We discussed animal communication in books and I gave her a vague pitch of my novel, which she said sounded great.

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We went to Pizza Express (14 of us!) and then I spent five minutes wandering round a pub looking for the SFF forum people, before giving up and heading back for the Jo Fletcher party instead.

We switched between that one and Del Rey UK’s party.

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Snorri from Twitter recognised me and introduced himself, and we then spent the rest of the night chatting and taking silly photos.

Day Four: Sunday

Last Day; sad faic.

We slept in, as we didn’t want to attend anything until 11am, and then realised the Sunday Service of trains is much more limiting… so rushed out the door and headed in 45 minutes earlier than planned.

We’d planned to attend our two panels from 11-1, maybe sit in the bar for an hour and then head home.

But no.

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I attended a panel about pen names and then one about “that difficult second book”, which Snorri was a panel member on. Then we went to the bar where I met four other forum people, and my friend who lives in Hove came to the Hilton to say hi.

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Sorcha and I sat writing and chatting until 5pm and then we went into the “Dead Dog” post-awards party. Met the winner of “Best Newcomer” and said congratulation to the Artist we’d met the day before, who had won an award.

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When we got hungry, we headed out to a Thai restaurant, where a lovely writer paid, and then we battled our way through wind and torrential rain to the station.

Overall, I had a brilliant time. I acquired 31 books, made many friends, gave and received business cards, had meals with attendees and met some wonderful people. 

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