21st November 2015

FantasyCon 2015 Part 2

The Opening Ceremony was at 3pm and Juliette McKenna, the Mistress of Ceremonies introduced us to the Guests of Honour, which were my lovely Publisher Jo Fletcher and the authors John Connolly and Brandon Sanderson. They talked briefly about FantasyCon and what we could expect this year and then there was a break before the first panels at 4pm and that was when I was up.

My panel was is the conference theatre, so a little bit intimidating but hey ho in for a penny. . .
Our moderator was Penny Reeve from Angry Robot and my fellow panellists were Edward Cox, Jan Edwards, Peter McLean and Al Robertson. I had already met Peter at breakfast, a lovely chap whose first book “Drake” is due out in January. Just as an aside his novel was picked up from Angry Robot’s Open Door (open submissions) period so for all you authors out there who are looking for a deal it is worth a pop.

The subject we were discussing was “The World As We Know It; Modern-Day Fantastic. Basically meaning is it more compelling for readers to read about places they know and relate to with a bit of the fantastic thrown in and was it easier for authors to write?

It was quite a good discussion, but basically I think the sum of it was that yes some readers do like a background they can relate to, but then there are others who would prefer the epic fantasy in brand new worlds completely different from their own.

After we finished I was going to move on to watch another panel, but I was waylaid by Nicola, Jo, Ian, the lovely Stephen Jones and the equally delightful Amanda Frobisher. We had a good old chat and then it was time for me to go and meet up with my old pal Simon from previous conferences and my friend Toni.

Saturday was a full on day of panels. 10am Blades, Wands & Lasers: Fighting the Good Fight-Scene, which was very interesting. James Barclay moderated and Juliet McKenna, Clifford Beal, Kevin Andrew Murphy & Jo Thomas were the panellists. If you are interested in writing fight scenes and ever get the chance to hear any of the panellists talk on the subject it is well worth it. They came up with things that I’d never have thought of and it made me realise that Hollywood doesn’t always, and perhaps hardly ever, gets it right!

At 11am it was Hack ‘n’ Slash: Editing Dreams and Nightmares for me as my editor Nicola was on the panel along with Jenny Barber, Peter Crowther, John Houlihan and Simon Marshall-Jones with moderator James Barclay. Another interesting panel for would be authors, if not a bit scary. I think the biggest bit of advice from all of the panel was if you are submitting make sure you follow the guidelines to the letter and also be prepared for a very long wait.

Next was the Midday Guest of Honour Interview which was Jo Fletcher in conversation with Stephen Jones. It was very interesting to get to hear about how Jo started off in journalism and through a certain amount of luck, good judgement and sheer determination became the name behind the Quercus imprint Jo Fletcher Books.

It was now time for a break for lunch and I had a bit of a rest back at the room before heading off for the 2pm Panel Turn Up The Volumes: Marketing and Selling Books. This was another very interesting panel where the a panel of writers, booksellers, publicists and publishers shared their experiences about what sells a book at what doesn’t and how they don’t always get it right.

Next I attended a panel about the interaction between agents and writers and how you would know whether an agent was the right one for you. I was interested to hear what the agents had to say as I’m not represented by an agent and am really not at all sure whether I need one at this stage. It was a very interesting panel but by the end of it I was still not at all sure whether I needed an representation or not. I guess if they earn you money you wouldn’t have had without them they’re worth every penny.

The next panel was YA: Why, eh? I was quite interested in what they had to say about how an author treads the thin line between adult and YA fiction. I have written YA (unpublished) before and Marked is actually going out as YA crossover in the USA so it was quite relevant to me. The panellists all had different thoughts on the matter which was quite interesting and I do think that a lot depended on whether you were writing for the UK or the US and also in what genre. I know that some of the YA literature coming out over here at the moment is quite dark and to my mind perhaps a little bit depressing.

My last panel of the day, and indeed the conference, was back in the Conference Theatre and was on Genre Publishing in the 21st Century.

Marc Gasgoine from Angry Robot was the moderator and the panel consisted of Jo Fletcher, Natalie Laverick, Anne Perry, Gillian Redfearn (from Gollancz) and the lovely Meg Davis an agent who I’d had some informal dealings with way back before I got my book deal.

I think by this time I must have been all panelled out as although I remember it was really interesting I can’t really recall a thing that was said!

My last event of the day was to go and hear Peter McLean give a reading from his forthcoming novel “Drake”. I was rather interested as he has also written about demons and angels, though quite a bit different to the ones in my novel! I really enjoyed the reading and I am now desperate to get my grubby little mitts on a copy of his book come January.

At this point I went off for a few minutes rest and then to get ready for a quick get together with Toni and Simon before going off with Team JFB for a meal. The restaurant was lovely and we all had a nice and relaxed evening and I also got to meet another JFB author Alison Littlewood and her husband. I also met Olivia the new member of the Jo Fletcher team who has taken over from Andy as publicist. Of course all the usual team were there including the lovely Naomi Foyle. We’ve met on several occasions now and it’s like seeing an old friend which is nice.

The next morning Toni and I decided to make the most of a cooked breakfast before heading off which gave us the chance to have a long chat with Olivia who we bumped into in the dining room. This was something I was very grateful for as it gave us a chance to get to know each other a little better and it’s always nice to know something about the person you’re e-mailing or talking to on the phone.

Then it was a swift fare thee well to Nicola before Toni and I were off back home down the M1 and it was the end of FantasyCon for another year.

So for anyone who loves fantasy and has never been – give FantasyCon 2016 a try. It’s in Scarborough next year and I for one have already bought my membership! See you there.


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