6th September 2015

Nine Worlds – Part Three

Nine Worlds – Part Three

Another bright and sunny day dawned and after a quick breakfast I was back off to the Radisson Edwardian for my first stop of the day which was a YA panel on “Fantastic Worlds – and where to find them”. It was another packed room; in fact so packed some people were asked to leave due to health and safety restrictions. The speakers were Marieke Nijkampe, Amy Alward, Taran Matharu, Joe Abercombe and Den Patrick who was dragged kicking and screaming (maybe a slight exaggeration) by aforesaid Mr. A onto the panel to fill in for a missing speaker. It was another good one. Very funny at times and informative.

I wasn’t quite sure which panel or talk I wanted to go to next, but like Friday, when I sat in on the talk on Demonology, I decided to go for something a bit different so went to the room where an event entitled “The Knowledge” was taking place. The speaker was Dr. Lewis Dartnell an astrobiologist from the University of Leicester and the subject was listed under Apocalypse. As I have written a book set in a world after an “event” (not published – yet!) I thought I’d give it a try and hoped it wouldn’t be too crusty and overly scientific. As it turned out it was anything but. Dr. Dartnell was funny and so knowledgeable and enthusiastic he was a joy to listen to. His subject was basically on how to survive in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event, avert going back into the Dark Ages and kick-start civilisation into getting back to normal as soon as possible, or as near normal in the circumstances. This was yet another packed room and quite a few people had to leave as health and safety struck again. At the end of the talk there was a massive queue to buy his book on the subject, which makes me think that us Nine World geeks are a pretty pessimistic bunch – either that or it was the “if I’m prepared for it – it will never happen” syndrome. I have certainly bought a copy!


When this session finished I was going to go off to another panel before returning to my hotel to get ready for going out for dinner with Team Jo Fletcher Books, but the lady I was sitting next to, Tina, convinced me that the panel at 3.15 entitled “Ragnarok! – The Nine Worlds Apocalypse Survival Committee ” was not to be missed. Lewis Dartnell was also contributing to this session. I thought it would be worth a look, so went back to the hotel early for a wash and brush up then hurried back for the panel. I’m glad I did as it was hilarious.

The premise was that almost everyone outside the hotel was now a zombie and we had to protect ourselves and somehow survive until the zombies where all gone. The panellists – or should I say “survival committee” along with Lewis Dartnell were Chris Farnell, Lydia Nicholas, Matt Wieteska, Caitlin Blanchard and Laurie Penny and when it became obvious we’d all be dead if it was left up to them a member of the audience joined them and, it had to be said, if the end of the world was nigh I’d want her on my team.

It was very much an audience participation event and I must admit I did find it quite scary how so many of the attendees thought it was OK to start resorting to cannibalism and eating our fellow survivors – gulp! Also the chap sitting next to me had an obsession with flame throwers and burning the hell out of all any other survivors we should come across, which I found a bit disconcerting to say the least!

Thankfully I survived the apocalypse and the zombie attack and when it wound up I had half an hour to kill before meeting up with the others in the lobby to go for dinner. Now I know 5pm does seem a bit early, but we had to be back for the Gemmell Awards at 8pm as Sebastien’s novel “Traitor’s Blade” was up the Morningstar Award for Best Debut Novel and we all wanted to be there in his support. He had some tough competition; “The Mirror Empire” by Kameron Hurley, “The Godless” by Ben Peek, “The Emperor’s Blades” by Brian Staveley and “Age of Iron” by Angus Watson. Sadly Sebastien didn’t win and the award went to Brian Staveley, but being nominated is an achievement in itself. So well done Sebastien. Sebastien however, nice bloke that he is, was more concerned about the nominees in other categories who hadn’t won awards than himself.

We left Sebastien commiserating with other finalists to console ourselves with a drink. Unfortunately I’d had to be careful earlier during the meal not to have more than a couple of small ones and at this point thought I’d better stick to water as I had my reading and panel coming up at 10.15. Of course by this time I was a bag of nerves, but my fellow writers and my lovely editor Nicola were very supportive. Snorri had given me a pep talk over dinner before he had to rush off to be on a panel and Tom Fletcher and Naomi Foyle also gave me some very good advice from their own experiences. When we reached the room Stephanie Saulter gave me a hug and imparted a few well chosen words of wisdom and then I was on.

My fellow panellists were Steven Aryan and Pete Newman and the adjudicator was Anna Caltabiano who was also very supportive when she realised how nervous I was. When I sat down at the table I looked up to see my new pal Edward in the front row, he gave me the thumbs up bless him and when I looked out at all the friendly faces my nerves did at last begin to calm down a bit.

My reading from the first chapter of my novel “Marked” actually went very well. I didn’t slur my words or stutter nor did I get the nervous tic below my left eye which had happened to me on another occasion when I’d had to give a talk to a room full of people. So disaster was avoided and once the reading bit was over I began to enjoy myself. Then all too soon it was over and I wondered why I’d been so worried.


Now Nine Worlds for me was at an end as I was getting a fairly early train home the next morning so I could spend some time with my long suffering husband, who really hasn’t the faintest idea what I do other than I write every morning and go to strange conferences several times a year.

So what did I think of my Nine Worlds experience? To be honest I enjoyed every moment (except maybe for my three minute reading- and what is three minutes out of over 48 hours?

And now for the big question – will I attend next year? Too right! I’ve already bought my ticket.

So my Nine World Geekfest friends – see you in about eleven months time!

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