Now is not the time to start writing a new blogpost (well, maybe it is, but not with the intent to hit ‘publish’. But blame everyone this weekend who told me to trust my instincts.
Let us begin with the choice of t-shirt. Wardrobe is an important component of any event and I picked out a simple white one with the simple missive ‘never surrender dreams’ scrawled on it, signed by the creator of that Babylon 5 programme. Well, something got signed, photocopied, and printed onto the shirt. It doesn’t matter. It was clearly outclassed by Graham McNeill’s Monster in the Dark t-shirt. I tried to compensate by buying him a beer. It made us equal in the eyes of the world.
Where does one go to buy beer for a Gemmell Award-winning author? To Alt.Fiction! Descend upon Derby at a pre-arranged annual time and perhaps he will be there. It’s not as reliable as a bat-signal, this process, but it can be done.
What was Alt.Fiction? A gathering of genre literature appreciators: those who enjoy reading and those who additionally enjoy writing. Discussion panels, readings, podcast recordings, workshops, beer.
Primarily I attended workshops, which was worth it just to hear the bemused woman at the ticket office repeat after me, ‘so, that’s one for shooty death,’ and I scrawled lots of stuff on paper. I attended two podcasts, and fully anticipate listening to the others when they air on the internet. I attended a few panels, and I met a lot of people, and I had one or two beers.
It occurs to me at this stage that no accounting of my activities while drunk have yet made it to this incarnation of my blog. Anyone hoping for such an account will have to wait: I remained sober. I wanted to understand what people were saying and learn from it, so I abstained from significant alcohol. Other people didn’t. They amused me. The raffle in which I won nothing was full of energy as the hosts made good fun of the authors who were not present as the books they’d written and donated were being won. Some of their entendres were even double.
Names! Names must be mentioned. Alex Davis, wonderful chap, formerly my editor, ran himself ragged all weekend keeping things going. The people in red t-shirts manning the doors and fetching water and such, all awesome people, all clearly fans of the event themselves, especially the one who let Dan Abnett’s 45-minute workshop (‘Shooty Death Kill in Space 101’) overrun by 25 minutes. Guy Adams and Sarah Pinsborough who hosted the auction.
I will mention other names, such as those who ran the no fewer than eight workshops I attended, in a subsequent blogpost this week, because they were an immense amount of fun (and Pyro asked me to). But on the whole, it was inspiring. I was among people who know their craft and their lifestyle and what they expect from themselves and I felt, for most of it, like I could keep up with it.
Never surrender dreams.
(But, do promise to rejoin them later if your alarm clock temporarily separates you.)