It’s been one hell of a hectic week, so only now am I jotting down my thoughts on Nine Worlds, held 7-9th August at the Radisson Blu in Heathrow.
The first thing I’ll say is that morning of the Friday I looked out of the window at glorious sunshine and thought “Crap, the first good weekend for weeks, and I’ll be in a hotel!” After which, I was stuck in a car for nigh on five hours. Such troubles we must bear in this world of ours.
Aside from that (and I got to sit in the sun plenty anyway, so it’s all good), Nine Worlds was great fun. I managed to hit exactly none of their very comprehensive and fascinating array of panels, apart from the one I was taking part in. I did try to go to Lewis Dartnell’s talk on his book The Knowledge (great book, highly recommended) but I was confronted by a “Room Full” sign. I did however make the Gemmell awards, formally attired in camo shorts (boy did I feel underdressed), and had fascinating chat with the men of Raven Armoury, who make the replic of Snaga the axe that serves as a Gemmell trophy – the world’s heaviest, not to say deadliest, genre award!
I plan to go to a few conventions this year. Over the last few I’ve done several Black Library and Games Workshop events, but nothing else. I’ve wanted to, believe me. I still maintain that conventions are the best way for a writer to get a bit of recognition. Sure, not many people are likely to buy your books off meeting you (perhaps it may even dissuade them), but appearing at cons helps establish you in the minds of potential readers as a genuine author. There’s less chance of the immediate, widespread publicity of the social media jackpot, but as I noted a few weeks ago, that’s a hard jackpot to hit, and the relationship you can build with your potential audience is deeper.
The secondary reason for attending cons is to renew contacts and make new ones. There is no better place to meet publishers, agents, and authors, whether you’re in the industry or not. Handy for me – three of my four publishers were there, so I had to buy very few of my own drinks. Lastly, I went to hang out with my buddies and make some new ones. After many chats, I’ll say check out gamebook guru Jonathan Green’s latest Kickstarter – a dark version of Alice in Wonderland, and have a look at Nunslinger, a western written by Stark Holborn. Both piqued my interest.
My experience of conventions is restricted to my days on SFX, when I attended many. But I’d only been to a couple of Games Days before then, and I’ve never really attended SF cons purely as a punter. This one seemed better organised, more inclusive, and further ranging than most; more about the intellectual meat of SF and fantasy than about standing in line for four hours to pay an actor £20 for an autograph. There’s none of that there. It’s a more workshop-y, discursive style of event than an excuse for fan worship.
So, all in all, an awesome time was had. While Benny and Emma headed off to town to look at dinosaurs, I got pissed up and had a blast. Thank you very much for having me, Nine Worlds, I’d love to come again. And next time, I’ll be carefully reviewing your multiple strands and planning in advance what I’m going to see.
Next stop, Fantasycon!