It has to be said that, without a shadow of a doubt, this year’s FantasyCon was THE best one we’ve attended. Certainly, from Spectral’s perspective, this was undoubtedly an unqualified success – but more on that later.
The Spectral staffers (all two of us) journeyed to the seaside resort of Brighton on the south coast of the UK on the Thursday, mainly because we wanted to be feeling refreshed when the con proper started the next day. Nevertheless, on that same evening we stopped by the venue and met up with some old friends, and eventually we, along with Mark Morris, Sarah Pinborough, Rio Youers, Tim Lebbon, Gary & Emily McMahon, and Gardner Goldsmith, stomped off for an Italian meal in a nearby restaurant. Superb start to the weekend.
Friday started pretty blurrily until we had coffee, then everything swam into focus nicely. We spent the day meeting some more old friends, as well as making a lot of new ones. Spectral didn’t have much to do that day, except a book launch later on in the evening – most of the afternoon was spent worrying whether the hardbacks of John L. Probert’s The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine would turn up. Talk about cutting it fine! However, they did turn up , as did the paperback editions – sighs of relief all round.
The launch itself was an absolute blinder – John Probert’s bombastic introduction completely stole the show and, more to the point, the launch room was packed with eager punters – some to collect their hardback copies and others wanting to get their sweaty hands on the paperbacks. We were all kept busy, Simon taking the money (and then handing it on to his wife Lizzie for safekeeping) and John busily scribbling his signature on to the insides of books AND on the poster that came with it. By the time all was over, both Spectral staffers were somewhat shellshocked at how well the event had gone, and John was over the moon at the book’s reception.
Inevitably, then, Saturday was a late start for us, due to sheer exhaustion from the night before. However, a full English breakfast sorted that out. Saturday morning turned out to be a lot quieter than the previous two days, and that afternoon, Mike Powell (our generous host, who let us stay at his flat for the weekend), took us on a Belgian beer tour of Brighton, which left at least one of us feeling a tad worse for wear. The Belgians really do know how the craft their ales.
Luckily, however, when it came time for the Spectral at the Movies reading event later that evening, the effects of the beer had worn off and mellowness had taken its place. The reading was also a great success, with Stephen Volk reading a passage from his Spectral Visions novella Whitstable (due in May next year), which is certainly one of the most heartfelt tributes to its main protagonist, Peter Cushing, that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Many of the attendees echoed that sentiment. Stephen’s quiet reading was followed by the larger than life John Llewellyn Probert, who read a part of chapter two of The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine. We all judged the reading a very great success.
The Spectral staffers decided to skip the now-traditional Saturday night FCon disco because, in all honesty, our bones couldn’t have managed it. Instead, we crawled home, tired but happy, and as soon as we fell into bed we were unconscious.
Sunday was an early start, as one of us was moderating the only panel of the day, at 10am, ‘Marketing for Newcomers’. The stage was shared with Peter Mark May, Charles Christian and Trevor Denyer (Chris Teague of Pendragon Press was also meant to be participating, but he was attending the British Fantasy Society AGM at the time). A great discussion ensued, marred only by the fact that there was no PA and a loud air-conditioning system, necessitating some shouting just to be heard. The hour went swiftly by, however, and all the panellists seemed to have made a good impression on the early-bird audience.
And so to the high-point of the weekend: the British Fantasy Society Awards. As you know, Spectral was nominated in two categories – King Death by Paul Finch in the Short Fiction category and the imprint itself in the PS Publishing Independent Press Award. Sadly, Spectral didn’t win in either, however just being nominated in the Awards was sufficient. One annoying little disappointment spoiled the event: King Death was inexplicably left out of the nomination announcements for the Short Fiction category. Other than that, everything went very smoothly.
Congratulations are due to ALL the winners this year, meaning that the genre is definitely in safe hands. ONE award winner we MUST mention in particular: our good friend Adam Nevill winning the award for best horror novel, with The Ritual. Certainly it was well deserved!
To conclude, a mightily successful event. There’s no FantasyCon next year – however, there IS World Fantasy Con instead, for which we’ve already bought our tickets. THAT is guaranteed to be TRULY spectacular!
Onwards and upwards!