Monthly Archives: October 2012

Bristolcon 2012

I look forward to travelling to cons, it’s the writing time on the train and the solitude I think. The journey to Bristol was gorgeous, the morning mists melting over the hills and puddling round the trees. I managed to get a bit of writing done and listened to A Feast For Crows between trains, it seemed to be over very quickly.

The Ramada Bristol is thankfully no great distance from the station and I was warmly met by Paul Wiseall and Dolly Garland with a bag of goodness – lots of comic and novel samplers and rather cool graphic anthology, Murky Depths.

I attended three panels, which I’d already planned beforehand so I could just hang out and chill in between. These were: Working Together, about collaborative writing; Netiquette, or how not to be a twit online and Women in Sensible Armour – a discussion on the portrayal of women warriors in SF, rather than fantasy art and novels.

Working Together seemed to focus more on the working relationship between artists and writers in the comics industry. It was interesting to see all the different methods of working that exist (answer: there are as many as there are partnerships). None of it seemed to really hit on the crux of equal partnership in a creative endeavour, this is a lot harder than simply working to a brief specified by another person – in a shared world anthology for example. It gave me a lot of ideas for things I would like to try out in the future, but nothing new to add to my current way of working. This is fine, and I will continue with my method as it seems that is the best thing to do.

Netiquette was very interesting. I’ve touched on it before here on this blog, but it’s about how to get people interested in you as a writer, without being an annoying salesperson tirelessly flogging your wares. Marc Gascoigne‘s comment that Angry Robot will only consider authors with a blog, twitter and Facebook page was very telling of how important social media is to a writer these days. The other Marc, Aplin, who was chair, said that he is more inclined to want to read books by people he has met on twitter and chatted to. Writers tread a fine line – you have to show everyone a genuine person, but remain professional and not fall into troll feeding, responding to negative reviews of your work, sockpuppetry and all the usual pitfalls that get discussed. It’s something I’ve wondered about:  until established, what can a writer blog about? They can’t advise on writing, as they’ve nothing to show for it; they can’t discuss their WIPs, in case things change or they let out spoilers; there are too many blogs on the process of writing as it is, and it’s dull reading . . . so what is there? Be yourself, show your human side – what else do you do apart from writing? Be engaging, let people get to know you, you’re more interesting than you think.

Women in Sensible Armour, was the obligatory diversity panel in disguise, although it tended not to meander as much as previous ones, thanks to the specific focus. This resonated a lot with me, having a lot of real life discussions on armour and women in general in the HEMA scene over at Esfinges. As for the imaginary portrayals of women fighters in literature and art, I think it’s safe to say that we have moved on from the chainmail bikini. Women in armour look pretty much like men in armour when they’re doing it right, and films like Lord of the Rings have done a lot to reaffirm this.

In between panels, and for much of the afternoon and evening I got to chat, eat and drink with some very cool people. Some I’ve met in real life and it was good to hook up again, such as: the effervescent Anne-Mhairi Simpson; the awesome chief organiser of Bristolcon itself, as well as author, Joanne Hall; Gareth L Powell (very briefly); Anne Lyle, who revealed that Pim and I will get acknowledgements in the final novel of her trilogy. I am honoured. Emma Newman looked stunning in a bespoke scarlet frock-coat; Kim Laikin-Smith  was there with her family (again we very briefly spoke – there’s just not enough time at these things!); Marc Aplin of Fantasy Faction, who just like last year I bumped into at the coffee area, .

New people, along with Paul and Dolly (both of whom I wish I’d spoken to for longer) were the very funny Guy Haley, who got a lot of laughs on the Netiquette panel; the equally funny and informative David Moore; Jonathan L. Howard, who was very charming and friendly; Jen Williams – who I have wanted to meet for ages and was great fun to share booze with in the back of the room like naughty schoogirls; the gorgeous Michela D’Orlando, who I had actually previously met at the Gemmells, when we were both lost and looking for the ladies loo. She sought me out through the swordy thing, and I was happy to give her advice on finding classes, as well as chat about writing. Michela introduced me to Piotr Swietlik who was great fun to chat to and you can see a sample of his work here. I hope to meet up with both again at a con some time. Danie Ware I have seen several times at cons but never actually chatted to, was awesome and very much the voice of reason on the Sensible Armour panel.

Before I knew it the hours fizzled away and it was time to get back on the train. I will definitely return next year. It is a very fun, relaxed and friendly event, growing bigger every time.

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THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP

This comes to me courtesy of the delightful Ren Warom, you should check her out. She’s in the middle of editing her first novel in a trilogy, Coil, and her industry has infected me (and rightly so) or rather, she has nominated me in this blog hop doodah thingy. Normally this stuff make me cringe but it was good fun reading her post as it gets straight to all the juicy questions about a book.

What is the working title of your book?

Where Dead Gods Lie Buried – this is either the first book and/or the series title

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

I was grasped by one of those ludicrous ideas to write a short story a week for a year and just keep working the hamster wheel, churning out a stock of stories. What actually happened was I began free-writing  the first one, showed it to my friend David and we started chucking ideas back and forth. It grew.

The original opening scene was just about a dark, grim city, not the kind of place you’d want to visit on your holidays, that twists and bends under its own corruption. The protagonist walks into this place she calls home and soon finds everything she knows is turning against her.

What genre does your book fall under?

Definitely secondary world fantasy, possibly epic, most likely of the noir variety.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

Gary Oldman, James Earl Jones, Naomie Harris, Miriam Margolyes

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Amid a religious war, a thief on the run joins forces with a monk and an assassin to stop the end of the civilised world.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

Hopefully the latter.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

One year. We chucked away more than 100k, but it was fun.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie, The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. And without the genre I would say books by mystery writers like Dashiell Hammett have similar tones, such as The Dain Curse. There’s a problem to solve, and the person solving it is just as problematic.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? 

If I’m honest it was just that feeling you get when you are in the middle of reading a really great story. Yes I am probably pumping my ego by even mentioning those names above, but that sensation made me want to put pen to paper and generate something from within me that would give people a story they can get their teeth into.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

We’re two people writing one novel so that’s an interesting dynamic to work with as a writer and possibly to observe as a reader as well. Our characters are not straight-cut good and bad people; the protagonist is female, non-white and gay; we chose to set it in a world where  there are no horses . . . so that’s been a lot of fun and fascinating too. If you like violence, grim humour and moral ambiguity this might be what you are looking for.

(this question invented by me in case anyone is wondering) What stage is your book at now?

We are currently reaching the end of the rewrite and then the final edits will begin. The aim is to have the polished manuscript fresh and ready to submit in early spring.

And now I have to nominate five people to pass this on to. Thus I present my fab five (who wear me out just observing their productivity):

The fearless Jen Williams – awesome writer of the Copper Promise fantasy novella series, check it.

The tireless Joanne Hall – author of The Feline Queen and other short stories, The Hierath  trilogy of fantasy novels, as well as bustling organiser of cool things such as the amazing Bristolcon coming this weekend. Get a ticket, go!

The irrepressible Anne-Mhairi Simpson – serial YA fantasy author, and now an editor of anthologies too.

The tenacious Nicole L Bates – from across the pond, author of the Empyrean SF trilogy.

The industrious Colin F Barnes – overlord at Anachron Press, crafter of many a fine horror and SF tale, including the latest shiny addition to his arsenal, a cyberpunk novellette series called The Techxorcist. See his post here.