Horror Reading. Photo by Adrian Autton
I have had just enough time to start feeling human again after the weekend’s Fantasycon in Peterborough. It was my first one ever and expectations were high after being told such great things about it. But I have to admit, I was more nervous than I’ve been in a long time. It was my first time doing a full con by myself and staying the night, as previously I’ve crept off home. I had to psyche myself up and clean the whole house before I was willing to drive down. And had the hotel provided me with biscuits, I may never have left once I arrived!
I hate the first few hours at a con. I don’t know many people in the industry although I started to recognise a few familiar faces from Twitter and Eastercon. I tend to wander around, trying to look purposeful rather than desperately searching for someone I vaguely know. Luckily G. V Anderson struck up a conversation after recognising me from Twitter and I had someone to loiter with for the rest of the day. The highlight for me was the Dungeons and Disorderly panel which was a improv RPG moderated by David Thomas Moore and filled with gleeful audience participation and a bizarrely accurate D20. Some lovely late night chats with Shona Kinsella and Neil williamson were also invigorating, at the very least for letting me hear some familiar accents.
On Saturday I went to a few panels and Jeanette Ng’s book launch but I also had to hide in my room for a few hours, both because I had exhausted myself with not being able to sleep, but also because the sea of faces was overwhelming. There’s a bit of a fear of not recognising someone or saying the wrong thing to the wrong person (I’ve been burned before). And I know, everyone keeps telling me how friendly everyone is (and it’s true!) but it always feels weird to insert yourself into a conversation without an introduction. I don’t know if it’s my Britishness or my age or the usual imposter syndrome.
G. V. Anderson, Erica L. Satifka and I.
I had dinner with Erica L. Satifka and her husband Rob McMonigal then dashed back to my first and only panel on Mythology, Folk tales & the Imagination moderated by the very organised Iain Grant. I was very excited for this after an online conversation with the other panelists which revealed a great range of knowledge. And if I looked foul-tempered for the first half, it was because I was concentrating on not shaking under the table. Luckily, I had made some notes. I was unsure which of the weird and wonderful Asian folklore stories to talk about: 9 tailed fox, yuki onna, tsukumogami, dragons, Chinese afterlife. Kodama got in there, kirin, oni and nopperabo sadly not, but my proudest moment, was informing people about tanuki. Reader, I went there. I went for big hairy testicles.
Mythology, Folklore and the Imagination Panel. Photo by Iain Grant
On Sunday I had my reading slot alongside Ramsey Campbell, Eric Ian Steele and Stephen Laws. I read an abridged version of “Datsue-ba” which went down pretty well. Reading aloud is one of the few things I can do well, thanks to the years of being narrator in school plays. You can hide behind the sheets of paper, but also, it’s rehearsed, I know where it’s going and no-one can ask me a tricky question (well at least until the end).
Then I got to go to the Fantasycon Banquet thanks to Margret Helgadottir who give me her ticket. In my panic of not knowing anyone, I was very kindly introduced to some Redcloaks and got to sit with Chloe and Paul Yates, Marguerite Kenner and Alasdair Stuart.
Sadly Asian Monsters did not win the best anthology even though I was wearing my best Asian themed dress, but it was nice to not only have known of, but also have conversed with some of this years winners such as Erica, Georgina Bruce and others.
Fantasycon was great. Once the nerves went (which was Saturday night/ Sunday morning to be honest) I really enjoyed talking about all things geeky with no shame, no need to explain myself. I feel like there’s a whole support network out there I didn’t know existed and I’ve come to it late and parched. I’ll be going to Chester next year and I may have been convinced to try another Worldcon for Dublin in 2019.