Late Chat about BristolCon 2016

Hello all and sorry that I’m so late in writing of my experience at BristolCon 2016. To those who have never been, go. It’s a wonderfully welcoming and all embracing event, with the best people you could ever ask for running it and attending.

Check this out for next years BristolCon event

At BristolCon 2016 I had the best weekend ever. Technically, it is only a one day event, but there was a fringe function on the Friday night and some breakfast banter on Sunday morning, both in which I was an enthusiastic participant.

BristolCon was my first ever convention, being a newbie on the scene. My first book was published earlier this year and the lovely peeps at BristolCon launched my book in September and, liking what they saw and heard of my reading and interview (or being tone deaf) invited me to the Convention to both do a reading and be a panellist.

Awash with authors, artists, and readers, the convention was exciting and rather awesome. A particular highlight was meeting so many authors of books I’d read or wanted to read, including Mark Lawrence, G R Matthews, J P Ashman, and T O Munro. A more friendly, enthusiastic and generous bunch of folks you couldn’t hope to meet.

There were a variety of panels, workshops, an art gallery, a brick-out room (for chilling and gaming), and a trade room (stalls run by local small presses, jewellery, memorabilia, small local bookshops, and Forbidden Planet).

I attended the excellent reading workshop on the Friday night, run by BristolCon Fringe, which was followed by an open-mike session. Literally, and I mean that literally, I shook like a leaf when I read my extract. No one noticed – I know not how. Steven Poore read a hilarious short story. Thanks Steven, it’s always good to laugh.

The Art Show was amazing. To see the style of art on canvas that I have seen on many a book cover was wonderful. I chatted to the delightful Fangorn and drooled over his art, sorry Fangorn.

panel-at-bristolcon-2016-cropped

I was a panellist on ‘When the heroes have gone’, a discussion on who cleans up the mess after the evil megalomaniacs/monsters have been defeated. A lively chat, covering the post Blitz London clean-up to shovelling away monster poo in New York City. My co-panellists were Juliette E. McKenna, Joel Cornah, Joanne Hall, and Fangorn (who created the wonderful cover art for the programme).

One of the panels I attended was ‘Murderous Women’, another lively and interesting discussion on whether women want their reading grim and dark. Anna Smith-Spark certainly wanted it grim; the darker and bloodier the better as far as she was concerned. Amanda Kear, Jonathan L. Howard, David Gullen and Dolly Garland were the other excellent panellists. All agreed women are not faint-hearted creatures; we love to read gritty stories containing scenes of dismemberment and death with all the gory details, the only provision being that it should belong within the narrative.

‘Under the Covers’, a panel on how important the cover art is for a book’s success. A good variety of covers were used as examples. Don’t use green, was a comment I didn’t quite get to the bottom of – any comments? In the main, everyone agreed that the book had to reflect the genre of the book or it just wouldn’t succeed. I couldn’t agree more. Terry Jackman, Jaine Fenn, Fangorn, KS Turner, and Patrick Samphire were the illuminating panellists.

Robert Harkess’ new novel, Amunet, was launched in the Brick-out room. His interview was interesting and inciteful, and his reading enjoyable. Yet another book to add to my teetering TBR pile.

I am sad to have missed the ‘Stage Managed Fighting’ workshop run by Dev and Dolly Garland. I heard it was excellent fun. A lot of high kicks (jinks) were involved, apparently.

I’d also like to flag up the new game, devised by Mhairie Simpson, called ‘Be A Bard’, that I played with her. A game requiring both strategy and imagination. She designed the game, the artwork on the cards, and even cuts each card by hand. Such dedication.

I will most definitely be attending next year. Luckily, I have been invited to sit on another panel and do a reading from book two of my Wefan Weaves trilogy, The Fractured Portal. Thanks Jo.

Even though the lovely Joanne Hall has stepped down as Chair, I am sure it will continue to be a most excellent science fiction and fantasy convention overseen by the new Chair, MEG.

All the best to you all

R B Watkinson

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