FantasyCon 2018 Chester

FantasyCon 2018 logo

What an intense, whirlwind of a weekend this was. As the date neared, I was seriously doubting my reasoning for putting myself up for so many panels, one of which I had to moderate for goodness sake! Neck deep already in writing and narrating, I had to mug up on subjects so I’d stand half a chance of making some sense when asked questions – as well as when asking them.

Well, when I arrived at the hotel (so convenient for the train station) I was pleasantly surprised by my room. I’d booked the hotel late – “a small double, please” – but was given the Queen Mary of Bohemia room. It was vast, even the bathroom was vast, with a walk-in shower I wish I had in my own home. Lucky me. Such a quirky hotel too, filled with the interesting and the unusual – art, statuary, odd objects, amusing plaques, etc. Have you all seen the photo of Steven Poore on that enormous chair? Classic! There was also a very grand staircase I took great pleasure in running up and down at every opportunity – that was my exercise for the weekend sorted!

The usual suspects were present: old friends already made on the convention circuit, and new ones waiting to be made. I was so happy to find that FantasyCon was as friendly as ever. Ian Whates kindly let me place a few books on his NewCon Press table – such a generous chap. I bought a pair of sweeet silver spider earrings along with yet more books, which will sit on my ever mounting, definitely teetering, TBR stack.

Thanks to Allen Stroud and Karen Fishwick, and their enthusiastic RedCloak team, all ran smoothly and happily as far as I was concerned. Allen even went to the extra effort of introducing me to Chris, a producer of audio dramas (which can be downloaded like audiobooks but sound like radio plays), with a view to my becoming a voice actor as well as a narrator of audiobooks.

Apart from the panels, which went very well I thought, I also attended the poetry open mic evening. I read two of my ‘Women of Legend’ poems: ‘Medusa’ and ‘Mirror’, and one of my poems from a series based on WW1: ‘The Night Unpinned’. They seemed to be received well, regardless of the stumbles made due to my heart hammering with fear.

My reading of a piece from my fantasy novel, ‘The Cracked Amulet’, went much the same. I was quite chuffed when one listener told me she intended to buy the book afterwards. I considered that a great result.

Should I talk of the Karaoke evening? Well that was a mixed bag. From the sublime to the hilariously bad, all were equally well applauded and cheered. Fool that I am, I went up twice. I am sorry for that – it won’t happen again, I promise. Though blurred by alcohol, I remember it being an incredibly fun evening. I’m sure I owe someone a drink, I hope they remind me of this next time we meet.

The Sunday lunch – er, Banquet, I should say, because we are all about FANTASY – was fun. Though I was on a table with no one I knew, apart from one chap I’d met for the first time earlier in the weekend, it didn’t matter in the least. We were soon all chatting quite comfortably with each other. The food was delicious with plenty of good wine involved. Oh, did I mention there was much free drink to be had over the weekend in the form of ‘welcome to FantasyCon prosecco, ‘book launch wine’, etc? No? Well there was. Thank you FantasyCon.

The weekend was wrapped up with the awards ceremony and the well-deserving winners received much cheering and applause. I’m sure it was a close thing in every section as the short lists were full of amazing artists, writers, editors, publishers, and magazines.

I did my usual hug bombing, luckily I was hugged back – always a plus. There might be less of you Adrian Tchaikovsky, but your hugs are as good as ever.

Next year FantasyCon is in Glasgow, which is about as far from where I live as it is possible to be and remain in the UK. It’s a good thing I like train travel and have many books to read – just saying.

Cheers to all

R B Watkinson 

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