Eastercon Summary

Jessica Meats holding a copy of Wolf Unleashed and standing in front of a group of people talkingSunday 1st April was the official launch of my new novel, Wolf Unleashed. This launch was accompanied by a small launch party at Eastercon. The room for the launch party seemed a little strange to me – we were set up at one end of the large ballroom, which was also the room being used for convention food. We were there in the middle of the afternoon, so we were between the lunch and dinner rushes, but there were plenty of people in the room just there to eat food, and hang out with friends. I’m fairly sure there were some people who came to the book launch who hadn’t intended to do so, but who had been sitting near our end of the hall and were curious what was going on (or were curious about the free wine).

David, my editor at Guardbridge Books, spoke for a little bit, introducing me and the other two books which were being launched at the same time. Then I spoke briefly and read from Wolf Unleashed. David read segments from the other two books, and then we opened it up to questions. A man in a hat holding a cuddly toy wolf with a sign reading "werewolves are people too"

We did a giveaway drawing to give away a free book. The winner of the giveaway chose to get Harry Elliott’s Warrior Errant as his free book instead of mine, and he gave a little apology about that, but then a few minutes later decided he would buy mine as well, so I think I won that.

Overall, the launch was short, informal, and enjoyable, so I’m happy with how it all went.

There have been some other great moments this convention. One was when a woman sat beside me in the audience for a panel and started rummaging around in her handbag. Then she noticed my name tag and went, “You wrote the Codename Omega books,” and started talking about the handbag scene in Traitor in the Tower. For those that haven’t read those books, the scene in question is one of my favourite moments and involves Jenny, having been captured, pulling an array of useful items out of her handbag – from painkillers to means of communication to weapons – much to the astonishment of the guy who was in the cell with her. There’s still something that fills me with delight about someone recognising me and telling me about things they loved from my books.

A woman cuddles a cuddly toy wolf that has a sign reading "werewolves are people too"Another great highlight was meeting a lovely lady who was much enamoured of my cuddly Thomas toy wolf (so much so that I feared wolfnapping was a possibility) and who talked at length about her love of wolves and her experiences visiting a wolf sanctuary. We had a really long chat on Friday and then when I bumped into her again on Saturday she had been hoping to see me again because she’d bought me a wolf bracelet. I was so immensely touched by this and wished I had something I could give her in return (but I wasn’t parting with cuddly Thomas).

I took part in a couple of items aside from the launch party. The first was a panel on transgressive sexuality where we had some good discussions about representation of different sexualities in SF&F and how the barrier between what is seen as transgressive and what isn’t is a shifting line that changes over time. We discussed a whole collection of books, films, and TV shows and I got to recommend some of my favourites (like The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet) and took down some suggestions of things to read.

My other piece on the program was a talk on Atheism and theA cuddly toy wolf with a sign reading "werewolves are people too" is at a microphone as though giving a speach Representation of Religion in Science Fiction. I got a little worried about this talk ahead of time because I was originally told I would have a 75 minute slot, and then saw on the agenda that I had an hour. I then found out when I got there and looked at the schedule in more detail that each hour slot included a ten minute break/change-over and so I only had 50 minutes. I shuffled some things around and cut a couple of slides, only I guess I talk faster in real delivery than I do in practice because I ended up having plenty of time. I could have left the Vorlons in. I have uploaded my presentation to OneDrive in case anyone wants to view my slides or see the links in the A cuddly toy wolf with a sign reading "werewolves are people too" sits on a conference chairreferences.

I was also a little concerned about that presentation because of the timing. It was right at the end of the last day of the convention, in the slot before the closing ceremony, and I knew a number of people who’d told me they would be leaving before my talk began. I was a little worried I would be giving my talk to an empty room, but I got a decent turn out in the end. Afterwards, the girl who’d been running tech for me came up to me and said we’d met at World Con a few years ago and I’d persuaded her to buy one of my books then. She was very excited to read my new one now, which was amazing to here.

It is an amazing feeling to meet people who’ve read my books and have them talk so enthusiastically about them. All in all, a really satisfying Eastercon. I look forward to next year’s, which will be considerably easier for me to get to.

Eastercon Schedule

The schedule for Follycon (the 69th Eastercon) has gone live.

I will be involved in three items:

Transgressive Sexuality panel at 5:30pm on Friday 30th March.

Guardbridge Books Launch Party at 3pm on Saturday 31st March – at which my newest book Wolf Unleashed will officially launch along with Warrior Errant by Harry Elliot.

Atheism and the Representation of Religion in Science Fiction presentation at 3pm on Monday 2nd April. A part of me was hoping for the irony of doing this presentation on Easter Sunday, but it’s probably more tactful of them to arrange it for the Monday.

Nineworlds Highlights

Last weekend was Nineworlds, a science fiction and fantasy convention held in Hammersmith, which had content around books, movies, games, and more. I wanted to share a few highlights from my experience of the convention.

Indie Author tableFirstly, there was the indie author table. This was in the expo hall and was a place for self-published or small-press-published authors to place their books for sale. I thought this was a fantastic idea, though it could have done with a little more organising. We got an email a couple of days before the event telling us that they needed authors to volunteer to run the table. Five of us did – each taking a four hour stint selling books – but other authors were able to just drop books off to be sold without taking a shift. If this is run in future conventions (which I hope it is) there should be a requirement for all authors to spend at least some time manning the table. After all, it isn’t fair for some people to lose half a day of convention time while others get all the benefits of the table without putting in the same effort.

On the plus side though, one of my books was the first to be sold on this table, so I’m pleased about that.

Geek StitchThis was the first time Nineworlds has run an expo, so the expo hall wasn’t very large, but there were a couple of tables I wanted to highlight. The first was Geek Stitch, who produce a number of cross stitch kits on various geeky themes – from Pokémon to Harry Potter, Steven Universe to Supernatural. Most of these are suitable for beginners.

I was particularly impressed by the cross stitched QR code – which actually works!

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know I’m into my cross stitch, and I liked what these guys had on offer. Hodor Doorstop

Another table that interested me was Scorch’s Pyrography. This is the art of using heat to write on wood and other substances. They had a lot of dragons on wooden boxes, some maps from various fantasy worlds (including the map from The Hobbit) but what got people’s interest (and a lot of cries of “too soon” from the Game of Thrones fans) was a doorstop with “Hodor” written on it.

There were a lot of sessions people could go to, from silly fun ones to deep philosophical analyses (my friend/editor presented a paper on the philosophy of being recognised – witnessed – in Mad Max Fury Road). There were several of these sessions that I enjoyed in different ways and for different reasons. There was a session on neurodiversity in fiction which got quite intense and one of the audience members got fairly emotional at one point. This was obviously an issue that hit home for a lot of the people in the room. If you’re on Twitter, check out the hashtag #nineworldsnd for discussions and book recommendations.

Flash fiction panelA much more light-hearted session was a Flash Fiction challenge. A group of writers were given prompts and expected to write something based on them in only five minutes. The audience then cheered for the one they liked them most. This was very entertaining and it reminded me of the writing games we used to play with my old writing group – trying to create something very quickly from some strange prompts. While the writers were scribbling away, Lee Harris, editor at Tor.com, entertained us with a quiz on a range of geeky topics – and I was please to be the first to get the Tad Cooper question (I super believe in you, Tad Cooper).

Swordpunk Laura Swordpunk meI unexpectedly got a ticket to attend a Swordpunk session. This was a hands on introduction to medieval sword fighting that involved us trying very hard not to stab each other or whack the ceiling while practicing moves with real swords. I say this was unexpected, because this was a session that required tickets and the tickets had sold old almost as soon as they’d been made available. I got in because my former kung fu instructor and his partner were attending and they’d managed to get tickets. Alex decided a few days before the event that he would rather go to another session that was taking place at the same time, so they offered me the spare ticket.

In the photos, I’m cosplaying as Abby, one of my own characters from the book Between Yesterdays. Laura is cosplaying as a ghost from a web comic I’d not heard of – complete with hand sewn intestines.

Madalena cosplayOn the subject of cosplay, I got a lot of compliments for my Queen Madalena costume. Wearing an outfit like this makes you appreciate how practical jeans are. I was worried every time I got on an escalator that the dress was going to get caught and either cause a painful accident or just get torn off me, leaving me naked in the hotel. I made it through intact but I was very happy to change into my jeans at the end of the event.

Not a lot of people recognised who I was but I had an amazing moment where I sat next to someone in a panel who turned out to be friends with the costume designer on Galavant. We had an interesting conversation and she was the one who took this photo to send to her friend.

On the subject of cosplay, there were some great ones, though I realised I didn’t get many photos of them. I do have a couple I can share but this is just scratching the surface of the awesome outfits that were there.

Tardis dress Lady Sybil costumeOverall, I had a lot of fun. It was an exhausting weekend but I enjoyed it immensely. Where do I sign up for next year?