Considering I was in London last week for ComicCon, I must have lost my mind when I booked tickets for GollanczFest, crawling out of bed at 6am to get myself ready… i.e. to not look like the zombie I emerged from bed as was not fun. I don’t do early mornings, never have, never will. After last week’s debacle with the buses (2hrs to get to the train station…longer than the train takes to get to London…I kid you not!) I decided to drive and park at the station, it’s not too busy, especially at the ass crack of dawn.
As I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo I spent the train journey writing and managed to smash through my word target, which I’m a tad proud of given how tired I was. I will probably read through it today and find it’s all nonsense though!
I arrive at Foyles on Charing Cross Road, also known as heaven in the centre of London. Someone, please tell me how I didn’t know the place existed? For those who knew Borders (remember them?) in Bristol, it had 2(?) fairly big floors, and honestly, I thought it was the bee’s knees. I was there almost every week, I had a favourite spot I would curl up with a book before I bought it. Well, this Foyles was like that Borders on speed. It was freaking massive. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. I’m really showing myself as a country bumpkin here but honestly so absolutely huge. Over 5 floors and just books everywhere. Now I am down with small and cosy indie stores, I love them. But this place is also my alternative idea of perfection for a bookstore, the Foyles in Bristol is so naff I literally never go there. Anyway, I digress.
When we arrive we get a tote back with some goodies in, some samplers which I will read very soon, and probably end up ordering some new books! The tote itself is going to the top of my tote pile (you know I’m obsessed with tote’s right?)
I managed to get a really good seat and was sat next to some lovely people who had also travelled alone, the four of us actually spent the whole day chatting and talking books, sci-fi, fantasy, and all manner of geekery. Exchanging social media sites before we parted ways to go back to our four corners of the country (literally) at the end of the day.
And so the panels begin… I tried to catch some of my favourite quotes through the day, didn’t want to spend all day writing everything everyone said down, plus the blog post would be HUGE if I’d done that! There were so many laughs through the day, a few political arguments and a few death matches which were taken probably a little too seriously by some!
I’ve taken panel titles/info from the programme for accuracy
Joanne M. Harris
Moderator: Rachel Winterbottom, Commisioning Editor
Discussing why we like ghost stories, why they write ghost stories and what it is about ghost stories that kees us coming back again and again.
Catriona – finds ghost stories weirdly comforting
Joe – ghosts are the only supernatural creature every one in this room knows actually exists.
AK – ghost stories are temporary exorcisms of what is haunting you.
Joanne – ghosts represent what we can’t explain.
Moderator: Richard Edwards (SFX Magazine)
A really interesting discussion around how science affects science fiction and if authors need to be scientific or scientists to write the genre.
Justina – you only have to understand it [science] to the level you want to explain it in your book.
Al – One of the biggest changes is to keep the science out of it.
Gavin – Trying to predict the future is a waste of time.
Tricia – Science Fiction didn’t predict social changes like the pill. How different would this room look if women were still tied to their homes?
Panel 3 – Where Do You Get Your Ideas? Art, Music, Mythology & Magic: The Inspirations Behind It All
Join our panellists as they talk about other books, other art and how they feed into their own ideas
Moderator: Gillian Redfearn, Publishing Director
The panel talked about where they find inspiration, what it means to get ideas and write genre fiction.
Bradley – The muse doesn’t come you have to write
Tom T – Two cups of coffee and stand in the shower…loads of ideas
Mark – It’s really odd when a character pops out and says no this is my book
Tom T – I just wanna describe cool planets and cool stuff and monsters on the planet…characters get in the way
Gillian asks: What’s the worst thing your character has ever done to you…in Tom’s case I guess it’s exist?
Tom responded: ….They just get in the way
Panel 4 – The Utopian Ideal: Writing The Future You’d Like To Live In
Our panellists discuss why every utopia isn’t always a dystopa, and how SF can explore the future optimistically as well as realistically.
Moderator: Mark Stay, Online Sales Manager
I will admit that I don’t think I’ve read anything from the Utopia genre, this was a really interesting panel and I was super impressed with Antonia who not only talked eloquently about her own book but was passionate about politics and the state of our world and I agreed with everything she had to say, so I bought her book so that it’s the first(?) book I read in this genre.
Antonia – You can only create that ideal world by having one to get away from.
Edward – Trump saw Threads and thought there you go there’s a model for office.
Aliette de Bodard
Moderator: Gillian Redfearn, Publishing Director
Author Death Match time, pick a weapon, any weapon then battle it out, there can only be one winner!
There were landmines, seven bells, a flamethrower, a battle spaceship, and a cursed horseshoe! You can imagine how it went down!
Panel 6 – Enduring Science Fiction: How Do Stories Survice When Science Catches Up With Fiction
Our authors discuss what it’s like to write in a world progressing faster than the world you’re reading right now
Moderator: Rachel Winterbottom, Commissioning Editor
Fantastic discussion around how science fiction ages, what happens when people have written about things that do end up happening and what happens when predictions are way off the mark.
Pat – I always like playing chicken with the future
Paul – You don’t have to make up anything any more
Ian – Science Fiction is to Science what truthiness is to truth
Simon – [having chosen Farenheit 451 as a lasting book] …the idea that word’s in books are dangerous.
Pat – No they’re Fake News.
Joanne M. Harris
Moderator: Rachel Winterbottom, Commissioning EditorJennifer McMenemy, Marketing Manager
Jon picks – the Babadook
Joanne picks – the Boggart
Kristen picks – a Dragon
Joe – Good choices, I wonder which will come in Second
Joe picks – The Thing
And so begins the fight. Joe was hilarious and I’m fairly sure he was in debate club in high school. The others fought hard and had excellent arguments, well all except one who didn’t do well convincing the audience, when the vote was cast that particular author had one person vote for them. I will let you guess who won… 😉 I’ll maybe tell you in my next weekly update.
I bought some more books, some I’ve already read in ebook and just wanted to get signed copies of others I wanted to pick up to add to that groaning TBR! I’m particularly fond of the crow that Ed McDonald drew in my copy of Blackwing…thanks Ed!
So that’s it. I made friends, got a pile of books that I have nowhere to put, and spent an awful lot of the day laughing. Next year is definitely going to be in the diary!