Shortly after the St Jude storm had batted the British Isles around like a bored cat with a paper boat, I travelled down to Brighton for the World Fantasy Convention. Nobody had told the local winds that the storm was over, so whenever I ventured out I kept both hands clamped protectively over my hat.
Once again I had the joy of meeting a lot of people I only knew through Twitter, email and the mailing list of the Scattered Authors’ Society. (I grew quite accustomed to the words ‘I recognised you from your hat!’)
I was also introduced to Shadwell, one of the small felt pigeons acting as ‘ambassadors’ for Loncon 3 next year.
The first evening of the convention was Halloween, so there were many splendid costumes on display.
There were also magnificent displays of steampunk regalia, and three gentlemen with four-foot-wide hats made out of modelling balloons and flashing lights.
The Next Generation” Not in Front of the Children: How Far Should You Go in Young Adult Fiction? (Oxford)
Our chair, Sarah Rees Brennan, gave a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek performance as the Voice of Moral Outrage, declared us all ‘sinners’ and corrupting influences from the very start, and introduced us by ominous nicknames. I’m very happy with my new title, “The Grande Dame of Darkness”…
I have long held the view that young readers are tougher and smarter than many adults realise, and are generally the best judges of whether they are ready to read certain kinds of material. It became clear that most of the panel was broadly in agreement, but it was still a fun and interesting discussion. Chris Priestley gave an eloquent defence of books that purely entertain, rather than making heavy-handed attempts to educate or ‘improve’. Holly Black discussed the perpetual nervousness with which the adult world regards teenagers. Garth Nix stated that YA should not be considered subset of children’s fiction, but of adult fiction (hence the name). By age sixteen Chris Wooding had been not only reading horror novels but writing them.
On Sunday I took part in a joint reading with other children’s/YA authors from the Scattered Authors’ Society – a ‘taster menu’ of extracts offering a mix of comic, haunting, exciting and chilling. My fellow readers were Emma Barnes, Cecilia Busby, Teresa Flavin, Amy Butler Greenfield, Katherine Langrish, Katherine Roberts, Linda Strachan and Lucy Coats.
Over the weekend I had the chance to listen to a number of fascinating panels, covering subjects such as world-building, YA as a genre, historical fantasy and the influence of real landscapes and places upon fantasy writing.
In the upstairs art gallery, like everyone else I was hypnotised by Tessa Farmer‘s otherworldly aerial battle made almost entirely out of dead things, suspended from the ceiling by threads. Sheep skulls were dreadnaughts, and tiny ant-like fairies rode dead bees, beetles and sea-horses into combat. I also took a shine to Autun Purser’s Fantastic Travel Destinations, advertising trips to the likes of Yuggoth, Midwich and the end of the Earth with cheery 1940s style posters.
Now I have convention withdrawal symptoms… and I have to find somewhere to store all my loot.