Category Archives: conventions

Urban Mythic: Anne Nicholls

Anne0807This morning may we present Urban Mythic author Anne Nicholls!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I like writing uplifting, adventurous, exciting, humorous stories – all sorts of things that have a feel-good factor.  It’s the creativity, I think.  Writers always get the best out of stories they write, even more than stories they read.  I guess writing is the 3-D version!

What was it that inspired “The Seeds of a Pomegranate”?

Two things: I like the idea of the exotic along with the cosmopolitan and the ordinary down-home all working together in our multi-racial society.  We’re not the only folks who have a tradition of magic and fantasy so how great that there’s this new enrichment coming into Britain!  Also the possibilities of creative magic, and the friendship aspects.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I like all kinds of fantasy (and many other streams of fiction).  For urban fanasy I enjoy Benedict Jacka and I’m just getting into the Iron Druid books by Kevin Hearne.  Mercedes Lackey’s Bedlam’s Bard series are fun, as are her Serrated Edge books.

Tell us about your involvement with the David Gemmell Awards?

Dave Gemmell was a very dear friend who was our best man when Stan and I got married.  We miss him greatly.  We admired his spirit of “stand up and be counted” so that’s what we wanted to do with the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy: make it the readers’ choice so it’s as democratic as possible.  Anyone anywhere can vote for books in English so it’s truly egalitarian and international.  The awards ceremony is a real pleasure in itself.  We get to meet people we might otherwise not have the chance to, for example, Olof Erla Einarsdottir who won the Ravenheart Award.  She flew over from Iceland just to be with us, which was fabulous!  Plus we wanted to raise the profile of fantasy fiction generally, and support artists and authors.  It’s amazing how time-consuming the committee work is but good fun and rewarding too.

With your other hat on you’re a qualified counsellor and writer of self-help books – do you find this perspective impacts on your fiction?

It does and it doesn’t.  That’s to say, obviously it offers deep insight into people and their motivations, and it means I want to make ever piece of writing I do as emotionally rewarding for the reader as I can.  On the other hand I have to make sure counselling language doesn’t intrude because it’s more analytical than dramatic.

What are you up to next?

Right now I have all sorts of things to look forward to: the launch of three anthologies in which I have stories (Urban Mythic, Pulp Heroes II and Legends) at the World Fantasy Convention; the Gemmell Awards which are also at WFC this year; another story and a novel that I’m writing; doing more paintings; and just generally having fun with friends and family.  I also enjoy my counselling work as I love to see people making positive changes so they’re happier and can achieve their goals.

[Anne Nicholls’s published works include the acclaimed novels Mindsail and The Brooch of Azure Midnight.  Her short story Roman Games was reprinted in the Year’s Best Fantasy.  She is now principally known for self-help writing  and for her paintings, which are also gaining a following.]

Urban Mythic at WFC!

UM cover A 008 dI may have mentioned a few times that Urban Mythic is launching at WFC in Brighton next weekend.   Because, dudes! We’re launching at WFC!  Friday 1st November!  Noon!  In Signing Alley!   (Along with Alchemy’s other titles – Pulp Heroes 2 & Astrologica: Stories of the Zodiac.)

But anyway, Urban Mythic, innit!  Lovely author people who will be floating around are: Jaine Fenn, Christopher Golden, Alison Littlewood, Anne Nicholls, Gaie Sebold, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jonathan Oliver, Ian Whates & Ben Baldwin.

But my lovely people-folks, that’s not all.  Oh no!  Selected members of Team Urban Mythic will be doing a reading event on the Thursday!  From 2:00 – 2:30pm in Hall 8B.

And! Also! Our faaaabulous authors will be out and about doing other things at the WFC beast.  Here, for your author spotter notebook, is where else you can find them…

Artist:
Ben Baldwin
SAT 11:00 am-Noon – Launch – Newcon Press & Snowbooks (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
SAT 5:00-7:00 pm (Art Show)

Authors:
Jaine Fenn:
SAT 5:00-6:00 pm – Panel – Does SF Have a Future? (Cambridge)

Christopher Golden:     
THURS 4:00-5:00 pm – Panel – Strip Search (Oxford)
FRI 3:00-4:00 pm – Panel – Writing for the Franchise Market (Hall 4)
FRI 4:00-6:00 pm – Party – PS Publishing Bumper Book Launch (Regency)
SAT 3:00-3:30 pm – Reading – (Hall 8A)

Alison Littlewood:     
THURS 4:00-5:00 pm – Panel – Landscape of the Fantastic (Cambridge)
SAT Noon-1:00 pm – Panel – When the Fairies Come Out to Play (Cambridge)
SAT 3:00-4:00 pm – Launch – Constable & Robinson (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
SAT 11:00 pm-12:30 am – (mysterious unknown funky thing) (Chartwell)
SUN Noon-1:00 pm – Panel – How to Write that Second Book (Hall 4)

Anne Nicholls:
THURS 8:00 pm – Presentation – David Gemmell Awards (Oxford)
THURS 9:30 pm – Party/Launch – David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing (Regency)

Jonathan Oliver:  
SAT 4:00-5:00 pm – Panel – You Can’t Write, Edit an Anthology (Hall 4)
SUN 11:00 am-Noon – Launch – Solaris/Rebellion (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
And you’ll probably also find Jonathan at the Solaris table in the Dealer Room too!

Gaie Sebold:    
THURS 9:30 pm – Party/Launch – David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing (Regency)
FRI 4:00-5:00 pm – Panel – Broads with Swords (Cambridge)

Adrian Tchaikovsky:
THURS 9:30 pm – Party/Launch – David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing (Regency)
SAT 10:00-11:00 am – Panel – Best of All Possible Worlds (Cambridge)
SAT 5:00-5:30 pm – Reading (Hall 8A)
SUN 10:00-11:00 am – Launch – Fox Spirit Books (Hall 8/Signing Alley)

Ian Whates:     
THURS 9:30 pm – Party/Launch – David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing  (Regency)
FRI Noon-1:00 pm – Panel – Surviving as an Independent Press (Cambridge)
FRI 5:00-6:00 pm – Interview – Life Achievement Award: Tanith Lee (Oxford)
SUN 11:00 am-Noon – Launch – Solaris/Rebellion (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
And don’t forget to find Ian at the Newcon Press table in the Dealer Room!  And also in the Dealer Room, on the Solaris table signing stuff on SAT 3:30 – 4:30pm

And also!
Look for Alchemy Publisher Peter Coleborn in the Art Show SAT 5:00-7:00 pm
And Editor Jan Edwards wandering around having fun!
And Editor Jenny Barber (hello!) lurking behind the registration desk Weds – Sat.

Talking About Harassment

So here’s the thing – there’s been a lot of chatter lately about genre sexism and convention harassment and such like.  Good well reasoned points have been made, useful information has been given, emotions have gotten extremely high on all sides, anti-harassment procedures are becoming more obvious and appearing at more conventions, all of this is a good thing.

But there have been a few comments here and there that keep sticking in my brain and won’t stop bugging.

“But it happens in other areas of life…”
Well, yes. That’s not the point.  Conventions are our turf. They’re supposed to be a safe place where we can hang out with other like minded people, talk about geeky stuff and not worry about extra garbage like getting flack for choosing to wear something fun.  (Corsets are not an excuse to get handsy. Mini skirts are not an excuse to get handsy.  Funky punk gear and tattoos is not an excuse to be rude about a person. Cleavage, no matter the size or coverage, is not an excuse to turn into Benny Hill.)

Other areas of life are not the issue here.  It’s our people, those people who should be better than all those other not-our-people, being assholes in our favoured places of socialisation that is hitting the buttons. And unlike many other areas of life, conventions are spaces where we can actually exert some control over our environment and the framework of interactions within it, and expect a reasonable response when the problems crop up.

And, personally, I expect my genre peeps to be evolved civilised respectful human beings as standard.  And most of them are. Even when they’ve been drinking for six hours straight.  Actually, especially when they’ve been drinking for six hours straight – it’s seems to be one of those convention attendee superpowers.  (Convention bar staff used to always tell us how surprised they were at how nice and quiet most SF convention drunks were. Apparently the corporate conference drunks get really lary… but, I digress…)

“It seems to be more prevalent in US conventions/you don’t get that kind of thing in the UK…”
Bollocks. I know women who have experienced problems with gropers and creepers and the like at conventions going back twenty or thirty years when they first got into the fandom thing, and endured it throughout their many years of conventioning afterwards. I know women and men, straight and quiltbag, who experienced dodgy things in the last couple of years.  For some of them it was their first convention, for some of them, it was old news. Some people stop going to certain UK conventions because of it. UK fandom is not a precious paragon of virtue in this stuff.

“I’ve been going to conventions for XX years and I’ve never had it happen to me/seen it happen…”
I’m happy for you. Really. Doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened or that people haven’t been affected by these total assholes who keep thinking civilised behaviour doesn’t apply to them.  And honestly, in saying this kind of thing, while it may be accurate for the person who got lucky with their con experiences, it still carries an implication that it couldn’t possibly be happening to anyone else and kinda dismisses the experiences of those that have had something creepy happen to them and they get enough doubts about that as it is.  (You misinterpreted it. You’re overreacting. It’s just their/your sense of humour. He/She/Ze/They’re lovely really. You’re being oversensitive. They only do it when they’re really drunk. You smiled too much. They were just flirting. You should have told them to go away. You should have smacked them one. You should have told someone else and they’d have done something.)

These things are difficult to talk about at the best of times.  Hell, they’re difficult to think about at the best of times and a standard coping mechanism is to block it out and move on, and make a note of who to avoid and where and when.  And even the slightest hint of dismissive language from someone else can be crushing and stir things up all over again and make you never want to mention it as a thing that actually happened.

“But we shouldn’t forget the good men…”
Well yes.  But also no. See, the thing of it is, the decent men and women at conventions and in other genre related things aren’t the problem here. They’re the majority. They’re the ones who’ll help out when some creep’s trying it on and rescue you.  (And, by the way, why do people need rescuing in the first place? People shouldn’t need rescuing from anyone at a convention! How is that a thing we still accept as normal?) The problem is, the other ones. The people no-one talks about in public but, if you’re lucky to know someone who knows someone, will be the people you’re warned about.  (If you don’t know anyone to get the warnings from, then you’re left thinking it’s just you when they try it on. And wouldn’t it be easier to not go to another convention or volunteer in an organisation if this is the thing you’re going to get from the people you meet…)

And, look, I get why people are wanting to big up the nice folks, I could share plenty of stories about the men and women in the genre who stepped in to be awesome, that’s not the point. We shouldn’t need to give cookies to people for not being creeps. Not being a creep should be the standard expectation for a person.  And people aren’t talking about the creeps to publicise how generally awful genre people are and bewaaaaare the terrible cesspit environment of the SF convention and that’s all you can expect from everyone ever if you dare go to one.

Talking about the bad ones is more a case of saying, look, there’s these serial assholes who plenty of people quietly know about but for a variety of reasons, no-one has done anything about them or their dodgy behaviour and that’s not right. It has never been right. And now there’s enough people talking about what the moronic assholes are doing for people to realise they weren’t the only ones being targeted and that, actually, some of the perps behaviour was just a bit shitty so lets make it stop.

And the not being alone in this thing is a strong component in all the talking about it over bloggage and social media. Because that guy that you thought was a bit pervy but didn’t make a thing of it, because, obviously, it was a minor thing, or your fault, or whatever… that guy? Turns out he did it to other people too.  And they weren’t alright with it either. And they had their doubts, same as you. And it doesn’t matter that other people don’t see that side of him, or dismiss it for one of the many reasons these things get dismissed for, because there are people who have seen that side of creepy guy and aren’t willing to let it slide anymore.

“But men get creeped on too.”
Yes, they do. That sucks. No one should have to deal with being harassed by anyone. Transgender people also get harassed at conventions. So do people of colour. And it’s not just men who do the shitty things. Women do it too.  And it’s not only the women who are targeted. Men are targeted too.  (Yes, I know, binary gender descriptives. Forgive me that one. All-folks get targeted. All-folks do the targeting.)

That being said, there is a higher level of men creeping on women. And there’s underlying societal currents related to the concept of men being afraid of women laughing at them and women being afraid of men killing them, and someone did a really good post on this recently which explains it properly, but I can’t actually find it now. Argh!  ::headdesk:: But man following woman around has a whole bunch of different connotations to woman following man around.

“But geeks score high on the Autistic/Aspergers spectrum/are naturally socially inept…so you can’t really blame them..”
Stop it right now.  The Autism/Aspergers thing was debunked somewhere, but I can’t find the link at the mo… (Argh! Total linkfail today!) Read this thing here about the socially inept excuse though.

Also that socially inept thing? Works the other way too. The people that the creeps are targeting are also often socially inept, and thus unable to actually react to the creeps in a way that would stop the harassment, or have them say anything useful about it later to anyone else.  In these cases, the victim’s own perception of their shyness/generally being socially rubbish creates a feeling of self-blame as, obviously, their own personality ‘defects’ were a factor in not stopping things they didn’t like when anyone with a bit of nous would have laughed/said something witty and/or rude and generally cut creeper-dude off at the pass.

“It’s just good natured flirting.”
Subjective. If you know the person you’re doing sexy banter with then you’ll know how far you can go, and when to stop. Otherwise what’s good natured flirting to one person, is awkward and embarassing and oh-god-please-shut-up-and-go-away to another. And even for those of us with a low tolerance for it, flirty conversation can still be fun, just don’t be an asshole about it. And please don’t be dismissive of the people that don’t have the kind of personality/sense of humour to put up with/say anything about a constant unwanted barrage of the X-rated stuff.

So, yeah, talking about con harassment is good, but please just be aware that some of the well meaning comments can be a bit triggery to the people who’ve experienced these things.

BFS Awards 2012

Am back from that there Fantasycon (post later on that!), so for now, here be the 2012 BFS award winners!

Main Jury Awards:
Jury: James Barclay, Hal Duncan, Maura McHugh, Esther Sherman, and Damien G. Walter.

Best Novel: 
August Derleth Award/Best Horror – The Ritual by Adam Nevill
Robert Holdstock Award/Best Fantasy –  Among Others by Jo Walton

Best Novella: 
Gorel and the Pot Bellied God by Lavie Tidhar

Best Short Fiction: 
The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter by Angela Slatter

Best Anthology: 
The Weird, ed. Jeff and Ann Vandermeer

Best Collection:
Everyone’s Just So So Special by Robert Shearman

Best Screenplay: 
Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

Best Magazine/Periodical:
Black Static, ed. Andy Cox

Best Comic/Graphic Novel:
Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Then the Special Juried Awards (which a lot of blogs keep forgetting to mention…and, yes, I’m slightly biased because I was on one of the juries for them, so don’t forget that they are actual proper BFS awards as well, right? All right then! x )

The BFS/PS Publishing Best Independent Press Award: Chomu Press
(Jury: Sandy Auden, Peter Crowther, Nicholas Royle, Peter Tennant & Darren Turpin)

BFS Best Artist Award: Daniele Serra
(Jury: Guy Adams, Anne Sudworth, Christopher Teague)

BFS Best Non-Fiction Award: Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Super Hero by Grant Morrison
(Jury: Djibril al-Ayad, Roz Kaveney & Adam Roberts)

BFS/Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award: Kameron Hurley
(Jury: Adele Wearing, Jenny Barber, Lou Morgan)

BFS/Karl Edward Wagner Special Award: Peter & Nicky Crowther
(Jury: BFS & Fantasycon committees)

More funky things…

So today saw the delivery of the books for my next history module – this one being on Empires and a level 3 course (gulp).  But, still, shiny new books with shiny new book smells!  Alas, the new OU policy of not letting you know your assignments until the website officially opens at end of the month has completely buggered my intentions of getting ahead of things… Ah well, there’s still lovely booksies to read…

In other news, the fabulous Adele over at her new imprint Fox Spirit, has just published the excellent sounding Tales of the Nun and Dragon…  Behold! The cover….

 

Have got my copy and will be reading it ever so shortly…

In other-other news, I do believe I have found the perfect hairstyle thingy for evil-twin’s Wedding-of-the-Century.

 

Thank you Katy Perry for doing all the work and modelling it! Nice and simple and purple!

Oh, and, of course, I really should be mentioning that order details for that there Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders are emerging -paperback editions available from Amazon UK, Amazon USABarnes & Noble or The Book Depository for £10 / $15 – though can be had for the bargain price of £8 if you buy it at Fantasycon in a couple of weeks.  No news on the e-book editions as yet, but rumour has it our beloved publisher is working hard to crunch files and sort that out…

Annnnnnd, not only that, but m’fine and funky co-editor Jan and I will be doing another anthology next year – that one will be the APB of Urban Mythic and details on that shall be forthcoming after Fantasycon…

Ancient Wonders innards!

Let there be w00t! We now have the final table of contents for the upcoming Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders!

Introduction from Kari Sperring
Adrian Tchaikovsky – Bones
James Brogden – If Street
Shannon Connor Winward – Passage
Pauline E. Dungate – One Man’s Folly
Anne Nicholls – Dragonsbridge
Peter Crowther – Gandalph Cohen and the Land at the End of the Working Day
Misha Herwin – The Satan Stones
Lynn M. Cochrane – Ringfenced
Bryn Fortey – Ithica or Bust
Adrian Cole – The Sound of Distant Gunfire
William Meikle – The Cauldron of Camulos
John Howard – Time and the City
Selina Lock – The Great and Powerful
Aliette de Bodard – Ys

Ancient Wonders will be launched in Brighton at Fantasycon on Saturday 29th September, at 10am. News on ordering details to follow shortly on the Alchemy Press website.

Meanwhile, we shall be dancing on the furniture and shrieking like mad things… ::bouncybouncybouncy::

Eastercon 2012 FTW!

Well, gosh. Wasn’t that fun. I might even go so far as to say Best! Eastercon! Ever! (Though it being only my third one, it’s a small sample pool to judge by!) Ignoring the fact that the hotel meals had reached new lows and apparently the prices in the downstairs bar were apt to bring about heart attacks, the whole event had a fantastic vibe to it that practically screamed ‘this is your clan’.

And, oh, the panels! I do love me some interesting panels! The only one I missed that I really wanted to see was the archery one (looks winsomely at Fcon committee peeps in the hopes they can get an archery thingy in for Fcon this year. Pretty please?) But Saturday had a full day of funky stuff – there was Sufficiently Advanced Magic with Marcus Gipps, Juliet E. McKenna, Stephen Deas, Chris Wooding, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Shana Worthen – talking about magic systems and the developmental comparisons with technology; an utterly fantastic Gender Parity on Panels at Conventions thingy with Kari Sperring, Juliet E. McKenna, Emma Peel, Farah Mendelsohn, Kat Takenaka and Paul Cornell which I could have listened to for much longer as it was both fascinating and educational and left me thinking that maybe it wouldn’t be so scary sitting up on a panel at a con; in a similar vein there was How Not to Suppress Women’s Writing with Tricia Sullivan, Juliet E. Mckenna (she was busy this convention!), Penny Hill, Amy McCullock and Ian Sales, (and in vaguely related news, check out the all new Fantasy Mistressworks blog that Amanda Rutter has set up!). There was also an extremely interesting panel on A History of Feminist SF in Britain with Roz Kaveney, Lesley Hall, Andy Sawyer, Maureen Kincaid Speller and Kari Sperring which turned out to be one of those ones where I wished I had taken notes of all the names mentioned for later searching out of books.

And, oh, Saturday readings – Anne Lyle with her new book – The Alchemist of Souls – just launched and had sold out in the dealer room by Saturday afternoon. Awesome. Talking of awesome, Tom Pollock, people! Reading from his upcoming book The City’s Son (out in June from Jo Fletcher Books) the man is a rock star! Has to be, hands down, the best reading I’ve ever been to – you don’t just want to buy his book, you want to rent him to read it to you as well!

Among other delights, Sunday had Occupy the Metaverse with Tricia Sullivan, Farah Mendlesohn, Adam Roberts and Paul Graham Raven – talking about radicalism and revolution in SF, and almost got a bit heated towards the end when trade unions got mentioned…

Oh, and, I did bar stuff. I never do bar stuff. But Jan and Pete came up for the Newcon launch on Friday (Jan is in the Dark Currents anthology! You’ll want to read it. Hers is a fab story of steampunky pirates.) And we plotted mad plots for Ancient Wonders and jumped innocent looking authors for possible contributions. And sat in the bar and chatted with peeps. Which is a thing that usually makes me run away screaming in the opposite direction. But it was quite nice, so I may have to try it for Fcon this year once Reg duties are done…

And there was the Game of Thrones sword-throne. (No, I didn’t sit in it. But here’s a picture anyway!)

And there was tech! I inherited mum’s old Blackberry not long before the con so had a blast facebooking and twittering during the con, just as the gods of tech intended. Which came in handy during the BSFA awards ceremony, as I could witness the horror as it occurred on twitter instead of having to sit through it live. And those genius Eastercon peeps did a guidebook app that updated panel items and gave you the maps and schedule and all sorts. On your phone! How very cool is that? And if that’s not enough, the main room stuff was filmed so you can watch some of the panels here.

And the peeps for the Bradford 8-Squared bid got the dubious pleasure of organising Eastercon next year. (That would be Juliet McKenna taking over the universe…) 😉 And apparently Eastercon will be in Glasgow in 2014.

And I didn’t get lost on the way there for a change. Nor on the way back. A thing which is listed in hidden tomes somewhere as the definition of a minor miracle. All hail the transport gods!

And all in all, the whole thing was abso fabulous! Can’t wait to be let out for Fantasycon in September!