Monday, 16 April 2012

Alt Fiction 2012

I finally manned up and manage to attend my first convention for speculative fiction. Having so pathetically failed last year to attend FantasyCon in Brighton last year, I made sure I booked tickets in time this year. I was told by several Twitter buddies Alt Fiction in Leicester would be a good beginners' event. It's small size makes it an intimate and very friendly event, and I already knew several who were going. The key to a successful convention is to stay at least one night, it's all about chatting in the bar afterwards.

Alt Fiction 2012 used to be based in Derby, but new organisers moved the event to Leicester, which suited me as I have never been there before. Leicester was a lot nicer, and I was surprised how quiet it seemed compared to London. Admittedly, I did not see much of Leicester as we were mostly in the cultural part of Leicester. This part was really charming with several new built venues, and it was in one of them which Alt Fiction 2012 took place.

The Phoenix Digital Arts Centre was a great venue with one huge screen and several smaller more intimate rooms. It featured a large cafe/bar with was bright with natural light and served good value food, snacks and drinks.

The venue was only a short walk from the station, and on my way there I saw the first familiar face, fellow blogger @PabloCheescake and his lovely wife. His book review blog, Eloquent Page, is worth checking out. Our reviews often overlap, and sometimes we even agree.

Having arrived at The Phoenix Digital Arts Centre I signed in, got my bag of goodies, and waddled off to the cafe looking for familiar faces. I ended up sitting with the adorable @FranTerminiello and the enigmatic @mygoditsraining, who both brought a lot home baked goodies. Best possible start imaginable.

My first workshop, The Business of Writing, was about to start and a bunch of us wandered off to the workshop room. I was not sure what to expect, but I admit I was worried about user participation. I'm not a writer! I was there because I was curious about treating writing as a business. The workshop was held by novelist, screenwriter and journalist Mark Chadbourn, and it was AMAZING. In short, look beyond writing novels. For a startup writer novels don't pay enough. Writing articles for magazines is a good way to earn enough money to write bigger things like books, screenplays and movie manuscripts. Be prepared to do dirty work. It was exceptionally inspirational, even to a non writer and for the first time I found myself wanting to write more than just reviews. I could write an article!

After the mind blowing experience of Mark Chadbourn's The Business of Writing, the rest of the day passed quickly, with only a short break for a dirty bird at Nando's.

I attended a new writers panel, moderated by Gollancz's publicist Jon Weir. The writers on the panel were: Tom Pollock, Vincent Holland-Keen, Lou Morgan and Emma Newman. It was quite interesting to find out how Emma Newman approached it by seeing herself as a real business and even found an investor. Someone in the audience blurted out: “You have a patron?”, to everyone’s amusement.

Then I attended two very similar talks by The Arthur C Clarke Award’s director, Tom Hunter, who focused on using social media to promote yourself as a writer. The entry level was quite low and his message could be boiled down to use Twitter and don’t be a dick.

The last event of the evening was a comics panel with Jay Eales, who was moderating, and Paul Cornell, Mark Chadbourn, Selina Lock and Emma Vieceli. It was a good discussion, so good I might even do a separate post on it. I took notes...

By this time I was feeling pretty overconned, and just wanted to sit down, relax, and have a chat with someone. The only two events left for the day was the two guests of honour, and to my great shame, I was too tired to attend.

I found @Ian_Sales in the cafe/bar area with a pile of his recently released books. The first one, Rocket Science, is a anthology of Science Fiction stories using real science. The second, Adrift on the Sea of Rains, is SF novel set on the moon. I could not resist temptation and bought both of them. After buying his books, he even invited me to sit down, and the conversation that followed was pretty nerdy. It might have involved zombie microbes.

When they all left for something to eat I had a great time with @FranTerminiello, @RenWarom, @KTScribbles, Fiona, and @PatKelleher. You might want to check out @PathKelleher’s books for Abaddon. Anyway, we had a great time, and we were the last to leave the bar. In fact, @Hagelrat ordered us to join the others in the hotel bar.

I had an amazing time, and I want to thank the organisers and all the awesome people I met. You know who you are!


  1. It was good to finally meet you in the flesh. And I'd forgotten the zombie microbes :-)

    1. It was. Would have been last year, but my epic failure with FantasyCon at the time...

  2. Thanks for the mention Erik. It was great to finally meet.

  3. So when can I expect to receive your novel?