A really first class production from Stephen Jones, Mike Marshall, Amanda Fourbiser and the team. Folks, pat yourselves on the back. It doesn’t surprise me that an event of this complexity and scope took three years to put together. It would take me three years to recover from having any part in organising it … I slept and showered with my pass festooned around my neck for fear of losing it, only to leave it on the banquet table! Fortunately, my pleas to Mandy and the head of security were heeded. Never thought I’d go to a better convention than World Horror 2010, but I may just have done.
The hotel itself: I loved its charm, its spaces and graces, and the fine service and food. Me and me Dad had a family room with two truckle beds! No toad things got busy at night, though I hope that was my dad in the half light with the scant wisps of hair, emerging from the bathroom on Sunday night …
The panels I attended as a member of the audience were all excellent. The level of scholarly detail and insight on the Machen panels was a delight and I learnt a great deal from ST Joshi, Reggie Oliver, Robert Lloyd Parry, John Probert, Jonathan Aycliffe among so many others. Would not have missed these for the world. The spec script panel was genuinely one of the best I’ve attended in nine years of conventions.
The dinners! Fine dining with Joseph Delacey, Charles Rudkin, Mark Morris, Guy Adams, Steve Volk and so many old con’ chums, culminating in a marvellous dinner with my Dad and agent, John Jarrold, on Sunday evening.
The parties – I thought this kind of generosity from the industry might become a thing of the past in such challenging times. It hasn’t. JJLA, Voyager, Pan Mac, Jo Fletcher, Gollancz and Bragelonne parties all rocked.
The entertainment – there was much of it, and taking part in Stephen Laws’ name-that-tune on film scores (not least meeting Stephen for the first time) around a piano in the restaurant is the stuff that conventions are made of. I failed to name one tune, but if my life depended on naming film scores, I’d have Paul Finch on my side every time. Respect Paul!
The books – I left with the new Reggie Oliver, protectively wrapped in a scarf: FLOWERS OF THE SEA, plus MRS MIDNIGHT, two signed novellas by Ramsey Campbell, and a bagful of books given to me from generous writers and editors.
The award – what can I say? Having a book recognised in this way on a brilliant shortlist is monumental. Managing to get on and off stage without my trousers falling to my ankles was an additional bonus. I took the suit, I forgot the belt.
The people – are why I come back every year and this year was no different. You guys do me the world of good. Honourable mentions were the literary critic S T Joshi, artist Tessa Farmer (her work is superb, she’s a lovely person, from Birmingham, and her great grandfather was Arthur Machen – what’s not to like?), and Graham Joyce: a very fine writer, a mate, and one of the bravest people I know.
And even though a motorist bumped the Vauxhall Van Helsing in the carpark, I have no complaints (the clowns at this very minute are chewing their way through someone’s brake cables …)