Wednesday, 6 November 2013

World Fantasy Convention and Brighton - Part Two

I hope you enjoyed part one of Things that Should Have Stayed in Brighton. I'm sad that some of the books we bought and had signed ended up staying in Brighton... there's a very, very slight chance that they will turn up and the hotel's Lost Property will call today... but, of course, with so many free books lying around the most likely scenario is that they were collected up and donated to raise funds for a cancer charity. At least I can console myself that they were lost in a good cause.
And so, we begin part deux. Readers of the previous blog may recall there was mention of booze and people and we finished on Sunday night, sometime around 4ish. Actually, I think I'd sobered up by then... my conversations with Lavie Tidhar, Neil Williamson, Jetse de Vries and Simon Bestwick happened at some point; Ian Sales, Liam Proven and David Tallerman were giggling at me like schoolboys; Hal Duncan was singing "Born Free"  and talking about Dunoon to me... I can't remember when I arm-wrestled Ruth Booth...
At more sober times during the con, I kept saying "hello" to Liz Williams en route to places, and was often walking behind the fabulous coat of Emma Newman. I chatted a fair bit to Jonathon Oliver, especially at the Solaris desk, when he was there with Guy Adams.
But I cannot capture anywhere near all the good times that were had and all the lovely people I spoke to... I had a great time. My only downside was that with all the stairs my knee started hurting, so I decided to avoid joining Parkrun in Preston Park on Saturday. Next week I go unfit and unprepared into my 10km. Can't be helped.
Is it any surprise then that on Sunday, not having any tickets for the Banquet and subsequent World Fantasy Awards, and being a little, erm, tired, we didn't go back to the con hotel? Instead we wandered around the famous Lanes and down the seafront.
And the London-Brighton Vintage car rally was on. There were some beautiful cars:



It's clearly a rich man's hobby, though... every person interviewed when they finished their run sounded like a BBC/Pathé news broadcaster.


And could this be my favourite shop in Brighton? Choccywoccydoodah sells chocolate - expensive, arty chocolate. I liked the chocolate mugs - mugs made out of chocolate - with a silver spoon melted to the side. The impressive window display was full of skulls, cobwebs and giant displays of phantasmagoria. No, I didn't buy any... OH only had eyes for cycle shops, and other people's cycles.
Going to a convention like WFC is, admittedly, a bit of a jolly, but few of us would go to so many if there were nothing to be gained but an opportunity to meet friends and have a good time (I have a house, and a kettle, and nice  pubs nearby, thanks). It's an investment of time and resources to get your face known within the industry. Because it's an outlay, you need to carefully consider whether a convention is worth going to, and consider your budget even more carefully. And spending will happen - so belts must be tightened before and after... see my next blog about that grim reality. As with every investment, there is a risk that the return will not be as good as you hoped. But if that's the case, at least you still get a nice break from it. And see your friends, too!
Here are my financial yays and woahs for a con like WFC:
Most of the books we picked up were free. Some of those are gorgeous publications, too. Books are treasures that I love to read... and give. We also supported the industry by buying some books we really wanted, and saved money by buying direct. Shame we lost some books, though. 
The bar in the hotel was expensive, but most of what we drank was free, given away at signings and launch parties. Trouble is, when the free stuff runs out, so do your financial inhibitions! We also took along some decent red wine acquired for 50p, but didn't get round to cracking that open. Ah well, it'll last.
If I were a novelist, perhaps I'd have an agent whisk me off for an expenses-paid meal somewhere nice, but I'm not... yet. We got by on bargain express lunches, sandwiches, free cake and bar snacks from the parties and launches, and food we'd brought with us, and just got ripped off that once hunting for breakfast. I wish we'd stuck to Wetherspoons. I know it's not terribly exciting, but it's decent fodder, tea and beer at a reasonable price.
Bags, wallets, promotional shot glasses... and I'm unlikely to run out of pens for a while!
Another time, I will try to stock up on soft drinks at the supermarket (time/organization) and will be a bit more insistent on going to Spoons. Probably go to more panels too, but then I think everyone says that...


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