Well, Fantasy Con 2015 has come and gone. It was my first ever convention, and it was an absolute blast. I had no idea what to expect, but it’s fair to say that I did not expect to be hanging out at the bar with the likes of Joe Hill and Sarah Pinborough within half an hour of stepping through the door (they were both lovely, and ignored the fact that I was a bit shell-shocked I think)!

Less than two hours later I was very nervously speaking on a panel about writing within franchises. More nervous because, where I’d expected a small-ish room with a table at one end, we were actually on a stage in a rather large lecture theatre. I was up there with Mark MorrisPaul KaneRebecca Levene, and one of the con’s heavy hitters, Wheel of Time author Brandon Sanderson.

I was later to be cursing Brandon (light-heartedly of course), as his signing clashed with my reading, which meant I almost had to read to three people, all of whom I knew! Thankfully, you can always rely on your friends to whip up an audience at the last minute, and when those friends include agent Jamie Cowen, and Black Library favourites Gav Thorpe and GuyHaley, you’re a fortunate chap indeed!

The launch of The Lazarus Gate went well (apart from being interrupted by a fire alarm!), with a fair gathering of industry professionals, and a publicist on hand to ply me with wine so that my hands would stop shaking as I signed books. It helped that Mark Morris was beside me once again, and he proved quite a draw – he’s a real pro, that chap!

Pre-signing smiles!
The Dark Lord, Adam Nevill
(aka The Nicest Man in Horror).
Totally goobering: Shaky fan selfie with S G Volk!

A con is a strange affair for a newbie. So many industry professionals, so many famous writers, and dozens upon dozens of not-so-famous ones like me, all rubbing shoulders together. I learned an awful lot just by chatting to fellow authors, and from attending panels on a variety of subjects, such as ‘the future of genre publishing’ and ‘writing short fiction’. I had dinner with the fabulous Titan crew (editors Cath Trechman and Natalie Laverick, publicist Lydia Gittins, and writers Marc Turner, Mark Morris, Dan Godfrey, Tim Lebbon and Nina Allan), hung out with Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane (the latter of whom provided the highlight of my weekend with his brilliant play on Saturday night), and also got to meet my two horror heroes: Adam Nevill and Stephen Volk, who really did make me lose my cool and go all fanboy… oh dear!

Finally, a big shout out to the Redcloaks for making the event go so smoothly. Without you guys, it just couldn’t be done!