FCon 2014

FCon has been and gone for another year *sigh*.

I had a great time, getting to live in my element for a few days rather than put up with the drudgery of the so called real world I inhabit the other 362 days of the year.

First of all an apology.

I have certain issues I don’t talk about online, one of the symptoms of such issues meaning I have problems talking to new people; this obviously includes those I’ve only talked to online. So apologies to anyone who thought I was being dismissive, rude, or huffish to them in particular. I wasn’t, I really wasn’t. As soon as I step into the real world my cocky Han Solo wannabe attitude flies out of the window and I turn into a blubbering wreck of umms, ahhs, and downward stares. Eye contact is almost impossible for me to maintain *shudders at the thought* The person you know online ceases to exist without the safety of a laptop screen shielding his face, and a dark uncommunicative cloud of anxiety, panic, and fear takes his place. Sorry if you took it personally.

Also with the prices of the convention hotel and the fact I stuck mostly to the hotel for the weekend I couldn’t afford the luxury of faux drunken confidence. Grr.


I made it to the con with enough time to check in before the first panel. Staying in the con hotel had certain advantages, mainly the fact I could keep running back to my room to dump handfuls of books. Thank god I brought extras bags for the trip home!

Saturday was a flurry of meets and greets, freebie books, and gasping at bar prices. I bumped into Sue Moorcroft and Mark West almost as soon as I ventured into the hotel and we meandered to the Opening Ceremony. It wasn’t as grand or exuberant as I expected, and had barely any attendees. Also that was when I first found out Graham Joyce wouldn’t be able to attend. Gutted. EDIT: Since publishing this post I learned the terrible news that Graham passed away. He was, and will continue to be, one of my biggest inspirations in the field of horror writing. RIP Graham, you will be missed.

With a panel and the Tor book launch on at the same time, we decided to head down to the launch first and attempt to catch the second half of the panel afterwards. A shortcut through the dealership ended up with Mark bumping into people he knew…

FCon Tip #1: Mark West knows EVERYONE! If you intent to get anywhere on time, run ahead!

And stopping for a quick chat and marketing photo op with Chris Teague.

We stumbled across Phil Ambler and a few others at the launch, and I was good enough to admit the organisers had given me a free copy of the new Adam Nevill book by mistake. After paying a random passer-by who promised us with a grin she was the person we should be paying, we got our books signed, had a brief word with Adam, and posed for a finger-sniffingly good photo.

Phil Sloman, Adam Nevill, Mark West, Me

On the way to the panel, time not on our side, we bumped into Jim Mcleod. Great to meet him in person after all the piss-taking online! By the time we wandered towards the Rejectamentalist Manifesto panel we were able to catch the last twenty-five seconds of the talk. Oops.

Me, Phil Sloman, Jim McLeod, Mark West, Sue Moorcroft, Neil Williams, Christopher Teague

A brief break in the schedule meant we had time for a quick pint on the huge sun filled terrace that everyone else seemed to avoid in favour of the tiny, cramped version next to the bar…go figure. Familiar faces turned up including Stephen Bacon, and Mark introduced me to some lovely new people (my brain scrambling desperately to remember which ones I’d talked to online) – Neil Williams, John Travis, Terry Grimwood, James Everington, and Steve Harris. All of whose names I promptly forgot. I have the memory of a dead goldfish. But there’s photographic evidence so I will make an effort to memorise everyone’s name for next year!

Terrace Bacon
Sue Moorcroft, Me, Stephen Bacon, Mark West, Neil Williams
Terrace Group
Me, Neil Williams, Sue Moorcroft, Stephen Bacon, John Travis, Terry Grimwood, James Everington, Steve Harris, Mark West

Just before 6pm we all left for the Joel Lane tribute. I’m genuinely upset I never got to meet Joel after reading his work and all the stories I’ve heard about him, but it was nice to see his friends pay such a lovely tribute. And offer up knob gags I’m told would have had him grinning ear to ear. The only downside was the location, which was a tad noisy. Half the people there were just ambling at the bar ignoring the readings, and right behind where the readings were being held was a paper thin partition doing a really shit job of suppressing the sound from the cheering crowd of the Pointless quiz.

That was until Ramsey summoned up a booming voice that would have the Old Ones quaking in fear, and told everyone to bloody well shut up or leave. The telling off got the rapturous applause it deserved. Just when you thought you couldn’t respect anyone any more…

To the bar!

I wandered over to the York Taps (pub closet to hotel – about three steps away) at some point and bumped into Graeme Reynolds, Fiona Ní Éalaighthe, and Jim McLeod. Lisa Jenkins joined us soon after. I wasn’t pissed at this point and everyone else was so my wussy side came out to the play and I toyed with my pint glass instead of making a real effort to join in with the conversation. Jim, if you remember asking and not getting an answer, my guilty music pleasure is Jack Johnson!


Up early on Saturday (well, early for me), I attended the 10am Does Anyone Get Out of Here Alive? panel and bumped into Phil Ambler and Peter Mark May. Some wise words from Adam Nevill, Roz Kaveney, Sara Jayne Townsend, Ramsey Campbell, and Guy Adams. It was one of the more interesting panels of the weekend

I went rogue at this point to go listen to the 11am It’s the End of the World as we Know It – And I Feel Unsurprised panel. A discussion about dystopic settings in YA (yes, I write YA sometimes!). Another interesting discussion with a few flashes of inspiration unintentionally chucked in for good measure.

An extended lunch before the next panel (not many of the panels were my cup of tea so I had a lot of extended bar breaks between them) – 2pm How to Get Noticed – featuring our very own Graeme (it sounds better in a Cilla Black voice, honest). Graeme was excellent and gave us some real insight on what it’s like to be a player in the market without millions of pounds behind you.

At 4pm I wandered over to the NewCon Press launch for Gary McMahon’s new book – The End, and found almost everyone I knew gathered in the same room. The turnout was amazing and it was a pleasure to see Gary even if it was only for a minute. He did call me a sexy devil though and inscribe that in my copy of his book, so it was a memorable if brief meeting.

5pm, and a tad tipsy on launch wine, it was time for Horror on the Small Screen – an in depth discussion about horrors role television and how (or if) it has changed over the years. It was a pleasure to listen to Stephen Volk’s opinion on the subject.

To the pub!

At 8pm a group of us descended upon the lobby, ready for CurryCon…but then had to hang around waiting for Phil, to so called creator of the event. He kept trying to blame other people but we knew it was his fault. Just like the set menu fiasco! Come on, Phil! Pull your finger out, mate.

Giant naans and attempting to have conversations through them were the subjects of the evening. After all the banter and bravado there was only one person man enough to go for the Chef’s Challenge…Chris Barnes, and he did a bloody good job of it even if the naan did defeat him in the end. But boy was it close!

Back to the hotel, somehow managing to lose everyone apart from Graeme Reynolds, and Chris Barnes it was decided a quick trip to the much cheaper Taps was in order. A swift (and decent) pint before we moseyed over to the famed FantasyCon disco. This was my first FCon disco, as they didn’t have one at World FantasyCon, so I was entirely unprepared to see Mark West strutting his funky stuff on the dance floor and putting us all to shame.

Christopher Teague, Mark West, and my sexy self strutting our stuff and impressing the ladies.

The disco ended far too early for our liking (1am), down the hotel we were told not the organisers, so a few of us (Mark West, James Everington, Chris Teague, Jim McLeod, Peter Mark May, Neil Williams, Graeme Reynolds, Lisa Jenkins, Paul Woodward) retired to a quiet corner of the lobby to indulge in a little conversation. A lot of which revolved around how amazing the nearby toilets were in this part of the hotel. Honestly they were huge! And in the style of a 1920s bank…in my mind at least.

We talked until after 3am, putting the writing world to rights and having a bitching session along the way – remind me never to piss these guys off! Or let them read my work *gulp*


For some strange reason I decided 3:30am Sunday morning was a great time to watch a film and have some of the beers I brought with me, so getting up on Sunday morning was a little…difficult. Made easier by Phil Sloman braying on my door to make sure I hadn’t stolen his signed books I’d let him leave there the day before. Or gently tapping at my chamber door after me sleeping through his texts – either one.

I didn’t bother with any panels on the Sunday, it was a day for goodbyes, reading on the sunny terrace, and grinning in awe when the folks at the dealership brought out a load of books they couldn’t sell and said “help yourselves”.

For some strange reason I’d booked an extra night in the hotel. I think a small part of me worried there would be some amazing party that I’d miss out on if I hadn’t booked the extra day. I’m wary of using the word ‘hoped’ because it would have been another chance for me to hang back and panic about approaching/being approached. Bah! Moot point, I spent the night in my hotel stroking my precious (The horde of books, you perverts! Not that precious!) and sleeping off a weekend of mild debauchery.

Fears aside, I had a bloody great time and I’m already looking forward to next year. Hopefully, as a result of my secret project, I should be in a better position to be a brave little communicator next year and soon be pissing y’all off by talking through the night.

P.S. Things I am gutted about:

  • Missing The Spectral Book of Horror Stories launch
  • Missing out on the Film Show
  • Missing ALL the readings, especially Graeme Reynolds High Moor III reading (which can be seen here)
  • Not having the balls to talk to some of the people I talked to last year
  • Wussing out on going to a few of the events on my own
  • Being generally wimpy and quiet in conversation (something I need to work on)
  • Not having any decent published work to pimp out!

P.P.S Apologies to anyone suffering from Con Crud – I may have attend with a cold…sorrryyy!

2 thoughts on “FCon 2014

  • September 9, 2014 at 16:59

    Great post, Steven, it was good to see you and spend time with you over the weekend. And I love your top tip!

  • September 10, 2014 at 12:28

    Finally! The debrief! After your comments last week I very nearly rang up the hotel to book myself in on Friday, before I realised I’d still miss half of it. And if it helps any… you spoke to a darned sight more people than I would have. Whatever *secret project* is (please insert your own italics), good luck with it. I hope it involves thousands of words, none of which are kn*b jokes.


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