So, just as most folk’s social calendars are filling up in anticipation of the month of December, and specifically Christmas, mine is nearly all emptied out. Which means I’m booked in to do some serious writing over the next couple of months? And I’m happy to report that all is going well on the writing front. The new novel, Autodrome, is proving to be a joy ride of motor sports, kick arse ladies and cool-cat gents, and a bit of death thrown in for good measure. I’ve just finished chapter twelve and am one scene away from launching into the Ramrod Rally on which the novel hinges…exciting stuff!
October 11th and 12th was Newcon 4, and what proved to be my favourite convention to date. The venue was the Fishmarket in Northampton, a glorious greenhouse of a building filled with a crystalline chill and sunlight. On Friday evening we enjoyed a Chinese banquet at quite possibly the largest table of guests I have ever sat at. Ever sociable, we scooted off for an hour or two to the local rock pub before settling in at our hotel for the remainder of the evening for some mildly intoxicated conversation.
First thing on Saturday, I ran a flash fiction workshop and was delighted to meet some really friendly writers and to get some great entries for the Newcon 4 flash fiction competition. Later in the day, I moderated a panel featuring some of the very talented Write Fantastic (Chaz Brenchley, Deborah J. Miller and Juliet E. McKenna) and event organiser extraordinaire Alex Davies. With the panel title, ‘The Write Fantastic: The Way Forward or A Waste of Time’ (hear the audio recording here), I felt obliged to grill these lovely people ever so slightly. But all responded with eloquence and grace, and have since assured me I’m still counted as a friend!
Saturday evening was a blur of sloppy Indian, folk music, birthday cake and celebration, leaving me ever so slightly jaded for Sunday. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed my reading with Mark Robson and Chaz Brenchley, and before I knew it, it was the end of the con and I’d barely made it to any panels. Sunday evening, Del and I got to relax with guest of honour, Iain M. Banks, the gentlemanly Ken Macleod, the rebel yell that is literary agent, Simon Kavanagh, and some very good friends. Needless to say, the evening soon degenerated into a ménage of heated debate, loud Germans and rather good Star Wars impressions.
Roll on Newcon 5.
On our arrival back home, Halloween weekend promptly took precedence. My father, the eternal party animal demanded a fiesta of the gaudiest degree and bought out every tacky outlet offering ghoul masks, blood splattered tablecloths, plastic wall hangings and shrieking witches. Scarlet enjoyed a party with her school friends in the afternoon, which I survived and even enjoyed. Then the adults descended for the main event in the evening. Thanks to the now-legendary ‘Lakin’ quiz, our living room was soon swarming with charadeers re-enacting Silence of the Lambs (yes, your imagination is smutty!)…come midnight I was more than ready to turn back into a pumpkin!
Sunday November 8th was my workshop and Q and A session at the Alt Fiction Writers’ Retreat in Derbyshire. Having spent most of my life exploring the beautiful peaks and valleys of Derbyshire, it was wonderful to find myself back amidst its atmospheric splendour – especially given the roiling black sky, lashing rain and isolated setting. Once inside however I was greeted by a roaring wood burner and a bunch of incredibly friendly, enthusiastic fellow writers. It was a brilliant afternoon and I was delighted to hear feedback from so many of the weekend’s participants afterwards. Just sorry I couldn’t rescue you all from the Green Sweets of Doom, but maybe the Zombie fraternity who moved in the following weekend were partial. The weekend was particularly fun because our dear friend Sam Moffat came to stay while her other half, Paul Skevington was busy at the retreat. Always fun. Always over too soon.
So now it’s back to my life as a writer…which is really all about the hard slog. In between I hope to enjoy a glass of mulled wine or several over the coming festive period and prepare myself for the wilds of winter come the New Year.
But before all that, I am to London for a riotous weekend with the charming Tom Hunter and his crew, then a smack down in Nottingham’s Rock City the following weekend in the company of my lovely sister. Better dust off the old New Rocks!