I’m a relative newcomer to SF conventions, having dipped a toe in the water cautiously a couple of years ago at Eastercon and become a con-convert. This year World Fantasy Con visited the UK (Brighton) so it was my first opportunity to attend an international convention, and what’s more a serious professional literary con where most attendees are writers, publishers or agents with only a small percentage of readers and fans.
Of course, most pros are also readers and fans.
I booked the con last year, before I got my book deal, but by happy coincidence my editor, Sheila Gilbert (DAW) was there, so I not only got to go out on the DAW social meals but also managed an editorial meeting, so from a personal point of view that was already a big win.
There were some excellent panels with some well-known names: authors, editors and agents. It was particularly nice to see Terry Pratchett in attendance, and I managed to get a front row seat for that. For much of the time I was in back-to-back events during the daytime. Panels didn’t run into the evenings, however, leaving space for social gatherings, launch parties, publishers’ dinners and meeting up with old friends.
Sadly I came down with a humdinger of a throat and by Friday night had lost my voice almost completely. I hardly ever get colds, these days, so that was unfortunate in the extreme. It didn’t spoil the con, however.
Lovely to hang out with Charlie, Tina, Terry, Sue, Kari and Phil, John and Sara and to see Sandra, Liz, Ben (briefly), Neil, Al, Heather and oh so many more. Lots of writers from various Milford Conferences were in attendance though I manged to miss some of the people I expected to see, largely because the social space in the Brighton Metropole Hotel (i.e. the bar) was oversubscribed and appallingly noisy. (But there was a great little Hole in the Wall pub right outside the back door that was particularly welcoming.)
Speaking of hotels… the Hilton Brighton Metropole is supposed to be a four star hotel but it has the most uncomfortable beds I’ve ever had the misfortune to try and sleep in. They’re as hard as bricks and feel pretty much like unforgiving futons. I thought the days of hotels subscribing to the firm-is-good theory of bed buying were long over. Sadly not. Though the staff offered to move me to another room, the bed was exactly the same. It was pointed out that I was in ‘the cheapest room’ but – hey – when you only need a single room you don’t have much choice and for £95 a night (and a 5 night stay) I expect a comfotrtable bed even if I don’t have a sea view and a chocolate on the pillow every night. It took eight pillows and an extra duvet on top of the mattress to get even a broken night’s sleep. Appalling. And I wasn’t the only one complaining. Come on, Hilton, buck your ideas up!
But forgetting the bed, and the somewhat inclement weather, the con was a great success. My congratulations to the organising team.
And next year I get to sample my second international convention when Worldcon visits London for Loncon3.
PS I forgot to mention the free books. So many book-samples that it took the two free bags to haul them all back up to my room and there was no way that I could carry them home since my suitcase was already maxed out. Luckily John and Sara stashed them away in their van for the next time we meet, so I have that to look forward to.