All told, the inaugural Cymera Festival in Edinburgh was a triumph. Organiser Ann Landmann did a terrific job of booking writers, setting up events and apparently managing to keep her cool throughout. I got a chance to speak at length with lots of SFF authors I’d only met in passing before, and hang out with the Titan Books editorial and marketing team, who are all ace.
And it was a personal triumph, too. The event I was scheduled to take part in – a discussion with Claire North (or Cat Webb, to dispense with the pseudonym) – was a far bigger event than I’ve ever done before. I mean that quite literally – we were onstage in the main theatre, with stage mics and everything. But the festival was so casual and friendly, as was Cat/Claire when we spoke in the Green Room, that I found myself more relaxed and confident than at previous events.
And I think the actual discussion went well, too! I certainly enjoyed it, Cat/Claire’s opinions are always fascinating and her recent novel 84K is an absolute marvel, and I think I was mostly coherent and mostly on topic. I so appreciated people stumping up for the event – most would have paid for the event individually rather than as part of a weekend pass – and a bunch bought copies of Snakeskins and asked me to sign them, too. All in all, I was allowed to feel like a Real Author, which was very exciting.
I’m told that Cymera will return next year, so watch out for more details – I highly recommend coming along.
Over the weekend the full programme for the new SFF literary festival, CYMERA, was announced. The festival will take place on 7–9 June 2019 in Edinburgh, and features some amazing guests, including Marian Womack, Tade Thompson, Gareth L. Powell, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Charles Stross, Christopher Priest… and many more – it’s a heck of a list. And Claire North! And me!
I’d been told a while back that I’d be on a panel with Cat Webb (otherwise known as Claire North), but I’d assumed there’d be a bunch of us onstage. Instead, the event is the two of us in conversation – and while this is SO cool, I’m also feeling SUCH anxiety. I love Cat’s/Claire’s books.
We’ll be chatting about unequal societies in fiction, related to my upcoming novel SNAKESKINS (in which a small group of Britons have the power to shed their skins every seven years, rejuvenating in the process) and the Claire North novel 84K (in which anyone can get away with any crime, if they have the money to pay for it). 84K is a superb novel and if you haven’t already read it, you must.
The event will be on Sunday 9th June at The Pleasance in Edinburgh. There are more details on the CYMERA website.
I’m finally getting around to thinking about my FantasyCon plans. Mostly, those plans involve chatting, but I will have some fixed points in amongst the socialising:
Friday 5pm – PS Publishing launch – My hybrid non-fiction/fiction book about the 1915 film LES VAMPIRES will be available for the first time, alongside other Electric Dreamhouse Press titles by Tim Lucas and John Connolly, AND new PS Publishing books by Ramsey Campbell, Tim Lebbon, Paul Kane, Stephen Volk, Ian Whates and Thana Niveau. Wow!
Saturday 9pm – reading slot – alongside the very excellent Gary Budden and Priya Sharma. I’m so looking forward to this session! (I have no idea what I’ll be reading, yet – maybe an oldie as I’ve been dusting off stories for next year’s story collection, ‘And the House Lights Dim’.)
Sunday 11am ‘Reprinting short fiction’ panel – with Ian Whates, Peter Mark May, Marguerite Kenner and Nina Allan.
But more than anything, I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone. I’ll be around all weekend – a rarity for me – so there should be lots of opportunities to hang out. See you all there!
This week’s The Outer Dark podcast includes a recording of the ‘Weird in Weird Fiction’ panel from last month’s FantasyCon in Peterborough, featuring me alongside some wonderfully knowledgeable people: Phil Sloman (moderating), Helen Marshall, Stephen Laws, Paul Woodward and Alistair Rennie.
I had such fun taking part in this one! The panel starts at the 1:11 mark, though you should also listen to the WorldCon ‘Rise of Weird Fiction’ panel recording earlier in the episode, and Helen Marshall’s fantastically detailed commentary on the current state of weird fiction. (Also: read Helen’s fiction! Her short story collections are incredible.)
Next weekend I’ll be attending FantasyCon for the third time. In 2015 I was a bystander; in 2016 I jumped in at what I thought was the deep end, with a reading and a panel appearance. It turns out there are deeper waters, though: this year I’ll be participating in three panels and a reading. If you’ll be there, this is where you can find me:
Readings: Weird Fiction – Saturday 11am
Short Fiction: Markets, Outlets, Awards – Saturday 3pm (Panel Room 1)
Allen Ashley (mod), Stephen Bacon, Tim Major, Pat Cadigan, Adam Millard, Lynda E. Rucker
Unruly Authors: The Perils of Being an Editor – Saturday 5pm (Panel Room 1)
Juliet Mushens (mod), Tim Major, Colleen Anderson, Mike Chinn, Rose Drew
The Weird in Weird Fiction – Sunday 11.30am (Panel Room 3)
Phil Sloman (mod), Paul Woodward, Alistair Rennie, Tim Major, Stephen Laws, Helen Marshall
Next weekend I’ll be heading to FantasyCon for the second time. The difference will be that, whereas last year I skulked shyly at the edges of rooms this time around, this time I have a novel to promote (though I reserve the right to skulk). I’ll be appearing at these events:
Friday 23rd Sept
- 9–11pm Horror Writers Association & Jo Fletcher Books Party – where I’m looking forward to meeting other HWA members and writers.
- 9.30pm Tim Major reading – I’ll be doing a reading alongside Alex Lamb (though I haven’t yet decided what I’ll be reading) as part of the ‘Sci-Friday’ bunch of writers. I like to see my reading slot as acting as a warm-up for recent Clarke Award winner, Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Saturday 24th Sept
- 2–3pm Snowbooks launch – where my time-travel novel, YOU DON’T BELONG HERE, is the side attraction to the launch of Snowbooks’ series of horror novellas by authors including Mark Morris, Ray Cluley and Cate Gardner.
Sunday 25th Sept
- 1–2pm ‘How to Build a Time Machine’ panel – my first ever panel appearance… Expect a lot of blustering, though I genuinely have built a time machine as part of my preparation.
You can read the full FantasyCon programme here.