Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Alt: Fiction Report

There have already been some nice little write ups of this particular event, but I thought I would throw my two cents into the hat. Alt:Fiction was held on Saturday 12th June in Derby's Quad - a one day literary convention positively swarming with industry professionals (authors, publicists, agents and the like).

I only went to one panel - Genre Books You Must Read - and enjoyed that one. There were only a couple of other panels that I half-fancied, but then I ended up chatting to people at the bar instead (which I can see becoming a theme at future cons, to be honest).

Here are some of my idle thoughts about the whole affair:

- Great little location. Easy to find, good facilities, bit cramped with the amount of people, so I can't see Alt:Fiction expanding too much while sticking with the Quad.

- How on earth do you write Alt:Fiction? I'm going with the colon, but I've seen other variations - Alt.Fiction, Alt Fiction, Altfiction. Seriously, which is right? It isn't a major point, but it frustrates me not knowing every time I type it *grin*

- For a small convention, it was simply awesome to see so many authors there, and on the whole they were incredibly approachable and friendly (there was one disappointing exception, but I don't want to bitch about that publically).

- Kate Griffin was lovely. I asked her to sign A Madness of Angels and The Midnight Mayor, and she was both humble and cheerful. We had a little natter, and I'm planning to pick up some of her Catherine Webb books. This is another of those female authors (a la Alex Bell) that you would hate if they weren't so damn nice: pretty, talented and stinkingly young for what they have achieved! *grin*

- Gavin Smith spilled all his secrets to me. All of them. I am now dangerously loaded up with Things He Doesn't Want The General Public To Know! The crazy fool has also agreed to an interview with me once I've read Veteran - mwah ha ha ha!

- I had a great time most of the day with Mark Chitty. We've been chatting for months via Twitter and it was lovely to meet in person. I want to thank him particularly for keeping me company so well!

- It was great having a drink with James from Speculative Horizons and Jon Weir from Gollancz, and then lunch with Gavin Smith, Mark Chitty and Mark Lachlan. This is the part of conventions I love the most - gatecrashing private meals between friends... (I think they invited me, but I might just have headed on over to their table!)

- I had a moment with Graham McNeill and Gav Thorpe (two chaps who I wanted to meet both thanks to their novels and thanks to my geekgirl wargaming side!) I ended up apologising for being so geeky about Osprey books, and Graham just sort of looked at me and then said very dryly that I was in good company. Embarrassed! He wrote THE best comment in my copy of Courage and Honour (review to follow shortly): "My favourite reviewer!"

- I concur with Cheryl Morgan's post to a certain extent. The event felt very much an industry one - to the point where authors would be sat in groups chatting and I would feel a little awkward at going over to ask for a book to be signed. I felt almost as though I was gatecrashing a little, which I'm not sure is the image trying to be conveyed. I'm just a lowly book blogger (and not even one of the really well-known ones like Speculative Horizons) and therefore felt a tiny bit out of place.

- Just a practical consideration: With five streams of panels etc. next year can we see a nice handy tabular form of this, much like that provided at Eastercon? Will be much easier to see which panels clash and arrange properly what you want to attend.

- Mark Chadbourn said I was the epitome of cool. I thought I was a giggly girl when I asked him to sign a copy of his book. Let's go with his image on this occasion!

Altogether Alt:Fiction was a fun day and it was awesome catching up with the likes of Adam Christopher, Adrian Faulkner, Lee Harris, Saxon Bullock, Steve Aryan and others. I'll be in attendance next year!


  1. Hi Amanda
    I wonder if the kaffeklatsch idea would be a solution to the gatecrashing thing? This a programmed item where new or not-so-new people can sign up to a table for half an hour with a designated author or two. Sometimes the authors are chatting in tight groups cos they haven't seen their friends for a long time but sometimes it's cos are also a bit shy/uncomfortable! Anyway might be worth trying at Fantasycon.

  2. 'was good to catch up! (and the kaffeklatsch idea is a good one, Graham - I'll mention it to Catherine and Alex for next year).

    Oh, and it's Alt.Fiction - it's derived from old usenet terminology. The Alt.Fiction logo should have given you a clue... :-p

  3. @Graham - that does sound like a good idea!

    @Lee - if you're feeding back anyway, I also had another thought. It wasn't made completely clear to me that I could sit in on the podcasts as they were recorded - I thought they were being done purely for release after the event. I would have been really interested in sitting in on two or three of them, so maybe make that clearer for future events. And thanks for the clarification on how to say Alt.Fiction :-p

  4. Glad you had a good time. Sorry I couldn't make it in the end, but hopefully next time. All the best :)

  5. Really missed you and Cara both, Jason - wasn't the same without my usual con buddies!

  6. Good wrie-up Amanda. It wasn't a bad event was it? I missed the genre books you must read panel - arrived too late. I think that might have been interesting.