Ten great reasons for writers to visit FantasyCon

FantasyConIn case you haven’t yet come across FantasyCon, it’s the fabulous annual meet-up for writers, editors, artists, publishers, and anyone else connected with the fantasy and horror genres, organised by the British Fantasy Society. The 2012 event is taking place from September 27 to 30, and it’s all going on in Brighton, England, at the Royal Albion Hotel. Here’s a round-up of just some of the reasons to be there.

1. Special Media Guests

The latest news on special media guests at the con is that Robin Hardy is coming along to introduce a special screening of his film The Wicker Tree, which reprises the territory and themes of his famous classic, The Wicker Man. And if that weren’t enough, Mark Gatiss will be making an appearance – the actor, screenwriter, author of the wonderful Lucifer Box novels and of course the co-creator of The League of Gentlemen and Sherlock TV series. OK, I’m slightly giddy now . . .

2. Guests of Honour

Attendees at the con will also be able to hear from the guests of honour, including Texan writer Joe R. Lansdale, author of over thirty novels; Mary Danby, editor of thirteen volumes of The Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories; New York Times best-selling fantasy writer Brent Weeks; and TV presenter and horror writer Muriel Grey. Events will be rounded up in style by master of ceremonies Tim Lebbon, award-winning author of Fallen, Coldbrook, Dusk and Echo City, among other titles.

3. Talks, interviews, panels, presentations

Between meeting other con-goers and visits to the bar, there is always a great programme of events at FantasyCon. Besides appearances by the guests of honour there will be panel discussions on genre writing and publishing, inside views from industry specialists, tips from agents and publishers, invaluable ‘been-there’ advice from established practitioners, practical insights on surviving the writing life without losing your marbles, insightful interviews with authors from across the world, and masterclasses to help develop new skills.

4. The bar

Here’s the place to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. I remember being quite nervous when I attended my first FantasyCon, but found it wonderfully friendly – it really is a great place to meet like-minded people over a glass of your favourite tipple. If you’re shy and this is your first con, there is even a special area where you can meet other newcomers and indeed someone who will show you around. On a more serious note, it’s a good place to network and make connections with people in genre publishing. One of the best aspects of attending, though, is simply meeting some lovely people and making friends for life. A lot of people I’ve met at the event describe the FantasyCon crowd as being like a family . . . really, there’s nothing to fear! Unless of course . . .

5. Readings

. . . you go along to some of the atmospheric readings. Last year these took place either in Bar Rogue or in a moodily lit room upstairs. Listen to some spooky ghost stories, fantastical tales or extracts from novels. The roster is yet to be announced but last year had some wonderful offerings from the likes of Rob Shearman, John L. Probert, Simon Bestwick and many others. And if you want to share your work and polish your reading skills in a friendly environment, at the time of writing, there is still time to volunteer to give a reading too.

6. Sit back and be entertained

The full programme of events will be announced closer to the date, but if last year’s roster is anything to go by, no one will be short of things to do! With film showings, a disco, staged entertainment including a his-and-hers burlesque show and hilarious pantomimes put on by Teatro Proberto, it was an absolute riot . . . and that’s all without venturing outside the hotel. Don’t forget to get your hands on some raffle tickets and try to win some fab prizes, including signed books, limited editions, proof copies and artwork.

7. The dealer room and art show

The dealer room at FantasyCon is a veritable treasure chest – I shall be bringing along a spare and rather sturdy bag in case I can’t resist. Apparently the dealer space is already sold out for 2012, so there will be another good turnout.  Publishers coming along include PS Publishing, Chomu, TTA Press, Eibonvale, Angry Robot and Screaming Dreams, to name a few. There are usually some rather nice finds in the event goodie bags as well. Yes, all this and freebies too! Last year there was also an art show alongside the event, where genre illustrators and artists can show their work and have prints and originals for sale.

8. Book Launches

Okay, here’s where you’ll need another sturdy bag. In the main bar, and sometimes spilling out into other areas of the con, there will be a whole series of signing and book launch events. Some of the books on offer will be special pre-release items, including the Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women and the Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. Have your copies signed by many of the contributors – some of these events also have a free glass of wine on offer when you buy a book.

I believe more launches are being added to the schedule, but you can see the ones timetabled so far – FantasyCon launches 2012.

9. Awards banquet

Enjoy a banquet at the British Fantasy Awards ceremony, the grand finale of FantasyCon. This year’s longlist has been voted on by members of the BFS and overseen by special juries . . . find out who wins at this event on the Sunday afternoon of the con. Check out the BFS nominees and decide on your favourites.

10. A trip to the seaside

If you get chance to emerge from the hotel and go blinking into the daylight, beyond the event lies all of Brighton. The famous beach and pier are straight opposite the venue – there’s even a log flume to clear the morning hangover, while fans of a good scare (or just a bit of a giggle) can make a trip to the Horror Hotel. If you wish to explore further, there’s plenty to see – shopping in The Lanes, the Royal Pavilion, Brighton wheel and plenty of restaurants, not to mention a paddle and an ice cream.

11. (Bonus!) Erm, did I mention the bar . . . ?


Further information about FantasyCon 2012 including details of how to join.



Alison LittlewoodAlison’s first novel, A Cold Season, is out now from Jo Fletcher Books, an imprint of Quercus. It was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for spring 2012.
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