Archive for the Events Category

Japan Earthquake Aid Auction

Posted in Events, News with tags , , , on March 17, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

We’ve all seen the footage of the recent magnitude 9.0 earthquake of the northeastern coast of Japan, and the ruin and utter devastation that it caused to both human and animal life. At times like these one is forcefully reminded that, despite being the so-called ‘dominant’ species on this ol’ blue planet of ours, with all our sophisticated technology and science, we humans are still nothing compared to the might of Mother Nature. We often feel helpless in the face of such overwhelming catastrophes.

However, some people, just like Johnny Mains for instance, decide to do whatever they can to help the affected people of Japan, in however small a way. So, Mr Mains has set up an auction with some choice goodies you can bid on, the money going to charity to help with the efforts being made to get Japan back on its feet. EVERY penny that can be sent Japan’s way is a penny more than they had, and will bring recovery about just that little bit sooner.

There are eleven lots, including:

One of the last remaining copies of Back from the Dead, published by Noose and Gibbet Publishing, and signed by 8 of the contributors

A letter from Herbert Van Thal, the editor of the Pan Book of Horror Stories back in the day, to one of the authors appearing in one of the anthologies. These are very scarce items – so bid now to get your hands on a piece of publishing history.

A rare Italian film poster for Peeping Tom, signed by Columba Powell, son of the director Michael Powell and who also played the young Mark Lewis in the film. That would look good on any wall.

A signed rare NEL hardback copy of James Herbert’s The Spear, a book which apparently landed him in court – a case which he lost.

A first Pan Books paperback edition of The Executioners by John D. MacDonald that has been signed by director Martin Scorcese (who directed Cape Fear, based on the book).

Also, a signed hardback copy of Spectral author Gary McMahon’s Rain Dogs, which was published by Humdrumming Press.

There are plenty more desirable items – just go over to Johnny’s Occasionally Horrific blog to find out what they are, their starting prices and how to go about bidding. Let’s see just how much can be raised!!

End of the Line book launch – the event

Posted in Events on November 17, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Cover image © Solaris Books - used with permission

Foyle’s Bookshop, Charing Cross, London – 6:30pm 16th November 2010.

Meeting up with friends, both old and new, is always a good thing, especially when it’s a book launch in the capital, no less. And that’s exactly what happened yesterday, when I travelled into London (despite the best efforts of Milton Keynes train station to make me miss my train – fortunately the one I was headed for was slightly delayed, thus allowing me to buy my ticket and catch it on time) and met up with Mick & Debbie Curtis and John Probert and Thana Niveau. After a fabulous Thai meal, we wandered around a few shops before John and Thana headed off to their hotel and Mick, Debbie and I settled into comfy seats in a pub.

Then on to the event itself, which, I am glad to say, was very well attended (about 120 people). Met up with more friends there (Gary McMahon, Greg James, Stephen Volk, Mark Morris, Charles Rudkin and Jasper Bark), all of whom had made the trip into the capital from far-flung parts of the kingdom. Jonathan Oliver of Solaris Books (and editor of this particular anthology) hosted a short panel session with Adam LG Nevill, Pat Cadigan and Christopher Fowler, followed by a Q&A session. Which was then followed by the requisite book signing… or not.

Herein lies my only criticism of the evening – there wasn’t an organised autograph session, plus, apart from the authors whose faces I was already familiar with, I didn’t know who any of the other writers were. A few identification badges wouldn’t have gone amiss. I did manage to get people to scribble various graffiti in my copy anyway, despite their rabid search for alcohol…

However, all was not lost – the Phoenix Artist’s Club, opposite Foyle’s, came to our rescue. A much needed couple of drinks, courtesy of the lovely Greg James, revived me. Then the rest of the evening was spent talking and waffling myself hoarse, meeting people and catching up. And then, unfortunately, I had to make my way back home to the Midlands – but, when I did get home, my bed was the most incredibly and wonderfully welcoming thing at the end of a great day.

Thanks are due to Jonathan Oliver of Solaris Books for organising things, Pat Cadigan, Christopher Fowler and Adam Nevill for being such entertaining panellists, Foyle’s and the Phoenix Artist’s Club for hosting everything, and to all the people who made it such a pleasant evening. Thanks also to all those who signed my book for me. AND, of course, thanks to Mick, Debbie, John and Thana for the food and drink, and to Greg for the much needed revivifying drinks! See you folks again soon.

(A review of this anthology will be forthcoming fairly soon…)

End of the Line book launch

Posted in Books, Events with tags , , , on November 16, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Cover image © Solaris Books - used with permission

Foyle’s Bookshop, Charing Cross, London – 6:30pm 16th November 2010.

Tonight sees the official launch of this anthology of horror stories, published by Solaris Books, set in and around the London Underground, the Metro and other places beneath our feet. It’s a virtual who’s who of new horror writing, and includes stories from Paul Meloy, John L. Probert, Nicholas Royle, Rebecca Levene, Jasper Bark, Simon Bestwick, Al Ewing, Conrad Williams, Pat Cadigan, Adam LG Nevill, Mark Morris, Stephen Volk, Ramsey Campbell, Michael Marshall Smith, James Lovegrove, Gary McMahon, Natasha Rhodes, Joel Lane and Christopher Fowler.

I will also be reviewing the book very soon, so watch out for that, but I will also be reporting back on the night’s shenanigans in a blog post tomorrow – that’s if I’m up to it… =D

See you all tomorrow!!

BfS Awards 2010: the winners

Posted in Events on September 21, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Photograph © 2010 to, and used with kind permission of, Conrad Williams.

Here, as promised in yesterday’s blog, is a list of the winners of this year’s British Fantasy Society Awards, which were given out at FantasyCon 2010 on Saturday, 18th September 2010:

Best Novel: the August Derleth Fantasy Award

ONE, Conrad Williams (Virgin Horror)

Best Novella

THE LANGUAGE OF DYING, Sarah Pinborough (PS Publishing)

Best Short Fiction

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE NIGHT, Michael Marshall Smith (Nightjar)

Best Anthology

THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR 20, edited by Stephen Jones (Constable and Robinson)

Best Collection

LOVE SONGS FOR THE SHY AND CYNICAL, Robert Shearman (Big Finish)

The PS Publishing Best Small Press Award


Best Comic/Graphic Novel

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER?, Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert (DC Comics/Titan Books)

Best Artist

VINCENT CHONG, for work including covers for The Witnesses Are Gone (PS Publishing) and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 20 (Constable & Robinson)

Best Non-Fiction

ANSIBLE, David Langford

Best Magazine/Periodical

MURKY DEPTHS, edited and published by Terry Martin

Best Television

DOCTOR WHO, head writer: Russell T Davies (BBC Wales)

Best Film

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, directed by Tomas Alfredson (EFTI)

Best Newcomer – the Sydney J. Bounds Award


The British Fantasy Society Special Award: the Karl Edward Wagner Award

ROBERT HOLDSTOCK (creator/author of Mythago Wood)

One of the other awards given out on the night was for the British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition 2010. The winner was Robin Tompkins with his Omar the Teller of Tales. Travis Heermann came second with The Song, and in third place was Dan Malach with a story entitled Beating Heart.


I’d like to extend my heartiest congratulations to all the winners, but especially to the late Robert Holdstock, who was a thoroughly deserving winner, a point very much underscored by the heartfelt applause after Ramsey Campbell’s little speech announcing the bestowing of the award.

On top of that, however, it emphasises the idea that hard work and persistence does pay off. More to the point, that each and every one of the winners has genuine talent, and hasn’t achieved all they have through injudicious shortcuts akin to something along the lines of the cultural desert that is X-Factor. For that fact alone, each of the winners (and let’s not forget the nominees) are to be warmly congratulated!!

Roll on FantasyCon 2011 in Brighton!!

FCon 2010 – the Aftermath….

Posted in Events on September 20, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

I have a new measure of how successful and how enjoyable a con is going to be – how long it takes me to get to bar at the very start. When I arrived at the Nottingham Britannia on the Friday evening, it took me about ten minutes to reach it. And not because of the press of people there, waiting to get served – but simply because of the number of people greeting me and saying hello. Simply put, I was made to feel more welcome there than at any other event I’ve ever been to.

Almost as soon as I got into the venue (arriving with Raven Dane, who very kindly gave me a lift from Newport Pagnell Services to Nottingham), Joseph D’Lacey came up to me and said hello, then I met Mick and Debbie Curtis, Gary Cole-Wilkins and Soozy Marjoram, Sharon Ring and Ian Graham, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Mark West, Adam Greenwood, Gary and Emily McMahon, Peter Bell, the delightful Thana Niveau & John Probert and Adele ‘Unbound’ Harrison. Later on I met up with Sarah Pinborough, Stephen Volk, Tim Lebbon, Adam Nevill, Mark Morris, Allyson Bird, Daniele Serra, Paul Kane, Dai Price, Adrian Chamberlin, Simon Bestwick, David Rix, Lisa Tuttle and even later still, Mathew Riley, an old friend from the Fractured music ‘zine days.  Also met the absolutely adorable Allison Littlewood and her partner – she had the biggest ever grin on her face (I am assuming that was because FCon 2010 was her first book-launch/signing) – and the appropriately named (and equally adorable) Pixie Pants (still don’t know your real name, though, Pixie!).

After going for a fabulous Italian meal with the Curtises, GCW and Soozy, I went to my first discussion panel, Get Real, devoted to the role of realism in genre fiction. The members of the panel were Stephen Volk, Simon Bestwick, Allen Ashley, Simon Unsworth, Lisa Tuttle and Joel Lane. A great discussion and very much confirmed a few things I’ve had bouncing around in the black hole that is my head recently. The session was spoilt somewhat by the guy who asked the first question in the Q&A session afterwards, touching on something that I thought was totally irrelevant to the discussion. But I guess this is the nature of such discussions.

Also went to more than a few readings, including ones by John Probert (whose immersion in his own story was great to see and I made some mental notes for any potential reading I may do in the future), Andrew Hook (reading from his latest novel Ponthe Oldenguine, and accompanied by a rubber penguin mask) and Gary McMahon (reading from his latest, as yet unpublished, novel, Pretty Little Dead Things as well as a short story he’d written the night before). It’s always great to hear stories being told in the voices of the authors.

Saturday consisted mostly of socialising and meeting people (including Shaun Hamilton, Lou Morgan, Peter Coleborn & Jan Edwards, Rob Shearman, Rio Youers and a completely irrepressible Johnny Mains), and having more than a few books thrust into my hands for review purposes. On that score alone, it was an unqualified success. I bought six books (a signed Dennis Etchison short story collection called The Dark Country, Feral Companions by Gary Fry and Simon Maginn, and four 1960s ACE double feature paperbacks, to add to my collection) but came away with another fifteen review copies, including, as I mentioned in last night’s late blog, Angela Slatter’s Sourdough and Other Stories, published in  magnificent hadback form by RB Russell’s Tartarus Press (and he also kindly signed my copy of  his The Beautiful Room chapbook, published by Nightjar Press, which was thrust into my hot little hand by Nicholas Royle [along with Mark Valentine’s A Revelation of Cormorants]). A list of what you can expect to emerge review-wise over the next millennia will go up here later today.

There were a couple of book launches that day, too – Never Again, edited by Allyson Bird and Joel Lane (Gray Friar Press), Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21 (edited by Stephen Jones – see accompanying photo)) and Zombie Apocalypse (created by Stephen Jones), the Cinema Futura launch, and then, at midnight, the first ever Pan Book of Horror Stories relaunch, courtesy of the indefatigable Johnny Mains. Unfortunately, due to having to catch the last tram back to Eastwood at 12:05am (where I was staying with Adam Greenwood), I missed the launch itself – BUT was thrilled to hear from Johnny himself that the book had sold out. Needless to say Johnny is a larger-than-life character and missing that launch also meant that I didn’t get to see just how drunk he was afterwards. (One of the abiding memories of the con – Johnny casually saying “I’ll see you guys in a minute – I am off to throw up in the toilet” on Sunday morning).

Saturday evening was spent in great company at Chutney, a local Indian restaurant, which was arranged by the ever-lovely Soozy Marjoram and Gary Cole-Wilkin (for which privilege, many thanks). Among the guests was Terry Grimwood, whose novella The Places Between I recently had the pleasure of reviewing – and he is a thoroughly lovely chap into the bargain. Then onto the BfS awards (the winners of which I will post in the next day or two) followed by a trek to the bar.  Where, I have to say, most of us seemed to spend our time. =D

Also planned, along with Mark West and Adrian Chamberlin, the book we hope to launch at FCon 2011 with Mark Deniz…. more on that later… stay tuned!

Sunday was a slow day – and my concept of time was completely shafted. I managed to miss a reading by Mark Morris, an excerpt from his and Tim Lebbon’s new collaboration – and I was so looking forward to hearing it too. (Apparently, Tim hadn’t heard what Mark had written so far either…). A few more books were thrust into the hands, including some poetry books by Michelle Brenton (and the aforementioned Angela Slatter tome) and met RB Russell and also Sam Stone.

Then it was time to leave, to get back to reality. The only reason I even consented to leave was because I hadn’t seen my wife in three days and I desperately wanted to. Next year however, Liz will be coming with me – I want to introduce her to all the good friends I’ve made over the last nine months or so. Despite that, arriving back in Milton Keynes seemed a bit mundane after the fab weekend I’d had – but seeing Liz more than made up for it…. =)

An absolutely worthwhile event – both in itself and on a personal level. Being recognised by people that I didn’t know was something of a total surprise to me, and will take some getting used to I think. Being greeted by people I DID know was just the best. Inevitably, this means that I will be headed to Brighton next year, where FCon 2011 is due to take place. Like I mentioned above, I will be bringing my lovely wife Liz with me – I spent the entire weekend wishing she’d been able to come, especially when several people asked me where she was. I have a feeling that she will love the people I now mix with – and I, for my part, couldn’t be happier with all the new friends I have made.

(Necessarily, this has all been cobbled  together from a rather hazy memory – so please forgive me if I have inadvertently left anyone out here!! Message me and I will amend the oversight immediately!! Thanks!)

FANTASYCON 2010: the event!

Posted in Events on September 11, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

FANTASYCON 2010, Friday 17th – Sunday 19th September, Britannia Hotel, 1 St James Street, Nottingham, UK

There’s just under a week left now until the almightiest shindig and social gathering of the year in the writers calendar opens its doors. This has been the most looked forward to of events for me, ever since I heard about it from Mr Steve Duffy in March (I was cursing I’d missed the World Horror Con in Brighton). Even better for me, however, is the fact that, after the alt.fiction and Terror Scribes events earlier on this year, I will be meeting up with friends I already know plus I’ll also be finally meeting many of the people I have only conversed with online. It’s going to be quite an event.

As you can see from the photo accompanying this post, there are some rather special guests appearing there this year. Lisa Tuttle is a science fiction, fantasy and horror author, born in Texas and now living in the more sedate surroundings of rural Scotland. Garry Kilworth is also a writer, this time of fantasy and historical novels, of which he has published a veritable shedload. Bryan Talbot is an icon of British comic art and writing, creating The Adventures of Luther Arkwright and its sequel Heart of Empire; he has also written and illustrated many strips featuring some of the famous characters of 2000AD, including my very own favourite from that venerable comic, Nemesis the Warlock, alongside Pat Mills. Peter F. Hamilton is one of today’s superstars of science fiction, specialising in space opera, being the author of a number books set in the Confederation Universe and Commonwealth Universe series. He is also the author numerous short stories and novellas. This year’s MC, James Barclay, is the author of the two successful Raven trilogies and the final book in the sequence, Ravensoul; in addition, he has written two novellas, Light Stealer and Vault of Deeds.

But it’s a lot more than that, of course. There’ll be book signings and launches, including the Never Again anthology (whose story notes I published in two parts in previous posts) from Gray Friar Press, as well as new offerings like the Zombie Apocalypse, Best New Horror and Best of Best New Horror anthos. All the books will be available to purchase at the event, and many of the authors featured in these collections will be on hand to sign your books – and, as a bonus, a free glass of wine comes with the puchase of any of the last three mentioned books. (Does this mean that, if I buy all three, I’ll get three free glasses of wine?).

There’ll also be workshops and panel discussions, featuring appearances and learned wisdom from phalanxes of your favourite writers, on various topics. A dealer’s room, where you can buy more books and other stuff than your semi-detached could possibly cope with, will be in operation as well, so bring plenty of moolah with you – arrange a remortgage on your house if you have to. And on the Saturday night, there’ll be the banquet and also the BfS Awards ceremony, where many of my friends are currently up for various gongs.

Mainly, though, as exciting and interesting as all the scheduled events are, it’ll be the less formal and more sociable side of things that I am particularly looking forward to. Friends, lively conversation, rivers of fine drink (well, one or two pints anyway) and curry are definitely on the menu for the weekend. For me, too, it’s a chance to meet up with some of the authors I intend to corral into being interviewed over the course of the next few months for these very pages – people like Gary McMahon, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Allyson Bird, Tim Lebbon and Mark West, plus others too mumerous to count who have absolutely no idea of what’s going to hit them. In addition, I’ll be discussing the direction of the forthcoming book project between myself, Mark West, Adrian Chamberlin and Mark Deniz (who, sadly, won’t be there). AND I’ll be meeting my fellow Beyond Fiction reviewers for a celebratory drink (and Sharon’s birthday…. shhhhhh).

More than that, however, is, if you see me at the bar or wandering around the venue, then please don’t be shy – come and introduce yourself. Also, if there are any publishers/writers who would like any of their new releases reviewed, then please come and talk to me about it. And buy me a drink (J/K).

BTW, I am not hard to spot. =)

Event report: TERROR SCRIBES 2010

Posted in Events on July 19, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

The Lansdowne, Leicester, 17th July 2010

If there’s one thing about one-day events that’s guaranteed to make this old body of mine grumble, it’s having to get up early enough so I can catch a train/coach to get there in time. Not so with this event, as it was a) held in Leicester, which isn’t that far away from where I live, and b) didn’t start until 1pm, so I had plenty of time. At least, that was the theory: in practise, I nearly missed the coach because the bus to take me to the coach station was late – 10 minutes late. Luckily, the coach was itself 20 minutes late, so all worked out in the end.

So, I arrived in Leicester a little bit later than planned, but still had enough time to find the venue, The Lansdowne. It turned out to be a spacious, if rather public, venue with a noisy air-conditioning unit perched above and behind where we were sitting. However, first order of the day: a reviving drink was needed. Paul Bradshaw (of The Dreamzone magazine, which is now sadly defunct) and his wife Coleen had already arrived, and the three of us sat talking until Sue Phillips and her husband Morgan arrived. After that, others trickled in, including Mark West (finally meeting him after corresponding via the internet for a while), Jay Eales and Selina Lock (of Factor Fiction Comics), and John and Wendy (from Ashby de la Zouch and who had seen the event listed in Dave Langford’s Ansible).

The beauty of this small, informal gathering was that it was just that – it was small and informal. And there was no rushing about trying to fit everything in. It all happened with everyone sitting on sofas around a table, initially just talking amongst ourselves and making introductions to those we didn’t know (which in my case was just about everybody). There was no tight schedule, just a ‘when-everybody’s-ready-we’ll-begin’ kind of vibe.

John (apologies – didn’t quite catch your last name) started proceedings off with an extemporised talk on ‘Horror and the Sciences’, which was marred somewhat by the air-conditioning unit attempting to drown him out. Then  Mark West did a reading of one of his stories, Risen Wife, from his chapbook Life Once Lived (gotta get hold of that, Mark). After that, Sue Phillips treated us to an excerpt from one of her stories, Diamond Geezer, which was well received despite the difficulty Sue had when she realised she’d brought the wrong glasses with her. But soldiering on is what the seasoned campaigner does, in spite of the obstacles.

And then it was my turn to sit on the Chair of Doom. I had stood up in front of people only twice before, both of which happened 15 years ago as part of my sandwich year in industry for the degree I was studying for (I gave two workshops on web design then). I felt less nervous than expected, and once I got into the rhythm of my subject (Appearances can be Deceptive), all remaining jitters faded away. I did lose my thread a little in the middle of it all, but luckily I brought notes with me, so I sort of brought it back on track and brought it to a species of conclusion. A few questions were asked afterwards and then it was off to the bar for a wind-down drink.

There were some absolutely great prizes in the raffle, and I won a copy of Factor Fiction’s Violent Comics, the snappy title being just too hard to resist. After that, the rest of the day was spent in amiable talk and chatter, and drinking of course. Inevitably, though, we were all just waiting for 7pm to turn up.

Why? 7pm meant CURRY TIME! So we all trooped downhill to the Agra Indian Restaurant for some good food and even more good drink, spiced with some good conversation until we all went our separate ways, and parted with promises of seeing each other at FantasyCon, only a few months away now.

And here, I must say, is where Mark West was a life-saver. For some inexplicably stupid reason, buses between Leicester and Milton Keynes only depart up until 6pm and then they start again at 12:15am. This would have necessitated waiting for about three hours at the coach station. So Mark very kindly offered to drive me back home… and when I did (after I phoned the wife) I found myself at one of my stepson’s friend’s 21st birthday party. The life of the socialite, eh?

I met some very nice people that day, who all made me feel extremely welcome (and politely clapped after my talk, too!).  The only downside was that damn air-conditioning unit, but even that didn’t dampen enthusiasm and proceedings too much. I am very much tempted to organise an event myself next time, under the Terror Scribes banner, but held somewhere atmospheric so that writers, when reading out their stories, can really get into the vibe, so to speak. (And I promise to read out an excerpt from one my stories next time…)

I would like to thank Sue and Morgan for arranging everything, Jay and Selina for organising the curry, Mark for dropping me home and everyone else for turning up. I had a brilliant day – roll on the next event!!

Terror Scribes Gathering 2010

Posted in Events on July 14, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

The Lansdowne, 121-123 London Road, Leicester, UK

Saturday 17th July, 13:00 – 20:00 GMT

Let me tell you about a free event happening this weekend in the city of Leicester, one that I urge all writers of the weird, horrible and macabre to get to if they are able. There will be a lot of the usual going on, like talks, readings from stories, eating and drinking, plus there will be a raffle to generate funds for the EDGE charity, which works to help species which are evolutionarily distinct and on the verge of extinction. All attendees are encouraged to bring an item along to be raffled off (artwork, book, magazine, signed print off of something you’ve created – or whatever).

Yours truly will be popping along, where I will be giving my first ever ‘public reading’. I will be reading out one of my august blogs from these very virtual pages in a Q&A/discussion session – haven’t quite decided which blog yet. Others will be reading short stories and excerpts during the day, and finally, after all the literary shenanigans everyone will be repairing to the local curry house for a traditional English favourite. After that there’s either the local nightclubs for those still able to ‘get on down with their big, bad selves’ or the journey home.

I do encourage all those who are either horror writers or interested in horror writing to come along if they’re in the Leicester area or its environs. It promises to be a great day, with friendly people, good food and good drink. As pointed out above, the day is free, but please bring enough money along for food, drink and the raffle.


Vampire Awareness Month

Posted in Events on July 10, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

No, this isn’t some kind of ‘wear-a-coloured-ribbon-on-your-lapel-to-make people-aware-of-the-plight-of-vampires’ thing, but a whole month’s worth of blogs, articles, stories and film-viewings, curated by Mark Deniz and Peter Bell, highlighting the vampire’s place in, and the creature’s influence on, the popular media. Everyone is familiar with this creation of the night, whether from reading Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula (itself inspired by Eastern European legends finding their way into late Victorian parlours) or from watching any of the numerous film and book retellings since then. And in that short span of just over a century, the vampire has evolved in ways that Stoker could never have imagined.

The films being discussed and scrutinised over the next 30-odd days start from probably the creepiest imagining yet of the undead Count, FW Murnau’s 1922 Nosferatu, and ends with the latest incarnation of the immortal bloodsucker (except they don’t), the sparkly Twilight. Along the way, some of the other films to be dissected and argued over include Martin, The Hunger, The Lost Boys, Near Dark (one of my favourites), Cronos, Interview with the Vampire, 30 Days of Night and Låt den rätta komma i (Let the Right One In). Plus there’ll be pieces from Gary McMahon on Vampyr (the surreal 1932 film directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer), Mark Deniz on Ultraviolet (the 1998 Channel 4 vampire series), Kim Lakin-Smith on Rock Music in Vampire film/tv, and my very own The Enduring Appeal of the Vampire – A Personal Perspective article, along with many reviews and a short story or two .

Whatever your own views on the vampire, this is an interesting delve into the mythology and importance to the horror genre of this figure. Whether you just want to watch the films and read what everybody else has to say about them, or whether you want to throw some of your own opinions into the arena, you’ll be more than welcome to come along.

Vampire Awareness Month is happening now and can be found here.

It happened one sunny day in Derby….

Posted in Events, Writing and words on June 14, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Derby – I had a friend from there once, who advised me never to set foot within its environs, as it was ‘the closest thing to Hell imaginable’ or so he reckoned. Pulling into the train station I was relieved to see neither fire and brimstone nor burning lakes of flame – instead it looked like your typical post-industrial city of the midlands. Plus the sun was shining brightly and the day promised to be a good one.

I had landed here to attend alt.fiction, a one-day convention devoted entirely to the written word and specifically geared towards the horror, fantasy and science-fiction end of the literary spectrum. The other theme for the day was STAIRS – there were lots of them (and the theme was to be carried over to the hotal later on as well) and all I seemed to do for most of the morning and some of the afternoon was go up and down the damn things.

First thing: registration and the only hiccup of the day (apart from the lack of Guinness). Apparently, my wife was meant to attend and not me. Hasty scribbling out of Liz and then judicious application of biro to insert Simon Marshall-Jones in its place. All was forgiven when the lovely people at the desk gave me free books and stuff. Followed closely by more going up and down stairs.

But it takes more than flights of steps to make a convention swing – there have to be people too. And the very first person I met was all-round top bloke Gary McMahon (who was also the very last person I spoke to at the end of the day – who was at that point a very wobbly all-round top bloke). Not long after that I met Allyson Bird and John Travis, and shortly after that we retired to the bar – which is another theme at conventions apparently…

First event of the day was a podcast between two statesmen of the horror scene, Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell, discussing the current state and future prospects for the genre. Excellent stuff, much of which consolidated what I’ve been thinking and also saying in this blog. It’s a matter of knowing what you what to do with your writing and having goals to aim for and then working DAMN HARD to make it happen. Persistence is the key.

More beer in the bar and the meeting of more people, including a brief handshake with Stephen ‘Ghostwatch’ Volk, and more extensive encounters with Graham Joyce, Conrad Williams, Peter Coleborn (who insisted on taking pictures of my tattoos), Sarah Pinborough, Mark Morris and Raven Dane. Then onto a panel moderated by the then-sober Gary, and featuring Stephen Jones, Conrad Williams, Tim Lebbon and Sarah Pinborough. Theme: horror writing and the horror genre. A very highly entertaining hour, which went far too quickly for my liking.

And after that, it was more bar attendance. And I have to admit that I did very little after that except sit downstairs and drank Magners – my excuse? I’d been up since five that morning and lugging all my bags up and down stairs was beginning to seem less appealing than ligging it in the bar. During the course of the afternoon I also met Andy Remic and a few others. Various groups went off to either watch the USA v England footie match or get a curry. I stayed behind in the bar and talked to Martin and his girlfriend (apologies, I didn’t catch your name sorry) about cats, TV shows and a myriad of other things. I also met and talked to Stephen Jones, who also encouraged me to continue writing. Then, feeling a little worse for wear, I staggered to a taxi rank, got shouted at by a Neanderthal in a car (apparently I had ‘fucking issues’), and finally made it to my hotel, the Kedleston Country House Hotel.

Nice place, in the middle of nowhere and peaceful…. night receptionist was great and made me feel welcome. Different story the next morning – the girl on duty looked at me as if I were a piece of shit that she’d trodden in. Thought about saying something but didn’t – just wanted to get home by this point.

But that’s not what alt.fiction was about. The upshot of the whole weekend though was this: I’d met some very cool, friendly people who instantly made me feel very much at home. and very welcome. Even better was coming home yesterday and these very same people leaving nice comments on my Facebook statuses. Out of all the things I have been involved with over the years, I have never felt quite as at home as I felt on Saturday, in amongst writers. Never imagined that I could possibly be friends with people whose books I’d been reading. Plus, what I DID glean from the events I saw was that I have immense hope for my future as an author – I came away with ideas and enthusiasm all over again, plus I have a fantastic idea for my latest story as well…

Roll on either York or FantasyCon2010, whichever comes first!!

My thanks go to Gary, Allyson, John, Graham, Conrad, Peter, Sarah, Mark, Stephen (both Volk and Jones), Andy, Pixie, Martin and girlfriend. Also, thanks must go to the organisers for putting the whole event on in the first place. If I’ve inadvertently forgotten anyone, please forgive me. But sort that Guinness problem out for next time!!

Most of all though, I want to thank Liz. my wife, for funding the trip…. without you I would never have made it…. =)