Writer, you are not alone: visiting FantasyCon

Last weekend I was in Scarborough at the British Fantasy Society’s FantasyCon. I travelled up from Kent with fellow writer Danny Rhodes, who’s had horror stories published in Black Static and Cemetery Dance, but is also an acclaimed contemporary novelist (his novel Fan about the Hillsborough disaster is wonderful).

It was quite a trek up north, but I was quite impressed by Scarborough. Very nice seaside town. And the convention itself,  held at the Grand Hotel, was brilliant.

Guests included Adam Nevill and Joe Hill, whose honest and amusing Sunday afternoon slot was my highlight.

I also got to meet some peers: Simon Bestwick, Stephen Bacon, Mark West, Gary McMahon and Jim from Ginger Nuts of Horror. I also caught up with Graeme Reynolds and Christopher Teague, both of whom I’d met before.

Of course, I came away with a pile of books and I’m looking forard to ploughing through them. Paul Kane‘s novella The Rot looks good to me.

But what FantasyCon really did for me was give me a boost. I’ve not written much horror in the past few years, focusing on other material. But I’m now rejuvenated. So rejuvenated, in fact, that I have rejoined the Horror Writers Association.

I think Danny and I have made a pledge to become regulars at FantasyCon, and if you are a writer, I’d urge you to do the same – and not just with the BFS’s event. Networking is vital. You get to know people; you make friends. Who knows, you might even seal a deal.

But what you will get is a sense that you’re not alone.

Writing is a solitary business. Quite often it’s a struggle, creatively and financially. It’s hard when a book or story just won’t sell. And it’s great when one does.

Well, if you attend conventions, you’ll soon discover that we writers, we are all in the same boat. Our experiences, our ups and downs, are very similar.

So if you’re a writer of horror, fantasy or sci-fi, and you’ve never been to FantasyCon before, Sign up for next year’s event. Maybe I’ll see you there…