So this weekend just gone I was at the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin for the annual wonder that is Octocon, the Irish National Science Fiction Convention. It’s a fun and friendly convention, always trying new things, always something different and this year was no exception.
Friday night was the traditional get together in the bar, a chance to catch up and chat with old friends and to make new ones.
Saturday started off with the opening ceremony and then we went to Learning from Other Creators with Sarah Rees Brennan, Peadar Ó Guilín, Bob Neilsen and Alan Nolan. Lots of laughs here, given the personalities involved but some great insights into how we can
steal ideas learn from the good and bad things we read.
Next was Paranormal Pop Culture with Derek Gunn, Sarah and me! A really interesting discussion to be involved with, ranging from Frankenstein and Varney the Vampire to Cowboy stories and archetypes in stories. Embracing the other, or Monstrous Stockholm Syndrome.
This was my one chance to have lunch so I had to miss the Guest of Honour interview with John Higgins *sob*
“Women in Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Comics panels”: do they ghettoise women – this was a fantastic panel to be on. Huge amount of debate and reaction. There are several posts about it most notible those by Vicki Stonebridge and K. A. Laity. It’s a volatile enough subject at any time, and to have it debated in a specific and constructive way was great. James Bacon joined the panel on the day, so we weren’t all women (because, hey, that’s kind of the point), and it meant we also had two convention organisers there. Fascinating debate and yes, some generalisations sadly die hard.
Next was my reading. I read from THE TREACHERY OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS, which went down very well I think. A small group, but at least I didn’t hide under the table. And some of the faces at the end of the prologue I’ll treasure forever. 🙂
After that I had a break with the family, and then got dinner with some friends. Lovely evening.
Sunday started for me with The Ideas Book – Pitches that failed with John Higgins, Richmond Clements, Derek Gunn and me. Another fascinating one as we discussed rejection, reviews, and the odd incident of revenge from the point of view of writers, artists, editors and reviewers. Really interesting and useful advise for everyone involved in the arts, I think. Plus I got John to sign my very VERY old and much loved copy of WATCHMEN. It still has my name and address in very flowery college-era writing (I was taking it with me and didn’t want to lose it!). The best moment of all was when my kids arrived on the scene to find out why he was writing in the book they’re not even allowed to touch, and found out that colourist in comics (or as they called it “colouring in”) was a real job and you could be famous for it. John was charming with two very enthusiastic small people and their completely star-struck mother.
Well Written characters, a panel with just myself and Celine Kiernan on it was a first for me as (a) I was moderator, (b) I had never moderated before and (c) it’s very hard to moderate what is essentially a conversation. But once we got into the swing of it everything seemed to go very well. The main thing seemed to be that characters had to be true to themselves, belonging to and inhabiting their world as they know it, and feel true to both reader and writer, without being crowbarred into the story.
My final panel was “Writing for kids is easy” which was actually about how writing YA is hard, with Peadar, Oisin McGann and Sarah Rees Brennan. And yes, it is hard. But it’s also awesome, challenging, entertaining and worth every second.
The evening wrapped up with the Closing ceremony, some wonderful conversation, and a trip to Zaytoon for kebabs. Oh and a Hugo. Not mine but James Bacon’s. It’s very pretty.
A sad discovery was that I’m not going to be a guest at PCon next year. The new management is aiming to differentiate between the cons here and Peadar discusses it far more eloquently than I can here. Sad because of course I have really enjoyed Pcons in the past. We’ll just have to see what the future brings.
In other news I’ve got edits back on MOY TURA ECHOES (which among other things will have to have a new title) to do, galleys done on TREACHERY, and some writing to do on the Library book with no name. So I’m busy. And braindead. I haven’t actually been in possession of a working brain since Monday. I blaim Ó Guilín… 😉
(Oh, I only have a couple of photos – busy me – so as soon as some more are available I’ll post them up here)
ETA: Just a quick edit because I warned you my brain is missing and so I forgot to add a huge thank you to the conference committee, Gar, Trish & Dani, and all their minions for making it a fantastic weekend.
ETA2: I have now corrected some of the typos. For yesterday I was TYPO-GIRL! 🙂