It can’t be difficult, surely, to organise a book launch (as part of the recent FantasyCon weekend). After all, I have organised and co-organised the British Fantasy Convention itself – several times – plus many one-off events. Ah, as with all best-laid plans, it didn’t quite go according to – well – plan.
My first worry was: did I have enough copies of the books to be launched? It turned out, yes I did. It’s better to bring home unsold copies then it is to run out.
Number 2: Would I have enough wine? I counted the number of authors who said they’d come along to the event and the anticipated audience based on pre-convention interest. Thus a couple of weeks beforehand I doubled the wine order. Weirdly, considering this was a fantasy, horror and science fiction convention (those who have attended these things in the past know that attendees drink like fish), relatively few people were in fact drinking the wine (and for hotel wine it wasn’t too bad). I brought home a few unopened bottles of the red and white stuff. Never fear – it will be drunk.
This year’s FantasyCon is less than a month away and that has set me reminiscing. Out with the abacas (actually, I checked in Silver Rhapsody) and – ye gods – this will be my fortieth British Fantasy Convention. Yup, my first was FantasyCon 2 back in 1976! And you know what: I have, for my sins, attended everyone since over these past forty years, even the one-day events in Champagne Charlie in London. Is this a record? Can anyone else match this claim to fame (or is it infamy)?
It’s silly regretting not attending the first FantasyCon. It was a one-day event held in Birmingham and the travel up from Portsmouth, where I was then living, seemed a bit excessive just to meet some people I had only encountered in name through the pages of Dark Horizons and the BFS Bulletin. There was no internet, no online social media back then.
At the 2013 World Fantasy Convention, held in Brighton, Joel Lane’s Where Furnaces Burn won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection. Due to personal problems Joel wasn’t able to collect the award in person. I had intended to visit Joel soon after, meet up for one of our irregular balti meals with mutual friends Dave Sutton, James Brogden, John Howard, Mike Chinn and Stan Nicholls, and to toast Joel for the win. Sadly, that visit to Birmingham didn’t materialise in time – for not long after the convention Joel passed away in his sleep. His death left a huge cavity in my life.
Last year, after months of sorting out the detritus of his life (in other words, clearing his house in preparation for its sale) Pauline Morgan mentioned the wealth of notes Joel had left behind. The notes were penned in his immaculate handwriting on all manner of pieces of paper; some were bullet points, some long detailed pages – all preliminary to unwritten stories and poems. It occurred to us that these notes should not be lost, that they should form the basis of a book of stories completed by Joel’s friends and colleagues. Pauline and I read through dozens and dozens and dozens of notes, finally honing them down to a score or two.
The British Fantasy Society used one of my pictures for a recent issue of the BFS Journal. The journal’s editor has selected another of my images for a future edition, I’m happy to say. I’ll post the cover here when it appears.
I’ve been sorting out boxes of BFS publications and found several duplicates. If you want any contact me – all you need to do is pay postage. Note: with issue 5 Winter Chills dropped “winter” and became the more appropriately named Chills.
Birthday – Mark Morris (1992)
BFS Journal (2011)
Bodoman of Sor – Norma N Johns (1977)
Chills 5 (1991)
Chills 6 (1992)
Chills 7 (1993)
Chills 8 (1994)
Chills 9 (1996)
Dark Horizons 37 (1998)
Dark Horizons 38 (1999)
Dark Horizons 50 (2007)
Dark Horizons 51 (2007)
Dark Horizons 52 (2008)
Dark Horizons 54 (2009)
Dark Horizons 55 (2009)
FantasyCon Green Man Banquet – Robert Holdstock poem (2009)
FantasyCon XX Reporter – D F Lewis story (1996)
FantasyCon Souvenir Book (2007)
FantasyCon Souvenir Book (2009)
FantasyCon Souvenir Book (2012)
FantasyCon Souvenir Book (2015)
Longbore the Inexhaustible – Adrian Cole (1978)
Long Memories – Peter Cannon (1997)
Silver Rhapsody (1996)
Spiral Garden, The – Louise Cooper (2000)
Winter Chills 1 (1987)
Winter Chills 2 (1987)
Winter Chills 3 (1989)
Winter Chills 4 (1990)
I also came across half-a-dozen copies of the first Alchemy Press book, The Paladin Mandatesby Mike Chinn. As for the above, all you need to pay is the postage.
A long time ago, before I started The Alchemy Press, I did a lot of editing and production work for the British Fantasy Society — including the magazines Chills (aka Winter Chills) and Dark Horizons. I’ve started to list these here. Back then we didn’t have the luxury of home computers with DTP programs. Magazine production involved manual (or electric) typewriters, Letraset, scissors, glue and a lot of paper. It was “fun”!
Today’s small press publishers do not know how easy they have it.
To be precise, Friday 13 December, 2013: Jan and I hauled two suitcases of Alchemy Press books down to London from our home in North Staffordshire in order to launch the signed, limited edition of Invent-10n by Rod Rees at the British Fantasy Society’s Christmas Open Night. Naturally we took other titles to sell – every penny helps with the Press’s finances for future projects.
For the train journey I took Regicide by Nicholas Royle as my reading matter; it is a story of identity, among other things. In it the protagonist, Carl, wanders strange, unidentifiable streets in London, streets that should be familiar to him.
On leaving the Tube at Bank we started walking down Lombard Street, which meets up with the Gracechurch Street/Fenchurch Street junction – the venue for the evening, The Elephant, is located in Fenchurch Street. Only, it didn’t happen like that. We ended up at Monument Tube station, emerging from King William Street. Further from our destination. At that moment I felt a little like Carl in Regicide. That should have alerted me to later events.