Sci-Fi and Fantasy Conventions

As a fantasy supernatural writer, I attend various sci-fi and fantasy conventions at times to promote myself and my Supernatural Beyond Series of Novels . They are all very different experiences, but these conventions do share one thing in common, their fans are serious fans and they love to dress up as their favourite characters from books, graphic novels, film and TV series. Here’s my favourite Sci-fi and Fantasy Conventions that I’ve attended in recent years.

Authors Alison Kershaw and Sam Stone meeting for the first time

BFS – British Fantasy Society – was my first introduction to Sci-Fi and Fantasy Conventions. It was held in Northampton and I was a little overwhelmed by it all at first. However, I had been in contact with Horror author Sam Stone, who was there to launch her new book and Raven Dane another lovely fantasy vampire author. I listened to other established authors on panels about script writing, which I found very interesting and gave me the idea to look into script writing courses to adapt Didikai Witch The first Novel in my Beyond Series of Supernatural Books.

I listened to other authors reading extracts from their own latest pieces of work, which I always greatly admire. For me public speaking is hard enough, but reading your own words to an anticipating crowd is petrifying, so I had great admiration for those reading. I also listened to James Barclay’s interview, which was very interesting as he described how he struggled as a writer in his early years and gave me motivation to carry on with my writing endeavours .

I was also honoured to be invited to lunch with some of the guest authors at the event, which was the first time I’d ever been in the company with fellow published authors before, which was thrilling.

NEW CON – A Sci-fi and Fantasy Convention in Nottingham, which offered similar entertainment and
workshops as the British Fantasy Society, but at this stage I knew more writers and the same people do tend to show up at these events. So I was there on Friday night in the hotel with Sam Stone, David Howe of Telos Publishing and Terry Martin of Murky Depths Graphic Novels when I went to the bar and began talking to a lovey gentleman who bought me a drink and started chatting about writing for the BBC, this was Paul Cornell, who had written episodes for Doctor Who and so I attended his workshop on the Saturday to learn more about how to get your foot in the door as a BBC script writer, I’m still trying, but the writer’s room only open up for submissions one a year, so I persist.

This panel is of author Storm Constantine and Terry Martin. I always recommend attending these conventions and panels as an aspiring writer because you can pick up amazing snippets of valuable advice from a pro and these panels are a chance to ask them pretty much whatever you like. Saturday evening was a live band and meal and I even had the absolute honour of player pool with the late, great Ian M. Banks.

EM – Com Birmingham. The two previous Sci-Fi and Fantasy Conventions were smaller, with a family feel and were focused around books, graphic novels and their authors. This Em – Com was huge in comparison, with many stalls to weave in and out of selling books, witchcraft products, Harry Potter memorabilia, Sci-fi toys from favourite TV and films, I wondered how I could possibly stand out from the rest. As you can see I went with a Scottish theme to match the Scotland theme that runs through the Beyond Books I write, and it seemed to work selling quite a lot of my signed books.

The other differences were that this event was very firmly centre around stars of the film and TV world, all lined up in a long row down one side of the huge hall, stars like the cast from the Red Dwarf, Game of Thrones and Star Trek and Doctor Who were there and it seemed most people attended purely to get a signed photo of the stars. No-one seemed to care about the writers who made the series or film the success it was in the first place. Very different and the amount of cos-play was astonishing. Above is an ewok, but there were storm troopers, Darth Vaders, Trekky fans galore, dressed up in some amazingly realistic costumes.

Del and Darth Vadar

Em-Con was an amazing experience, I even got to meet Danny John Jules who played Cat in Red Dwarf whilst we both waited for taxi’s at the back of the convention at the end of the day and I didn’t even have to pay for the pleasure, but I have to say, it was just too big for my liking.

The most amazing experience of my writing career and of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Conventions was the Sci-Fi Weekender in Wales. More cosplay, but there was a much more of a balance between writers, artists, actors panels, with cosplay competitions and different areas, such as the shopping area, scifi cinema, comedians and shows out of this world. Definitely an eclectic mix to entertain just about every fantasy.

And of course, there were still those members of the public who spend a fortune, and great creative time and effort on their costumes. They walk around all day long having their photos taken with other cos-players, which I find fascinating.

My greatest experience of this weekend was to be asked to be on two panels of experts discussing Dystopian Futures and What We class as Horror.
The panel had to sit on a stage in huge auditorium usually used as the caravan parks entertainment hall. Looking out at hundreds of faces staring back at me was a truly petrifying feeling, but thankfully as I managed to answer the first question with dying of fear and the next, I gained my confidence and it actually helped to get more people to my stall of books, giving me lots of positive feedback and hopefully some new fans.

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