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FantasyCon 2018: I did the thing!

I was at FantasyCon 2018 in Chester over this last weekend, and it was alternately fabulous, tiring, wonderful, weird and overall pretty exhausting!

First, huge props to the organisers (Allen and Karen) and all the redcloaks – they did a hugely fabulous job with panels, organising, events, answering questions, herding cats… and it was marvellous.

I was on two panels. The first was blogging in genre fiction (which Alexandra Peel did a lovely review of)  – it was great fun as I just got to chat to Alasdair and Kit, and then Micah when he arrived! They’re all always interesting so it definitely felt more like a natter than an actual panel. I did manage to dodge out of my panel on punk on Saturday evening, although I went along anyway – and I’m actually very glad that I did, as my views were very different to everyone else’s! I appreciate that it probably would have made for a good panel, but I also would have got flattened by the combined coilsprings of cheerful rage from Ren Warom and Kit Power, so… selfishly, I’m very glad I didn’t have to talk! (I do want to write a blog post on the subject though). And the second panel was fandom on Sunday, which felt like another natter – we got to talk Marvel, shared worlds and Star Wars!

I also got to see several panels; Writing on a Contract on Friday, which was really interesting; one session of readings from the wonderful Steven Poore, GV Anderson, Allen Stroud and Hal Duncan; a panel on publishing on Saturday afternoon, and one on editing anthologies on Saturday evening; and then a panel on starting out in genre fiction on Sunday morning, followed by underrepresented voices. All the panels were really interesting, and it was great to see so many subjects and voices talking about things they were passionate about – and I learned so much! Plus my reading pile and research list have grown exponentially, as usual… I didn’t haul many books; I picked up Steven Poore’s Heir to the North and Pete Sutton’s Seven Deadly Swords and promptly gave them away to someone who NEEDS TO READ THEM, but I did pick up Margaret Helgadottir’s The Stars Seem So Far Away for myself. I did, however, get a stack of suggestions – as if my reading pile wasn’t bad enough…

In between, I got to talk to people, talk to more people, eat stuff, talk to even more people, get a brief walk around Chester’s wall in the sunshine (absolutely beautiful!) and then keep talking…I spent most of my time with Rebellion’s lovely PR person, Remy, but managed to catch up with a whole bunch of Grimbold Books people, Fox Spirits, some old faces, some people I’d only met so far over t’interwebs, and some new introductions!

I did feel pretty weird throughout the con; I’ve gone from indie author and writer to editor for a mid-list publisher, and I felt I couldn’t win with how I spent my time – I loved seeing everyone I did, but I didn’t feel I spent enough time with anyone! It was very strange meeting so many people as well, having gone from someone who didn’t matter (not in a bad way, just…frankly, I didn’t, two years ago) to someone who might be a good recipient for writing, stories, agent subs, anthology ideas…

So…yeah. I’m still feeling pretty unsettled from that. I was definitely feeling both imposter syndrome and that I was supposed to be filling more of a role that I’m not sure how to work yet; I should have talked to more people, done more deals, found out more about what could be coming our way – but I’m also still the person who was looking at everyone else with wide eyes two years ago, and I still don’t feel I have anything to say. I don’t yet know how to combine those two roles, or how to fill shoes I’ve only been in for six months; I don’t know enough people, don’t know enough about how this world works, don’t know what I can do. I don’t know what my role is meant to be, yet, and every time I stretch I’m wondering when I’m going to hit a boundary or look like someone I’m not.

But. BUT. I’m still the writer, author, editor, the person who loves chatting to anyone and everyone about what they’re writing and hearing about amazing stories. That was my sanity when I was feeling lost, and I think – I hope! – I held on to that well enough to be able to talk coherently to everyone that I did get to speak to! It was amazing to meet so many writers and professionals and enthusiasts; everyone who talked to me was absolutely lovely, and the con has such good energy. Despite feeling unbalanced, I loved meeting everyone.

I’m going to do another post in a sec with some thoughts I had, partly about the above mix of emotions and partly some advice, so keep an eye out for that.

But overall: a fabulous weekend, even if I did manage to miss the karaoke – oh noes! (Apparently it was epic, so I’m half sad to have missed the amusement…but not sad to have missed the chance to demonstrate my awful singing!)

New household members: the Doctors!

We have mini panthers – please meet Jodie WhittaCat (right) and Peter Cat-paldi (left)! My housemate named them…guess who the Dr Who fan is in the household!

They’re from Oxford Cats Protection, and they’re siblings at about 6 months old. Currently they’re still quite shy, but have got the whole Humans Give Food and KILL THE STRING thing down, and are getting there with If I Get Strokes I Get Treats, So I’ll Tolerate This. So far, they seem to be settling in ok!

Two black cats; Peter and Jodie

FantasyCon 2018 Schedule

So I’ll be at FantasyCon 2018 in Chester from the 19th-21st October this year! As well as hanging around, chilling out, talking to everyone and generally having a good time, I’m also on three panels:

Friday: 3.30pm – Blogging in Genre Fiction [Kit Power (m), Alasdair Stuart, Micah Yongo, Joel Cornah, Kate Coe]

Saturday 10pm – Putting the ‘Punk’ in Fiction [Andrew Knighton (m), Kate Coe, Lee Harrison, Marian Womack, Ren Warom]

Sunday 10.30am – From Fanon to Canon [Cheryl Morgan (m), Allanah Hunt, Chris Jarvis, Kate Coe, Andrew Knighton]

You can check out the rest of the events on the FantasyCon website.

The Sunday 10pm panel means that I may give actually participating in the karaoke a miss (oh noes) but will certainly be hanging around for bits of it. I’ll also be hanging around the Grimbold Books table, and may or may not have my Cat Hat on – so keep an eye out for the ears, and please do come chat to me if you see me!

P.S. Unofficially, I’m happy to be pitched if you’ve got anything in mind that you think would suit Abaddon and – more speculatively, as I’m just the subs reader – Solaris. I’m more than happy to hear about diverse, interesting fiction!

I Can Stay!

Yesterday, my boss leaned over and said, “So, I’m not going to conduct your six-month review.”


“Or any other review.”

I thought for about three seconds that he was going to fire me (hey, my brain sucks).

“You’re now a permanent employee.”


I’m official. My probation period’s been ended two months early, and I’m a permanent employee of Rebellion! I’m officially a Junior Editor (although the Commissioning Editor is still determined to get rid of the Junior, which I think makes him feel like The Responsible Member Of The Editorial Team) and I did squeak. And nearly cried. And then got The Highest Of High Fives from my editorial colleague, a cup of tea from my boss, and a frankly terrifying editing project in my inbox…

(On which note, I did have a small panic over it. We’ve got some stories in from an author that I seriously admire: I took their books around the world with me, they are the author that I want to be when I grow up, I absolutely adore their style and worldbuilding and language, I know I will never be that good, and I have to tell them where their writing could be improved.

Hah. Ahahahaha. *goes off to cry in a corner*

My editorial colleague has expressed full support and it’s a serious level-up for me, so I’m going to do it and absolutely rock it, but…. *is mildly terrified*)

Anyway! Job. Editor. That thing.

It says a lot about my brain that a) I seriously thought I was going to get fired, b) I spent most of the afternoon in shock and it hasn’t sunk in yet, c) I got some annoying news (I’d made a typo on a project) and that promptly overshadowed the whole You Can Stay At Rebellion until I told my brain to get a grip, and d) it feels completely overwhelming.

And it’s a relief.

I spend so much of my time fighting my brain as it’s telling me I’m stupid, I’m not perfect, I’m doing everything wrong, I’m going to fail or already failing: and it’s wrong.

I can do this. I’m doing ok. They like me. I love this job, I love this team, I love reading and commenting and organising and deciding and laughing and just being able to be part of something so interesting, so exciting, so frustrating and wonderful. I love Oxford: I’ve found beautiful gardens, odd tucked-away houses and intricate carvings, elegant buildings and busy streets, gentle streams and wide rivers, fields of waving grass and built-up estates, and the red kites soaring overhead every morning. I’ve made so many good friends already and I’m making more; I’ve found a games group to play with every lunchtime, people to plot world domination with (while eating cake, obviously), someone to share burgers and Romans with, someone I can sing along to 90’s pop and talk about nothing or everything with, someone who is amazingly interesting and so intelligent that I feel stupid in the best way possible, and so many people that I’ve only just started making friends with…

It’s saying that it’s ok. This little fragment of stability that you’ve found in a beautiful city – you can keep it. You can add to it. It’s real.

It’s another layer of perfect gold across those cracks in my heart, another layer to the shield against the anxiety and the fear and the depression, another set of voices supporting me when I can’t do it on my own; and it’s wonderful.

I am absolutely, thoroughly grateful to everyone who has made my first few months in Oxford and my job so brilliant, and I have found my place*.

I can do this. I can.


*My anxiety promptly tried to qualify that. Shut the fuck up, brain. I know it won’t last forever: just be happy for five minutes, m’kay?