Never let it be said that I am comfortable with travelling. I must have packed and repacked my two bags at least half a dozen times before going to bed on the Thursday night. Every single alarm in the house was set to go off at 4am, not that it mattered as I didn't sleep a wink. Which was rather handy as I managed to get a couple of reviews and news items posted on the website before I left the house to meet Chris Barnes for our flight down to Nottingham. So far everything had gone smoothly, my lift arrived 10 minutes earlier than planned which was great as it meant we had ten minutes more to get through security at Edinburgh airport. I had heard that they could be right arseholes ( I know pot calling the kettle black)....
Little did we know that security would have been the least of our troubles, when I went to check in my bag I was informed by the Flyby staff member that our flight to Nottingham had been cancelled and we were to be put on a flight to Birmingham. My face went white I started to panic like crazy "how the hell were we going to get to Nottingham in time"? Thanks to my complete lack of direction and knowledge of the geography of that exotic place known as England, my mind had placed the two cities three hundred miles away, uphill and guarded by dragons. Turns they are not, it's only about half an our away from the correct airpot.
As we boarded the plane Chris whispered, that's Nicola Sturgeon, my eyes widened and my brain went into over gear, within seconds I had clocked her security detail and came to the quick conclusion I could maybe take out her young female aide or the really old bloke sitting in front of her before the rest of them tackled me to ground and beat to a pulp with whatever ever they had on them. So like the good little boy I am I sat down in my seat and didn't say thing to her, although I had run about 1000 different conversations through my mind over the space of the 50 minutes that I was trapped in the vicinity of my arch nemesis.
We landed safely and after a wee bit of confusion managed to get the coach to east midlands airport where we picked up my best friend, the most amazing and wonderful Fiona Ní Éalaighthe, she was already my bestie, but by the Saturday afternoon she would quickly become my best bestie of all-time bestiness, but more on that later.
We arrived a bit too early for both the convention and to book into the hotel, but we had the pleasure of meeting the brilliant Paul Holmes, and his wife Nadine, who runs the most amazing food website Mutherfudger check it out you can thank me later.
After letting Paul and Nadine to get on with doing what they were supposed to be doing we finally managed to check into the hotel and make our way back to the convention. Once registered we sat down in one of only six chairs in the main bar and proceeded to wet our whistles with some rather nice pomegranate flavoured cider. I was on my best behaviour as I was getting ready to interview the legend that is John Connolly. The interview was the brain child and baby of Charlotte Courtney Bond, and boy what an interview it was, stay tuned for this interview John was so enthusiastic about everything, this is genuinely on of the best interviews we have ever done, plus he took a dram of my Talisker.
And that was that I was now free to relax and soak up everything that the convention had to offer. For the rest of the Friday I spent the whole time chatting to old friends, making new friends and even burying the hatchet with one or two people who had fallen out over stupid little things. Went to the launch of Mark West and Stephen Bacon's The Lost Film which went really well, bot Mark andStephen are two of the nicest blokes you could ever hope to meet, and two equally fine writers as well.
It was great to meet old friends from last years Fcon people like Mark West, Mark Morris, Tim Lebbon, Stephen Volk, Steve Harris, Simon Bacon, Neil Williams, Chris Teague ( who in typical Teague style was riding the local trams like the total tourist that he is). Then there was Adam Nevill, who was keeping a secret from me, but that was Ok as I was keeping a secret from him, Adam's wonderful dad, and Adam's brother, Simon Bestwick, Sean Hogan and the permanently effervescent Lynda E. Rucker. Simon Marshall Jones and his wife Lizzy, Phil Sloman, Adam Millard, Steve Chapman, Alison Littlewood ( I will have that interview to you within a week I promise), Andrew Freudenberg. Cate Gardner, James Everington, Ross Warren, Lisa Childs Gavin Williams, Dean Drinkle Sarah Pinbourgh, and lest not forget the big lummox Graeme Reynolds sorry if I missed any of my old friends out here there were just so many of you and as some of you may have noticed as the night proceeded I got slightly drunk. My only regret was spending more time with everyone, especially my mate Paul Feeney.
And it was finally so great to meet in person Kit Power, the man behind the My Life In Horror column one of the must reads of Ginger Nuts of Horror To paraphrase Social Distortion I was hoping he was everything he was supposed to be, and you know what he was that and a whole lot more. Kit's passion, exuberance and sheer love for the genre is as infections in person as it is in his fascinating columns.
It was also great to meet some new "con friends" The Sinister Horror Company boys were a right old laugh, as was Rich Hawkins, Craig Saunders, Gary Power, and Steve Shaw, Victoria Leslie. Finally meeting that lanky streak of wee Matt Shaw was awesome, you do know that I mean that in the most affectionate way possible Matt.? Hearing that Rio Yours was a fan of the site was a highlight. Meeting up with Cate Gardener for the first time was also a highlight, as was finally saying hello to James Brogden, and lets not forget meeting the irrepressible Ben Jones this is something I will never forget, I loved how he thought I would sort out our hotel barman.
I think one of the reasons as to why I lost so much weight over the weekend wasn't because I ate nothing, it had more to do with constantly running away from the tickling hands of Carrie Buchanan and Vix Kirkpatrick. Their obsession with tickling my knees kept me on my toes for the whole weekend. I thought I had escaped their clutches but they got me in the disco. I just wish Carrie's brother Neil kept a tight noose on her, only joking Carrie and Vix you were great fun.
It was also a huge relief to finally bury the hatchet between myself and Emma Audsley, we have had a habit of falling out over the stupidest of things Let that be a lesson folk the internet while great for making friends makes it so much easier to break friendships as it removes a lot of personal touches. But here is to a brighter future.
Which brings us to Saturday, which turned into being the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me outside of my kids and family (I had to put that in). We had all descended on Adam Nevill's launch of Lost Girl it was a huge turn out and it looked like Adam wouldn't have enough books for the launch, it appeared though almost every horror writer at the convention was there. The launch was huge success, and while I was chatting to Mark West and Stephen Bacon I happened to turn round only to see that everyone had formed a semi circle around me. Well I thought If I'm going to go out like this I'm going to go out fighting, who was the smallest one there? ( I think it was Kit, sorry my friend)
Little did I know that every single one of these gorgeous, wonderful and sneaky little buggers had be conniving behind the scenes to create what is the greatest gift I have ever received.
Phil Sloman after reading a comment about Willie Meikle killing me a couple of times and how I would love to appear as a recurring character in lots different novels and stories he got to thinking. Well Phil took this idea and ran with it further than anyone could ever imagine. He got a whose who of horror together to write stories where I get killed or at the very least suffer a fate worse than death. Look at this list how amazing is this.
But that wasn't all he did, he knew that the only person who could write the afterword was my bestie best of the bestest Fiona Ní Éalaighthe. I took me over a day to be able to finish her touching afterword, even as I type this I can feel the tears are forming again. You are a true friend, one of those rarest of people that I just click with, a person who I miss when you are not about, and a person whose company I never tire of. The rapport that we have where we can just talk nonsense to each other is one of my favourite things in the world.
I have spent four and half days trying to put into words just how much this means to me, and if you check out the video you can see just how touched I was that every single one of you took the time and effort to create this most amazing gift. I had no idea that the degree of love was so high. This was way and above anything I could ever have dreamed off. Even here on Tuesday morning I can feel the emotions rising when I think about it. I will be forever in your debt for this. Phil Sloman, Mark West and Graeme Reynolds thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting these stories into a physical hardback copy. It is sitting with pride of place on my office desk.
Click on images for full pictures
The rest of Saturday was spent hunting down Laura Mauro, it would have helped if I remembered that she has shaved her hair off for charity not that long ago, so I spent most of the afternoon going up to the numerous blue hair females going "nope you're not her". I did get to finally meet her thankfully.
The rest of Saturday was all about getting ready for the disco, but before we could finally go and dance we went to Neil Buchanan's excellent reading of his rather gory mix off a zombie and Clive Barkeresque short story. Well done Neil that was a rather visceral and stomach churning piece.
And then it was disco time, and yes Jimmy did go and dance and yes I did lose my phone gain for the second year running. Such a pity the disco finished too soon, and such a pity I didn't remember meeting Pixie, even if I did almost hug the life out of her.
Sundays have always been a day of quite goodbyes and final catch ups. Had a great chat with Steven Savile and after being passing strangers last year it was great to finally meet Adele Wearing.
Losing to Ramsay Campbell in the non fiction awards was the best way I could imagine losing, just being nominated for the award alongside such great writers was an honour in itself.
I can safely say that Fcon 2015 was a roaring success, the sense of joy and community that sometimes appears to be absent on social media is totally gone, to the point where I now 100% believe that the so called lack of community is a total misconception brought about by the ability of places like Facebook to isolate you into small groups automatically.
This was a weekend that totally transformed me, I had been in a bad place, not just with the website, everything had been getting on top of me, to the point were I was at my lowest ebb for a long long time, possible ever. But after spending such a fabulous weekend in the company of the most amazing people I have been lifted so far out of this trench that I can say I have been reenergised, reinvigorated and ready to face the world with a smile on my face rather than the scowl that had been permanently plastered on it. Thank you to every single one of you mad glourious people I needed this weekend more than any of you could have imagined. Here is to next year let the good times roll again.