Interview: Jessica Cage

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For our third special October Vampire month interview to support the release of Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire, we have Jessica Cage.

Jessica Cage is an International  Award Winning, and USA Today Best Selling Headshot of Jessica Cage, AuthorAuthor. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, writing has always been a passion for her. As a girl, Jessica enjoyed reading tales of fantasy and mystery but she always hoped to find characters that looked like her. Those characters came few and far in between. When they did appear they often played a minor role and were background figures. This is the inspiration for her writing today and the reason why she focuses on writing Characters of Color in Fantasy.  Representation matters in all mediums and Jessica is determined to give the young girl who looks like her, a story full of characters that she can relate to.

What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?

My earliest memory of writing is my grandmother handing me a pen and paper and telling me to write down the story I was dying to tell her. She was a total book nerd and I was interrupting what I can only imagine was a steamy Harlequin novel. From that moment on, I would write her tall tales that only she would read.

When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?

I chose to become a professional writer when I was pregnant. I wanted to set an example for my son. How could I encourage him to go after his dreams while being too afraid to chase my own?

What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?

My greatest strength is my ability to give the reader an almost cinematic experience. I love for the reader to feel like they are not only reading the book but as if they are a part of it. Its one of the most common compliments I receive about my work. My weakness… commas. Darn those commas. No, I’m still not over it. I struggle with understanding where they go. They will either be all over the place or nowhere to be found. Thank the stars for my editors!

Tell us about the place where you live. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?

I live in the Windy City, Chicago and yes. I have absolutely put pieces of my home in nearly every story I’ve written. I’ll take you into the nightlife or describe one of my favorite spots to eat. Chicago is more than just the downtown most tourist see so I try to weave in my personal experiences with the city in the stories.

Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?

Can I just say L.A. Banks? Is that an option. I love her books. It was one of my first experiences with a woman of color witing the kind of high energy fantasy stories I wanted that also had a POC cast. I felt so empowered to do the same. Outside of her works, I find myself falling in love with any book that dares to test the limits of what has already been written. I love pushing boundaries and creating new concepts.

What drove you to write about Vampires?

A childhood obsession with Lestat and a questioning mind. I LOVED vampires but it didn’t feel right that they were human evolved (or devolved depending on who is writing the story). The first book I ever wrote depicted vampires as alien lifeforms who fled their home world to escape a darkness that was taking over. It was a blend of vampires and sci-fi and it was my dream come true.

What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?

Immortality. At least that what it is for me. Its the question of what would you do, who would you be if you knew you could live forever? For humans, life is fleeting. Its not promised to us. Through these stories we get to take risks and life a life that is uninhibited by the constructs of time and that is exciting and intoxicating.

In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?

Akasha. I choose her because she is a badass woman and ruthless. Even Dracula had a soft spot and she would have exploited that to no end. Second to her, Selene. Women rule.

What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?

I’d have to say for sexiness Eric Northman or Gerad Butler’s Dracula 2000. For dress, I’m going with Blade! I loved his gear!

High Arc Vampires Series by Jessica Cage In Order — Monster Complex

How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s) of the above?

Alexa (my first vampire) could kick some ass. Not only is she a vampire, but she has magical powers. Kyla (my vampire in the Slay Anthology) would compete for style. Mara (vampire in The Alpha’s) would take the gold for dress hands down!

Tell us the basic premise behind your latest novel.

My latest novel is about Sierra Grey who is a conjurn (or witch) who was chosen for darkness. In her world that means she will never know love or any of the joys of a human relationship. However, she is special, marked at birth as someone would change her world. After a chance encounter with a yummy guy, she starts experiencing emotions and powers that she shouldn’t have. The powers that be thinks that she is an anomaly that must be eradicated. She is forced to flee her home and find a way to save not only herself but her people.

You can learn more about Jessica on the following links:

You can buy Jessica’s books at the following links:

Website – www.jessicacage.com/shop

Amazon- https://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Cage/e/B00CNTUBGO/

THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964) A tongue-in-cheek analysis by Steve Van Samson



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Amazon.com: The Last Man on Earth [VHS]: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia,  Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Umberto Raho, Christi Courtland,  Antonio Corevi, Ettore Ribotta, Carolyn De Fonseca, Rolando De Rossi,  Giuseppe Mattei,First, a little history…

These days, the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse can hardly be considered jaw droppingly original. With such beloved properties such as THE WALKING DEAD (2010), NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and about a million in between, the zombie hoard concept has staggered and moaned its way into our hearts. Funny thing is, boil ‘em down to their component parts and you’ll find there are essentially two types of zombie films: Pre-Apocalypse and Post. But in the early 1950s, the idea of a world where mankind had been put on the endangered species list was unheard of. Lucky for us that in 1954, genre master Richard Matheson penned a novel that changed all of that.
In the world of Science Fiction and Horror, “I Am Legend” is kind of an important book. It inspired not only what is considered by many to be the quintessential zombie film (Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, 1968), but also three direct adaptations (including THE OMEGA MAN, 1971 & I AM LEGEND, 2007) and essentially an entire subgenre of horror. In other words, if the Zombie Apocalypse compels you to write a thank you note, it should probably be addressed to Richard Matheson.
But enough of that…
Tonight’s film is not only the first to adapt the story “I Am Legend”, it also happens to be the most faithful to the source material.
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964) is constructed of three distinct acts, beginning with a series of aerial shots depicting a sprawling, if barren metropolis. As these progress, the shots become more and more grim, eventually depicting dead bodies strewn over sidewalks, streets and stairs as well as a church’s marquee which boldly proclaims that THE END HAS COME. The sequence comes to its conclusion on a sleepy street, which would surely be charming if not for all the bodies.
It is here that through a broken and boarded window, we catch the first glimpse of our hero. Starring as Dr. Robert Morgan we have the great Vincent Price (HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, 1959, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, 1971). Initially asleep, Robert is jarred awake to the shrill sound of an alarm clock. And like many of us are apt to, he greets the morning with all the excitement of getting a root canal, as he shuffles off and into the business of the day.
“Another day to live through. Better get started.”
With this haunting line, so begins the film’s first act.
For quite a while, the movie trudges along as a sort of one man show–depicting a typical day in the life of the titular LAST MAN ON EARTH. Initially, all of the film’s dialog is delivered via an inner monologue–providing vital insight into the mind of our protagonist, as well as establishing the ins and outs of this post-apocalyptic world. Apparently it has been three years since Morgan inherited the Earth, though by his own account if feels quite a bit longer.
After checking his calendar and adding oil to the ole’ generator, Morgan steps outside to greet the morning sun as well as some fresh dead folk on his lawn. These he regards with all the awe one typically reserves for the first glimpse of the morning paper. It is about this time that we begin to learn about the film’s so-called monsters. Though I have thus far likened these infected humans to “zombies”, this is not entirely accurate. While the infecteds are certainly zombie-esque (given their apparent penchant for moaning, shuffling, blank stares, etc.) they also share quite a few similarities with another classic monster–the vampire.
We soon learn that Morgan has fortified his home with such oddities as strands of garlic and mirrors. According to this film’s mythology, mirrors can be used to repel the infecteds who have a serious hate-on for their own hideous reflections. Of course later when we are treated to the limits of the makeup department, this fact becomes quite silly since the monsters (zompires?) look about as monstrous as the average post-bender collegiate.
But I digress…
After a few more steps in the morning routine, Morgan packs his kit with some freshly made stakes, loads up the car with two bodies from the lawn and hits the road. Better get a move on, Morgan–you’ve got a full day of errands ahead of you and daylight, she’s a burnin’.
After a quick fill-up, the good doctor’s first stop is “the pit”. Basically a perpetually burning gorge of insinuated bodies (insinuated since we never actually see any besides the ones Morgan tosses in). Admittedly, out of the many daily functions we have seen Dr. Robert Morgan perform so far, throwing dead zompires into the mouth of hell is probably the most exciting. The sequence ends with Morgan chasing the bodies with a whole can of petrol and a jumbo novelty torch–just to let the we the audience know that they the filmmakers were also wondering what was keeping this pit thing going.BlueisKewl: The Last Man on Earth 1964
Stop number two on Morgan’s crazy Saturday adventure is a visit to the local supermarket. Surprisingly, he passes through aisles stocked with cans and boxes of viable food, ignoring the lot. The item he’s after today is garlic since his home supply has apparently lost its potency. A good thing indeed that the market’s freezer is still working and there is a large supply of the stinky vampire repelling bulb inside. After stocking up on all the garlic he can carry, Morgan moves on to the really fun part of the day… FULL THROTTLE ZOMPIRE KILLING SPREE!!!
The score blares, all brass and swagger as we are treated to a montage of Vincent Price kicking in doors, hammering down stakes and feeding “the pit” with some freshly slain zompire folk. Then wash, rinse, repeat–it’s all very exciting. Eventually though, the sun starts to get low in that western sky. Noticing this, Morgan decides he had better head home, batten down the hatches and hunker in for another long night. And so he does. One safely settled in, the zompires appear almost at once, planks of wood in hand–they assault the doctor’s home, even calling him by name!
“Morgan… Come out Morgan…”
Fortunately for the good doctor, his zompire assailants have the approximate upper body strength of Spongebob Squarepants. After three years of nightly onslaughts, they have yet to set as much as one wormy toe into his fine, upper middle class home.
At its core, the point of act 1 is to show us a typical day in the life of THE LAST MAN ON EARTH. The mundanities feel mundane for a very good reason–Morgan is running on fumes. He exists simply to exist. Filling his time with the self appointed purpose of exterminating as many zompires as possible–making sure not to die in the process so he can do it all over again the next day, and the next… and the next.
The Last Man on Earth 1964: 15 things you didn't know! | Spooky Isles
Act 2 appears pretty much out of nowhere and is basically one big flashback. In it, we are able to glimpse a portion of Morgan’s life prior to the human race’s nigh-extinction. We get to meet his lovely wife and adorable young daughter, as well as his best friend Ben (who we’ve already met as the hero zompire who endlessly calls Morgan by name). These are the early days of the disease and they aren’t pretty–what with all the panic and hazmat suits and dead kids getting hauled away in trucks. The sequence is certainly interesting enough and adds some depth to our main character.
With the flashback over, we smack headlong into act 3. The final portion of the film takes what we think we know about the world and turns it on its head. Without giving too much away, I will say that the conclusion does a good job of providing an alternate look at Morgan’s unique outlook and situation.
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964) is admittedly something of a sluggish affair. It’s production is low and it features some seriously terrible audio quality as well as glaringly looped voice overs.–however, the film is certainly not without its charm. Price’s character, while incredibly disillusioned and apathetic, is fascinating when juxtaposed against the dystopian world just outside his door. We come to understand that Dr. Robert Morgan is a shell of his former self. A man resigned to continue the business of living–somehow finding balance in day to day survival, but perhaps without knowing why. And somewhere along the way, he became something unrecognizable.
I think Nietzsche probably said it best.

Interview: Steve Van Samson

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Our second interview for our series celebrating the release of Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire is with Steve Van Samson. Here he describes himself in his own words:

I’m the author of the “Predator World” novels (The Bone Eater King and Picture of Steve Van SamsonMarrow Dust) as well as numerous short stories which all tend to be on the pulpy, adventure side of horror, with an eye on character diversity. Aside from writing, I have also sung lead vocals on 2 albums with the band Enchanted Exile and co-host a fun nostalgia podcast on The Dorkening Network, called Retro Ridoctopus!

You can find him in these places:

Amazon

Facebook: Steve Van Samson 

Twitter: @SteveVansamson

Publisher for press releases: www.roughhousepublishing.com

 

What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?

Though I didn’t think of it as a form of writing then, when 10 year old me would come up with characters and scenarios to pretend and play through with my friends, I think I was actually world building. Later, I also recall writing down (and improving on) certain weird dreams that I had at the time, for use as fodder for assignments in high school. There was one involving being invited over to a teacher’s house and discovering a pocket dimension beneath their swimming pool. That one was my mom’s favorite.

When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?

I’m just a huge fan of creating and meeting/interacting with new people. Writing allows me to do both in spades. I also really like the idea that by putting out books, I’m leaving something behind that my kids can always look back to and (hopefully) be proud of!

What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?

I love it when long-running TV shows reference specific scenes from earlier seasons. Buffy did this masterfully and so does Supernatural. It’s the sort of thing both that can both reward long-time fans while breathing new life to something they’ve already experienced. Possibly spurring new interest into seeking out and re-watching the old episodes that were just brought up. I try to do the same thing with my writing by always leaving little seeds throughout. Even if these details are glossed over initially, they may just bloom in subsequent readings. I also take great pride in my endings, which my readers consistently point out as being fulfilling and exciting.

I became interested in writing long after college and, unfortunately, do not have an English degree. As such, my grammar and punctuation tend to be a bit on the spotty side. It’s a weakness for sure, but I am always learning and improving!

Tell us about the place where you live. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?

I live in the USA. In a quiet, very old town in Massachusetts called Lancaster. As such, history is all around and I drink it in constantly. As far as settings for stories go, I generally like to write about varied places and people. That said, my story “The Root of All Noise” (which appears in More Lore From The Mythos Volume 2) does actually take place in MA and features many actual features of the hiking trails around Mount Greylock.

Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?

I don’t think there is one specific book, but rather certain authors whom I am consistently in awe over. Somewhere between the no nonsense, everyman prose of Joe R. Lansdale and the fairy-tale magic of Neil Gaiman is generally where I generally hope to land.

What drove you to write about Vampires?

There is a story called “The Hills of the Dead” by Robert E. Howard that I absolutely love. It has the roving Puritan evil fighter, Solomon Kane, travelling to Africa and battling a very unique breed of vampires. Everything about this story was exciting and new to me. Not only was this a very different take on vampires as creatures, but Howard placed them in an atypical setting. These decisions encapsulate pretty much everything I try to accomplish in writing. Give the reader something familiar and a whole lot of “holy crap, I’ve never seen that before”!

What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?

Vampires are a very diverse monster. They can be sexy, dangerous or a combination of the two and no matter what the genre (horror, romance, sci-fi, weird westerns) if one of the characters is a vampire, it becomes a vampire story!

In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?

As much as I love Carmilla, Dracula and Blade, I really enjoyed the Alpha Vampire from Supernatural. Rick Worthy played him as a quiet, restrained threat. As a character who had mastered his beast, but was keeping it by his side rather than in a cage. I really wish we got to see more of him.

What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?

Oh, definitely Selene from Underworld. Who can say no to Kate Beckinsale in all that skin tight leather?

How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s) of the above?

I would love to see the Bone Eater King take on the Alpha Vampire. And while Supernatural’s Alpha definitely has the age advantage, I think the King’s raw power and size would ensure that he’d keep his crown. Selene would probably take him down though.

Tell us the basic premise behind your latest novel.

I know we’re doing vampire stuff here, but my latest is actually a bit of a departure. Mark of the Witchwyrm presents a father’s journey through a very cold, very grounded fantasy-type landscape.
Rander Belmorn is far from home. He searches tirelessly for the one man who might be able to cure his dying son, but time is running out. The road has led to a frozen waste at the very edge of the world. But what Rander Belmorn never learned on that long, lonely road was the answer to the last question. The only question. How do you kill a witch?
Mark of the Witchwyrm drops January 2021 from Rough House Publishing!

Interview: L. Marie Wood

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In our first special ‘itinerant Vampire Month’ post, we welcome L. Marie Wood into the special vampire interrogation chair (the one with all the gothic skulls and weird spikes) to answer questions about herself, her work and in particular her story in Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire.Picture of L. Marie Wood

L. Marie Wood is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She is the recipient of the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper, as well as the Harold L. Brown Award for her screenplay Home Party. Her short story, “The Ever After” is part of the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology Sycorax’s Daughters.  Wood was recognized in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 15 and as one of the 100+ Black Women in Horror Fiction.  

The questions…

What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?

I was 5 years old and I wrote a horror story about a woman who was being chased.  She encountered all kinds of things that were creepy to my young mind and then, at the moment when she would either have to fight or die trying, she woke up!

When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?

In the middle of that very first story – yes, at age 5 – I decide that writing was what I wanted to do forever.  Writing is something that is as much a part of me as my eye color or my height.  I truly feel that I was born to do this and to ignore that would be to live life unrealized.

What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?

My greatest strength is that I can find ideas anywhere and everywhere.  Considering that my genre is psychological horror, I often am intrigued by what could be going on in someone’s head.  That allows for an endless supply of material – ideas can be generated by taking a walk or waiting at a stop light in the car.  Cover of The Realm by L. Marie Wood

My greatest weakness is the concept of boundaries – though, not the way you might think.  I used to not read when I was writing.  When I was working on my first novel, I thought that was the best way to keep other people’s ideas out of my head and keep my writing pure.  I found that limited the amount of reading I did in a year and if you are like me, the consumption of fiction is as important to you as air or water – well, almost.  😊  Because I write a lot, I found that I read less and less and that just bothered me.  So, I tried writing a few short stories while reading a novel that had been on my list for some time… and it worked!  I found that I didn’t actually need to keep the two separate at all – that I can actually walk and chew gum at the same time.  I take this approach with all boundaries, whether within the writing or from my daily life.  The way I overcame the weakness was simply to try it and see what happened. 

Tell us about the place where you live. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?

My town is like any other suburban town – same stores, same restaurants… some streets even look like ones in neighbouring states.  This is the perfect place to get inspiration.  I write about the lived experience – the mundane is my playground.

Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?

Not a book, but an author.  Ira Levin’s comfortable flow really spoke to me wheIra Levin (Playwright, Author) | StageAgentn I was trying to find my own voice.  He connects with readers in a way that makes you feel like you are chatting with him over a drink on a casual Sunday afternoon.  That ability to engage readers, to unsuspectingly get into their space and under their skin, has influenced my style considerably.

What drove you to write about Vampires?

They are the most human of the horror antagonists and their motivations just make sense to me.  The embodiment of excess regardless of what emotion is being displayed, vampires are excellent antagonists to use in psychological horror.

What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?

Vampires are sexy!  Vampires are misunderstood.  Vampires do what we wish we could and dare someone to levy a consequence.  Vampires are who want to be times 1000.

In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?

The smart ones.  The Lestats of the genre, impetuous as he is.  The Armands.  The ones who know there is more to the whole thing than just the taking of blood.  If I had to pick one, I’ll say Lestat.

What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?

Same… I mean, just look at Lestat!

How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s) of the above?

Nah, there’s no competition in dress and style.  My characters are nowhere near as flashy as Lestat, however, they would give him a run for his money once he turned a little catty!

Tell us the basic premise behind your story in this anthology.

The short story in SLAY is a discovery tale that happens in a contemporary setting.  It is fast-paced and really dives into the internal turmoil that can exist when one’s humanity is staring back at them in the mirror.

You can find out more about L, Marie Wood on the following links:

Website:  www.lmariewood.com

Twitter: @LMarieWood1

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/lmariewood

Amazon Author Page

 

 

Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire.

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What’s this? A title mentioning vampires on this blog and it isn’t March?

Yes, it is true. I am breaking the usual rules of this site by not saving vampire month until March. However, if you noticed, we didn’t have a Vampire Month this March so I feel perfectly justified in running a sort of itinerant Vampire Month in October.

Besides, it makes a hell of a lot more sense to have it in October. What with Halloween and all…

Plus, this is an exciting prospect. On October 13th this year, Mocha Memoirs Press is releasing a vampire themed anthology that has been funded on Kickstarter. The aim was Mocha Memoir press’s usual mission statement which is to ‘amplify marginalized voices in the areas of speculative fiction (science fiction, horror, and fantasy).’ In particular, to explore the black diaspora in Vampire fiction.

So, Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire, edited by my old Worldcon panel buddy Nicole Givens Kurtz, will soon be available from the usual booksellers and contains stories from a range of talented writers including:

L. Marie Wood

Steve Van Samson

Jessica Cage

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

Over the next few weeks, we will have interviews with all these authors so you can have a chance to get to know them better…

Cover reveal: The Elementals

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Way back in January 2019, long before the pandemic, I was involved in an anthology called ‘Out of this World Alphas’ for Knox publishing. This was a collection of novellas about dominant men and my entry for this (Gods of Diplomacy, in which Rachel Drake from Gods of the Deep pulls off a James Bond) managed to get some good reviews. So, on the back of the success of that, I jumped into another anthology from the same publisher called ‘The Elementals’. Not only that, but I dragged Russell A Smith along for the ride too…

The bulk of the work for this has now been completed. We are just waiting on final edits and have a release set for sometime in November, 2020 so not long to wait. Until then, you may have a cover to look at…

 

The brief for The Elementals was to create a story that involved someone who could manipulate the elements in some way. I don’t (yet) know how some of the other authors have done this (though I did get the chance to read through Russell’s entry before submission) but I can tell you how I did it.

My story is called ‘Transgressions’ and is the third in the series that began with Transitions and was continued with Transformations in Lurking Miscellany. I have brought Helen, Tina and Ash back together for more supernatural shenenighans, this time set in Manchester rather than Birmingham, and thrown in a character who may be familiar from another story in Lurking Miscellany – Simon the elementalist.

I will be announcing more about this anthology as and when they happen so stay tuned for more! Release announcements coming!

Back to the blogging stone… and a free book!

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Lurking Miscellany: A collection of short stories by [D.A Lascelles]It has been a while since I have been actively blogging, mainly because I have been working on my writing and trying to get a few projects completed. Also because, due to lockdown, a lot of the things I had planned to do this year and blog about didn’t happen.

Also, I’ve been lazy…

But I am making a commitment to blog more. Mainly because I have now made significant progress on those aforementioned projects and I might want to tell you about them.

But first, to celebrate my return and the fact that last week I finished a complete first draft of a new novella, I am offering free copies of the ebook to Lurking Miscellany for any who want it…

UK version here

US version here

The free promotion lasts for the rest of this week so get in quick if you want to claim it.

If you read and enjoy, feel free to drop a review on Amazon or Goodreads!

 

My Worldcon experience: Final day

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Monday was the day my flight left and it left at a time that meant I couldn’t stay for the dead dog party nor really do much more at the con. If I ever make it to another Worldcon I will try to make sure that I can stay longer and have more fun.

Books arranged on a stall for sale

The Hodges and Figgis stall, showing the self published books they had agreed to stock. Seen here Gods of the Deep, Lurking Miscellany and Out of this World Alphas.

However, I did manage to wander round the dealer’s room a bit and pick up the unsold books I had left in the competent care of Hodges and Figgis. Unfortunately, this turned out to be all of them but I did swap one with F.D Lee in exchange for hers. I now need to read the one she gave me and do a review. Once I finish all the other books I need to read…

In the course of wandering the dealer’s room I found out I had actually won a Hugo. It was the Hugo for ‘best panel moderated by me’ and it was hotly contested this year. Luckily, I managed to beat myself to win this prestigious, non-existent award. Thank you to the #holdahugo team for voting for me to win this.Me holding a Hugo award

I also explored the freebie table which was mostly populated with leaflets and fanzines but did have some interesting stuff. For example, I picked up a copy of Ninefox Gambit (unfortunately too late to get it signed) to read on the plane and a curious bottle of ‘Pastor Oat’s Holy Water’ which was a nice little idea from the Discworld universe.

Finally, I got to actually meet the rest of the literature team – the ones who I had been working with online for months to bring to fruition many of the Programme items that had just been played out over the past few days. We had a nice lunch in a restaurant nearby and we all got paid in strange Cthuloid coinage…

In all, my first Worldcon was a fun one, if somewhat busy in places. I got to do a lot of things that were great but also didn’t get to do some other things that I really wanted to do. I guess it all balanced out, though. I am unlikely to make another Worldcon any time soon – New Zealand is beyond my budget to travel to, as are any future US ones – but I am actively working to help bring about a Worldcon in Glasgow in 2024 by foolishly volunteering to help out.

I flew home tired but happy, looking forward to the next event I will be attending – Eastercon in Birmingham 2020…

My Worldcon experience: Day 4

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After the relative relaxation of Saturday, Sunday was back to full steam ahead with a packed schedule. It was also the day of the now notorious Hugo award ceremony but more on that later…

I started out the day over at the Point where (at her request) I photographed the second show of Death Ingloria. This one, unlike the show of the previous day, was ‘unplugged’ and an excellent performance. I talked with them afterwards (while waiting to be interviewed for a Podcast) and we discussed the concept of ‘interactive comics’ and the use of QR tags in a printed media to add audiovisual elements. Their comic, issued free to the audience, included such tags that linked to concert performances when scanned with a smart phone.

Death Ingloria, musical artist, sat in chair with guitar

Death Ingloria plays unplugged in Warehouse 2

After that concert, I headed back to the CCD where I had agreed to meet with Robin Shantz of the Invaders from Planet 3 podcast. There I was interviewed alongside Galina Rin of Death Ingloria for an episode that will be available on the linked website soon (I guess…). Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to hang around and socialise after that because I was moderating a panel and needed to get to the Green room in order to prep for it.

In the Green room I met one of the panellists. Yoon Ha LeeYoon Ha Lee, author of Ninefox Gambit, and we had a chat about the panel and other things. They said they were practising drawing people and so asked if they could sketch me, which I agreed to, meaning I got the honour of being sketched by a Hugo award nominee!

After a short while, Brian Smith turned up. He was our ‘logistics expert’ for this panel and also got his portrait done. At that point, we were only lacking our GoH panelist – Ginjer Buchanan and my anxiety by that point was already thinking she was standing us up (she wasn’t… but you know paranoia…). We headed down to the room without her and got as far as my announcing the start of the panel and apologising for her absence when she turned up.

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The sketch of me…

Apparently, she had been at a previous item and had turned up at the door to the panel to be told it was full. Luckily, she was recognised and allowed in and the panel could start with a full complement.

The discussion was another good one with a lot of references to Star Trek: Voyager and the infamous shuttle replicator (for some reason). Yoon Ha Lee introduced themselves as someone who ‘always does it wrong’  with logistics and gave an amusing anecdote about their mother sending them beef jerky from South Korea to the US ‘as a special treat’ despite beef being very easy to obtain in the US. A variant on the coals to Newcastle analogy. Brian Smith commented on various examples of authors not really understanding what logistics is. The Romans were mentioned too. There was also a discussion about ‘going too far’ and obsessing on the ‘little details’ too much. Though Ginjer did point out that the examples given (usually the sort of military/tech thriller/spy thriller adventures in which they take a whole page to describe the technical specifications of a gun) were considered ‘didactic* fiction’ which is, apparently, very popular. Finally there was also reference to the infamous Game of Thrones (TV Series) ‘teleporting characters’ situation – which I have blogged about elsewhere.

A particular sticking point for the panel was when I asked a question about whether there was a SFF story where the logistics issue was the story. We all drew a blank on that one (even me since it was an off the cuff question so I hadn’t even prepared any answers of my own). However, the audience were full of wonderful ideas. If any of you are reading this and want to comment with your suggestions, please feel free (I’m afraid I did not write them down).

After this I went along to sit with Russell Smith on his literary beer and managed to drag Fangorn along for the ride too. Much was discussed…

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Fangorn and F.D Lee

After dinner I went along to Martin’s bar to watch the live feed of the Hugo awards. Much has already been said about this – about the issues with closed captions, the too loud music in the bar that detracted from the events on screen, the controversial speech by Jeannette Ng and the issues with the Loser’s party. I won’t spend too long reiterating those issues other than to say that I totally agree with Jeanette’s comments and am pleased they later agreed to change the name of the Campbell Award to the Astounding Award. I also would say that I quite liked the rowdy nature of the Hugo watching in the bar. OK, we could not see nor hear the speeches but the atmosphere was very jovial and energetic with popular winners (especially ‘Archive of our own‘) getting cheered. It felt very convivial and I think we all knew that we could, if we wanted to, watch the ceremony again at a later date with full sound. I also did not disagree with any of the winners and heartily endorse many of them. Though, I still feel Peadar was robbed…

The evening ended with more Barconning…

*In case you were not aware, didactic refers to a teaching method where you tell the student what they need to know (traditional, old fashioned lecturing) as opposed to more modern methods. Obviously, in writing it refers to a similar idea – the author is explicitly describing an object rather than giving vague details and expecting them to fill in the gaps with imagination.,