So, last weekend I was at the Sandbach Author Signing event (SASE). I may have mentioned this event a few times over the last few months, most recently here, because I was incredibly excited by it. Turns out I was excited for good reasons.
Sandbach town hall (c) Nellie Simpson
SASE was the first event of its kind in the Sandbach area, though it followed a pattern similar to many other events (like the Manchester signing of August this year). A group of authors getting together in a location and a bunch of readers wandering around the tables looking to buy books and get them signed.
I travelled to Sandbach from Manchester in the company of Ninfa Hayes and Alex Campbell, two members of the Tea Society and Vampire Month posters. We weren’t the only members there either, there was also Dianna Hardy and Elizabeth Morgan (who was also the organiser of the event). We were only missing Alex James, Miriam Khan and Russell Smith but we did have leaflets from all of them so they did not miss out too much. We set up our tables in the lovely, modern interior of the Sandbach town hall (nicely contrasted with the older exterior of the building) and awaited the arrival of the public.
The Urban settings panel (c) Nellie ZSimpson
There were also some panels throughout the day on a number of topics ranging from Women in Fantasy to Fangs and Fur (vampires and werewolves in fiction). I was asked to moderate two of these – ‘Fangs and Fur’ and one on settings in Urban fantasy. Turnout for these was low (a handful of people) but the audience was keen and the discussions were wide ranging and interesting. From talking to another blogger, it seems that panels are not a common thing in her experience of signing events so this idea is both a way of distinguishing this event from others and also something new that the attendees may not have been too sure of. Personally I feel Alex Campbell’s reminiscences of the tales of Northumberland to be worth the entry fee to the event by itself. Catherine Green and Lucy Felthouse joined myself, Ninfa and Dianna for the discussion on Vampires and Werewolves and we tackled the age long issue of why vampire fiction never seems to die. In the urban fantasy location panel we explored the idea of the location as a character (something I touch on in Gods of the Deep), how some stories are location dependent while others are not and what locations in our stories were influenced by places in our real lives. There may have been some discussion about trying to set a Batman story in the countryside but I have no idea who came up with that mad idea. As moderator I also posed the question about overuse of location – are certain locations (London, Chicago, New York etc.) overused in contemporary fantasy fiction and should other sites be given a chance to shine. There were excellent arguments from both sides there, with an overall conclusion that the common sites are used for recognition purposes – more people know about London than they may know about Newcastle – and so are likely to remain popular. However, there is scope for stories set in other locations, especially ones with their own myths and legends – Alex Campbell’s use of the Northumberland Lambton worm story being a case in point.
Throughout the day there were visits by some journalists and the event made it into the local papers (Sandbach Chronicle headline: Authors Hold Masterclass) and Elizabeth was interviewed by Stewart Green for Sandbach Soundbites. Click the link to listen to the interview in full. This all suggested that there was quite a bit of media buzz about this event which is the first of its kind in the town.
It is to be hoped that Sandbach will return bigger and better next year with more people risking attending the panels and getting involved in discussions. I know the organisers have big plans for next year and any success of this new event would be well deserved.
The photographs in this article were taken by Nellie Simpson.
D.A Lascelles is the author of Lurking Miscellany, Transitions (Mundania Press) and Gods of the Sea (Pulp Empires) and Gods of the Deep. He lives in Manchester UK. You can sometimes see him writing about Zombie porn on http://www.dalascelles.co.uk but he mostly blogs about books, vampires, science fiction and Terry Pratchett. He is inordinately proud of the fact that one of his Pratchett articles was referenced on the French version of the author’s Wikipedia page.
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