Writing What You Want Or Writing For Living?

At Fantasycon 2010 this past weekend, I moderated a panel discussing the tightrope authors have to walk between writing what they want and maintaining a commercial career in the current tough publishing environment. For anyone aspiring to be an author, it’s essential listening:

(The sound quality may not be great in parts due to microphone malfunction, but it does improve if you persevere. Many thanks to Adele at Un:Bound for getting it all down.)

The panel guests are Saran Pinborough, Mark Morris, Conrad Williams and Tim Lebbon, all horror authors now working in other areas. We touched on why horror is commercially dead as a genre (as opposed to individual novels) and the difficult issues facing writers of SF and fantasy in an industry going through a period of rapid change.

It’s worth another blogpost on the challenges facing all the speculative genres in the coming years, I think. Whatever you’re used to on the genre front, the landscape is going to look very different.


A quick reminder that I will be attending the UK’s British Fantasy Society convention, FantasyCon, in Nottingham on Saturday (September 19).

I’ll be signing copies of a new BFS anthology at around 5pm. It features a new short story of mine – Deadhouse Steps – but it’s only available to BFS members – free, by the way – so you’ll be expected to sign up before getting a copy

If you’re thinking of attending, full details can be found here. I’ll be around all day so come over and say hello.

Fantasycon 2009 Guests Announced

The British Fantasy Society has announced the guests for its annual Fantasycon convention, this year to be held in Nottingham, UK, over the weekend of September 18 – 20. They are:

Jasper Fforde, the genre-blurring author of the Tuesday Next series and the Nursery Crime series

Brian Clemens, the TV legend behind The Avengers, The Persuaders and Thriller.

Gail Z Martin, author of the best-selling fantasy Chronicles of the Necromancer series

The Master of Ceremonies is Ian Watson, author of many acclaimed SF novels including The Fire Worm and Whores of Babylon

To me, that looks like a great line-up. Fantasycon is one of the highlights of the UK convention calendar and is certainly worth checking out. For more information go to www.fantasycon.org.uk.

Fantasycon Bits and Pieces

Everything the Americans say about Brit convention goers is usually true. Case in point: the Britannia Hotel ordered an extra week’s booze to cope with Fantasycon XXX in Nottingham. It was polished off on the Friday night…

Away from the main hall:

…2000 AD comics writer Simon Spurrier offering to slip the tongue to a dessicated, fried sea bass head. The sea bass turned him down…

…an up-and-coming author loudly berating the oeuvre of a famous writer without realising said writer’s son was sitting a few chairs down.

…Novelist Graham Joyce getting cornered by two extremely drunk middle-aged women in the Trip to Jerusalem pub (oldest one in Britain) and forced to play a medieval game of skill. Which he then lost. And he was sober.

Here’s my very good friend, fantasy author James Barclay, entertaining all and sundry at the bar in his louche tones. James delivered a heartfelt tribute to David Gemmell who died earlier this year. He won’t thank me for saying it, but I reckon James must be in line to follow in Gemmell’s shoes as the new king of UK heroic fantasy. Good bloke, good writer. Check out his books.

There were more pictures on my crappy cameraphone, but either I was too drunk or the subjects were too unpleasant for them to come out…

Hounds of Avalon Award Nomination

My novel The Hounds of Avalon has been shortlisted in the Best Novel category for this year’s British Fantasy Awards. That makes five out of the last six books that have been shortlisted for Best Novel, which must be some kind of record. (Also, no wins, which must also be a record on the nominations/failure to win ratio…)

The award will be presented at Fantasycon in Nottingham next month, which is shaping up to be one of the best British conventions in recent years. Well worth a visit.

And there are some great books also on the Best Novel shortlist: Ramsey Campbell, Secret Stories; Hal Duncan, Vellum: The Book of All Hours; Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys; George R R Martin, A Feast For Crows; Mark Morris, Nowhere Near An Angel.