Well, it’s been an awful long time since I blogged, nearly two months in fact. I can blame it on a multitude of things, but neglecting the website is no excuse, even with all the deadlines and work I had to meet and produce in October. It was probably the busiest month of my career so far, so apologies to anyone who missed me. I will try to prevent a repeat in the future.
So, October finished with two new releases (Cine and Grin), several anthology acceptances and a host of meet and greets, parties and collaborations. In light of this, months ago, I booked a two week period in November for self-appointed holiday. As unlikely as burning out is for me — I work 16 hours a day, if it was going to happen, it probably would have by now — I wanted some time away from the books, to ensure 2016 starts with a bang. Did this happen? Well, kind of.
Another reason for the holiday was the release of Fallout 4, one of the most anticipated video games of the year. I expected to immerse myself in this game and lose hours to the fictional world of post-apocalyptic Boston, thus using up a chunk of the allotted two weeks. I feel for my amazing, supportive wife, I really do. However, with more deadlines approaching and prestigious anthology invites pending, my mind couldn’t rest. Thus, I was back at the computer in the evenings, leaving Fallout 4 behind after only two days. Ten days later, I had two invites written and complete. So much for the holiday. However, this led to the next big event on my calender.
I was invited to the event by THE Matt Shaw. Many are aware of Matt’s online personality, and some disagree with his refreshingly brutal honesty, but Matt is a genuinely nice guy, and very supportive with it. He was one of the authors who took the time to support me when I was starting out, he provided some crucial advice and information, and we now chat regularly. In July, he invited me to the London Film and Comic Con, and I kind of caught the bug from there. After sharing the event with him, it opened my eyes to a whole new world, a new personal avenue to meet and greet with readers — old or new — alike. When he invited me to Birmingham to repeat the event, it was a no-brainer.
We were there for the 21st and 22nd of November, Saturday and Sunday. We got to meet a host of people, including readers, fans, cosplayers with a Masters degree in outfit design, and even the odd celebrity or two — on Matt’s part anyway. The best thing about these events is talking to readers about books — our books too, but also about books in general. We also discussed our influences, met a couple of very useful contacts, admired a variety of cosplay costumes, sold some books to adult film stars, spent too much money. Most of all, we were able to thoroughly enjoy the day courtesy of a very efficiently run event. MCM, you did yourselves proud.
We were also met up with fellow author Iain Rob Wright, who invited us for a meal in the evening with his wife, Sally. As a table of authors, we chatted about the normal topics…those which will remain secret. It was the perfect end to a hectic day, one that had me snoozing as soon as my head hit the pillow a few hours later.
Why did I feel the need to blog about this? Well, despite the six hours of travel — there and back — and the rush of the event itself, attending the Saturday on 2 hours sleep, and braving the tubes and trains of a busy London, I came home feeling rewarded. It was a weird feeling, one that took me a few days to process.
Let me explain. The feeling of meeting a reader — whether they are buying the latest book from you like our friend, Frankie Yates (Spock in the above photo), or a brand new reader who is discovering you for the first time (like her friend Frances, also pictured) — will always be a special moment. To see people wandering over, picking up the titles that attract them from afar and reading the blurbs, titles you spent hours crafting, noticing their reactions as they hold the book in hand, with intend to buy, is a truly unique moment. One special moment involved a customer covering Whispers – Volume 1 during perusal because her fear of clowns was a little too much. I have an amazing cover artist to thank for that moment, but it introduced me to a complete stranger, someone who loves their horror as much as I do, and was willing to brave their fear to investigate further.
It’s this personal touch that is only available at a convention. A personal meet and greet, with no boundaries, no charge — minus the odd non-compulsory purchase — and no restrictions. People asked for photos and chatted and mingled with us, but not once did it feel impersonal. In fact, away from the world of Facebook, it was liberating to chat to real people, people who might not have access to said social media, people who are as like-minded as you when it comes to the horror genre, and people who are willing to give your work a chance because they took the time to leave their homes and enjoy the atmosphere of an event that brings these individuals together.
For me, giving back to the readers is paramount, and these conventions prove that, given the chance, people will give you a chance to begin with. As an author, that is a pretty special relationship, and one major reason why I chose this career path. Creating characters and worlds to provide entertainment has its rewards, and this convention was solid proof of that. I’ll have to stock up on books again, but the moment of joy on people’s faces when they discover a new book, and potentially a new regular author (one chap dressed as Mario appeared on both days, and would purchase our entire back catalogue of books on display) is truly one to behold. People ask why I do this? Well, there are many reasons, but this will be near the top of the list.
Will I do another convention? I’m already booked for Midlands Comic Con at Telford in February. See you there…