World Horror Convention 2010


Brighton Birds

On Thursday we travelled to Brighton for the World Horror Convention. This was the first time that the convention has been held outside of the USA. It was the 20th anniversary of the WHC, I think.

It’s something I would have enjoyed anyway, but Lucy Ramsey – the publicist at Quercus – my publisher – thought it would be a good place to have a kind of soft, advance launch party for The Leaping. So I was going to enjoy the convention – readings, panel discussions, catch-ups, signings, a trade hall, etc, etc – but I was also going to meet my editor, meet my publicist, launch The Leaping, kind of, and be on-hand to sign some copies of The Safe Children at the launch of the two new Nightjar Press titles. All very exciting.

We arrived in Brighton too late to register at the convention on the Thursday. It didn’t matter; I didn’t have to be there on the Thursday anyway. We stayed at the Travelodge that night. We were on the eighth floor. The wind made an incredible sound. We had a good view down the coastline to some more massive hotels. I liked it there.

My plan for this blog post was to give a fairly detailed account of the whole weekend; telling you what panels I saw, what was discussed, in chronological order. But I won’t because a) it would take too long to write, and b) it would be too long a blog post, I think.

I will summarise.

I saw Mark Morris read from a book that he and Tim Lebbon are writing together, and it was really great. I couldn’t see Tim read, unfortunately – had to duck out – but I wish I’d been able to stay. I saw a panel about vampires in fiction; John Ajvide Lindqvist was a panellist. He started by saying something like ‘I hate vampires’. He, as you probably know, wrote Let The Right One In and Handling the Undead. That was a good panel. More on John later.

More on John now, actually. Let The Right One In is one of my favourite books, and I was pretty nervous about meeting him. I knew I would meet him, because he is published in this country by my publisher, and he was coming to the party on Saturday night. Towards the end of Friday (after a party on Brighton Pier and a ride on the ghost train) Lucy Ramsey introduced us to John. He asked what my book was about and I couldn’t put one word in front of another. Too nervous. Totally starstruck. Luckily Nick Johnston, my editor, and Charlotte Clerk, another Quercus editor, were on hand to jump in and answer the question on my behalf. John was lovely though; very kind and friendly. I had a better conversation with him the following evening, and it turns out that we have shared taste in videogames, which I was pretty happy about.

Maybe the party on the pier came after meeting John. I can’t quite remember. I say ‘the pier’. It was in a pub on the pier.

Helter Skelter, Brighton

This is a picture of the helter-skelter, not the pub, of course.

Saturday, and with it rumours that Neil Gaiman was in Brighton, at the Convention. He wasn’t a listed guest of honour or attending member. I didn’t think he was really there. It wasn’t until I walked past the room in which James Herbert was being interviewed on stage and saw that it was in fact Gaiman interviewing him that I saw that it was true. I was pretty excited about that.

There was a panel entitled ‘When is Horror not Horror?’ about genre and literary snobbery, basically. It was good. Interesting. 

I’m going to cut this short. I saw lots of other things and talked to lots of lovely people and bought some great books. But Saturday night! The party! It was AMAZING. Lots of people came, and we were having a great time. And then Neil Gaiman turned up. I felt everything in me seize up. He is one of my all-time favourite authors. Before the convention, I had scanned the list of attendees looking for his name, hoping he would be doing a signing or something; he wasn’t on that list. But all the same, here he was at the Quercus party. It shouldn’t have been possible really.

Then Nick Johnston introduced us.

I mean – what do you say? I don’t think I made a fool of myself. I hope I didn’t. I shook his hand and thanked him for writing etc etc. He talked for a while and then bade me to speak. I asked him what he was working on. He was a thoroughly nice, patient, talkative man, with all the gravitas and kindness you’d expect. It was fantastic.

That’s what I really wanted to tell you I suppose.

Other bloggers will not be as self-obsessed as I have been in their write-ups of the convention. They’ll talk about how interesting other people were. How well-organised it was. And they’d be right. It was well-organised. It was very, very, very well done. And everybody else was interesting. Everybody was so friendly and enthusiastic about everything and talented. Also, as Lucy explained to me early on, everybody there assumes that you all have something in common. There is no judgement.

Here’s a picture of Nicholas Royle, who launched two fantastic new Nightjar Press titles on the Sunday morning. (Go to the Nightjar site to read more about them and to order your copies. Limited edition, they are; you’ll regret it if you don’t get them now). He’s sitting next to fellow Pan Book of Horror contributor Basil Copper. I like this picture.

Nick & Basil

Brighton was great too. Never been before.

The Fire-bombed Pier

Bye for now, anyway.


4 Responses to “World Horror Convention 2010”

  1. Amazing post Tom. I’m so proud to have such talented friends (as I’ve been saying to Tori, lots) and I’m so pleased you got to meet Neil Gaimen! It all sounds amazing.

    Loving the pictures too. Take care x

    • fellhouse Says:

      Thank you Row! It was all quite amazing. A bit overwhelming too, but in a good way.

      Glad you like the pictures!


  2. yay, it was brilliant huh? I had a hideous fangirl moment when faced with Neil Gaiman and only hope it was actually english I gibbered at him. 😉

    • fellhouse Says:

      It certainly was brilliant! Glad you had a good time too, and that you felt similar when meeting Gaiman. And thanks for the mention on your blog!

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