DYSPROSIUM 2015

We’ve had a hell of a weekend at Dysprosium in London. A huge extravaganza of all things wordy and we had an absolute blast.

Trader stands, author panels and a gathering of all manner of people who wanted to immerse themselves in the fun and games of their favourite books and characters.

This was our second convention of the year and very different to the first.

We were first and foremost going for the chance to meet Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files and The Codex Alera series, and listen to what he had to say about the writing world he inhabits.

The usual convention atmosphere of inclusion was certainly in place and everyone we spoke with was more than happy to chat and mingle. The convention allowed us to grab arm fulls of books which now we’ll have to try and find the time to actually read, a Hitchhikers Guide inspired teddy bear and I even managed to pick up a Dragon topped swagger stick – perfect for my author persona.

But, unlike every other convention I’ve attended, I was able to start looking at what was taking place with my author persona very much to the fore.

Listening to the likes of Jim Butcher, Charlie Stross, Sam Stone and Danie Ware talk about the details surrounding their genres, their planning and so many other nuggets of information, allowed me to look beyond the details of what I’ve been doing so far. Now I was starting to examine the reality of what I’d have to do when I step behind the table selling my books at one of these events.

I was lucky enough to get the chance to speak with one of the authors who was attending and running a launch for her latest novel. We discussed some of the more functional bits and pieces about what needs to take place at an event like that. Francesca Barbini was launching her latest book (check them out) and we did have a good chat about all kinds of things. She’s also involved in The Sci-fi & Fantasy Network and she and her partner even interviewed me about my book for the network. I’m going to send them a signed copy of my book for a giveaway.

All in all, this was a great convention which not only allowed us to investigate all the details of our fandom but it also gave me so very much more. As I’ve said previously, everyone really should give these events a try.

Right then, off to get my business cards ordered.

DEATH

Time for a morbid post again but not in the same way as ‘True Love’, honest. The image I included on my Facebook page (if you haven’t been to the page yet, drop by and give it a ‘like’) for this post is a photo of my very own Bob the Skull. I’m a massive Dresden Files fan and have my very own bony adviser sitting on my desk, staring at me as I work. And like Bob helping Harry Dresden, my skull ornament made me think.

When you read any story, the greatest risk to the characters is always death.

Death has been rendered as, almost since the beginning of time, the looming black threat with the bone face who is always there, waiting for the hands of the clock to tick round for each and every one of us. We all know that whatever narrative is taking place, whatever action is unfolding, the possibility of the characters succumbing to the bony finger of doom gives us the most tension. We all know that the threat makes the action more believable, more relevant. Superman, a God amongst men, impervious to anything the Earth and the human race can throw at him, is a pretty boring character without the threat of kryptonite.

Death is the ultimate booby prize but take it away and all you’re left with is just the characters moving through the story until they get to the end without there being any real risk.

None of us like death. It robs us of loved ones and gives us nothing but sadness but it makes everything in life so much more valuable. An immortal would ultimately find little of value in life as there would be no risk to the time coming to an end. Completely without an end, you could do anything, any number of times. You would be able to experience everything, achieve anything, which can only lead to there being no further surprises. You’d know everything so all you’d be able to do was repeat until everyone else is gone. You imagine there only being one song you could ever listen to. After a while, not a great experience. Dull. Meaningless. All been done before.

Death creates value. Death means that you have to make the most of the time you have available before your turn comes round. When I write, I’m aware that I have to have the characters I’m dealing with go through the same situation. That fact will make them more real to the reader. I want to make the reader feel that everyone is always at risk just like the rest of us, even if they do have super powers.

The hope will always be that I get a good balance of risk and then empathy for the characters from the reader that should there be the need for any of them to make the ultimate sacrifice everyone will see the value of what they have done. I’m aiming to always create the ultimate connection so should a character die, the reader will feel the loss. I doubt I’ll be able to be this good but it’s always good to have a target.