Sunday, 15 July 2012

Edge Lit - Convention Report

Edge Lit is a new convention for writers and fans of SF&F and horror, held in Derby (UK) and run by Alex Davis. This year’s Edge Lit took place yesterday, on Saturday 14th July at The QUAD, Derby.

With all kinds of authors and publishing professionals present, eleven different panels and talks, seven workshops, and fourteen author readings, Edge Lit was a packed and exciting day. Unfortunately, one of the guests of honour, Geoff Ryman, couldn’t make it, but Graham Joyce stepped in and gave a very interesting Question and Answer session.

My Day

The Book Room. Various dealers were located in The Box next to the cinemas. I spent the first part of the morning here, talking to people about Polluto and helping to sell Dog Horn author Andrew Hook’s books while he gave a talk on short stories. There were some very interesting tables here, including Murky Depths, TTA Press (Interzone and Black Static magazines), the British Fantasy Society, and a Waterstones table with books from many of the authors at the convention. Although the room was never exactly lively, there were people ambling through all day, and I had the chance to say hello to some new faces as well as catch up with others.

Panel – The Writer and the Internet. A talk with Emma Newman, Anne Lyle, and Mike Shevdon, with Mark Yon moderating. A discussion of the various ways in which the internet can help, hinder, comfort and irritate a writer. Some great points, and funny observations from everyone. One member of the audience argued quite adamantly for the value of short blog posts. I still prefer longer blog posts that really go into depth on a subject rather than skimming over it, so this is probably a personal preference. Conclusion: the internet is both good and bad for the writer. It can help to build an audience, but it can also be a very big distraction. Also: always be nice, and never say anything that you wouldn’t say in a pub. Sound advice!

Panel – Publishing Today
. Christian Dunn, Lee Harris, John Jarrold and Sarah Pinborough gave a really interesting discussion on publishing, e-books, self-publishing, agents, and how difficult it might be for an author to get a contract nowadays. There were some optimistic observations about the publishing industry: people are still buying books, e-books and audio books are popular, publishing will change with the times but will not die off or suffer because of new technology, and it is not necessarily harder for an author to get a contract now than it was twenty years ago. However, there were some negatives too: a certain large book retailer may be in trouble, and it is certainly harder for a new author to get good numbers of books into shops these days.

Important points: self-publishing is still looked down on, though authors who spend the time and money to edit and promote their work properly will get more respect. A good cover is essential. Agents and editors are passionate readers, and so are always looking for innovative and exciting stories. There is no point in actively trying to ‘tick all the boxes’; just concentrate on telling a compelling story.

Panel – Does Fantasy Need Archetypes? MD Lachlan, Anne Lyle, Gaie Sebold, and Adrian Tchaikovsky discussed fantasy archetypes, with Mark Yon moderating. The first hurdle seemed to be identifying what an archetype actually is. It’s more general than a stereotype, and not necessarily negative in the same way as a stereotype. But it’s also not a trope, as in elves, trolls, wizards, etc. Archetypes seem to run deeper, going further back into the dawn of storytelling.

Conclusions: archetypes are helpful to both writers and readers. The very reason they are archetypes is because they mean something important to us. Many fantasy archetypes are also archetypes of other genres too, such as the hard man who refuses to be put down by anyone, and who fights his way to victory. Other archetypes, such as the wise old man, become fantasy archetypes when combined with a fantasy trope – e.g. the wise old wizard. Archetypes are not necessarily bad, but subverting and twisting them can be fun!

Reading – Adrian Tchaikovsky and MD Lachlan. Two superb readings by great writers, with very different tones. MD Lachlan’s was exciting and very funny, and Adrian Tchaikovsky’s extract was so alive with rich characters and world-building. Both writers also made interesting observations about each other’s books.

Reading – Emma Newman and Gaie Sebold. I really enjoyed both these excerpts, and both were read so well too! Again, the approach of each writer was very different, but both were extremely effective. I left the convention with a copy of Gaie Sebold’s book and a collection of Emma Newman’s short stories (her Split Worlds book is not out until next year but eagerly anticipated) and am looking forward to reading both.

Reading – Simon Bestwick and Marie O’Regan. Horror readings this time, and both spine-tingling in their own way. Marie O’Regan’s short story was a perfect example of how to do slow-building creepiness and a sinister atmosphere, and Simon Bestwick’s extract was instantly compelling.

All of these readers had to combat noise from the crowds at the nearby Beer Festival, as well as the workmen digging the road up directly outside. All of them kept me entranced in their worlds despite the distractions. Good stuff!

My book loot, including the four I won in the raffle!
The Raffle. Hosted by Lee Harris and a slightly pickled Sarah Pinborough; this was fun and absolutely hilarious. And... I won books! Thank you to all the publishers who gave prizes.

Thank you also to Alex for organising such a wonderful day, and to everyone who talked on panels, read from their books or short stories, gave workshops, sold books, and were just generally friendly and approachable all day. I loved getting to know so many new people, and I’m already looking forward to next year!


  1. That's quite a haul there, Victoria: I know which of those were won in the raffle!!

    And thanks for those words above: think you've summarised our meanderings very well!


  2. Haha, it is, isn't it? In related news, we're getting another bookcase this weekend...

    And thank you for moderating some fascinating discussions! Hope you had as much fun as we had listening to them :)

  3. And I thought I'd done well for books at Edgelit...

    Nice write up, makes me feel nostalgic for the day already!