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All the ghosts, warlords, werewolves and mummies at FantasyCon are in the novels.
The annual convention for fantasy book lovers is a literary-based event, with writers, artists, editors, publishers and fans coming together to share their love for the best in the field.
“People sometimes think it’s this silly dressing-up thing, but actually it is lots of smartly-dressed people discussing their books, films and cartoons,” says Stephen Jones, who is part of the team behind the 31st annual convention, which was first held in Birmingham but has chosen Brighton again for its gathering this year.
“Because of the success of the World Horror Convention in 2010, when we found the perfect venue for that number of people, we brought Fantasycon here last year and we are bringing it back again.”
He admits next year is the big one, though.
The World Fantasy Convention arrives for Halloween 2013, with 1,000 guests expected. It will be only the third time it has been held outside America.
“This is a precursor. In many ways this is a curtain-raiser.”
This year, 500 guests will be welcomed to see the British Fantasy Awards 2012 dished out and take part in a series of masterclasses, talks, film screenings, parties and panels discussing topics from how to get published to the best ghost story ever written.
A few weekend and day tickets remain for the event.
“It’s for readers and collectors as much as writers. You can go along, meet your favourite horror writers and get your books signed by top fantasy writers.
“There will be loads of new books with a raft of book launches – two will be launched every hour.”
Wannabe writers can mix with publishers – people who have been working in the genre for years – to hear about how to get a foot on the ladder and the challenges of being a writer.
“We will have panel discussions about certain writers and the history of different fields. I’m a believer you need to know something of a field before writing, like who may have already done something before.”
The American guest of honour is Joe R Landsdale, best known for his Hap Collins and Leonard Pine series.
James Herbert, Britain’s best-selling horror author, will be signing his latest novel, Ash, on Saturday.
Welshman Tim Lebbon, winner of four British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award and a Scribe Award, is master of ceremonies.
Brent Weeks, who started writing on bar napkins, then on lesson plans, is the author of The New York Times best-selling The Night Angel Trilogy. He will be flying in from Oregon.
And actor, author and playwright Mark Gatiss, currently working on a third series of BBC hit series Sherlock and co-creator of The League Of Gentlemen, has also confirmed an appearance.
Tonight sees film director Robin Hardy appear for a Q&A before his magnum opus, The Wicker Man, is screened.
“It is one of the most important films made in the genre,” says Jones.
“You find fantasy horror everywhere. From Game Of Thrones, which is based on big fat novels by George RR Martin, to the True Blood books about vampires in the South, and Doctor Who, which is fantasy horror and science fiction.
“It goes back to MR James, Mary Shelley... it’s a huge industry. For those of us who work in it, it’s just the best industry. It’s all about imaginative fiction.”
- FantasyCon takes place at the Royal Albion Hotel, Old Steine, Brighton, from Thursday, September 27, to Sunday, September 30. Tickets £65/£40. Visit www.fantasycon2012.org
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