Tuesday, 14 October 2008

NewCon 4

Arriving at the Park Inn Hotel on Friday afernoon it looked as though Sharna and I were the only people there! It was like entering the old hotel in Silent Hill - you knew something was going to happen but you weren't sure if the anticipation was for something good or bad.

Me reading poetryAround 4 we were joined by Literary Agent John Jarrold in the bar and there ensued a very good start to an exciting evening. Ken MacLeod came in, rapidly followed by Paul Cornell. (Name dropping to continue shortly ...) I'd never met either of these guests before, but I had seen Paul in the Green Room at Orbital EasterCon, where we had passed like the proverbial two ships on our way to do panels. I can truly say that both Ken and Paul are really fun and extremely interesting to talk to - and yes, I did ask Paul about Doctor Who ...

The evening rapidly descended on us and arriving guests streamed into the venue. These included, Iain M Banks, Storm Constantine, Chaz Brenchley, John Clute, Cardinal Cox, Donna Scott, Neil M Bond, Roberto Quaglia - to name but a few. Also arriving were organisers Ian Whates (NewCon Press) and his lovely partner Helen, as well as Ian Watson.David J Howe reads some of my poems

We - 32 people in total - all decided to go for a Chinese Banquet. And at this time Terry and Liz Martin from Murky Depths arrived and also joined us. Absolutely great fun! The wine and conversation flowed easily.

In the true style of these things, we all spilled back to the hotel bar. I met Iain M Banks properly for the first time and spent a fair portion of the evening talking to him and his lovely lady. And then Paul Cornell introduced me to John Clute who is working on updates to his fabulous encylopeadia on all things science fiction. (And what a delightful man he was too!!) Alison Kershaw appeared and ... well the rest of the evening is a bit of a blur ...

Saturday brought us to the beginning of the convention and the opening ceremony at 10.30 was great fun, aided by Kevin the Jester of Northampton, who was a very effective Master of Ceremonies. Panels began. My first duty was to read extracts from Killing Kiss with Storm Constantine (Reading from her collection Mythopedia) and Allyson Bird reading from Bull Running for Girls. I'd met Storm once before at FantasyCon 2007 and it was nice to catch up. She and Allyson both read beautifully from their books and I was the last to read - It all went well - but boy was it cold in that Workshop room!!!

I was then free to attend panels, chat to people and take a look at the dealers tables over the afternoon until 5 - when I was appearing on the 'Sex, Sells. Should we Buy it?' panel. This was moderated by Ian Watson and the participants were myself, Ken Macleod, Storm Constantine, Allyson Bird and Roberto Quaglia. I read two of my erotic poems to start the discussion - which was really challenging because I was freezing to death and then Ian kicked off the discussion by changing the focus and the title - He asked - sex sells, but should we SELL it?

What followed was a very detailed discussion on sex and eroticism in literature. In which everyone on the panel gave a very clear view of their opinions. I particularly enjoyed the excellent comments made by Storm. And some of the questions the audience asked like: 'What is the difference between Erotica and Pornography?' Thankfully everyone on the panel had a lot to say on the subject.

Saturday evening I got sick. Don't know what was wrong but I felt weak and fluey and ended up in bed at 9pm. Unfortunately I then missed out on the Bar-B-Que and evening socialising. :~(

Me and Cardinal Cox at the poetry readingSunday was a great day. At 12 noon I read some of my poetry with Cardinal Cox (Poet Laureate of Peterborough 2003), aided by David J Howe, who read Demon Lover and Phoenix beautifully for me as he does on the Demon Lover CD. I also met up once more with Rob (Author of The BLack Flame) and Will Mackellar and their friend Katherine Branton (who is also a poet).

Unfortunately the whole convention just went by way too quickly.

Memorable moments: Paul Cornell's discussion spot. He was very witty and entertaining when he told us about all the work he's doing currently (I don't know how he manages it!); The Sex Sells panel, when a sex therapist stood up and asked a series of complicated questions and Ian Watson looked at me to answer ... but I'd forgotten what the man asked in the first place! Lol! So I said 'I'll have to think about that for a moment ...' Fortunately Storm took up the challenge - you rock girl! Friday night when Paul Cornell asked me to rescue Iain M Banks from a rather intense fan. And finally, seeing my friends and loved ones at the event as always. ;)

Congratulations to Ian Whates, Ian Watson and the committee of NewCon 4, for doing such a tremendous job of the convention! Here's to NewCon 5!!!!

Oh, and Ian, you still owe me a drink for selling raffle tickets!! But, I'm sure I'll catch up with you at the next event ... :)


J.R. LeMar said...

I would've liked to have heard the panel discuss the difference between Erotica and Pornography. That's an interesting topic.

Years ago there was a U.S. Supreme Court case about porn, and when trying to strictly define what "pornography" is, one Judge reportedly said "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it." That's my general standard.

It's like when the controversy first broke out over your book, & some of the news articles were saying that you wrote a porno book.
Well, I've read some porno books (frankly, I've read a LOT of them), and your book definitely is not porn. Just because it has sex in it, doesn't make it porn. But some uptight people can't see the difference.

Sam Stone said...

Yes - exactly J.R. The thing is, Erotica is a very different thing to Pornograghy also. Erotic fiction can only be 'erotic' if you care about the characters and their relationships enough, become emotionally attached, I feel. Pornography is just rampant sex for no purpose other than the sexual act. Certainly some people do find it exciting,(and I have no problem with that at all) however it's far more arousing to read the suggestion of sex and this builds up tension. Therefore when the act is described it is far more emotive because we are more engaged with the characters. And it's definitely more 'worked for'; which in writing terms means to me that I can believe in the people in the story. Ultimately you can be more satisfied with the whole experience of reading/writing.