No Return to Section 28

A defence of the ‘No Outsiders’ project at Parkfield School, from someone who lived through the ignorance of Section 28.

The purpose of school is to prepare young people for the outside world. Now, perhaps that’s a radical or unrealistic idea. I certainly know plenty of teachers who would say that such a goal is noble, but that sadly the real purpose of school is get exam results. However, for the moment, let us go on the assumption that school is meant to teach children about the world at large.

 

The world is a large and diverse place. This is far from being a recent development. The world has always been complex and anyone who pines for the ‘simpler times’ of yesteryear is deluding themselves. Put away the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, for they lie to you.

 

The point I’m rambling towards, if you’ll indulge me for just a little longer, is that there are those who are currently actively campaigning to turn the clock back on the education system and on LGBT rights, all under the guise of religious freedom. I refer of course to the recent protests at Parkfield School in Birmingham, which resulted in the school’s No Outsiders project being suspended.

 

This saddens me more than I can say. I grew up during the Section 28 era. The gagging order that prevented teachers from ‘promoting the homosexual lifestyle’. During my entire schooling, only one teacher ever even mentioned the fact that homosexuality existed. This was a passing reference to a playwright we were discussing. All lessons relating to relationships and sex were geared towards the idea that boys go with girls. One might even call it  ‘aggressive indoctrination’. Years of messages, all designed to guide me towards a happy, healthy, heteronormative lifestyle. Did it work?

 

Did it bollocks.

 

It took me until the age of 18 to come to terms with the fact that I was gay and to realise that there was nothing wrong with being gay. I was fortunate to have the support of family and friends, but the education system let me and many others down. A few mentions of the fact that other sexualities exist and I might have had an easier time of it. The truth is I was one of the lucky ones. When the word “gay” gets thrown around the playground as an insult and all around you are expecting you to be a certain way, the conflict inside a young person can be staggering. The harsh reality is young people have taken their lives because they have been unable to reconcile who they are with what society at large wants them to be. One person killing themselves rather than live with the supposed shame of being gay is one too many.

 

Section 28 has been defeated, but there is still a long way to go and this is no time to start walking backwards. There are those within the Parkfield Parents’ Community Group who have claimed that the No Outsiders project is ‘indoctrination’. Here’s a simple fact; you cannot persuade someone to become gay. You are either inclined or you are not. The true fear of many groups is not that schools will somehow turn their kids gay, but rather that they will teach them to tolerate homosexuality. The ultimate catastrophe for many of these groups is that these kids start asking questions. Who knows where it might end? They may even start thinking for themselves.

 

Again, it’s a radical notion, but this is meant to be the purpose of education on any given topic. The classroom is supposed to be a place of debate and discussion, where children learn to exercise their minds and form their own opinions. These parents, however, would seemingly prefer their children not to know of the existence of the LGBT community. Without debate and discussion, only ignorance thrives.

 

It is extremely unfortunate to see this setback at Parkfield, but I have to believe it is only a temporary one. If certain groups were to get their way and block LGBT inclusive education across the country, it will only lead to more young people taking their own lives. That’s the harsh reality that is mostly getting overlooked at the moment, simply because it’s something we don’t want to think about.

 

We cannot put our heads back in the sand.

Don’t Take the Mickey

A blog regarding the importance of generating your own promotional content.

I’d like to recount a small online debacle I recently found myself in. Well, less a debacle, more an oddity. I’m a member of several groups on Facebook, most of them geared towards book promotion. A few weeks ago, I came across a post that caught my eye for all the wrong reasons.

An author, who shall remain nameless, had photoshopped an image of Queen Elsa from Disney’s ‘Frozen’ so that it appeared she was holding up his latest book. I was not alone in pointing out the folly in this. When I looked at some of his other promotional material, I found several other uses of copyrighted images. He was also using classical quotes in several clumsy attempts to somehow link them to his book.

I pointed out that this was not a good marketing strategy and urged him to take down the copyrighted images. He chose to respond, despite having ignored almost anyone else that had commented. At first I was asked if he had upset me somehow. I assured him he had not, and again urged him to take down the copyrighted images. I was then treated to his life story, and got his assurances that a “lawyer friend” of his had told him he could use the images for the purposes of satire.

Now, this just doesn’t stand. Satire does indeed cover the fair use of many images, but not when it comes to promoting a product. I pointed this out and was told that he would take them down, and that ultimately he wouldn’t miss them because he’d just received an award and that was far more important to him. So important, that as of typing this, many of these images are still on his Instagram and Twitter accounts. It became clear that I was dealing with someone who did not understand the fundamental principle of copyright law, nor its penalties. I therefore left him to it.

While it certainly didn’t “upset” me, as he put it, the whole thing did irk me somewhat. As writers, we work hard to create our own worlds and our own material. Certainly we take inspiration from work that has come before us, but to out and out use someone else’s material to promote your book is just plain lazy and idiotic. The same goes for using classical quotes, from Shakespeare no less, and claiming they apply to your work. Writing blurbs and condensing your work into promotional sound bytes is hard, but you’ve got to be prepared to put the effort in.

Since the publication of my first book, I’ve always strived to generate my own promotional content. I consider it a source of pride and a continuing creative challenge. Have I done it alone? Certainly not. My publishers, Austin Macauley, have always been extremely accommodating when it comes to providing me with promotional resources. I’ve also had the great pleasure to work with Ello Dave Media, who have helped me generate great promotional videos. Even when I have knocked up the occasional poster for a one-off event, I made sure that I had the right to use all the images it contained.

That was why I felt so compelled to attempt to reach out to this individual, even though my words fell on deaf ears. All legal issues aside, when you take someone else’s work and use it to promote your own product for your own gain, you are taking advantage of their hard work and putting your own laziness on display. More than that, most potential readers see through such gimmicks straight away. You might get noticed, but it’s not going to get you many sales.

There, rant over. The moral of the story is simple. Don’t steal other people’s stuff.

“You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy …?”

The case against censoring ‘Fairytale of New York’.

In case anybody needs reminding, it’s Christmas time. The songs all over the radio and in the shops make it abundantly clear. The one everyone’s avoiding is, of course, Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’ (I’m still in, as of typing this!) The one everyone seems to be talking about this year, however, is ‘Fairytale of New York’ by the Pogues and Kirsty McColl.

 

It seems as though, this year more than any other, the debate is raging over this song. One particular lyric is the cause of all the hubbub.

“You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot!”

Some appear to be divided over whether the word “faggot” should be censored. Shane MacGowen himself has now come forward and said he ultimately doesn’t mind if the word is bleeped out, even though there was never any offence intended by the use of the word.

 

That is why I’m stepping up to say that it absolutely should not be censored. By and large I have never fundamentally agreed with the principle of censorship when it comes to difficult issues. “Least said, soonest mended”, the age old proverb for pushing problems away in the hope they won’t bother us much longer. You don’t deal with the problem of genuine homophobia by censoring it, you tackle it head on and show it up for what it is.

 

That being said, anyone who believes that ‘Fairytale of New York’ is designed to encourage homophobia needs to take a good hard look at their priorities. There is no denying that ‘faggot’ is a term used for a homosexual man when offence is intended. However, the word itself was not coined for this purpose. It was never created to inflict offense, rather it was hijacked.

 

The word was originally used as unit for a bundle of sticks as early as the 1400s. Women who went about gathering firewood eventually became known as ‘faggot-gatherers’, leading eventually to ‘faggot’ being used as a derogatory term for old women. The perceived femininity of gay men is most likely how the term came to be the slur we immediately think of today. It also happens to be the name of a kind of meatball I’m rather fond of. My point is, language is a tricky thing and the moment you start censoring words you don’t like, you’re in dangerous territory.

 

I am not for one moment disparaging the feelings of those who feel strongly offended, even targeted when ‘faggot’ or ‘fag’ is hollered in their faces. I understand the hurt and the fear that causes. It is, however, because of that fear that we must not try to censor the word but rather rise up and truly take ownership of it.

 

The simple fact is, there are people out there who would very much like to harm those of us in the LGBT community. Physically, emotionally or politically, they’re determined to get us. The moment you try to tell society that they can’t sing along to a song because a word causes you offence, they’ve got you. You’ve just handed them a weapon. They know that word can hurt you. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

 

Words have power, but that power shifts. To some, words like ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity’ are codes to live by, while to some they are dangerous buzzwords of no true value. ‘Pride’ means a lot of things to a lot of people. Some words have power because we allow them to. It is taken for granted that the word ‘hello’ is a greeting. If we were suddenly encouraged to take offence at the use of this word, we’d laugh. Why can’t we apply the same to ‘faggot’?

 

When someone does use ‘faggot’ offensively, their intent is pretty clear. Censorship does not tackle that intent. Education and a willingness to breach divisions can certainly help, though the sad truth is some people are just too mired in their prejudices to ever really change. A close friend might  hypothetically call me a ‘fag’ during a rare hypothetical argument and then feel terrible about it later, but believe me I wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

 

I am not offended by words. Actions offend me. I am offended when a governing body seeks to strip an entire group of people of their rights based purely on their orientation. I am offended when people are attacked and killed. Those are the real issues that need tackling, not whether someone uses a word we might not like.

 

So in conclusion, the next time you hear ‘Fairytale of New York’, sing out “cheap lousy faggot”, loud and proud, along with the rest of the song. Straight, gay, bisexual, it does not matter. Words don’t belong to anyone in particular. Words are their own entity, yet ultimately have no choice over the meanings we assign them.

What Did You Get For Your Birthday?

It is now less than ten days until the release of ‘The Figment Wars: Search for the Caretaker’, my second young adult fantasy novel! I’m involved with a couple of fantastic upcoming acting projects and today happens to be my birthday!

 

If I could just shift this persistent cold, I’d be over the moon! Seriously, I’m *this* close to declaring it ‘man flu’.

 

In all sincerity though, this is a nice little birthday blog where I divest myself of a few musings. If you’re still reading at this point, well, the more fool you.

 

I’ve never been one for making a huge fuss of my birthday. I’ve not thrown a major ‘party’ for my birthday since my 18th (and that I barely remember for reasons you can no doubt fathom for yourself). We usually reserve the big celebrations for those birthdays of apparent numerical value. 18,21, 30 etc. Few will hire an entire hall, a DJ and get specially shaped balloons for somebody’s 32nd birthday.

 

It is something of a double edged sword at times. On the one hand, I might have thrown a huge bash for my 30th because it’s a socially accepted milestone. On the other hand, there’s the “Oh damn, I’m turning 30 and what have I done?” epiphany. I’ve had that feeling, we all have, where we stop to take stock of our lives and that little voice tells us we haven’t done enough. The milestone has come around and we haven’t achieved what we wanted to, and before you know it the next milestone will be upon us and we won’t have finished what we were supposed to have achieved at the previous milestone! Aaaarrgghhh!

 

When I turned 21, I wrote a letter to my 30 year-old self. I put it away safely, never really forgetting the existence of the letter but over time managing to forget the contents. Obviously I opened it two years ago. I’ve never shared the exact contents of the letter with anyone, nor am I about to now so don’t get your hopes up. It was generally full of my hopes and aspirations at the age of 21. A few had been met, a few forgotten about and a few had changed to one degree or another. That’s what life is. Change. What meant the world to you ten years ago might barely register with you today. In short, I am not the same person I was back then.

 

That’s why ultimately I’m glad I’ve never really made too much of a fuss about my birthday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no recluse. I love getting together with the people who are close to me, but that’s the sort of thing we should be doing multiple times a year, surely? As often as possible. Sometimes the only thing we need to celebrate is the fact that we are here and we are together.

 

So, what did I get for my birthday? A year older. I don’t wish to say “and a little wiser”, because ultimately I’m still figuring it all out. Same as everyone else.

 

Besides, it’s a horrible, horrible cliché.

 

 

 

The Beauty of Anticipation

The second ‘Figment Wars’ book is out soon!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have it at last. A release date for the second book in the ‘Figment Wars’ series!

Date

Lots of lovely people have been asking about the sequel for years and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my readers for their patience. The next instalment in the adventures of Thomas, Isaac and Emily has been a long time in the making. Lots of time and hard work has gone into it, which ultimately brings me to the actual subject of this blog. Anticipation.

 

Life is a series of events. This much has always been true. Some good, some bad, some entirely dependent on your own point of view. Usually the good and the bad tend to come in reasonably sparse intervals. When a flurry of good things all happen at once we call it a winning streak, when we’re struck by a cavalcade of misfortune it just feels like the universe is conspiring against us. Generally though, life consists of tip-toeing from one event to the other with a balance of expectations on each.

 

We can’t get all the bad things out of the way and have done with them. We can’t just attend one long string of dentist appointments then expect our teeth to be sorted for the rest of our lives. Many people, if given the choice, would love to only have good things happen to them, one after the other. An endless string of good fortune. How very dull. Some of the greatest works of art known have come from heartbreak, despair and at times, downright terror.

 

Having something to look forward to, be it a concert, a party or just a catch up with an old friend, is what gets us through the moments of misfortune. They are made all the more enjoyable because of those times when nothing seems to be going right, rather than in spite of them. Even when these plans are months in advance, thinking about them, looking forward to them, gets us through the heartaches.

 

This has all been my own, roundabout way of saying why despite my overwhelming urge to divulge everything about the upcoming book right now, I won’t. I’ll be striving to give myself and my loyal readers something to look forward to. We have a date for release in the not too distant future, but over the coming weeks you can all expect to discover the title of this book and an eventual cover reveal. Work has also begun on a book launch event and there will be a few giveaway competitions too!

 

The countdown has begun! Let’s all share this wonderful feeling of anticipation together, as we get ready to start the search …

 

 

 

Top Tips for Proof Reading

My little set of tips for helping you get through the proof reading stage.

So, you’ve had an idea for a story. You’ve scribbled down notes. You’ve drafted a basic story outline. You’ve tapped your keyboard into oblivion writing the entire thing, crafting your story with painstaking attention to detail. You think the hard work is over. It’s only just begun.

 

The truth is, be it a story, an article or indeed anything, nobody really likes having to read it all over again. Once you’ve transferred this big, galumphing thing from your brain to the page you’re not always in the mood to revisit it. After all, it’s all good, right? You’d have seen any mistakes as you went along, right? Wrong.

 

Proof reading is a vital step in the writing process that must not be overlooked. I speak from personal experience when I say there is no worse feeling than putting your work out there to discover mistakes in the text. Mistakes, however, are our greatest teachers. Here are some little tips that have helped me personally when it comes to proof reading.

  1. Read aloud. Yes, this may annoy your neighbours, flatmates, significant others but I have found that reading the text out loud allows for greater analysis. When you read silently, a sentence can often read in your head the way you originally intended it to, but in reality it does not. Reading aloud stops you from skipping or skimming over potential mistakes.
  2. Take breaks. If you’re proof reading a large body of work, little and often is the best way to go. Reading for too long in one go increases the chances of you missing something due to fatigue. Go grab a drink, a snack, take a walk. Your work will be waiting for you.
  3. Keep track. With my last novel I began keeping track of how many times I had proof read each chapter. This makes it easier to return to proof reading after a break with a quick glance at your chart or list.
  4. Do it again. You will eventually get to the stage where you think it’s ready. That little voice in your head will tell you all’s well. Agree with that little voice, but give the text one more proof read for safety.
  5. Get help. A fresh pair of eyes is always helpful. Find someone who is willing to have a look at your work. Give them a physical copy wherever possible. Be patient and don’t rush them. They are doing you a favour in agreeing to have a look at your work.
  6. Be kind. Sometimes when you look back at your work and find multiple mistakes it can leave you feeling a little down hearted. Don’t beat yourself up. We all make mistakes, just make sure you’re the kind of person that takes the time to fix them.

 

As a general note on the process of proof reading and my own approach to it, there are many schools of thought regarding proof reading each individual chapter just after you’ve finished it. There are certainly benefits to looking over your work while it is fresh in your mind, but personally I find that a little time away from your work allows you to be more detached from it and see any errors or ways to improve what you’ve done. Ultimately I do the bulk of my proof reading once the whole piece is initially ‘complete’.

 

So there we have it. My own little ways of coping with having to read my own work over and over again. I do hope they’ve been of some use to you, but however you go about your proof reading, just remember that nobody’s prefect.

Just So Busy!

A little attempt to excuse my absence from the blog and an update on what’s been going on!

My deepest apologies, to myself first and foremost, and then to anyone who might be reading. It’s been two months since I last blogged. When I began this I promised myself I would strive to write an entry at least once a month. As June and July came and went there were times when I thought to myself “Must write something before the month is out”, but something else always managed to pop up and demand my attention.

 

The other problem is the agony of choice. Deciding what to blog about has proved to be a task in itself. This entry is a little attempt at breaking the cycle and giving a general update as to what’s been going on and what is to come!

 

Acting wise, rehearsals for Sodbury Players’ production of ‘The Audience’ by Peter Morgan have been going very well indeed, with just over a month until opening night. We believe we may be the first amateur group in the UK to put on this production and it has already been attracting high ticket sales. I strongly urge anyone who’s looking to see this production not to wait too long before securing your tickets! I’ve also been kept busy with rehearsals for our rendition of ‘George and the Dragon’, a piece of street theatre we put on for the Sodbury 800 celebrations. This was an enjoyable piece, a mini-pantomime as it were, with plenty of slapstick and mildly suggestive humour! I’ve also been writing a One Act play, though this is very much in the early stages.

 

Speaking of writing, work on the second installment of ‘The Figment Wars’ continues apace. There was a point where it could be a coin toss that decided which I was going to proof read on a given night, the One Act or the manuscript. I have been greatly touched by all the enquiries as to when this second installment will be published, and rest assured that as soon as I know, you all will!

 

My marketing endeavours have been revamped, with new leaflets advertising my school workshops on the way. I’ve also put in an order for custom made stickers, to be used at various events. If there’s one thing that several years of working with children has taught me, it’s that everyone loves a sticker!

 

Many events are on the horizon, the most recently announced is Em Con Derby, where I’ll be at table 21 selling and signing copies of ‘The Figment Wars: Through the Portals’. This event will represent the furthest afield I’ve been so far to sell and promote my book. Having done an Em Con before, I am greatly looking forward to this one!

 

All in all, I have been very busy striving to bring ‘The Figment Wars’ to new readers. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little blog, this little attempt to make excuses for my absence. Hopefully next time it will be a great deal more focused!

‘Private Peaceful’ by Michael Morpurgo: An Actor’s Review

A review of Sodbury Player’s production of ‘Private Peaceful’

It hardly feels like a week since the curtain fell for the final time on Sodbury Player’s production of ‘Private Peaceful’. Several members of the cast, including myself, have expressed a deep sense of loss after finishing this show that goes beyond the normal ‘post-show blues’. Be advised, this review contains spoilers.

 

‘Private Peaceful’ is a novel by Michael Morpurgo, author of ‘War Horse’. He tells the story of two brothers, Tommo and Charlie Peaceful, and how their lives are torn apart by the outbreak of war. Having both fallen in love with their childhood friend, Molly, their relationship is put to the test when Molly becomes pregnant with Charlie’s child. When the recruiting sergeant comes to town, Tommo lies about his age and joins up along with Charlie. From there, the horrors of the Western Front push them closer together again, until the tragic conclusion of their story.

 

The stage play for an ensemble was adapted by Simon Reade, and the task of directing our production was taken up by the wonderfully talented duo that is Ross Brown and Maggie Allsopp. The cast itself consisted of over thirty performers, with several people (myself included) taking on multiple roles. Lots of rapid costumes changes were involved! The set was minimal and lighting was used to incredible effect, along with many dramatic sequences placed into the play by the directors to ease transitions between scenes.

 

The play starts with Tommo (played by Sam Frankcom in his stunning debut leading a show) in a cell. Tommo acts as a kind of narrator, taking the audience through memories of his childhood in Devon all the way up to the events in 1916 which led to the death of his brother, Charlie (powerfully played by Ross Arnott). Each scene is almost self contained, acting as an individual memory. It was the inspired imagination of our directors that allowed the scenes to flow into each other to create the overall story. The story, as I’ll soon make clear, was central to all our efforts as a company.

 

Michael Morpurgo has never been one to shy away from the aspects of history that some would rather not discuss. The fact that the British army shot more of their own men than any other nation during the First World War, for example. These men were executed by firing squad for perceived cowardice, desertion and some for simply sleeping at their posts. The term that was coined after the war was ‘shell shock’, but let me be blunt. These men were traumatised. Over the last hundred years we have slowly come to recognise this, the British government only granting these men posthumous pardons in 2006. Overwhelmed by a horrific conflict, the scale of which had never been seen before at that time, these men should have received support and care. Instead, the seemingly obvious course of action for the time was to brand them cowards and have them shot.

 

This was a mentality that I had to do my utmost to get across onstage. In the first act I had three different roles, but after the interval I only had one to contend with. Sergeant ‘Horrible’ Hanley. We first see him during Tommo and Charlie’s basic training, where the Sergeant takes a dislike to Charlie for his apparent lack of discipline and proceeds to make an example of him, shouting and bawling at every opportunity. He also attempts to get to Charlie through Tommo, punishing Tommo with laps around the parade ground. When Tommo collapses and Charlie rushes to help his brother, Hanley loses it big time and has Charlie tied to the wheel of a gun carriage. As you can no doubt tell, Hanley is not a pleasant person.

 

In discussing the character of Hanley, it was clear to myself and the directors that he was a professional soldier of the time. Many soldiers would have resented the necessity of bringing in raw recruits, men and indeed boys who otherwise would not have been suited to army life. We decided that in his view, Hanley was being tough on these new recruits in an attempt to toughen them up, for he knew better than most just what kind of horrors were ahead of them. I took the view that while these were Hanley’s motives, he attached no sentimentality to these new recruits. He was a soldier and a soldier can die at any moment. That was his reality. A soldier also obeys orders, and to be faced with a soldier who disobeyed orders flew in the face of Hanley’s reality.

 

We now get to the crux of the story. During an attack, Tommo is badly injured. Charlie manages to pull him into a crater, where one of their friends, Pete, another soldier and Sergeant Hanley are taking shelter. When the signal comes to advance and press the attack, Hanley jumps to his feet, expecting the others to follow. When they do not, he is infuriated. When Charlie Peaceful pipes up and explains that he will not leave his brother behind, Hanley is apoplectic. He makes it clear to Charlie that failure to obey his orders will mean death by firing squad, but when this fails to motivate Charlie, Hanley contemplates shooting Charlie himself. In our production, I actually point my rifle at young Ross Arnott, and the looks of fear on Ross and Sam’s faces are gripping. This, however, is not the end.

 

Hanley leaves them in the crater, where Charlie stays to look after his brother and makes him promise to look after Molly should the worst happen. Hanley survives the attack and returns to the crater to take Charlie into custody. The scene smoothly transitions back to the cell, only now it’s Charlie’s cell. The audience has been led to believe that it is Tommo facing the firing squad, when all along he has been contemplating the fate of his beloved brother. There is an intense scene between the two as they have their final conversation, superbly acted by both Sam and Ross.

 

In the original script, an unnamed guard comes to take Charlie away offstage, gives the order and gunshots are heard, all offstage. Our directors were having none of that. Firstly they had Hanley be the one to lead Charlie away and take him to a post at the centre of the stage. I have no shame in admitting that from technical rehearsal onwards, having to physically wrench Charlie and Tommo away from each other broke my heart, so powerful were Sam and Ross’ performances. However, my character had to remain stone-hearted. For him, this was another day at the office. Another coward who needed to be made an example of.

 

We staged the entire execution there onstage. I offer Charlie a blindfold, then shrug when he refuses. I then pin a white square of fabric to his shirt. A target over his heart. I then march away and await my cue to give the order. “Present. Ready. Aim. Fire”. Four words. Four little words that, for me, were harder to deliver onstage than any lengthy monologue. These would have been the last words these men heard.

 

At the end, every member of the cast joins us onstage. As we turn to face Charlie, the Last Post is played. Then, ever so slowly, poppies begin to fall from the ceiling. The feedback we had from the audience every night was overwhelming, and every last bit of praise for our cast and team was well deserved. We truly bonded during this production, coming together to tell a powerful story that needed to be told.

 

I am aware that it is overwhelmingly easy to look back and judge the mentality of the past. Issues such as mental health and trauma simply weren’t discussed. It wasn’t part of the national identity. However, the fact remains that we, as a nation, shot over 300 men and then effectively dismissed their deaths for decades afterwards. As I said, these men were traumatised. Beyond horrified by weapons, conditions and methods of warfare that had never been seen before. Technology advanced too quickly to meet a conflict that happened simply because tensions had reached a breaking point in Europe. Nations squared up to each other and formed teams, all ready for a scrap that would be over by Christmas. A scrap that lasted four years and cost millions of lives.

 

We honour the fallen and rightly so, and I am grateful for the fact that we now acknowledge and honour the men who fell at our own hands.

Em Con Worcester 2018

A quick review of my day selling and signing at Em Con Worcester

Slightly belated, I’ll admit, but here’s a nice quick blog reflecting on a brilliant day selling and signing at Em Con Worcester!

 

First of all, it’s always a joy to return to Worcester. It was where I studied to become a teacher and I have many fond memories of the city. I also have some hazy memories of my first year, mostly Fresher’s Week I believe. Truth be told, on returning to Worcester I found it wonderfully eerie to walk those familiar streets and feel as though I’d only been away for a weekend, whereas in reality it has been several years.

 

Now, to the convention itself!

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I arrived with about forty minutes to spare before the doors opened, which was fine given that I only had a certain amount of things to set up. Barring a minor disaster transferring my books from car to stall (I’m never trusting collapsible boxes again), I was rather pleased with how my stall was looking. The roller banner saw its first event, and although it made the table look a bit uneven all there on its own, I’m confident it will soon be joined by another banner.

 

The definite highlight of the set up was John Rhys Davies, coming around to every stall before the event opened with a word of greeting. I’ve not yet done many of these events from this side of the trader table, but I can certainly say that this was a great surprise. John Rhys Davies is a true gentleman, making time for everyone at these events.

 

The doors were flung open and the crowds let in. Over the course of the day I talked to some lovely people, handed out many business cards and, of course, sold a few books. I even had a repeat customer from another event enquiring as to when the sequel will be out! Rest assured, as soon as I know, you will all know! Suffice to say I left the event with considerably fewer copies of ‘The Figment Wars: Through the Portals’ than I came with (which is just as well, considering my storage box broke on the way in).

 

All in all, this was a very good event. A strong start for Em Con in Worcester and I sincerely hope that it will become a regular occurrence.