... For the BFS Open Night at Ye Olde Cock in Fleet Street.
I'm not a member of the British Fantasy Society, but I am an avid scourer of their website and membership has been crossing my mind recently. The Open Nights seemed to be an easy way of testing the waters - and besides, Chris Teague of Pendragon was to be launching his new anthology, Choices
, there. If nothing else, I could meet the man who finally said yes to my writing!
Ye Olde Cock turned out to be easy to find and very crowded. The BFS meeting was upstairs, but downstairs was packed with men in expensive suits smoking and drinking (well, it was opposite the Law Courts). The smoking side didn't go down too well with me, but hey, come April, that won't be a problem anymore. Once the BFS crowd had been given entry, everyone colonised some tables and the wait for the bar to open began.
A couple of observations. Firstly, I had expected to see a few faces there that I knew. I've been to quite a few SF conventions - EasterCons, WorldCons, even the odd UniCon - and, although I'm not particularly known there, I know faces. The surprising thing here is that there were none of the ones I knew at the BFS. I had expected some cross-over, but no - Sf and F, ne'er the twain shall meet. (There was one face there that I recognised, Stephen Jones, Editor, author, and God Of Horror Fiction in the UK - but with no track record as yet, I had no reason to introduce myself to him).
Another thing was that I had expected something a little more, well, structured. As it was, one guy stood up after a few minutes, announced that Chris Teague was there to launch his book, that there was another book on the Hellraiser
films also being launched, and that there was no raffle, and then he sat down again. That was it. At the SF equivalent to this, at The Tun public house, there is a speaker and an order of events. Here, laissez faire.
It soon became clear as well that the Christmas Open Night was probably not the best to have started with. There were a lot of people there - but they all knew each other and were greeting one another as long lost friends. It was not the atmosphere to just push into. A husband and wife sat at my table, for instance, but it took ten minutes of being studiously ignored before I felt that I could start up a conversation. Once it did get going, the couple were very nice - but it was evidently politeness rather than interest that motivated the chat.
Not that it was all like that. I did meet Chris Teague - a very nice guy who sold me a copy of Choices
(not a difficult sale!), signed it and was very complimentary to me. He even introduced me to someone from Elastic Press. The other thing of interest was that, unlike SF meetings, this one was less fannish and more professional - by which I mean that there seemed to be more networking with potential writers and publishers than general discussion. And it was also much more biased towards Horror than I had expected. I had somehow thought that the British Fantasy Society might have more than a passing interest in elves, mages and quests - but here the main buzz that I got was for dark fantasy, horror and slipstream works.
Which is both interesting and heartening.
I think I shall return to the BFS Open Night in the future - but probably a little later in the year when the pack has thinned out and I might have something to talk about. All in all, an interesting night.