Wow! What an extraordinary weekend!
I have just spent three days in the company of a very select band of Black Library writers and fans, and a very good time was had by all, I hope, but certainly by me.
The Belfry Hotel in Nottingham hummed with the conversation and often the laughter of a lot of very happy people who had a little something in common. I’m often surprised by how well everyone gets on, how comfortable we all are together. We are both sexes and a very wide spectrum of ages and experiences and social and economics backgrounds. We might have very little in common were it not for the Black Library and yet we find a great deal to talk about besides what brought us together in the first place. We shared and compared stories, we made new friends and we all came away from the weekend better people for having attended.
The second Black Library Weekender was special for me for two reasons in particular. The first was the kindness of friends. Several people that I have met at previous events, whom I like to think of as more than just fans, came bearing gifts. They remembered my tastes and brought me wonderful things to remember them by. It is always a little overwhelming and exceptionally lovely to be remembered in this way and I cannot say how delighted I was.
|Alizabeth Bequin's shawl
The kindness of one stranger really stood out, though. A fan of the husband’s Inquisitor books brought a gift for us that was remarkably lovely. She had designed and hand knitted a gorgeous shawl, which she presented to us, in particular for me to wear. She had made it from the description of Alizabeth Bequin’s shawl. That someone should take so much time and trouble is really rather special, and I was genuinely touched.
The other reason that this weekend was particularly special for me was my inclusion on the panel for The Pitch Factor. It was an evening entertainment event whereby anyone could pitch a short story to a panel of ‘Experts’ and the best would be submitted for possible publication by the Black Library.
It became quite clear quite quickly that it took a lot of guts to stand up and make a pitch in front of the panel and the large and baying audience. I know that I couldn’t have done it. The pitches were universally well thought out, and well delivered, and I have huge admiration for all who put their necks on the line to take part in what was after-all intended chiefly as an entertainment. I hope that those who didn’t get past the panel this year will take onboard the criticism that we offered, which was certainly intended as constructive, and I hope they will all take other opportunities to pitch and submit work to the Black Library and to anywhere else that offers the chance to be published.
It was a privilege to listen to all of you. Bloody well done to the four writers whose pitches were chosen, and good luck with your stories!