Friday, 29 April 2011

EasterCon 2011: RandomCon

In the early 1990s, we used to save up for months to go to EasterCon.

A pack of us, crammed in the back of a van, laden with re-enactment gear and scrounged-together dressing-up kit (the word ‘cosplay’ hadn’t been invented). We’d rent a room between us, two in the bed and six on the floor; we’d sneak out to the local corner shop and come back laden with cheap food and salty snackage and two-litre bottles of bad white cider.

And it was awesome.


I remember attending Writers’ Workshops, wide-eyed and wanting to learn everything, participating in the Masquerade (the immortal comment, ‘S&M rubbish, 8/10’ has stuck in my mind ever since) and falling flat on my face when a picture of my mate and I in full (brief?) costume appeared in centre spread of Starburst magazine. I think it was Issue 5.

This year’s EasterCon, then, was rather a landmark event.

I’ve grown out of my costumes (sadly sideways) and these days the van is packed with books and not people. I’m still not quite over the novelty of having a room to myself, never mind the engorging breakfast… and the use of swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam was verging on surreal.


Not as surreal, though, as the deluge of congratulations and questions that followed the announcement of my deal with Titan Books.

The wide-eyed twenty-something that attended those Writers’ Workshops is not really that far in the past – and the realisation that sometimes these things do come true is still a little overwhelming. It’s magical, it’s scary, it’s not quite solid. There’s a part of me that still expects to wake up with my mates all snoring round me.

Slotted in with all of this were other moments of bizarre comedy – moderating a panel with the Guest of Hono(u)r and a line up of fantastic authors, being asked to attend a Con event as an author in my own right (which I didn’t) and seeing my name in print for the first time… it all added up to blow my little mind.

Though that might’ve been the (cringe) Johnnie Walker…

Back to the point though. Thanks to the ludicrous overpricing of the hotel, Alex and I resorted to sneaking carrier bags of provisions into the building. Between gasping in horror at the bar prices, and counting out our pocket-change like skint and errant kids, the irony of this wasn’t lost on either of us.


While ‘Illustrious’ could well have been renamed ‘RandomCon’, the humour of it all did reveal one core truth. Seems time goes in a circle – no matter who you are, where you go, or how your life changes, it’s all comes back to where it started.

And to who you started it with.


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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Book Deal Announcement!!

From the Titan Books website - as I'm still kinda speechless...

Titan Launches Original SFF Initiative with First Time Author


In the week preceding key science fiction and fantasy convention, EasterCon, Titan Books are delighted to announce the acquisition of worldwide rights to a fantastic debut fantasy novel and its sequel by first time writer, Danie Ware.

In searching for fresh talent to kick-start Titan’s new SFF enterprise, editor Cath Trechman unearthed exactly the kind of inventive manuscript she is looking for from within the Titan Entertainment group itself: a fantasy story written by historical combat enthusiast Danie Ware. As the publicist and event organiser for Titan sister company and cult entertainment retailer Forbidden Planet, Danie is already known and respected by many in the SFF community and has been writing epic fantasy at every opportunity her busy work schedule allows.

The currently untitled novel following Ecko, a cybernetics-enhanced warrior, is scheduled for publication in 2012. Cath Trechman says “Danie has created an extraordinary fantasy world, filled with rich, vibrant characters, and a story that is thrilling, compelling and wonderfully unpredictable. We at Titan feel very lucky to have found such a remarkable talent so close to home.”

(Ummm - Squeeee?!)

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Saturday, 16 April 2011

Foursquare Day

Hi, my name is Danie and I’m addicted to Foursquare.

Everywhere I go, if I can legitimately claim that I stopped, out comes the iPhone and I have to check in. Have to. No, you don’t understand, I HAVE TO.

People I’m out with roll their eyes and laugh at me – ‘on foursquare again’, but I can’t bloody help it, damn thing has given me OCD. I must add that extra location, that extra point. I must, dammit!!

It’s not like I’ve actually found a use for it – I’ve never had a foursquare bonding moment with a random SocMed stranger, nor gained a free coffee from a local ‘special’. So why the blazes can’t I leave it alone?


Badges. I need those steeeeenking badges. Just like my son at Beaver Scouts, getting a badge gives me a lift (plus I don’t have to sew the bloody things on). That magical ‘unlock’ email – hell, if I could powder that feeling, and sell it in little plastic bags, I’d be rich.

Or in the dock, one or the other.

But my OCD doesn’t stop there.


Foursquare’s points system lures me with a beckoning fingernail – in the earlier incarnation, there were points for adding new places and we rapidly ascended to be Mayors of our houses, workplaces, local supermarkets… (I was very amused when one of my colleagues added Titan House a second time as Titan Publishing – just so he could get those points too). Now, though, that compulsion has been expertly fine-tuned, being Mayor has perk-points, you can gain additional pluses for repeated visits in a week or for returning to a location when you’ve been absent for a while. Dear Gods, I don’t stand a chance, with all those lovely, handy increments so easily available…


MUST… CHECK… INNNNN…

And even worse than THAT – Foursquare now teases and tempts you, coaxes you like the snake in The Jungle Book. The site offers a visible leaderboard; it tells you as you overtake someone, dangles the next person in your sights like a plump and juicy target. That same competitive urge that leads you to compulsively place the last eBay bid just so you can win… yeah, you know the one. That.

Obviously, the practical uses for business are colossal – I’m starting to look at it with a Marketeer’s eye. Honest. (For example, Foursquare is an urban thing; it’s amazing how it hasn’t caught on outside London).

But in the meantime, as those steeeenking badges rack up and the lists of my Mayorships increase, as my friends roll their eyes at my newest addiction, I’m wondering…


Would it be bad form to check in when I roll up outside the Foursquare Rehab Centre..?


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Sunday, 10 April 2011

Kapow!


Comics culture is expanding. And a day at Mark Millar’s Kapow! is all you need to see it for yourself.

We know Comic Cons; we’re used to the demographic and the slightly grubby, lightless venues. We’re used to long boxes of variant covers and collector’s editions, to fans that flick through them for the rare ones they don’t yet own.

For the outset, Kapow! was going to do things differently.


This is a stronger event, brighter, more dynamic. This is big; this is shiny. Under the sunshine coming through the roof of the Design Centre, there’s a heaving, mobile statement about the modern changes in Geek Culture. Cybercandy are here, and the London Rockin’ Rollers. This is cool – and it knows it.

The audience is younger, hotter, better dressed – and there are more girls than ever.


From behind the FP stall, we see a lot of ink, top-end body art and some arsekicking alternative fashion. There’s a teasing gleam of Steampunk, a timeless flicker of Who, an errant Manga cosplayer – but here, the costumed characters, too, have presence and quality. The ones present in force are the Superheroes, the icons of our childhoods, but like the culture itself they’re streetwise now – they fuse retro with all growed up.


As the culture expands, then, so does its personal expression. No longer is the comic restricted to the printed page. We know that Superheroes have made the big screen and become socially acceptable; we know that independent comics have found new expression on the web. What we’re seeing now is that comics imagery is permeating youth culture, fashion and self-expression. It’s not just for nerds anymore – or has the very word expanded at the same rate?


On my way in on the train, there was a guy in Marvel headphones; at the event itself there are accessories from jewellery to household d├ęcor. FP are doing a roaring trade in Kick Ass mugs and travel-pass holders – and the Genki Gear guys have likewise expanded their product range.

Keeping a lookout for Kapow!’s best geek t-shirt (the guy in the ‘Han Job’ tee probably won that one hands – erm – down) got me thinking.


Rebellion’s Keith Richardson commented that more people were asking him about 2000AD, about where they should start and what they should read. If the readership is expanding, and events like Kapow! are turning comics culture into a lifestyle choice… then the old belief that the t-shirt is the ultimate geek status symbol is surely becoming outmoded.

And the best accessory is taking over.

So – am I talking pants? What do we think of these as a winner?




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