Tag Archives: Interview

Author Sam Dogra

Today, I’d like to welcome author and artist, Sam Dogra to my blog page. The first book in The Chronicles of Azaria, The Binding, is readily available and as part of the Bandit Book Bloggers Tours, the multi-talented Sam is here to answers some of my questions about her books and writing!

Sam DograAuthor and Artist Sam Dogra

How did you become involved in writing? Can you give us a brief history of your own experiences as an author?

I’ve been writing for many years now, since my early teens. The first story I ever wrote was during my Common Entrance (13+) English exam. The essay question was ‘Write a story based on the following picture’. The picture was of a classroom door marked ‘Out of Bounds’. So I gathered all my creative powers and . . .

I wrote about 2 boys, Mark and Darren, who broke into the classroom. The door was actually a time portal, and the two got sent to Edward Jenner’s time, just before he was about to invent the vaccine. Jenner’s life was in danger, as the Duke of Manchester refused to believe a biological explanation to what he considered ‘God’s will’, and was trying to assassinate him. So Mark and Darren help Jenner lie low, and inadvertently help him discover the vaccination!

I still remember the feedback: while the idea was good, the writing itself wasn’t the best- too much dialogue and not enough setting! But in spite of this, I acquired a taste for writing.

When I started secondary school, I started writing fanfiction- mostly Sonic the Hedgehog and some old old animes, like Tekkaman Blade and Shinzo. How glad I am that those awful pieces of unoriginal scrap have faded into the shadows of time! I will say, though, that they did help me in developing my style, and I still to this day occasionally dabble in fanfiction to practice.

My original ideas actually originated in my other love: drawing. Usually, I tended to draw fanart of various series. Then one day I decided to draw my own character:

kaylan

I named him Kaylen, after my friend’s boyfriend in America. He was a sorcerer (the character, not the boyfriend!), loosely based on the anime character ‘Sorcerer Stabber Orphen’, but with different hair. I did some more drawings of Kaylen, but I never really developed him much. I gave him a female companion, Ellia, and a male counterpart named Kester, though again neither had much development past my designs. These would later become the main characters for my first novel project, the Zodiac Hunters (with new names: Nick, Midnight and Seth).

Unfortunately this didn’t really go to plan. I wrote the novel but it had a lot of flaws and I kept changing my mind about certain parts, so I decided to leave it for a while and come back later.

In the meantime, I found another project to work on. I was in the middle of my final hospital placement (having just graduated from medical school). I was taking some blood samples to the pathology lab when this image came to me: a girl hiding in a forest because of a ‘vulnerable heart’.

So when I went home that day I tinkered with the idea and came up with The Binding- a spell that forced people to fall in love. And then the Chronicles of Azaria series was born . . .

 What are The Chronicles of Azaria about?

The series itself is just what it says it is: it chronicles important historical events of a fantasy kingdom called Azaria, and follows the lives of four main protagonists—Eliza, Jessie, Raviel and Jason, who live in different times but share a connection. There will be four eras in total, and each ‘era’ is split into ‘sagas’. The first saga is the Goddess Saga (The Binding, The Parting, The Blessing), which follows Eliza’s adventures as she fights to break the Binding—a magic spell that compels strangers to fall in love should one be under its influence and have an act of kindness done to them.

Without giving too much away, the actions of the characters in one era have a direct impact on the characters in the next era. But I’m not telling the stories chronologically—in that regard Eliza’s time is actually the third era . . .

Where did the idea for the series come from?

The original idea for The Binding came when I was taking some blood samples to the lab at work. I just had a scene in my mind—a girl sitting alone in a forest, because she wanted to protect her heart. I can probably say the game Kingdom Hearts might have had an influence on this (as the name suggests there’s lot of stuff about heart in it). The game itself also isn’t told chronologically, so I guess I adapted that idea from there as well.

As for the other stories, originally they were all individual and set on different worlds (I’d had the ideas for them a long time ago and written down some rough outlines). But I noticed they shared a common theme about magic, so I was about to alter the geography and certain events so all the stories correlated.

The actual theme of the series is inspired by my medical knowledge and my interest in the biology of infectious disease (which will perhaps be more evident in Jason’s saga!).

What things in your everyday life inspire your writing?

My drawing was the initial motivator that started me off, and I do like to doodle ideas sometimes. Also my crazy Welsh friend (who I know from university) who I chat to on skype—we have the weirdest conversations and ideas do spring from them sometimes.

Video games are also a huge inspiration for me. My first project Zodiac Hunters was inspired by the game Eternal Darkness (a Lovecraftian survival horror on the Nintendo Gamecube), and some other story ideas I have planned take roots in games like Assassin’s Creed and Okami.

I’m also a big fan of ‘deconstruction’- I love to take traditional story/ character tropes and stereotypes and turn them upside down, especially in terms of things like gender roles and predictable elements.

What would be your favourite part of the writing process?

Making the plot outlines. I have 17 so far, and counting! I love plotting out ideas and making plans. Of course I’ve found I never actually stick to them directly, but I really enjoy knowing the milestones and thinking up scenarios for the characters. However I notice I do tend to get carried away and outlines for single ‘books’ have had to be split (My books Binding and Parting were the same outline originally!).

Would you be an author who plans their story in detail beforehand or would you ‘wing it’?

See above 🙂 I think this is important to establish consistency (which has become essential in adjusting my outlines for the Chronicle of Azaria series).

As a reader, who would influence the way you write, or who do you admire a great deal?

To be honest, reading never inspired me to write, however there are many authors I enjoy. My all-time favourite author is Julia Golding. I adore her Companions Quartet (yes it’s middle grade, but a lot of fun) and her novel Dragonfly. I also like Cornelia Funke, Alison Croggon (about the only high fantasy I’ll ever read), Garth Nix, Philip Pullman and Herbie Brennan. I enjoyed JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books but I wouldn’t call myself a diehard fan.

Is there anything in your experience that would help other hopeful writers wanting to be published? What advice would you give them?

I suppose I’m in a slightly unusual situation in that writing was and still is a hobby to me (being a full time doctor, I can’t dedicate that much to it), but thanks to the advent of Amazon Kindle and ebooks, I thought it would be nice to see if others would read what I’ve written.

However, I would say think carefully about what you want from getting published. Do you want the prestige of having an agent and big publisher? Do you want creative freedom to do what you want? They are pros and cons to being traditionally or indie published, so research carefully, because many things aren’t what you think they are, so make sure you’ll well informed and make the right choice for yourself.

What is next for author Sam Dogra? Are there any other projects you are currently working on?

I’ve just started writing The Blessing (book 3 of the Chronicles of Azaria). I’ve also recently completed Fated Part 2: A Timeless Series Novella with author Lisa Wiedmeier, and I’ll be doing Parts 3 and 4 of that sometime this year as well. That will probably be it for now, as I have exams coming up next year . . .

Thank you, Sam, for dropping by and answering a few questions! Congratulations on the recent release of book two in the series, The Parting. Looking forward to seeing more about your artwork and writing in future!

Below Sam had kindly given me more information about her books, links to her webpage and purchase links to her book. Happy reading folks!

the binding

THE BINDING (Chronicles of Azaria #1)

by

SAM DOGRA

BLURB

What do you do when you can’t trust your heart?

All seventeen year-old Eliza Bryant wants is to avoid a Binding— the ancient spell that forces couples into a lifelong bond. It cursed her sister, and for the last two years it’s tried to claim her, too. Her monthly hiding ritual worked brilliantly, until the night she ran into Ryan, a mysterious bounty-hunter. Now Bound to him, Eliza must spend every moment at his side, else she’ll transform into an Unbound; a lifeless husk without mind or soul.

Unfortunately, Ryan’s not looking to settle, and Eliza is dragged into his crazy life on the run. Still, she’s not going to take this lying down. Between grappling with the false feelings conjured by the spell and fleeing an unseen enemy, she plans to find a way to break her Binding; a feat nobody’s achieved in two thousand years. The key to her freedom lies closer than she thinks, and it’s deeply connected to Ryan’s past.

Read an excerpt

REVIEWS

What an interesting concept, just seeing someone by chance and then provided the timing is right, you find yourself bound to them forever. Sounds a bit like a “love at first sight” only the two people have no choice in the matter due to a “Binding Curse.” Eliza hoping to outwit the curse escaped into the forest only to be thwarted by a wild bear so was it fate or circumstance? I liked Eliza though I sometimes felt that honesty would have been the best policy. I did understand why she was reluctant to own up to the binding as she barely knew Ryan.

Ryan was actually a good guy and he seemed genuine though he was on the run himself and had secrets of his own that he was keeping from her. Desperate to hide the truth from her family, she flees her home with Ryan making up a sordid past for herself. A love triangle of sorts ensues when her childhood friend Adam finds out about the binding as he yearns for something more and sets out to find her.

When all the secrets have been revealed, will Eliza be able to distinguish how she really feels. If there is a chance that the curse can be reversed, who would Eliza pick if she was free to choose? Her childhood friend Adam that she shares a history with or Ryan who claims to love her now despite his binding to another. I can’t wait to read the next book to find out more about this triangle and will true love eventually prevail? – Nereid, Amazon

 

4.5 Stars. This exciting tale for New Adult/Older YA crosses genres making it difficult to categorise in any one area. Set in another world it has elements of sci-fi, fantasy and a just touch of steampunk. The characters are magnetic and quickly draw you into this exciting world where curses and magic become real. This passionate tale becomes unstoppable leaving you devastated that the second instalment is yet to be published – not a cliff-hanger, just totally addictive writing. – Tracie, Goodreads

 

Awesome! Can’t wait for the next one!!! – Molly Bonville, Goodreads

The Binding, by Sam Dogra, is an excellent read, with superb settings and characterisation. I really cared what happened to the main protagonist and the first person point of view, really helped me to become immersed in the story. Only one minor criticism. The, use of the word “to” instead of “at”. For example: “Ryan looked to the moon”, or “I looked to my lap”. This jarred me a little, but apart from this nitpick, this is an almost perfect story and one readers of all ages will enjoy. Highly recommended. –Kate Jack, Amazon

ANIMATIONS

Encyclopaedia Azaria #1- The Iasometer

Encyclopaedia Azaria #2- The Tale of The Binding

AUTHOR BIO

Sam Dogra is a junior doctor working in the UK, and is currently training to become a General Practitioner. Between reviewing drug charts and X-rays, taking blood, saving lives and getting grilled by consultants, she also writes fantasy fiction and is a fantasy artist. She has co-written ‘Fated: A Timeless Series Companion Novel’ with author Lisa Wiedmeier, and has also published her first novel The Binding, and its sequel, The Parting, with a third book in progress.

She’s widely traveled, and has enjoyed her visits to France, Germany, Norway, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Rhodes, Turkey, Cyprus, Lesvos, India, Dubai, Australia, Canada and Idaho, Washington, New York, Seattle and Alaska, USA. Her other main interest is fantasy art.

In what little spare time she has, Sam also enjoys reading, baking, shopping, watching movies and anime, astrology, video games, collecting cuddly toy animals, and photography.

LINKS

Website/ blog: http://indigolightning.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Chronicles-of-Azaria-Series/229718793739428

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MadDoctorArtist

Artwork: http://sam241.deviantart.com

PURCHASE LINKS for BINDING

UK ebook

US ebook

UK paperback

US paperback

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Aiyana Jackson: Steampunk and Fantasy Author

Today, I welcome Steampunk and Fantasy author, Aiyana Jackson, to my blog. The intriguing Aiyana answers some of my questions regarding her works and the genres she writes in. Her novella, Encante was released this month and personally, it’s a book I look forward to reading!

Aiyana, can you give us a little history about your writing and how you came to write steampunk and fantasy?

I began writing fantasy years ago, when I was still in my very early teens, mainly I think out of a need for a creative outlet. I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction novels and also watched a lot of films and television in the same genres. I was a typical teen, basically, but socially very awkward. I had trouble making friends as I moved around a lot and (sad as it sounds) the characters in my favourite books—in particular the works of Robin Hobb—became more like friends to me than my actual peers. Consequently I grew up with a rather amusing sense of style and conversation, which a lot of people failed to understand. I immersed myself in fantastical and made up worlds and, as I got older and realised I was quite good at writing, I began to create new worlds and characters of my own. That, I think, was when I started to gain a little more confidence in myself; I stopped feeling like such a loner because I could literally create as many friends as I wanted.

Once I hit college and university I soon found there were a lot of people who were like me, who enjoyed the same sort of things I did, and who actually understood what I was talking about. It was somewhat of a revelation. I never stopped writing though, in fact if anything the more I realised there were people who could understand that side of me the more I indulged it. I spend almost every spare second writing now, it’s the one thing I’m truly passionate about, and it doesn’t seem to matter what else is going on it’s always an escape. I had quite a rough time of it growing up and I think that’s what really drew me to fantasy, the escapism.

Steampunk is something I first became interested in when Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy came out. I was about twelve, I think, when I read Northern Lights and it just stuck with me. I read voraciously by that point and, as we had the internet, was also able to start looking up the aspects of novels I enjoyed and beginning to understand more about them. There wasn’t really a great deal ‘out there’ about Steampunk at that time (c.1996), or at least if there was I didn’t pick up on it. It wasn’t until my late teens I really started to understand that this was an actual genre, and not just a few cool books that had things in common. Once I did I devoured anything and everything I could find. James P. Blaylock’s Homunculus is the first thing I recall purposefully buying as ‘Steampunk’, that was when I was about sixteen. It was a while before I began writing in the genre. Unlike fantasy truly good Steampunk novels are few and far between, and so it took me considerably longer to get a real feel for it than I had Fantasy. Encante isn’t the first Steampunk story I’ve written, but there weren’t many before it, and it is the longest so far.

 

Your novella, Encante, was released this month. Can you tell us about the novella and what inspired you to write it?

It was very heavily inspired by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I’ve always been a fan of the classic authors like Verne and H.G. Wells, but again they were stories I never thought of as Steampunk when I first read them, as that was in the time before I knew Steampunk existed. I began writing it after a friend of mine, who runs Kristell Ink Publishing invited me to write a piece for their first anthology, which was to be Steampunk. I was delighted, and set to it immediately. At the time I’d just bought the beautiful Barnes and Noble leather-bound edition of the complete works of Verne and was half way through re-reading them. The notion of a hollow earth has always fascinated me, and I have also always had a great love of mermaids, in their various guises, including of course the Hans Christian Anderson tale. I decided to explore both notions in a single story. The concept however, ran away from me a little (a problem I often have) and the story ended up being far too long to be included in the anthology. I was given the option of cutting it down, but it would have meant losing about fifteen thousand words out of what was then a twenty-five thousand word story, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead it was shelved. I had been working on a steampunk novel before being asked to participate in the anthology and, coincidentally, both story-worlds utilised portal devices which were relatively similar. I decided to tweak the original short slightly and expand upon it some more, so that I could include it, and its characters, in the world of the novel.

(The beautiful cover for Aiyana’s novella, Encante)

Is Encante a part of a series or is it a standalone work?

Encante is the first in a series called The Fifteen Solars. At present there are four planned novellas and at least one novel in this series. The novel, Soul of Avarice, was actually the first to be written, but the world in which it is set is extremely complicated, involving a very large cast of characters all with their own unique and very interesting backstories. Rather than have pages and pages of long exposition to explain this, I decided to write a few separate, but overlapping, shorter novels which introduced various worlds and characters in the story-universe. Soul of Avarice itself is still nowhere near finished and already a very long novel, so I suspect it will be split into two, or possibly even three, making a trilogy.

 

As a lot of steampunk novels have elements of magic/machinery/science in a Victorian-style era, was there a lot of research involved in respects to writing Encante? 

In some respects yes. In others, not nearly as much as you would expect. I think I actually spent more time researching submarines and the various practicalities and realities of life aboard them than I did anything else. Obviously, the Narwhal (the submarine in Encante) is a fantasy submarine, and as such it isn’t written as accurately as it would have been were I writing historical fiction, I still wanted to ensure I got the basics of life aboard a submersible correct. The one notion that really fascinated me, and became quite pivotal to the plot, was the fact that a sub could take on only so much air and would therefore be able to dive for a finite amount of time before needing to re-surface and take on more, rather like a whale.

There were many other aspects of the plot that required some research, but due to the amount of novels I’ve read myself in this genre, and the fact that I have an interest in history also, I didn’t actually need to do a vast amount of research, as I’d already read a lot on the era. There are certain things you find you have to check while writing, odd things, like the correct word for a certain item of clothing, or how they referred to a sofa. The one thing I did do a lot of research on was language and slang, as I wanted to give them a relatively accurate manner of speech for the time.

Are there any authors in particular you find have inspired or influenced your own writing?

Robin Hobb is, without doubt, the greatest influence on my own work. I am a huge fan of her work and have read all her books countless times. China Mieville is another great inspiration to me, although I’m not sure he has necessarily influenced my style of writing so much. I think it is likely that people have had far more influence on me than I realise, and it would take someone else reading my work to say ‘yes, you can tell she’s read such a person’. Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman and of course Terry Pratchett had a large hand in the way I think about fiction, and there are a score of other authors I admire and respect who probably deserve mention too.

I write almost exclusively in the first person and that, I believe, is a direct result of Robin Hobb’s Farseer books, which are written in the first person, and the extent to which I fell in love with Fitz, the main character. That way of writing, that manner of totally immersing your reader in your character to the point where you almost feel as if you are that character yourself, was something I tried to emulate from a very early age.

What are some of your favourite novels? Can you tell us why you love them so much?

My favourite novels of all time are, without doubt, Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy and Tawny Man Trilogy. I love the Liveship Traders books and Rain Wild Chronicles too, but the books about Fitz and the Fool have been my favourites since I was sixteen. I re-read them all at least once a year and I was beyond delighted when she announced she was writing a third trilogy about those characters, as it was always a story left unfinished, I suspect because she always had the final series in mind. I believe the reason I love these books so much is because you come to know Fitz so well that you love him, you truly understand him, and yet he is a very damaged, very flawed character. He makes a lot of questionable decisions and does a lot of things you’re not quite sure sit right on your conscience, yet you know he did the right thing, because there was no other thing he could have done in that situation. It takes phenomenal skill to write like that. It takes a tremendous character and a perfectly constructed world to allow such a feeling to take over you as you read. I will never get tired of reading those books.

Can you give us a brief on what you are currently working on? What are your works-in-progress about?

Oh, there are so many! The main one at present is a short story I’m working on for a forthcoming anthology, All The Night-Tide. The concept for the anthology was to base each of the stories on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe but transform it into a Steampunk story. I’m really enjoying writing it, but at present haven’t quite found its title. I’m almost finished on the final draft of Honour, the next novella in The Fifteen Solars series and I’m also working on books three and four, as well as Soul of Avarice.

Those are all steampunk titles, however I do also have a fantasy novel in the works, in the early stages at the moment, called Briar. That’s a strange one to try and explain because the entire concept came to me from a photograph. I’m a huge fan of the photographer Kirsty Mitchell (http://www.kirstymitchellphotography.com/), and when her Wonderland series first came out, I was looking through all the wonderful pieces and there was this one image that just jumped up at me. I’m not sure what it was about it, as they’re all stunning photographs, but there’s something about this one that really captured my every possible sense and filled me with this whole world of possibilities. I’ve never had that happen with a book before, it’s always started with an idea and then I’ve built it up from there, but this one, it was just WHAM, fully former book in my head just from looking at this photograph.

Image

Honour and the remaining two novellas will be out next year, while Soul of Avarice (or more likely the first part of Soul of Avarice) will be out in 2015. As far as Briar goes, I’m afraid I have no idea when you can expect to see that yet.

And finally, for anyone who is interested in writing, have you any advice for them? Is there anything in your experience that you’ve found invaluable and might be of help to others?

I think it’s important not to underestimate the need for feedback. A lot of people start writing and keep it all to themselves because they either don’t have confidence in it, or they think it’s already great and they don’t need hear other people’s opinions. I say the opposite is true, you should get as many opinions as you can, from as many different people as you can. Make sure you keep an open mind to their feedback. Some will be helpful, some won’t, and some will be worth its weight in gold. Never get annoyed with people for their opinion, even if their opinion is that your story is terrible: it’s their opinion, they’re entitled to it. It doesn’t necessarily mean your story is bad, it may mean it just wasn’t to that person’s taste. It may also mean it needs a lot of work. If it’s the latter, don’t give up. The thing we forget, when reading all these wonderful books we buy in WHSmiths and Waterstones, is that we never read the first draft of them. We read the final, drafted, re-drafted a few hundred times more, edited, polished, re-edited, proofed version. If we read the first draft, we’d be asking for our money back. That is true of almost all authors, even the best. Develop a hide like an alligator, or a rhinoceros, something with very thick skin, and resign yourself to the fact that you will have to draft, and redraft, and continue to do this for a very long time before anything is even remotely good enough to consider submitting it to agents or publishers. This is a mistake a lot of people make, and it’s a bad one. They submit something that is essentially a first draft, and get nothing but form rejections and very bad feedback. Even good drafts get rejected 90% of the time. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot!

Many thanks to Aiyana for coming ‘on board’ and sharing her thoughts about writing and her works, and for the snippets of advice and wisdom for authors hoping to follow their dream of being an author.

For more information about Aiyana and her novella, follow the links below.

https://www.facebook.com/AiyanaL.Jackson

Synposis and Info for Encante:

Blurb:

Deep under the ocean, Simeon Escher, protégé to the leader of the order of Loth Lörion, finds himself an unexpected guest aboard the submersible, Narwhal. Home to a crew of humans, and strange mer-folk few people are aware exist, Simeon is swept up in their quest to find a world within a world, a possible safe haven from the insidious reach of the Kabbalah. Yet how can he think about his mission when the captain’s niece fills his every thought, distracting him from all that’s important to him, including his own fiancé.

Encante is the first in a new Steampunk series, set in a multiverse known as The Fifteen Solars. For those of you who don’t know what a multiverse is, put simply it is a Universe in which there are several worlds existing in the same point in space and time, but they run parallel to each other. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is probably the most well recognised example. The Fifteen Solars is so named due to the fact there are fifteen planets existing in parallel, each very different from the next, but all connected. The inhabitants of these worlds have not yet mastered space travel, and so for the most part the adventure is contained to their own respective worlds. They do however have the means to travel from one parallel world to the next and, consequently, the events and politics of all fifteen planets have become intertwined. As the series unfolds however it will become clear that there is far more at work, and the reasons for these worlds existing as they do is much more complex than simple happenstance.

Encante serves as an introduction to one of these parallel worlds, as well as offering more than a few hints as to what is happening in the wider multiverse, and how the series will unfold. It is a self-contained story in the most traditional Steampunk style, heavily inspired by Jules Vernes’ 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, it is a blending of mermaid folk-lore, Victorian-esque costume values, and the technological quirks that make the Steampunk genre so beloved. It is a tale of romance, of adventure, and of prejudicial values in a seemingly idyllic society. Some of the characters will recur in later books in the series.

There are currently three additional novellas planned to follow Encante, two to be released in 2014, the final to follow in 2015. There will also be at least one full length novel following these. The second novella, Honour, is currently slated for release at the end of March next year, and while the additional two novellas are as yet untitled, I can reveal that the novel shall be titled Soul of Avarice.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Encante-Fifteen-Solars-Aiyana-Jackson-ebook/dp/B00GBGU69C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385566505&sr=8-1&keywords=Encante

Amazon US:

http://www.amazon.com/Encante-Fifteen-Solars-Aiyana-Jackson-ebook/dp/B00GBGU69C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385566538&sr=8-1&keywords=encante

Author Joanne Hall and the Bristol Con.

The talented and all round lovely Joanne Hall, author of the fantasy epic, Art of Forgetting: Rider, answers some of my questions regarding the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention being held on the 26th of October 2013 in Bristol.

  Author and Chair of the Bristol Con, Joanne Hall.

For someone like me, who has never been to a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention, what can someone expect going to the Bristol Con?

BristolCon is a fairly compact SF/F convention – we usually have around 250 people, so it’s small enough to be friendly. There are really two sorts of conventions; there are the big media conventions like DragonCon or MCM Expo, where the focus is very much on cosplay and events with TV and film celebrities, and then there are smaller, more intimate conventions like Wiscon, where the focus is more on reading and writing and speculative fiction. BristolCon falls into the second camp. There are panel discussions and individual presentations on subjects of geeky and writerly interest (this year, for example, we have “How to poop on a Fantasy Universe and Other Grubby Goings On”  and “How Humans are Biologically Weird”, to name but two) We also have an art room, a dealer room full of creative people, live music, a very hard quiz, kaffeeklatsches (small meetings of no more than ten people with a famous author, over coffee) etc. It’s a chance to spend the day hanging out with like-minded people talking nerdy and having a few pints!

 

In what capacity do you work at the Bristol Con? How many years has it been up and running?

I’m the chair, which means I get to boss the rest of the committee about and make sure everything’s running smoothly, and catch any dropped balls along the way. We’ve been doing it for five years now; the first year we ran for an afternoon and had sixty people, so it’s grown a bit since then.

 

What’s involved in getting the Con ready?

We start organising next years con even before this years has taken place, by approaching the people we’d like to be Guests of Honour next year (I could tell you who they are, but then I’d have to kill you…) Then we spend the next few months encouraging interesting potential panellists to sign up. I should explain that with smaller fan-run conventions everyone except the Guests of Honour pays an entry fee, even the hard-working committee. Then once we have loads of signups, as well as dealers and artists, about three months before the con the committee come together and toss around ideas for panels until we have about twenty-five potential panels. Then Meg, our supreme programme wrangler, sends the panel suggestions out to the people who have expressed an interest in being on panels, and they pick the ones they most want to be on. This ensures that people only end up doing the panels they are really interested in appearing on. Then we take the most popular 14-15 panels and build the programme around them. The programme is almost the last thing we do, only a few weeks before the big day.

There are a million other things to do as well, but BristolCon has a great committee and after five years we’re beginning to get the hang of the small stuff!

 

Who’s involved in this years’ Con? Can you drop us a few names?

Our Guests of Honour this year are Storm Constantine (Chronicles of the Wreaththu), and Philip Reeve (Mortal Engines), and our artist GOH is Mark Buckingham, who draws Fables and has worked on Sandman.

We always try and involve lots of local writers, such as Gareth L Powell, Emma Newman and Lou Morgan, and this year we have Mary Robinette Kowal flying in from Chicago – it was a nice surprise when she signed up!

 

Where in Bristol is the Convention being held?

It’s at the Hilton DoubleTree on Redcliffe Way, next to St Mary Redcliffe which is a beautiful medieval church. It’s only five minutes walk from Temple Meads Station, so it’s easy to get to from London and Birmingham.

 

Do people dress up? Can people expect to see Orcs, Wizards and Sci-fi heros? Or is it a more formal setting?

People haven’t tended to dress up in the past, but if people want to dress up, we’re not going to discourage them! Some of the committee do like to put on their best frocks – it adds to the sense of occasion. And we’ve had a number of people come in steampunk garb in the past. We certainly don’t discourage people from dressing up, but there’s no maskerade or costume competition like some of the bigger cons have.

 

What other events can people expect? Are there readings and book signings?

This year we’re launching “Looking Landwards”, an anthology of agricultural SF, and there will be readings between the panels and signings at lunchtime. Because it’s quite an informal con – there’s no green room or anything like that – most authors are happy to sign things during the day, or over a pint in the bar. It’s a really good chance to meet your favourite authors in an informal setting and find out how lovely they are!

 

Will you be doing a reading? If so, from which book and can you tell us a little bit about it?

I will be doing a five-minute reading after the panel I’m on (The Evolution of Genre), and I’ll be reading something from my heroic fantasy “The Art of Forgetting : Rider” but I’m not sure what yet – it’s hard to find an extract without spoilers!

  follow the link for more info on Joanne and her books.

http://hierath.wordpress.com/

For those interested, or wanting more info, where can they find it? (and any other relevant links!)

The first place to look would be the BristolCon website : www.bristolcon.org We also have a Facebook page, and you can follow @BristolCon on Twitter – we’re all very friendly and if you say hello we’ll say hello back!