Buckle up, this is going to be a long post! So I went to my first ever Comic con about two weeks ago. It was amazing! I was taking part in panels and signings at YALC (for those who don't know, it's the Young Adult Literature part of Comic con... so basically, my mothership!) and I also got to spend some time in main Comic con downstairs. I considered writing two separate posts, one for YALC, and one for Comic con, but I've decided to write it all muddled up in one diary entry, cause that's how it is in my head!
So, the train journey was fairly painless, at least for me. My BFF, Heather, had to listen to me rabbit on about all the exciting authors we'd be meeting, and manage my fears about negotiating the tube (yes, tubephobia is an actual thing, trust me, I'm a Psychologist!) Still, we made it into London late Saturday afternoon, just in time to catch up with my other BFF, Laura. We squeezed in some sneaky sight seeing, and I actually got some inspiration for my next book. London is so grand, it never fails to inspire me!
Sunday was Comic con day! After arriving late (you see, I am TERRIBLE at getting around London, I'm used to Newcastle traffic and the metro, which is about one hundredth the size of the tube) I was whizzed straight onto my first panel. This actually worked well for me, cos I didn't have time to get worked up, though I was a little nervous. It was my first ever panel, and whilst I'm used to public speaking in my day job and I've always been into amateur dramatics, this felt new and different, and therefore a little scary. But I needn't have worried. My first panel was called 'New Voices 2', and it was a selection of newly published and soon to be published authors like myself. Everyone was lovely, including Katherine Webber, who chaired the panel, and mainly, we shared our journeys to publication. What was interesting was the many different routes to publication, I don't think a single one was the same.
Then, in a true baptism of fire, I went straight onto the 'Fandom' panel. This was chaired by the lovely Lucy Saxon (dressed in Harry Potter gear above), and included Maggie Harcourt, Rebecca Denton and Chris Russell, all of whom were so welcoming and funny. This panel went really fast, and cos there were fewer of us, it felt a little more conversational than the first. I'm still chuckling over everyone's embarrassing fandom moments. Chris actually collected November rain in a jar he loved Guns n Roses so much... not that I blame him.
So, I survived the panels, though I may have divulged slightly too much in the way of cringe-worthy fangirl moments... next was the signing.
OK, so I want to be all chilled, but THE SIGNING BLEW MY MIND! It was my first ever signing, and I just could not believe the queues. I signed non stop for two hours, and had some serious hand cramp by the end of it. But I met so many lovely, bookish people who were genuinely excited to read the fandom proof. This was the best thing ever, meeting the people who were actually going to read the words that came out of my head. Some of them had already read it, and just wanted to talk about it and ask me questions. It was just lovely! And it was really nice to put faces to some of the YA twitter crew!
A lovely little surprise was Melinda Salisbury (THE SIN EATER'S DAUGHTER) queuing to get her proof signed. She's been so supportive of fandom, and has done so much to encourage YA lovers to read it. It was so fab to meet her in the flesh, she is every bit as funny and warm in reality as she is in cyber space. AND she was wearing the coolest dress ever, with dinosaurs all over it, if my son had been there, he would have followed her around all day shouting ROAR!
Another highlight was Alwyn Hamilton (REBEL OF THE SANDS) asking to get her proof signed. She was so nice, and I got to see the cover reveal of her newest book HERO AT THE FALL. It really was a thing of beauty, all reds and golds. I'd post a picture, but I can't find one on the internet yet. You're just going to have to trust me!
So, after being quite literally blown away by my temporary celeb status (seriously, people wanted selfies with me... ME! I still can't get over this!) Heather and I took some time downstairs in Comic con.
What can I say about Olympia National Hall. It is beautiful. The first part of THE FANDOM takes place in Comic con, in this very building, so I'd done a lot of research on the web. But seeing it in real life took my breath away. It is so vast and airy. Even the hundreds of cosplayers and Comic con-goers couldn't quite fill it. For a moment, I like to think I felt a bit like my protagonist, Violet, just awe-struck by it all. My Mum's a retired architect, so I took loads of photos for her. I love buildings... I think I get that from my Mum.
The atmosphere was buzzing, and there were people there of all ages, race and gender, united by their love of all things fandom. We saw Dene Cain, Matt Lucas, and Benedict Cumberbatch, to name but a few. I was completely star struck.
The next thing which took me by surprise was just how good the cosplayers' costumes were. I'd done loads of research about cosplay for THE FANDOM, and as an avid performer in pantomimes, musicals and cabarets, I'm totally at one with the idea of grown-ups dressing up together, but I was totally unprepared for the scale and quality of these cosplay outfits. I managed to get a few snaps of some of some of my favourites, but too be honest, I was too scared to ask some of them. I mean, giant alien from, well, Alien, does not look like the kind of extra-terrestrial who would pose and say cheese!
These photos show a tiny slither of what was going on, but I hope you can see the creativity and work which goes into the costumes. The lady dressed as the hobbit handmade all of the Lord of the Rings costumes, which were amazing. And the Harry Potter crew didn't know each other, but magically congregated for photos, and I like to think, a little spell swapping.
After the overwhelming size and buzz of Comic con, Heather and I went back up to YALC, which suddenly seemed a lot more homely. I did a quick interview with bluey, a blogger, and said my good byes to my lovely bookish friends. Then Heather and I fell asleep on the train back to Newcastle.
So, I went to Comic con at Olympia, and I DIDN'T get whizzed away to the world of my favourite fantasy novel. It's official, Comic con is safe!!! But the reality is, it did feel a bit like a whole other world, One of expression, creativity and togetherness (I'm getting all emotional now... don't worry, it happens frequently!) So now I'm wondering if THE FANDOM is closer to reality than I first thought. And I literally cannot WAIT to be whizzed away all over again next year.
And while I have you, a huge thanks to the fab Kesia and Jazz, my editor and publicist from Chicken House, for fetching me coffee and calming me all day, and to the lovely cosplayers featured above, some of who's details I managed to get: Manda from mandamadeurrobe, Ickle Clara cosplays, and Totallynotabooknerd. You are awesome!