Thoughts on a Brighton Con

FantasyCon 2012 draws to a close. I'm now home, slippered feet on a stool in front of the fire sipping a a mug of tea and wondering if it was al worth while.

There was something different about this year's con. Now, how much of that was that the con had changed, and how much that I had changed I really am not sure. The con was certainly bigger this year, especially on Saturday - and to be frank the hotel struggled somewhat to cope. Horror stories about rooms were more prevalent than last year, for one thing. The basement panel room was as hot and as unusable as last year, and the dealer room is still inadequate; yes I know its a book-focused con, but it would be nice to have t-shirts or geegaws or a little art.

Personally, I missed a few very good friends that did not or could not turn up for any number of reasons, and the issues that tainted last year's con are still very much being talked about. Having said that, I got to see a lot of people I haven't had the chance to mix with for a while, and met a number of new friends; Janet Edwards and her husband, Dave Brzeski, Jilly Paddock.

Back to how much the con had changed vs how much I'd changed, I didn't go to many of the panels, and those I did go to I wished I hadn't. It really isn't that I know it all (though I'm sure some people would say I clearly think that I do), but I really dont enjoy panels much any more. There's far too much hijacking and/or lack of direction. Even some of the masterclasses suffered from identity crisis, with the honoured sensei not really knowing what the subject really was.

On that note, a very big round of applause to Will Hill. His masterclass on 'How to write and sell YA' was superbly managed and we actually asked if we could get another hour if we all chipped in another fiver. Really nice bloke too.

So will I go again? Really not sure. The organising team did do a wholly remarkable job getting anything together given the short notice they had, and a vote of thanks to them. I dont think the Royal Albion could cope if the con got any bigger, even though Brighton is a great venue.

I think it boils down maybe to why I go to cons, and a change in personal circumstance that may restrict my options over the coming years.

Am I glad I went? Certainly.


Review: Bryant & May and the Invisible Code

This book was really refreshing and original, especially as an audiobook (narrated by Tim Goodman). I know this is this latest in series (of seven or eight), but its the first one I have listened to, so new to me.

Messrs Bryant and May head up the Peculiar Crimes Unit, a shabby, ill-regarded unit of a half dozen or so officers and a gender-confused cat, reporting direct to the home office.

Bryant and May and the Invisible Code | Christopher FowlerI dont do descriptions of the book itself: I hate when people accidentally print spoilers. Also, there are lots of places where you can see what the book is about.

What I loved about this book was the characters, particularly Bryant, and an undercurrent of humour. Imagine a pensioner with the curiosity and education of Holmes, with a tendency to drift towards the paranormal. Quite happy to play with Machiavellian skill on the supposed frailties of his post-retirement age, and as sharp as a bucket of best quality nails. Goodman gets the voice for Bryant perfect.

The other characters are as beautifully rendered. Even those with quite peripheral roles have great depth, and Fowler is wonderful at both avoiding stereotypes, and yet almost parodying them when he does use them.

This is a real 'appeals to all' type book, and I heartily recommend it.

Right, now- off to Audible to wishlist the rest if them


New Review for "Aphrodites Dawn"

Somebody was kind enough to drop a review for Aphrodite's Dawn on Amazon. Click here to read it, then why not grab a copy for yourself and see if you agree :)

"Harkess has still made these ideas his own and has been inventive with the world that he has created... I would definitely recommend this book to others as it is a quick and exciting read."


SHIFT it, Kim Curran


Amazon just sent me an email saying they just dispatched SHIFT, by Kim Curran.

Doubly excited, as I have chatted with Kim on twitter more than once and she seems a lovely person, plus, this is the first book out from STRANGE CHEMISTRY, the YA imprint of Angry Robot books. I've been watching Angela Rutter as she launched this new imprint, and I was really impressed by the effort she put into raising awareness and keeping people informed. Now its time to have a look and see the sort of stuff she and her authors are going to put out.


I got Interviewed

Making Connections
The nice people at Making Connections asked me some interesting questions, and I tried to do them justice with the answers. You can have a look at the interview here. I talk about how my characters work for me, how I balance my writing against my day job, and other stuff.

While I'm throwing links around, my facebook page is feeling lonely and neglected. Drop by and show some love with a 'Like' :)