Yesterday saw me making my merry way into Town for Sci-Fi London, which had decided to try having a few authors in as an experiment. A bloody good experiment, if you ask me - certainly from what I saw and the people I talked to the reaction was good.
My day started with The Brightonomicon, which was more fun than a barrelful of monkeys hopped up on laughing gas. We had a script, and more or less read it out, but there was an awful lot of improvisation, smart-arse heckling (at each other - the audience didn't get a look-in!) running gags and silliness (including a spontaneous outbreak of The Star-Spangled Banner, which worked perfectly in context with the scene) that just popped out of having that cast together and letting us go. There's talk of us getting us to do it again, and that works for me. What could have been a very dry table reading just picked up its skirts and became a real performance with the cast having as much fun as the audience.
That led to a conversation in the bar and pub about how great radio is as a medium for telling stories, and that led to people whose work we admired, and that led to mentioning one of my heroes (the great Orson Welles), which went on to film, back to radio, then we ended up on Vincent Price, and... You get the idea: great pub conversation. Then it was back on stage for the panel on Contemporary Urban Fantasy, which made some interesting points about the spread of work within that classification (I mean, we're really not going to ever shoehorn my stuff into the sexy vampire shelf, are we?) and why it's a fun sandbox to play in. Then it was back to the bar.
And the evening was where a whole different side of the festival opened up for me, because I started talking with the film people. There was a lot of funny, smart insightful conversation as we compared our respective worlds - similarities, differences, types of cynicism and passion, yet more love for Orson Welles (and a lot of love for my favourite film of his, F For Fake, which filled my heart with joy). On top of that, there was even a chance to talk about food and restaurants and cool stuff in London for visitors to do and pretty much anything that entered our heads - it was like the best kind of conversations that happen among the writers I know, just with several different accents and new directions from which to approach very similar issues. I ended up being the last one out, and ended up having a cheeky extra with some more great people before finally dragging my tired butt onto a Night Bus for the journay home.
I'm not going to do the name-dropping thing, but the people involved will recognise themselves. It was great to see everyone - friends old and new - to swap ideas and jokes, and to hang out with a bunch of incredibly cool people. Special thanks to Robert Grant, who put together the lit programme, and to Louis Savy, who put the whole damned thing together (and provided the chocolate). Thanks for letting me be a part of that, because it was Something Else.
PS: Thanks to Sara, who brought me coffee in the green room at the exact moment I was starting to flag. You are a rock star.