★ Eastercon 2010 (And A Master Plan)

What is a sci­ence fic­tion con­ven­tion? It is a place for fans, writers, would-be writers and any­body else with an interest in sci­ence fic­tion to con­greg­ate and dis­cuss the geeky details of their ima­gin­a­tion. Yes, there are cos­tumes. Yes, many of the fans are sci­ent­ists. Nobody wore Spock ears, though I did look more like Captain Picard than I’d like.

Less con­cerned with the geekery, I atten­ded Eastercon 2010 — the annu­al British sci­ence fic­tion con­ven­tion — primar­ily to meet-up with friends Paul Graham Raven, Gareth L Powell, Gareth D Jones, Neil Benyon, Jetse de Vries, Martin McGrath, and Stephen J Sweeney, in which regard I was per­fectly suc­cess­ful, and had delight­ful con­ver­sa­tions with all of them. The oth­er goal was a meet­ing with my agent, John Jarrold.

John is a per­son­able chap, full of stor­ies about con­ven­tions in the mid-1970s where luminar­ies could be found in the bar at 2 a.m. dis­cuss­ing anti­grav­ity drives and the use of col­our in Powell and Pressburger films.

On the face of it, I haven’t been a very suc­cess­ful cli­ent for John, and he was kind enough to reas­sure me that pub­lish­ing is best seen in terms of the long haul. John is cur­rently try­ing to place two of my three Saskia Brandt books, which, des­pite good reviews for the first, small press run, have not been picked up. When a writer’s books con­sti­tute a loose series, it is, obvi­ously, essen­tially to have the first one pub­lished and at large before the sequels become viable.

Goal Number One for the rest of this year is to stop writ­ing Saskia Brandt books.

Goal Number Two is to man­age my time more effect­ively so that I have the men­tal space to write. (At the moment, my aca­dem­ic work crowds out almost everything, which is no mean feat; I had the time to write Déjà Vu when I was com­plet­ing my PhD and hold­ing down a half-time teach­ing job.)

Goal Number Three is to write only parts of books. That is, I need to avoid writ­ing them com­pletely and work­ing on them for about five years, at the end of which pub­lish­ers say, ‘Meh’. I should switch to a mod­el where I write a couple of chapters, then a syn­op­sis, and send the lot off to John and see what he thinks.

Some pro­jects, how­ever, are not nov­el-related fic­tion. I wrote a spec­u­lat­ive Eleventh Doctor script just after Christmas, and now that I’ve seen and enjoyed the first epis­ode of the new series, I’ll return to it and try to incor­por­ate what I’ve learned about Amy Pond and Matt Smith’s Doctor. This could well be point­less, giv­en that (as far as I know), the pro­duc­tion team is not accept­ing spec­u­lat­ive scripts, but what the hell. Pointlessness nev­er stopped me before and it won’t stop me now. Pointlessness is, and con­tin­ues to remain, Goal Number Four.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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