British Fantasy Society – Golden Jubilee
Hello folks. What’s this? Three posts in a week?? Has the world gone mad?! Well yes, but don’t expect this every week. Ever since my anger flamed last week, I’ve been more determined to make steps, little and often, to get to where I want to go. Although my anger has now burned down to a smoulder, it hasn’t left me completely – for which I’m grateful, as it’s giving me the motivation to actually do the things I want to do.
Anyway, moving on before I fall down a rabbit hole of fire and brimstone. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the British Fantasy Society – that’s right, it’s the BFS Golden Jubilee!
To kick things off the society organised a virtual event on Saturday – basically what I like to think of as a mini-literary festival in a day. There were readings, panels, an author interview and the day was rounded off with an open mic session. You can see the full schedule below:
I managed to make it to most of the day – unfortunately I couldn’t attend the panel on working with small presses as the tiny terror and the husband came home, but I did manage to sneak away to attend the subverting tropes in horror panel, before having to sign-off completely to attend my toddler’s pyjama party.
I honestly can’t tell you what a good time I had. It was so refreshing to be around people who just seemed to get me – these were people who could literally spend all day talking about fantasy and books, and no one would judge them for it. WHY haven’t I joined this society sooner?? I’m so so glad to be part of this amzing society now, but imagine all the fun I could’ve been having over all these years!
Kicking things off was the Fantastical Creatures panel (featuring Anna Smith Spark, RJ Barker and Juliet E McKenna) – this gave a really intriguing insight into how each of these authors approached magical creatures, why the wrote them the way they did, and their favourite mystical creatures in literature. I found some of Anna’s insights in particular into mythical creatures fascinating – although I haven’t read her books, after listening to her speak, I’ve added them to be wishlist. She clearly has a way with words than struck a chord with me.
Moving on, Juliet Mushens interviewing Taran Matharu held me in rapt attention throughout. Taran seems like such a down-to-earth guy – he was funny, thoughtful and you could tell that a) he loves his job and b) he’s genuinely thrilled by the chances that led him to where he is today. He doesn’t take his success for granted and he’s still working hard at his craft. Not to gush, but I found it inspiring to listen to – I’ve heard of Taran’s rise to fame, although I haven’t read his books, and it was just genuinely lovely to see an author who loves what they do. It really inspired me to keep going and keep writing – as well as making me think that perhaps I should commission someone to draw my fantasy novel map for me (he talked a lot about commissioning artists, even right at the beginning).
The last panel of the day – Subverting Tropes in Horror – was also so interesting to attend. Although at one point my internet gave up so I had to rejoin ten minutes later, it was fascinating to hear about the different tropes in horror and why readers like/dislike them so much. One interesting idea that was suggested was about a ‘nice’ apocalypse – who says in that scenario where the whole world goes to hell that we all turn on each other? What would happen if we all banded together instead..? Overall, what I took away from the panel is that everyone views horror differently – what would scare one person, might not scare another. I found this to be a really intriguing concept – and why perhaps some might view Twilight as horror (or a subgenre of) whereas I never would (FYI Twilight was mentioned a lot on this panel, for various reasons, which is why I have it on the brain).
Overall, I honestly had such a good time. Would it have been better in person? Well, as someone who was attending a BFS event for the first time, and who doesn’t know anyone else IRL who’s in the society, it was actually the perfect introduction for little ol’ introverted me. What I will say, is that it’s made me super excited for FantasyCon 2022 (which has just been announced!!) and which I think I will actually attend in person. Now that I’ve met people virtually, it’s made me more confident to go out and meet them in person.
This event was just the first of the BFS’ Golden Jubilee year – after Saturday’s success, I can’t wait to see what else they have in store!
Are you part of the British Fantasy Society as well? Did you attend the event on Saturday? If so, what were your thoughts?