Thursday, 28 February 2008

Alt.Fiction- the essentials

Hi All,

Busy busy busy here as another freelance event on Wednesday 5th and plenty to tackle in the office too!

I thought it'd just be worth a quick post in light of the enquiries I've been having about Alt.Fiction. It's a bit of a bad habit of mine to glaze over the essential bits of information, so if you're considering attending for the first time, or considering attending for the first time, hopefully this info will be of some use.

The venue- The event takes place at the Darwin Suite of the Assembly Rooms in Derby. You can see a map to the venue at,-1.47607164&loc=GB:52.9239:-1.47607:16de1%203ahDE1%203AH. The Assembly rooms is the large building next to Santanda and opposite the Tourist Information Centre. There is parking at the venue, although you will have to pay to park.

Public transport- the train station in Derby is a bit out of town, around 15 minutes walk to the venue or 5 minutes in a taxi. There are regular buses to Derby from many places including Nottingham (Red Arrow) and Manchester (Transpeak).

Timings- the event begins at 12pm, with doors opening at 11am. The morning sessions run until 4:45pm when the dinner break begins. This runs till 6:15 when the evening sessions begin, with a 9pm finish.

Food- a range of hot and cold food and snacks will be available, will most of the hot food served during the dinner break. However if you would like to head out of the venue for a meal elsewhere you are welcome to do so- just hang onto your badge. The bar will also be open throughout.

Hotels- I'm in discussions with a couple of hotels about discount rates for attendess. However you can view a hotel list at in the mean time.

What to expect- the venue has three rooms: The Darwin Suite, The Reception Suite and the '45 Suite. The Darwin Suite hosts mostly readings/q+a sessions as well as the publishing panel. The Reception Suite holds mostly panel discussion as well as a mass book launch. The '45 Suite will be hosting workshops throughout the morning sessions, offering a total of 21 sessions to choose from on the day.

Tickets/booking- Tickets are available for £20/£16 concessions from the Assembly Rooms Box Office on 01332 255800 (group bookings call 01332 255808) or online at

Of course if there's anything else you'd like to know, please feel free to send me a comment here or an email at

Thanks a lot!


Thursday, 21 February 2008

Moving forward...

Hi Everyone,

Have been sat in the office working aplenty on Alt.Fiction and now I'm sat at home with a lot of random thoughts rattling through my head, so I thought id' be as good a time as any to post a blog...

I spent a good while this afternoon agonizing about programming, which is one of the trickier aspects of any event like this. Actually giving a shape to the day that balances all the different genres, events of interest to readers and writers as well as the individual requirements of all the participants is a tricky business but I think I'm now at a point where I've very nearly cracked it. There are various events for the writers there including workshops on editing and agents as well as panels on scriptwriting and building your career. There's also a really strong range of readings and I'm really pleased with how the Darwin Suite programme is looking. I'm also looking at a signing session to take place through part of the dinner break, which hopefully will really add something to the day for all the keen readers out there!!

One of the problems in programming, and one that seems to have come up more this year, is in fact fitting in everything you would like to have and I've had to trim or leave out a number of things I would have like to have done. But hopefully another year we can either get ourselves working with a larger venue or going for a weekend and there will be plenty of opportunity to run everything!

I've also been working this week on distributing flyers and hopefully you'll be seeing them pop up in bookshops, libraries and tourist info centres soon enough! I've had 5000 done this year, as opposed to the usual 10000, which is partly a financial consideration but also partly due to the fact that the community around SFF is incredibly supportive and friendly and I think word of mouth and good press are a better approach. So it's been the job for today to think very carefully and throwing away a lot of pre-prepared envelopes! I've always found something very cathartic about mailouts, for some reason...

In terms of more general stuff, I'm currently relishing getting right back into my writing and have managed to write a couple of short stories in the last week, which ends a pretty long barren spell for me! I've also been reading rather more and recently read Conrad Williams' 'The Scalding Rooms', which was absolutely superb- one of the best books I've read in ages. The world it was set in was so dark and so believable and the interaction between characters was fascinating. I'd thoroughly recommend it to anybody...

Anyway, I think that's about it for me for on night- an evening of Simpsons and Guitar Hero awaits...

Thanks a lot


Tuesday, 19 February 2008

What a week...

Hi Everyone,

Just settling back into the office routine and getting myself back immersed in Alt.Fiction after a rather chatoic week or so of freelance working...

Saturday 9th I was over in Loughborough organising the 'Writing Industires Conference', a day event looking at the nuts and bolts of making a living as a writer/performer. We actually had things sold out about 3 weeks in advance, which was great as it meant there was no marketing to worry about! I saw relatively little of the day myself, spending most of my time running around the reception area, but the reports have all been good! I was pleased to have two very well known figures in SFF, Graham Joyce and John Jarrold, taking part in the day- John was offering agent one-to-one advice to selected writers and it was very interesting to see people walking in terrified and then emerging enthused and excited!! That was unanimous to all the agent sessions throughout the day really- I think people build up an impression of agents as rather scary, which is completely misguided!!

After a rather more relaxing Sunday, I was off to Oldham on Monday evening to take part in a three day writing project with gifted and talented Year 9s. We had 30 kids taking part and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed myself- the enthusiasm the kids showed was amazing and we had an SFF feel to the event with Tony Ballantyne and his wife Barbara (who were both crucial in making the event happen!) as well as Mark Morris, Juliet McKenna, Conrad Williams, Chris Beckett and Justina Robson taking part. I managed to see every session and there were some really interesting ideas coming out and some great writing. There was also the opportunity for some rather nice meals out in Oldham, which never goes amiss! The next step is going to be an anthology of the kids' work, which I'm really looking forward to getting involved in.

Back to Alt.Fiction, it's very much reaching that nitty-gritty stage of sorting out all the practical aspects like programming, catering, hotels etc etc. The flyers have arrived and look rather lovely, and if you'd like to receive one (or a bundle) give me a nudge in the office at and I shall be happy to oblige. Marketing will be on the forefront of my mind for a while, and it's a process that I rather strangely enjoy...

I'm also delighted to announce three new authors for the bill in the shape of Ramsey Campbell, Juliet McKenna and Tony Ballantyne. This adds even more to an already great line-up and I'm hoping to have an agreed schedule of events out there within the next couple of weeks.

Anyway, got a fair few bits to crack on with after the break from the office, but feel free to get in touch if there's anything else you'd like to ask- you can get me at the email address as above or in the office on 01332 715434, Wednesday to Friday.

Thanks a lot!!


Monday, 4 February 2008

Masters of Horror

Hi everyone,

On a bit of a side-topic, just wanted to give a plug to the Masters of Horror series which is currently running on Bravo 2 at the weekends. I'd heard of it a while back but only just got stuck into watching them and have been really enjoying the series so far. It was especially interesting to watch 'Sounds Like' on Saturday night, adapted from Mike O'Driscoll's short story in 'Unbecoming'. I thought that the essence of the story was captured really well. I can't stand adaptations that shame the original...

Also been reading Matt Dinniman's Trailer Park Fairy Tales (can you tell I'm a bit of an Elastic Press fan yet?) and thoroughly enjoying that, although because I'm tending to read it in bed I'm only getting through it one story at a time...

On an Alt.Fiction note, I've sent the stuff in to get the tickets on sale via the website so hopefully you should be able to buy online before too long!

Anyway, that's my two pennies worth for today- be back with another post soon