June 21, the Summer Solstice; a good day for a writers convention, this time at the University of Glamorgan, in Pontypridd (birthplace of Tom Jones ... just thought I'd mention it). I didn't know much about this one, it had just been mentioned in passing on an internet message board. Still, a writer called Sue Phillips, who I hadn't seen in ages, happened to be in Wales for the weekend to give a talk at the Cardiff University, so we agreed to attend this event (The Space, Time, Machine and Monsters Convention) and meet up.
I arrived at about five past nine to find the place deserted, scouted around, and eventually got directions to the car park. Luckily, the first building I checked out had a poster in the window, so I had found the right place. Now I just had to wait for people to start arriving (especially Sue and Morgan, who were depending on a Sat-Nav to get them there!)
The guests finally started to arrive, and I soon had a text message off Sue; 'Dave, we are now next to the sports hall, the only muses thing nearby is halls of residence x.' I got directions and went to get them (an act that entailed bolting up a flight of steps), looked around - then got another message saying they were now in the right place!
Returned to see quite a few familiar faces, and one or two new one's (including Rhys Hughes; I've read quite a lot of his work, but in over ten years of convention-going, this was the first time that I actually got to meet him).
We registered, then Sue, Morgan and I decided to attend a talk by the writer Philip Gross, which encouraged a collaboration process when he started a story with a location, a disturbing noise ... then left the rest up to us, and several groups came up with a number of weird and wonderful scenarios. After this, in was into the adjoining room for a discussion by Rhys Hughes on the more experimental methods of writing fiction and prose; some of which I might try, some of which I have, and some of which is totally beyond me. Either way, the sessions (as well as an excellent presentation of short films) had certainly given me back the writing bug.
At lunch time Sue left to deliver her own talk, and I caught up with the likes of Chris Teague, Brian Willis, Gary Greenwood and others. Also bought books by Tony Richards and Rhys Hughes, plus a slim collection called 'Doorways', featuring the works of half a dozen or so writers.
After lunch I passed up a (no-doubt fascinating) discussion about Doctor Who and Torchwood to attend a reading and talk by Tim Lebbon, then a final discussion about genre fiction. A few people mentioned the fact that the whole thing could have been better publicized, but the turn out was quite respectable. My only regret was that most of the panels overlapped, so I had to pass a few up (and we can't hear too much about Doctor Who and Torchwood, can we?)
There will be another outing next year, and the building is certainly well equipped for such conventions. For people with a love of the written word, it made for a fascinating day out; and it was certainly good to meet a few old friends again.