Right. Stream of consciousness ahead. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
My goodness me, that was something else. I honestly can’t remember ever working so hard on a day off work in my entire adult life. But more of that later. Let me recall the events of Saturday and Sunday in some sort of easy-to-use method. If only there was a way of using something quick and easy to list things. Quick and easy. Like a bullet.
- Myself, Not-So-Small-Anymore Son (NSSAS) and Dearly Beloved departed Durham heading in a generally southwards direction.
- We stopped for coffee just outside Sheffield. Yet again, it cost a small fortune for two coffees and a milkshake. WHEN WILL I EVER LEARN?
- We arrived particularly early at the hotel and as we were walking from the car park, I passed a fella who looked faintly familiar. He stopped and said ‘Excuse me, are you Sarah Cawkwell’? It was William King. Never, in my wildest moments of imagination (and some of those are wild) did I ever think that William King would stop me on the street. He and I had been having an email exchange prior to Games Day in which I’d lamented that during my visit to Prague in 1998, I’d never had a chance to properly try slivovice due to expecting NSSAS at the time. He only produced a bottle of the stuff from his bag before disappearing off to the NEC for pre-Games Day Stuff. What a star.
- We settled into the hotel and spent some deliciously chilling time just sitting around reading, something I don’t get a lot of time to do. In due course, people started turning up. Dan and Nik arrived first. Dan moved furniture around so we could all sit together and discovered it had been designed not to be moved. But the gimbal was perfect.
- Everyone else arrived and conversation was fun and lively and everyone was in excellent spirits. Then a bunch of taxis arrived and people were bundled off for dinner. Dinner was exceptionally nice. NSSAS kept Jim Swallow and Darius Hinks entertained at the far end of the table. Every time I looked down there, he was holding court and being very serious about things. For the chuckle factor, I sent Jim a text saying ‘I hope he’s not talking your ear off’. I got the terrifying reply ‘I’m teaching him SCIENCE’. In capital letters. I dread to think.
- It was quite late when we got back to the hotel and folks drifted off to bed except for myself, Dearly Beloved, Jim, Graham, Rik and Bill. Even that little cabal started breaking up… until Graham McNeill (the lightweight) went to bed. I think if DB hadn’t said ‘uh, it’s 2.30am’, Jim and I would still be talking now.
- At 3.21am my phone beeped. NSSAS (who was sharing a room with Bill’s son) sent me a text. Mam, can I go to the lobby? Because I can’t get back to sleep and don’t want to disturb anyone. Except for me, obviously. So he eventually came upstairs where he could sit and read. He was ultra-excited. I dozed off and woke up an hour and a half later. He was still wide awake and practically dancing around. So sleep was a myth. Also, I had this weird recursive dream thing, where I dreamed I woke up and was telling DB about my dream. But three times.
- Games Day dawned. Although due to the lack of sleep, it was less of a dawn than a gradual fade-in from black. We went down for breakfast, which was served on the TINIEST PLATES EVER. I was tired. NSSAS was wide awake.
- We travelled from the hotel to the NEC on the monorail, which played dodgy Muzak. It was determined that drop pods play the same tune during a descent.
- We arrived at the NEC and marvelled in joy at the BL layout. It really was a well-thought out idea with separate ‘corners’ for different things, and a TV display showing upcoming releases and what have you in the centre. I found my signing spot, tucked cosily between Gav Thorpe and Chris Wraight.
- Then… BANG! The hordes arrived. A few hardy souls got through the queue for the retail area and within a very short period of time, I had the first person to bring a copy of The Gildar Rift to my table. I was thrilled to bits. Someone had come to get the…
- …oh! Another person! Hi! Thanks! Two peop…
- …oh! Another person! Hi! Thanks! Three p…
- And another.
- And another.
- And… my word, I’m into double fi…
- …you get the picture.
- I was signing from 9.30 until 10.30, at which point, Christian came and yoinked me off to the ‘Writing for the Black Library’ seminar, which I shared with him, John French and Jonathan Green. I’ve been talking to Jon Green for AGES on Facebook and Twitter – and it was lovely to finally meet him properly. The seminar bounced along nice and Christian mentioned pretty much all my upcoming stuff, so I guess it’s fine for me to now do a proper list of what I have on the cards:
- The Gildar Rift on an assortment of pre-release schedules, officially released December.
- Bloodraven (No, not THAT sort). This is a Valkia short story which will be appearing in the upcoming Age of Legend anthology. This was Project: Shoehorn.
- Reaper. Another Valkia the Bloody short story which is slated for the Black Library Live! 2012 chapbook. This was Project: Handbags at Dawn
- Accursed Eternity – my contribution to the four-novella Space Marines Battles anthology, Architect of Fate. All four stories are tied into the tale of Kairos Fateweaver. Fun and games ensue. This was, as I think you all know now anyway, Project: Hotdog
- Indomitable. (Also known as ‘Indomistable’ due to a typo on the commissioning form or ‘Die Hard in Space’ (c) Christian Dunn). An audio drama featuring Marneus Calgar defending an Imperium facility against a thundering influx of orcs. All by himself. Hence, Project: Lonestar
- I went from the seminar straight to the ‘Author Cafe’ with m’colleagues Nick ‘Dance Commander’ Kyme and Chris ‘Really and Truly the Nicest Man Alive’ Wraight. This was a new idea and was like speed dating. The authors sat with a group of people and answered questions (or in my case, talked utter gibberish) for 15 minutes and then we moved round to the next group. It was an extraordinary amount of fun.
- It was now 12.15pm and so I went and collected lunch before heading back to the signing desk…
- …where I didn’t stop signing books until 4pm. And I mean that literally. The queue was permanent. It was… humbling. And an inordinate amount of fun. What a lovely thing to meet all these people who are so enthusiastic about the same thing I am! Speaking of enthusiasm, I know I left my seat on more than one occasion to kneel up, arms waving with energy whilst describing a scene. Sorry if you were on the receiving end of that. It may have been alarming.
- It was similarly lovely to see people I knew from GD/BLL’s past and through the Bolthole, Facebook and/or Twitter. Too many to remember, but special shout-outs to Narry, Phil, Schafe, Shadowhawk (who came all the way from Dubai!), Xhalax, whose costume I never got to see, Greg, provider of carrot cake deliciousness, Craig, the nice guy from the Bolter & Chainsword whose Real Name I’ve forgotten (sorry!), the Overlords… hehehehe, the Overlords… heh… oh man, my mind’s blown.
- It ended. I’ve never been so disappointed. Or tired. Really, really tired. NSSAS was STILL WIDE AWAKE. A plague on youth.
- We headed back to Bugman’s for food, because I still hadn’t eaten lunch. We sat and chatted with people for a long while. Jim and I yakked on for ages about Blood Angel goodness. Seriously, if you could power the world on the pair of us talking, there would never be any need for alternative energy.
- We left Bugman’s at about 9.30, swinging via NSSAS’s dad to drop off a now fast-asleep child who literally walked in a trance from the car straight into the house and up to his bed. We got home at 12.30am and did similar.
- And I still woke up at 6am. With no voice.
My cheek muscles hurt from smiling all afternoon. I had a blast. My biggest regret was not actually getting the chance to see things around the two halls, but DB took lots of photos, so I plan to look through those later.
For now, thank you to all of you who came along to say ‘hello’. Also, enormous thanks to the BL Staff who put on such an incredible area. It was always busy and people seemed to be enjoying the new things. It really was great fun.
I’ve forgotten loads of stuff and quite a lot of it is also strangely blurred and hazy.