My two weeks in England were both exciting and exhausting. I think I’m over the worst of the jet lag and thus reality seems a bit clearer.
My first week abroad I spent with my mom, in London, doing like… everything touristy in London. It was wonderful. I hadn’t done a lot of the big deal, famous stuff to do the last time I was in town, being on more of a budget. But this time, mom and I decided to do the whole London Pass thing. Man, we used it! Some, but not all of our adventures involved the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the Aspley House, All Hallows at the Tower, The Soanes and British Museums (I went twice to the British—once with mom, and once during my last day in England, as there was an amazing exhibition of shunga that’s well worth the £7, imo), Windsor Castle and Eton, the Royal Mews… awesome. I have some pictures on Facebook, but there are far too many to put here. Also I’m not much of a photographer.
We also did some fun shopping around town, including a semi-traumatizing trip to Harrod’s (so busy! so snooty!) and a lovely walk around the Borough Market, which was just as fun as I remembered, having done that with John when we went six years ago.
My birthday occurred during the trip, and that night I got to do something very special: attend the book release party for The Book of the Dead, the anthology of mummy stories where my piece, “Mysterium Tremendum” appears alongside work by such authors as Will Hill, Den Patrick, Louis Greenberg, David Thomas Moore, Glen Mehn, and Jenni Hill—all of whom I met that night (and was lucky enough to spend more time with at the con down in Brighton). They are all extremely awesomely nice, as are Jared Shurin, the project’s editor, and Anne Perry, his partner and editor in her own right. And I’m sure the other contributors are fabulous too; having briefly met Gail Carriger once, and knowing Jesse Bullington well, it seems more than likely. Also: I wore a ridiculous dress, which you can almost see in this picture—sparkly and one-shouldered! I know, right? I figure turning 32 means I should spend more time wearing prom dresses intended for 16 year olds, not less. Anyways, pick up your copy of The Book of the Dead in ebook or paperback at Amazon or Spacewitch! It’s worth it! You’re worth it.
The next day was equally exciting, as I got to see my second book! Yes, I held Rumbullion and Other Liminal Libations in my hands for the first time. That was a serious thrill. This book… the texture of it! It feels like parchment under the fingers, the black letters shine like wet ink, the paper is creamy and smooth. And I like to think what’s inside matches the outside. Um, meaning the prose is pretty, too. Anyways! You can order your copies either via Amazon or through Egaeus Press. (Also, check out our bordello-like hotel room in the background.)
I confess that after all the excitement of London, I was a bit apprehensive about heading to World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. I’d met a few attendees at the release of The Book of the Dead, of course, and knew others from the internet, but it was, on the whole, an intimidating prospect.
I needn’t have worried. Everyone I met was completely lovely. Things started off well when I was both delighted and terrified upon seeing Jonathan Howard had come to my reading (Jonathan is the author of the Johannes Cabal books which I adore). For some reason I was already feeling like I might faint… that didn’t help. So weird—I do readings all the time, and usually I’m totally cool about them, but that one threw me for a loop. Thankfully, everyone who attended was willing to make eye contact/talk to me after I gave what was undoubtedly the worst reading of my entire career—including Damien Walter, the chap who gave me that review in The Guardian that I squeed all over the place about earlier this year.
After I regained most of my color, Damien was kind enough to enquire if I wanted/needed a drink and dinner. Which I did. This chirked me up immensely, and began what proved to be extremely fun weekend at a con where I got to (among other things) discuss whiskey and matters sartorial with Mark Newton, eat the worst dinner I’ve ever eaten seated between Glen Mehn and David Moore, meet Nathan Long, and… uh fangirl out over Joe Abercrombie this one time. These are just a few highlights among many, many exciting moments.
Sometimes… to be honest, many cons have the effect on me where during and afterwards I want to /ragequit writing. Forever. This WFC, however, left me feeling enthusiastic about being part of a vibrant community of interesting people whom I like and respect. I won’t name everyone here who contributed to this sense of well-being, as I’d surely leave out someone, but I hope you know who you are. Many are already named above. Seriously though, damn. I won’t list all my theories as to why this was a better con for me. Suffice it to say that it was, and I feel like a changed, happier person in the wake of WFC ’13.
Oh! Oh! And if all that wasn’t enough, I totally took myself to Perfect Nonsense, the Jeeves and Wooster play now at The Duke of York’s, in London, on my last night in town. It ruled! I mean, there was little dramatic tension, as anyone who knows their Jeeves knows the storyline from The Code of the Woosters, but the clever staging of the production makes it more than worthwhile.
As I said, whew!
Now I’m back. And writing.