Edge Lit 2012

July 18, 2012 - 6:47 pm No Comments

Taking place Sat 14th July 2012 at the QUAD Derby, Edge Lit was an all day festival celebrating horror, SF & Fantasy organised by Alex Davis.

This fun packed event, which finished with a showing of Lovecraft/Cthulhu themed films, started at 10:00am on the Saturday with a selection of workshops, a choice of panels and readings by established genre authors.

Of course, yours truly couldn’t attend every session, so I had to choose carefully. To give you an idea of what the day was like, I shall run through the sessions I did attend and how I found them.

What makes a great short story?

The first panel I went to was ‘What makes a great short story?’ As a short story writer, I went to this particular panel in the hopes of some sage words of advice from the panellists. It all went down hill when horror author Simon Bestwick shared about an anthology he has submitted to about Nuns and Dragons. According to Bestwick, “hot nun on dragon action” was called for. Bestwick added a note of fun to an already lively panel, where the writers and editors talked about their favourite short stories, and what made them special. For Bestwick, it was of course ‘Masque of the Red Death’, which he read as a nine year old. Another story cited was ‘White Noise’ by Gary Kilworth.

Conversation led on to the debate about filming short stories versus novellas. Does every short story have the s cope to be a two hour film? Clive Barker’s work certainly does, though we “don’t talk about Rawhead Rex.” I concur.
According to writer Andrew Hook, anthologies are great forums for discovering new writers. They are like a box of assorted chocolates or a selection of malt whiskeys; each time you read (a story) there is a different light that goes on . . . you may like one but not the next one. And the best anthologies, it was concluded, include new and established authors, and new and old stories. It was a thoroughly enlightening and useful panel, which generated much discussion.

Guest of Honour: Christopher Fowler

As well as Geoff Ryman, Christopher Fowler, author of many genres including horror, fantasy and crime, attended Edge Lit as GoH. Interestingly, the Fowler Q&A kicked off with a conversation on the short story form. Fowler likes short stories, as the reader is willing to go with the writer when expectations suddenly switch. He talked about his Bryant & May novels, which feature two golden age detectives working in a modern world. As Fowler put it, older protagonists mean there “doesn’t have to be all that shagging and hitting.” And it definitely works! Listening to his reading, the characterisation and humour inherent within the set-up makes the books incredibly diverse. Although, he has had fights on his hands creating older characters and jumping genres, as he tends to do.

Are we still afraid of monsters?

Bestwick, who moderated this panel, pointed out for discussion that horror booms tend to coincide with Conservative governments! The last boom, taking place in the 70s and 80s took place during the Cold War, whilst the latest boom appears to be a post 9/11 reaction.

According to author Emma Newman, this could be because horror is a safe way to experience the things we are afraid of, a safe expression of fear. For Newman, human beings are the scariest of monsters. It is frightening how thin the veneer of civilisation is.

Discussion moved to what the next big trend will be, though nobody could really pin this one down.

Three of the Best: Workshops

As always, I like to attend a ‘few workshops at these things, to continually develop my skills as a writer. For this event I chose three workshops (Dialogue with Mike Shevdon, Making Monsters with Simon Bestwick and A Novel in an Hour with M.D. Lachlan).

All workshops were I incredibly valuable and well prepared for (there was no shortage of flip charts!).

In the dialogue workshop, Shevdon talked about the three types of relationship occurring during a conversation;
Dominance
Communality – mutualism and;
Reciprocity – scratch back

For the conversation to work, there needs to be a change of state, which will build depth and create the twist or surprise. The technique which Shevdon talked about can be used as a diagnostic tool when the dialogue doesn’t feel right. As Shevdon advised us, “Look at the state change in your dialogue to move the story forward.” A very useful session.

In the monsters session, Bestwick had us working hard, each attendee creating their own version of a monster based on what they feared. It was a really fun and worthwhile workshop with some great results from everyone in the group.

In Lachlan’s workshop, we talked about plot structure and in less than an hour created a fully realised novel plot As Lachlan reminded us, he initial progress for getting words on the paper is important. “Don’t get it right, get it written.” The workshop looked at always creating the loop of setting up a problem, finding ways to resolve it, then moving on to the next problem. A great session for understanding structure and plot movement.

Reading: Justina Robson & Jaine Fenn

I had to make sure I attended at least one reading during my Edge Lit day, so given my fanzine Andromeda’s Offspring is dedicated to raising awareness about female genre writers, it had to be the double act of Justina and Jaine.

As always, both writers were warm, friendly, and more importantly, bloody talented! Jaine read a story of the ‘Angels’ coming out in a collection soon, whilst Justina read an excerpt from a new book she is currently working on. Exciting stuff. If you want to read something new from Justina, I am publishing a brand new story of hers in my fanzine in the next few days!

Oh God – Sarah’s at it again!

For anyone who has attended the Alt.Fiction events in the past and enjoyed Sarah Pinborough’s hilarious Raffles, this raffle did not disappoint. Teemed with Lee Harris from Angry Robot, Sarah delivered the winning tickets to attendees in her own inimitable style. It was not to be missed!

Next Year?

Yes, at least I hope so! Organised by the always reliable Alex Davis, Edge-Lit, to be honest, knocked spots of this year’s Alt.Fiction.

It was a packed programme, a great chance to meet fellow readers and writers and an absolute blast. See you there next year. With bells on!

Theresa Derwin

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