Nine weeks ago, I sat in the cafe of my local library, with the library’s Events Manager, Liz, and dreamt up the idea of Burton Sci-Fi and Fantasy Con. Yesterday, it happened.
Let me tell you a little about this event, and how it came about by complete accident.
I’d originally gone to Liz to pitch a humble, unassuming author event for, perhaps, five or six sci-fi and fantasy authors. Some readings, some signings, some book sales. Small. Manageable.
The trouble with ideas is that, sometimes, they lead to dangerous things like more ideas. And excitement. And ambition. And inspiration. And those things are unavoidably contagious. Terribly so. And when Liz started talking about cosplayers, my brain began to whirr. In the time it took to drink a cappuccino and eat a slice of millionaire’s shortbread, my prudent idea had ballooned. And so, the Burton Sci-Fi and Fantasy Con was birthed. Far bigger than expected.
With a budget of precisely zero, the whole event was put together by begging, borrowing, and stealing. I pulled together friends, they dragged their friends along, and we all made some new friends. And the result, put together with little more than good faith, was a staggering success.
Along with my fellow authors Jon Hartless, Ken Preston, Duncan P. Bradshaw, J. R. Park, Trish Moran, Dawn Abigail, David Wake, and H. B. Lyne, we turned the front of the library into a literary market place, where keen readers could buy anything from steampunk adventures to dark horror.
We shared the space with Omocha Otaku and their awesome Japanese toys for sale, and the event’s special guest; The Dark Knight and Harry Potter actor Martin Ballantyne.
At the rear of the library, Games Workshop had an awe-inspiring Warhammer set up, with lots of goodies to give away. Blue Rose Crafts ran craft workshops and had a stall. And Dungeon Master Bruce drew a crowd of seasoned, lapsed, and brand new Dungeons and Dragons gamers. For the younger attendees, the library pulled out the Lego, and had superhero masks for colouring.
Throughout the day, the authors read to eager audiences, and cosplayers wandered the arena, dressed in all kinds of amazing costumes. My long-suffering husband and Twitch streamer, Captain Madmut, helped out with recording the event, looking after the dealers, and generally doing everything I asked of him, and more.
The feedback from both my dealers and the attendees was amazing. The good vibe was mentioned over and over, and everyone left with a big smile on their face (albeit rather tired!)
I honestly couldn’t have hoped for the day to go better. I was encouraged to set next year’s date, with everyone excited and eager to return again.
A huge, huge thank you to all of my dealers for believing in me and my crazy idea. A massive thank you to Burton-on-Trent Library and all of the staff. Thank you to Liz Gardner for her faith in the event and my ability to pull it off. In fact, she said, and I quote; “if you are silly enough to want to organise anything this massive then I’m happy to give you somewhere to put it!!!!!” That’s the kind of people I need around me. People who use five excalamation marks in a row.
And a humble thank you to everyone who came along. Together, we created something amazing. I may have been the organiser, the host, the brains behind the idea, but I certainly didn’t build this thing alone. Thank you to you all.