Alt.Fiction, the two day festival for readers, and writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
For the first time, it took place at Phoenix Square in Leicester - a great venue, very easily accessible from all areas of the UK and beyond.
Alt fiction is a very friendly event, and apart from an array of industry panels and workshops, there's lots of networking and socialising happening too. Enthusiasm is infectious, and newcomers are always made welcome, it doesn't matter if you're a genre fan or a writer, there's an overwhelming friendliness about the place.
I attended a few of the panel talks, and two workshops, and generally hung out in the cafe bar chatting to other writers, and eating cake.
Highlights of the festival for me were as follows.
The Business of Writing, although billed as a workshop, was actually a talk by Mark Chadbourn, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Mark offered sound advice on how to get paid for your writing. Advising its very possible to earn a living, if you're prepared to diversify. As he put it, 'wading through the swamps' and taking on jobs you don't really want to be doing, is the way forward if you want to earn enough to continue doing the stuff you really care about. He also advised you give up the day job, as soon as possible, and just do it! I love the idea.
Afterwards, I took part in Getting Steamy: Putting the punk in alternative history, an interesting workshop led by Kim Lakin-Smith where we crafted a world, complete with characters, and began writing an action scene from scratch. Some very interesting prose came out of the session.
The Flash Fiction Open Mike was hugely entertaining, although some writers definitely cheated, going way over the three minutes allowed!
Carrot Nappers, a very funny radio play, written by Keith Large, rounded the weekend off with lots of laughter. There was also a very delicious carrot cake afterwards.
The networking over the weekend was awesome, and I met some of my twitter friends for the first time which was lovely, it was good to catch up in the flesh. New friendships were forged, and I hope will continue until we meet again at the next one!
I was disappointed I missed the Horror talk, unfortunately the room was full to bursting, and a lot of us couldn't get in. I'm hoping it'll be sorted out for next year.
I couldn't end without saying the volunteers and organisers worked tirelessly throughout the event to ensure it ran smoothly, and I'm sure behind the scenes, as is usual, they were working for many months beforehand. They all did an outstanding job!
It was a very enjoyable outing.