Last Wednesday evening, on August 13th, in the Waterstones on High Street Kensington, four fabulous authors of modern fantasy combined with Fantasy Faction (a website that reviews modern fantasy books, and brings the fantasy community together) gave the fans a chance to meet up for a casual hangout without the price tag of LonCon or NineWorlds.
The event was free to attend. Marc Aplin (the overlord of Fantasy Faction) and his sister Claire moderated the panel. The format was questions and answers for thirty minutes, followed by questions from the audience, then the book-signing. The end, as all British endings must be, was off to the pub, where the two American authors were most excited to order cider.
Considering the personalities of the authors concerned, I was expecting it to be a fun event (despite the title: Grim Gathering), and it was. Marc started things off by getting the authors to introduce one another, rather than themselves. Mark Lawrence’s introduction for Joe Abercrombie was, “Joe needs no introduction,” which for anyone who is familiar with the modern fantasy genre, is true.
Topics ranged from the apparently sudden popularity of grim-dark, how dark is too dark, the best compliment and the worst criticism authors had received, to what inspired them as writers to put their work out there.
Regarding the popularity of the grim-dark genre, I liked Peter V. Brett’s answer that he grew up reading pretty much only fantasy, but felt that books didn’t grow up with him. He was disillusioned with the genre until he read George R. R. Martin and realised how much more could be done with fantasy.
When answering the question of how dark is too dark, Myke Cole said, “When I’m writing right, when I’m writing the way I want to write, I’m not thinking about anyone else.” That’s the advice all aspiring authors should follow.
Mark Lawrence’s answer to the same question was, “When I’m writing, I’m not thinking about offending people. I’m just following the story.”
Joe Abercrombie was his funny, charming self. Myke Cole, whom I met for the first time, has to be one of the friendliest people on the planet, and considering he is a member of the NYPD and the coast guard, also pretty tough (in a nice way). Peter V. Brett and Mark Lawrence were also both incredibly friendly and mingled happily with the readers.
All four authors were extremely patient, and hung out to sign the very last book, including extra copies for Waterstones, and then joined us in Kensington Arms. It was a well organised, well attended event, which drew readers from not just across the UK but even as far as Romania, not to mention two authors from across the pond.
The modern fantasy genre is an enriched field of story-telling, and all of these four authors have made their mark in it. I’m hoping that Fantasy Faction will make this an annual event. If you are looking to try some modern fantasy reads, I highly recommend all four of these authors.