Mid July saw Derby take centre stage for one of the newest and most interesting writing conventions on the calendar, taking in fantasy, horror, science fiction and everything in between. Dan Howarth (news editor and reviewer) and Michael Wilson (editor) went along to sample the delights of their first convention.
The day started early with a panel discussion on what makes a good short story. Amongst the panel were Simon Bestwick and Marie O’Regan who helped to angle the proceedings in the direction of the horror audience. Joining the aforementioned duo were the likes of Christian Dunn and Andrew Hook. The discussion was wide ranging and frequently went off-topic, including a trademark Simon Bestwick political rant which was well received by the liberal crowd. Marie, as a fabulous editor of short fiction, did her best to keep the discussion on-track and it was fascinating to hear her views on what makes short fiction so interesting.
Next on the agenda was a panel discussion with Emma Newman, Anne Lyle and Mark Yon about how writers can utilise the internet in their line of work. The panel discussed the pros and cons of Twitter, Facebook and whether keeping a regular blog was of any benefit to book sales. Despite the subject area being slightly dry the panellists, to their credit, managed to create a lively debate that could be heard rumbling on in the corridors after the hour time slot had elapsed.
The final panel of the morning session was hosted by Simon Bestwick and focussed on monsters in fiction. Also weighing in with their thoughts were Ian Culbard, Paul Kane and Emma Newman. This was the liveliest panel of the day and covered traditional ‘big’ monsters such as Godzilla, Dr Who villains The Daleks and the subgenre that just won’t die – zombies. One of the most interesting discussions centred on vampires, half of the room seemed willing to accept that vampires are now lost to teenage romantics and can never be scary again, whereas others maintained that they can still be reclaimed and utilised in a brand new, terrifying way.
After a quick lunch at a local Portuguese chicken emporium (not part of the advertised schedule, mind), it was time for a writing workshop hosted by Simon Bestwick. Despite claiming that he had not prepared anything in advance, Simon invited his audience to deconstruct their fears and personify them in a piece of short fiction. It has to be said, the results were largely impressive and a special mention must be made here for James Everington who trumped everybody with his terrifying bureaucratic entities.
Unfortunately due to time constraints forced upon us by a round trip from Manchester to Coventry and finally to Derby, the Ray Bradbury retrospective was the last item on the This Is Horror agenda. The eclectic panel comprised of Mark Yon, Emma Newman, Graham Joyce, Guest of Honour Christopher Fowler and the indomitable Sarah Pinborough. The panellists affectionately recalled their favourite Bradbury stories, quotes and memories of how they first came to read the great man’s work. Graham Joyce had his own, vaguely controversial, thoughts on Bradbury’s output post 1960 and narrowly avoided a slap from Sarah for his troubles but this only served to add to what was a spirited and well thought through tribute to a writing legend.
Edge-Lit Festival 2012 was certainly a roaring success from a horror point of view, with excellent guests such as Christopher Fowler, Paul Kane, Simon Bestwick, Marie O’Regan and Sarah Pinborough, it is fair to say that Alex Davis did an excellent job of attracting some stellar names to his festival. In addition to the panels there were also author readings and signings, a raffle and a late night film screening. The festival truly did have something for everyone, writers and readers alike.
This Is Horror would like to extend our thanks to Alex Davis and his staff for inviting us along for what was truly an informative, unusual and varied day discussing genre fiction with some great people. Here’s to Edge Lit 2013.