A BFS Open Night, obscure words and going to an Akira party by accident!

It’s officially been a pig of a week. We’re in the middle of home-improvement hell, I suffered a series of migraines that felt like Thor had taken Mjolnir to my head, and also had some disappointing news about a work project. Of course, these are all temporary set-backs, but it was good to end the week with a distinct highlight – a British Fantasy Society open night at Bristol Central Library.

Local authors Joanne Hall and Gareth L. Powell were behind the mic, reading from Spark and Carousel (out in September, plug fans) and Macaque Attack (out now) respectively.

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A Q&A followed, with Gareth and Joanne discussing various subjects, including the length of their books. Gareth’s novels are around 80-90,000 words, where Joanne’s can weigh in at 200,000 words! That’s one of the differences between SF and epic fantasy, right there!

Other subjects included how their characters choose them rather than the other way round, and the different ways they tried to challenge themselves when writing.

In response to one question, Gareth described how he made sure that Ack Ack Macaque – the cigar-chomping, foul-mouthed hero of his monkey trilogy – remained resolutely primate, instead of just becoming a man in a monkey suit. This was achieved by working authentic monkey body language and instincts into the character, such as the moment where Ack Ack warns someone not to smile at him. To a primate, displaying one’s incisors is a sign of aggression, and so he might mistakenly rip their face off. Best not grin then if ever faced by a human-monkey hybrid then!

This was particularly fascinating as one of the characters in my current WIP is half-man, half-dog. Gareth’s insights have made me stop and think about my hybrid, prompting some interesting new possibilities for the character. More on that another time.

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After the event, it was off to the Watershed with Pete Sutton, Claire Fisher, Myfanwy Rodman and Paul Cornell for a bite to eat and a natter. Any excuse to get my hands on a bowl of the Watershed’s award-winning chilli-beef nachos. (OK, I don’t know if the nachos actually are award-winner, but they should be!)

The evening continued as expected, until the venue started to transform. Uncharacteristic music blared, lights flashed and artists popped up, creating manga-inspired murals. Much to our continued bemusement, bowls of blue and white bon-bons appeared on tables and folk started handing out transparent red visors. The place was suddenly rammed. It turned out we had stumbled into an Akira party, celebrating the cult anime.

Here is a picture of three people who find themselves at an Akira party by accident!


Before long, we were planning our own cult movie party – anyone up for a Ghostbusters shin-dig?

It was the perfect end to a memorable evening!

Thanks to everyone who organised the event.

I also need to thank Jon Dowling who shared with me his list of unusual words from around the world. There are far too many to mention at the moment, but this one tickled my fancy today. You know that trick where you tap someone’s shoulder to make them look the wrong way? The Indonesians have a word for it – Mencolek.

So now you know!

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