SWECON, STOCKHOLM 15-17 JUNE
Sunday. Friends of mine were on the panel for ‘Varför behövs svensk fantastik?’ (Why do we need Swedish fantasy?) so I went to that. I thought the answer was obvious – because Swedish is a lovely language, but there are evidently many reasons why – the Swedish melancholy, nature, relative peace and equality… an interesting discussion. Hal went to Edmund Schluessel’s ‘Non-Euclidan geometry.’ Definitely a case where I would have wanted to be in two places at once, but in a later chat with Edmund he didn’t recommend cloning as a solution because ‘clones need as much food as you do and they always hog the shower.’ Good to know!
Missed the interview with Mike Carey – I hope he didn’t say too much else than what he’d said at coffee yesterday – because I didn’t want to miss ‘Feministisk fantastik’ with my friend Cecilia Åhman and the rest of the panel, Pernilla Perny Lindgren, Gabriella Gomez, Maria Nilsson and Anna Bark Persson. I wish I could give a word by word report but one thing that was brought up I thought was especially important: to be a feminist book it’s not enough to have a tough woman as the main character. Men who recognise the gender power structure and work for equality are also necessary. As you know, my main character is a man – Merlin – and he joins forces with Guinevere, Morgana, Morgause, Vivian (from the legend), my invented characters Sorcha, Wilda, Akilah, Branwen (most of my characters are women, come to think of it!) who fight back, go their own way, in their patriarchal societies, and Merlin does his bit in the Good Fight. Well, anyway, the panel was very interesting! Why didn’t I take photos?
Immediately this panel discussion was over I had to run up to the bookshop for my half hour of book signing. I wouldn’t have needed to rush. Exactly one person came to have a Shakespeare calling – the book signed (thank you – you know who you are 😊 ) –
and then nothing. A few books were sold from the shop and I signed a couple of them elsewhere (see report – Day 2) but several of us who had books in the shop agreed: it was lovely to be able to attend the various program events instead of sitting at our book tables the entire time, but the number of books sales plunged compared to earlier
years. Here is a photo of the valiant Tomas Cronholm, who has always spoken warmly about my books –
many thanks for that!
Shortly thereafter it was time for Sten Rosendahl and me to interview each other, also in the bookshop. Very few people were there to listen but Sten and I had fun. Thank you, Nina Grensjö, for the photo!
Then there was a short interim when Hal and I could run to the used book store and surprise, surprise, we bought some books. The plan was to buy ones that weren’t necessarily keepers so that we can bring them to England when we go in July and leave them on the train when we’re done. We’ll see how that works out.
OK, see now I was getting nervous because it was soon time for the big event – the panel discussion of ‘Stories based on a classical story’, in which I would have to try to say something intelligent amongst a panel of me and the three guests of honour. I tell myself, ‘Come on, they’re only people and Mike is nice. The other two and the moderator probably are too!’ Well, I’ve done scary things on stage before so I took a deep breath and pretended I knew what I was doing and off we went. Sari introduced us, and we presented our work based on a classical story. I managed to get the most important stuff said – that I was irritated with the Christians for hijacking the legend and turning it into Christian propaganda and turning Guinevere into a weepy lovelorn adulteress (I don’t think I managed to use such strong words though) and Morgana into an evil vampy witch – so I had to write the true story and that’s why I’m writing The Merlin Chronicles. Then the discussion veered off into subjects that I know nothing about (games and comics and things) but I did manage to point out that Shakespeare himself wrote stories based on classics and got agreement from the panel. Also managed to mention Harry Potter which is based on loads of old myths. So I survived, and it was fun! (Again, thank you, Nina Grensjö, for the photo! From left to right: Sari Polvinen, Mike Carey, me, Ian Watson and Kij Johnson.)
And that was that! In the chaos that followed I managed to say thanks and good-bye to Mike who gave me a hug and made a point of saying good-bye to Hal in the front row.
Closing ceremony! Already? How is it possible? The guests of honour were thanked with gifts, the Forodrim choir sang. And it was over.
We went up to the bookstore to pack up the books that were unsold. We wandered about saying good-bye to people. We called for a taxi. And then we were home.
A huge thanks to everybody who worked so hard to make this a brilliant Fantastika! I’m looking forward to Replicon in Västerås June 2019. Bye for this time!