Time and distance lend perspective, and all that. Waiting about ten days to put up my thoughts on the Eroticon 2014 weekend is about time and distance and NOTHING AT ALL to do with being a lazy sod whose past week has involved a three day hangover and a lot of staring into space grinning while the concept of a new trilogy begins to gain shape. Oh no. Course not.
So, how was it for us? Mighty fine, since you ask. I got myself to Bristol after a not-too-awful coach trip and found my pleasant little B&B was, usefully, on the main bus route into the town centre. So, quick cuppa and a scrubdown later, I hit the bar of the Radisson Blu hotel, wondering if I should have worn a red carnation or something. I did have my ‘Mr Grey is a Lousy Lay’ badge on, but there isn’t exactly an erotica authors’ uniform (no matter what some MoPs might think). Luckily I recognised Jilly Boyd and Molly from encounters at Sh! And knew I was in the right part of the bar, at least. There were loads of new people to meet, as well: some of whom I ‘knew’ from Twitter and some I’d met at Tobacco Dock last year and – as always – a brilliant atmosphere of instant friendship and shared worldviews.
All the time, though, I was aware that I was going to have to talk and be sensible first thing in the morning, so I actually moderated myself a bit in terms of pints of cider consumed, and got a reasonably early night.
Saturday was lovely and sunny; the conference venue a gorgeous, stately old gaff in the town centre with a welcoming atmosphere and I got there in time to have a quick huddle with my co-speakers Myles Jackman, a truly righteous lawyer who I would love to have at my back if I ever do get myself in proper trouble and Pandora Blake, who is doing an awesome job of reinventing and revitalising porn that works for women. The three of us were doing the opening session on censorship and how it affects us, and I think I can say we went down well (and you are welcome to reinterpret that in ways that please your imagination…)
Further talks and workshops followed, some of which made me yearn for Hermione Grainger’s Time Turner so I could actually be in two places at once. As it was, I picked Emily Dubberly and Mia Moore’s advice session on dealing with the press and Lily Hastings’ enthralling lecture on anatomy – yes, if you’re going to write about sex you need to know your body parts. Unlike a long-ago dipstick who once submitted me a manuscript containing the unintentionally terrifying line ‘I parted her clitoris’…
After lunch – and lunch was as awesome as the rest; none of your own-brand crisps and soggy sarnies here – I had a prowl round the bookstalls and caught up with various friends before being enthralled and educated by Michael Knight and Ruby Goodnight on the subject of traffic-building and all that new technological stuff that still tends to bemuse me. I know a lot more now and just need to apply it.
Saturday night was party time at the Elephant Bar with some serious dressing up going on, lots of fizz, a little flirtation and various schemes and plans for future projects. Unsurprisingly, when we all got back to Armada House on Sunday morning, several of us were on the pale and trembling side of things. Lavish applications of tea and coffee got people into gear, though, and I spent the morning focussing on flash fiction with Kristina Lloyd. Using nail polish and paint colour charts for inspiration is unexpectedly effective. Once again, when it came to the afternoon’s choice of workships I struggled to decide and settled on Harper Elliot and Gryphon’s tips for reading your work aloud followed by the Ask An Editor Session. We finished off with readings and delicious cakes, and suddenly the weekend was over. Way, way too soon: more than one attendee was a little misty-eyed and miserable when it came to saying goodbye. Those of us with enough time to kill before trains and coaches home did nip into the nearest pub for a farewell pint or so, but if it’s true that the best entertainments always leave you wanting more, then you can safely say: job done, Ruby Kiddell and co.