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2010 Swindon (UK) Unconvention

A write-up from the UK Unconvention.
by gingergeoff
October 14, 2010
The 2010 Swindon (UK) Unconvention began on Friday, October 1st, with the registrations at the Jury’s Inn Hotel. It was a nice, gentle start to the weekend with the giving out of goody bags, polo shirts and money off vouchers (for food at the hotel) – at least it was a gentle start for some. The Irish contingent made their presence known at the bar in their normal jovial way! The event then moved up to a pub called the Steam Railway Company for the ice-breaker game organised by Jase (Molekilby). He gave out sheets with a list of BookCrossers chosen favourite books and the object was to talk to as many other people as possible to find out which person liked which book. It has to be said that there was a fair amount of ‘liberation’ of other people’s answers by certain BookCrossers. No-one would accuse anyone of cheating, but…

Saturday was an early start for the committee, setting up of the rooms began at 8am to be ready for the ‘official’ start at 9am. Of course, BookCrossers being BookCrossers, it didn’t take them long to smell out the books and start perusing the ‘Book Buffet’.

Our first guest was Joseph D’Lacey, author of Garbage Man, The Kill Crew and Meat. This was somewhat of a change of genre for a UK Unconvention, but he went down well and got a lot of people interested in his books. He gave us some idea of his inspirations for writing and he also read an extract from Garbage Man.

The second author of the day was Adrienne Dines who has spoken at UK Unconventions before and is very entertaining. Author of Toppling Miss April, The Jigsaw Maker, and Soft Voices Whispering. Adrienne herself was unfortunately still in mid-flow when a section of the audience declared that they had to leave in order to go on the bus tour of Swindon. The schedule for the day was quite tight and Adrienne had over-run slightly.

As one of the authors of the day was Jasper Fforde, the committee had arranged a Fforde inspired tour of Swindon. This was based on tours which have been previously held during the yearly Fforde Ffiesta organised by Jasper’s very own band of helpers, the Fforganisers. It took in such sights as the Lola Vavoom statue, Tower of Brunel, Double Helix of Carfax Street and of course, the Magic Roundabout. While this was going on a mamouth bookswap was taking place at the hotel. The rules of the bookswaps have the amazing ability to change as soon as they have been written down and also to confuse anyone trying to understand them. These days explanation is kept to a minimum and people just tend to bluff their way through.

Lunch was unfortunately a bit of a chaotic affair as the hotel did not expect many of us to need feeding. This did delay the afternoon programme slightly, but most people still managed to attend the next talk by Christine Coleman. Christine talked of the discovery of five letters written in China around 1920 which inspired her book, Paper Lanterns. Christine has a blog where she has talked about the Unconvention here - http://www.christinecoleman.net/ .

Jasper Fforde was up next, author of the Thursday Next series, also the Nursery Crime books, and his newest novel, Shades of Grey. Jasper did a short talk about how he likes to write books and how he tries to always chose the ‘path less taken’ in fiction. This is how he decided to create his fictional characters with a foot in the real world and a foot very definitely in fiction. Then he took questions from the audience along the lines of ‘Why Swindon?’ and ‘How would you explain the Eyre Affair to someone who has never read it?’ The answer to the first was simply ‘Why not – again, the path less taken, everyone writes about London, or Edinburgh, or Bristol, but not Swindon?’ and the answer to the second was a little more involved. ‘As soon as you try to explain the Eyre Affair to someone, you enter the Jasper Fforde Role Playing Game where you tell someone the book is good and they ask what it is about and you say ‘Well…’ because it is so difficult to quantify.

The final author of the day was Gill Twissell, a self-published author who has written a book called Rest Upon the Wind. This is a story about two women one the great granddaughter of the other, and how their lives become inextricably linked in the present day, although they never met. It is the story of Emily, born at the end of the nineteenth century; of her love lost to the First World War and how this loss came to involve her great granddaughter, Sophie, many years later.

Following all of these author talks, we had a raffle to draw and then we all dispersed to meet later to explore Swindon’s restaurants and nightlife.

Up early again on Sunday to bag up all of the books ready for the release walks. Unfortunately the weather was against us and it was raining cats and dogs all morning. Being hardy, determined BookCrossers, we went out anyway, showing books all over Swindon, Lydiard and Avebury. As people left to go home on various trains, planes and automobiles, goodbyes, farewells and au revoirs were said in Wiltshire. Plans were already being hatched by some for next years event and places being proposed… Watch this space!

There is a link to some of the photos from the UK Unconvention here.

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