This September (the 8th and 9th to be precise, although a fair few of us will be arriving at the hotel on the 7th and/or staying until the 10th), the UK GLBT Fiction Meet (UK Meet for short) returns, following a well deserved break last year for the organisers to catch their breath. This year’s venue is the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel: a revisit following superbly hosted events in 2014 and 2015. I’m moderating a panel this year (the Sunday 13:30-14:30 slot, so I hope people are awake after Saturday night’s Rainbow Dinner and Sunday’s lunch). It’s full title is: Characters you’ll care about: how authors create them and why readers care about some and not others and will feature myself, Roe Horvat and Brad Tanner with (I hope) lots of helpful suggestions from the audience).
The blurb I came up with for the Meet’s Programme Book is as follows: “How do authors create characters that will interest their readers? Readers, writers and reviewers share their ideas on what makes for characters that readers can engage with, whether that’s in terms of wanting that protagonist to get their happy ending or hoping to see them get their comeupance. Can a character be interesting without being likeable, or can a character be likeable without being interesting? What happens when an author gets too attached to their lead character(s)? Audience participation encouraged.”
What I’m hoping for, if the audience are suitably alert, is a good mix of opinions from authors and readers/reviewers (not forgetting that authors are generally readers, and can also be reviewers, as well) as to which characters garner the most positive or negative feedback – and which divide reader opinions the most – and why they think that may be. Obviously I’m hoping lots of people will recommend both new books and series for the rest of us to read, and will provide handy hints to the authors amongst both panel and audience as to how we can improve our characterisation and leave readers wanting to read more about our creations and reviewers giving positive recommendations based on the characters as well as on other aspects of writing craft.
Other panels I like the look of (from both days) include Killer openings that will have readers turning page after page , Finding the balance between history and fiction, Divine or diagnostic – magic systems, and Hung up by the heartstrings – emotional layering in romance. Social events include the aforementioned Rainbow Dinner (dress code, as always, ‘whatever makes you feel fabulous’), a Friday night boat trip, author book fairs and signings, and lots of opportunities to just hang out with the other attendees. The awesome Temple Dragon will also be on hand both days to take portraits.
So, with less than a month to go, what do you guys out there in the ether think of my panel topic? What would you tell us on the panel, were you to be an audience member? I’ll report back in September to let you all know how things went.