The 2018 UK GLBT Fiction Meet (UK Meet for short) took place at the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel on the 8th and 9th of September. Those of us arriving on Friday the 7th had the option of a boat trip (with plenty of Prosecco) – which turned out to be a most enjoyable experience, and well worth the very reasonable price we were charged. We also got to eat out and catch up with friends old and new before turning in at a very sensible hour ready for the excitement of the following two days.
Saturday morning began with bag-stuffing: rather like a country dance without music in which participants circle in one direction only, being careful to ensure that one of each piece of author-donated swag goes into each swag bag. Then, following a welcome from Charlie Cochrane and possibly tea and snacks (we had a lot of those), it was time for the weekend’s first panels. I attended Killer openings that have readers turning page after page, followed by collection of our swag bags and then Finding the balance between history and fiction and will never again forget the fact that Victorians kept hedgehogs in their kitchen to eat the beetles. Sadly, I don’t have a big enough beetle problem to justify enticing hedgehogs into my house.
After lunch came the Keynote Speech from Lynn West of Dreamspinner Press and their other two imprints: Harmony Ink Press and DSP Publications, followed by the Book Fair, at which I tried to promote Women and Words, along with the other blogs and magazines I write and review for, and tried not to leave with too many new books.
In the evening, I posed for my portrait photographs with the lovely Temple Dragon, before heading on down to the Rainbow Dinner. This year we were entertained by an LGBT Choir, and a caricaturist, and those of us with enough energy then bopped our hearts out at the disco.
Sunday morning’s first panels included the highly thought-provoking RESPECT: find out what it means to me and Hung up by the heartstrings – emotional layering in romance. After lunch, it was time for the panel I had agreed to moderate: Characters you’ll care about: how authors create them and why readers care about some and not others. The blurb I’d come up with for the Meet’s Programme Book is was: “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.”
The audience participation was quite lively at times, and I failed to take any notes, although I managed to save the flip-chart pages on which my co-panellists had arranged all the answers we received to each prompt. As I’d half expected, some of the audience members loved character traits that others hated, or were bored by. Everyone was very respectful of divergent opinions, though, and a good time was had by all. After that, there was just time for the wrap-up and feedback session, before those heading home that night had to disappear, and those of us staying over gave ourselves a little time to unwind before our evening social plans. For several of us this turned into a game of Cards Against Humanity, which we started off playing in the bar, and ended up playing in the (empty) restaurant in order not to disturb the other guests (at least one of the bar-staff wished they could have joined in, however).
The next day, I managed to take another set of photos featuring the area around the hotel, before checking out and making my way to the station (which was another adventure in and of itself). The next UK Meet will take place in 2020 and I’m looking forward to it already.