It's been a mad and busy few weeks.
Personal upheavals aside, August has been one hell of a month so far, involving music, a ton of talks, readings and panels, and almost certainly too much beer.
I was lucky enough to be asked to write up the inaugural Caught by the River Thames festival by The Quietus with my Essex fashion-doppelganger Tim Burrows. In blazing summer sun we spent two days down in Putney, which apparently is in London, attending talks and readings by many of the leading lights of the new nature writing/psychogeography/whatever boom. I witnessed Iain Sinclair on pointed form and missed the Paul Kingsnorth talk because I was talking with Peter Haynes; spent a long time drinking ale with Gareth E. Rees and Hartlepool miscreant (and excellent filmmaker) Michael Smith; had my outfit compared to that of a nine-year old by Tim's wife Hayley; got to see one of my all-time heroes Chris Packham in conversation with Lauren Laverne; and saw the Super Furry Animals, who are still brilliant 20 years into their career. I also got to meet Nina Lyon, author of the excellent book Uprooted, who I interviewed recently for Unofficial Britain. She makes good tea.
You can read our write-up of the event here.
The following Friday was the beginning of the Nine Worlds convention, which I was attending with Unsung Stories along with George Sandison. It was great to meet Unsung authors Oliver Langmead (we had an involved discussion about Cult of Luna) and Ian Hocking for the first time in the flesh, as well as spend time on the Unsung stall with Aliya Whiteley, author of the brilliant novellas The Beauty and The Arrival of Missives. The panels were excellent, the cosplay an eye opener, the punters eager and the bar always full. Thanks to Nazia Khatun for punching me, and to Leila from the Post Apocalyptic Book Club for not. There's a full writeup of the weekend here.
After a full one evening off, the next event was Unsung Live 4 at The Star of Kings. It was another stellar night of speculative fiction that is going from strength to strength; here's to many more. Reading were Malcolm Devlin (one of the best new short fiction writers I've encountered), Eli Lee, Rob Boffard and Angela Slatter. All were excellent. On a personal note, meeting Angela Slatter was brilliant as her books Sourdough and The Bitterwood Bible are fantastic examples of modern weird fiction. It's a real perk of the job getting to meet some of my favourite writers; speaking of which, I had a lengthy discussion about Robert Aickman and how horror helps us understand the world with Malcolm and Helen Marshall, something I could do all night.
The following night Influx Press hit Housmans in King's Cross for another event discussing An Unreliable Guide to London. I was chairing a discussion with Juliet Jacques, Tim Burrows and Stephen Thompson about London and the role fiction plays in understanding our city. It was another packed out event so thanks to everyone who attended; it's great to see the book getting so much attention. We could have chatted for hours. Next up is an event at Burley Fisher Books in Haggerston, info up ASAP.
I've been slowly gathering my Influx photos of the last five years into some sort of archive that you can look at here. It's a candid photo diary of pub backrooms, independent bookshops and provincial arts space, sure to inspire envy with the glamour depicted.
I am knackered.