And that was about that for the liveblogging: I put the laptop on Hibernate when lunchtime came and couldn’t get back into the NEC’s wifi when I woke it up after lunch.  Thus, the rest of the day follows in whatever form I can remember it after the long march back to the Holiday Inn.

I signed a goodly number of Enforcer omnibuses and more copies of the original Calpurnia paperbacks than I expected, plus that one memorable copy of Junktion, but because most of my recent work has been in the short form I mostly was signing anthologies: the new ones (Sabbat Worlds and Fear the Alien) and a surprising number of Tales of Heresy.  “After Desh’ea” had a very positive reaction when it came out and it was surprising and pleasing to see that even this long after publication people were coming up to me so enthusiastic and wanting to talk about it.  I had some long and excellent conversations about it, although perhaps a bit more one-sided than they should have been, since I do have a tendency to Hold Forth rather than converse when I get started.  If that happened to you, apologies, but thanks to everyone who came up and chatted.

There were fewer conversations about the newer stories but enough people have now tucked into “Faces” and “The Headstone and the Hammerstone Kings” for me to triangulate off the reactions a bit.  “Faces” certainly isn’t every reader’s thing, but as with the Calpurnia books the people who get and like the story really do like it.  The verdict on “Headstone…” is getting increasingly positive the more reactions I see, which is a great relief for a troublesome story that I’d pushed and pulled so much during its writing that my story-sense was numb by the time I finished it.  Particular thanks to the admirable Xhalax for making a point of reading it and coming over to confirm that the story, particularly the early scenes, had had exactly the effect on her that I’d been hoping for.  Very happy with that.

When things slowed down there was conversation to be had with my benchmates Mr Hinks and Mr Hoare, with Bolthole proprietor and new BL author Sarah Cawkwell, and with the excellent Narrativium, my old brother in moderators’ arms from the Black Library forum days who I finally got to meet via something other than a screen and a broadband connection.  Sneaky like a grot, I also slipped away from my post once or twice to go exploring – sights to see this year included the “Top Grot” table (if you know what was going on here please let me know), the Games Day Costume Posse, and a visiting ork who unfortunately had fled the hall by the time I got the chance to go hunting for him.  Apparently the battery that worked his lower jaw ran down and he retired from the hall, which just goes to show that a proper orky Iron Gob is the only way to go, and he should have spoken to his local Mekboy and Painboy before the event.

(There were going to be pics, but the upload process is taking ages tonight.  I’ll herd all the visuals into a separate post and put them up when I’ve got a faster connection and my eyes aren’t full of grit and three-quarters-crossed from tiredness.)

When you work at one of these occasions it gets a different flow and structure to when you’re in it as a participant, and the finishes are always anticlimactic.  The Golden Demon awards came to us as a series of vague, echoing rumbles from the overhead speakers, and then suddenly people were streaming out past us, posters were being taken down and tables packed up, and everyone was shaking hands and saying goodbye for the year.  That was a doubly rueful experience for us, since we don’t know yet when we’ll be back in the UK and when we’ll see these people and keep this company again.  Next time I’ll make sure to kick on to the after-party at Bugmans to take some of the sting out.

Let’s not end this on too much of a downer.  This Games Day weekend was cheerfully exhausting, wonderfully overwhelming, full of excellent company, good conversation and great memories.  Hope yours was too.