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Ephemera & Tales
Fiction by Alex Draven
Nine Worlds / Riverside Regeneration 
15th-Aug-2013 10:41 pm
Reverse Raven
So, as anyone who follows me on Twitter is no doubt aware, I spent last weekend at Nine Worlds, a 3 day geek-fest convention thingumy. It was good. I approve. Would do again.

Specifically, I got to hang out with fab people, both people I know and don't get to see often enough, and people I don't know who were shiny and interesting, and go to All The Things.

The sheer abundance of sessions was kind of overwhelming, in a good way, and I'm really appreciating people's write-ups of sessions I didn't get to go to - so many threads full of so many interesting things, but I don't regret choosing any of the things I did in the end go to (not even the slot where I didn't go to any of the five different things that I wanted to go to, and instead got a foofy coffee and ate a protein bar, and sat and chatted to friends, because that was good too.)

I do kind of regret not taking time off work, which means I missed several sessions that I would have liked to go to on Friday, and had to leave mid-afternoon on Sunday to get home. Note duly taken for next year.

The only thing I did get to go to on Friday was Tony Keen's session on Writing Fantastic London - part discussion of his list of key texts, running from Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol to the Rivers of London trilogy series*, part writing exercise, and part reading / discussion of some of the participants' writings. We had about 15 mins of writing time, which left one of the participants with an impressively polished and vivid short inspired by Crossrail, and generated lots of discussion about how the transport system ties in to the fantastic-ness of the city.

I was thinking about my own stuff, and Everything Changes is, I think, my London-est story with supernatural elements. The area around Kings Cross is both inspiration, symbol, and plot element in that one, and a lot of the session discussion brought up transport and transience, and migration and crowds as aspects of London that engender fantastic fiction, so - yes.

My own writing exercise results?  

Riverside Regeneration

It doesn't take long, once the boarding goes up over the windows - cheap ply-board on the upper floors, squatter-proof steel on the basement and ground floors.

It doesn't take long. A few weeks of unnatural, sterile silence, and then the murk starts to collect in the corners, drifting up around doorways and windows, silting up pipes and clogging plug sockets. Even when the building has been properly stripped, it doesn't take long, and that never happens. There's almost always a pile of rubbish left over that's not worth the effort of scraping up, or some scratched up chipboard furniture that gets left on an upper floor when the staircases are struck that can act as a seed. But even when a building has been cleared all the way, stripped back to the bare bones, the aching shell, the murk still generates itself eventually.

Water nearby speeds the process, as does history, so it's no wonder that the warehouse on the south bank of the Thames which had been only indifferently cleared, and where the high tide rubbish carried by the river lapped at the foundations twice a day, reached critical mass in barely a month.

Within three weeks of the gates being padlocked, the few passing pedestrians were starting to get that itchy feeling between their shoulder blades. The more susceptible characters would stop suddenly, glance up, convinced they'd seen something moving out of the corner of their eye, and then trudge away, shaking their heads at their own imaginings.

A week later, the deeds, locked in a strong box some five miles distant as the river flows, deep in the City proper, were starting to fade, the paper crumbling at the edges. At the same time, occasional bits and bytes on a dozen servers quietly and chaotically tripped from zeros to one or back again, silently corrupting records of records.

One month and three days on, and the first full manifestation was sleeping in a nest of newspapers and blankets on the top floor.

She woke, at dusk, to the distant sounds of sirens and traffic and water slapping against old brick; she began to prepare the space for the coming of the queen, safe and secret for another spin of the coin.

By the next day's dawn, the new nest was formed.
 
_____
*<strike>I can type up if anyone wants it - I have a couple of new things on my to-read list from it., personally. </strike>
The reading list is online now: http://tonykeen.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/writing-fantastic-london-reading-list.html

<b>ETA - Shiny! - Bedlam, a story by Catherine Taylor, aka the nifty Crossrail story has been posted! text or Audio    Go, read! </b>
Comments 
16th-Aug-2013 10:04 am (UTC)
I'm glad you had a good time.

And your writing exercise was very cool. Your words remain beautifully descriptive.
17th-Aug-2013 11:31 am (UTC)
I had an awesome time - but by Sunday evening I was socialed-out and my brain was entirely full, and I could really have used a day on Monday to assimilate and transition back to the real world. It's so good getting to spend time surrounded by fen, even if the objects of our fannishness don't overlap, and Nine Worlds made a real effort to be actually inclusive in a way that resulted in what felt like a really safe space.
17th-Aug-2013 02:29 am (UTC)
your writing exercise is kind of creepy! but in a good way! i'm currently reading moon over soho, and this feels like it fits into that.
17th-Aug-2013 11:32 am (UTC)
That is high praise indeed - thank you! (although I know that I'm better at atmosphere than action, so this is a bit of a cop-out, maybe?)
17th-Aug-2013 09:48 pm (UTC)
Creepy! A lovely lesson in taking the mundane and twisting it into sinister.
12th-Oct-2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you ;)
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