Fantasy in the Court 2017
Back in August I headed up to the ‘big smoke’ – though with electric cars, the congestion charge and the general relocation of heavy industry out of London, it is not really that smoky any more, but it is big.
The reason for my train journey was simple – Fantasy in the Court. An event run by Goldsboro Books where lots of fantasy and sci-fi authors, editors, agents and publishing house owners get to talk awkwardly to fans (me – everyone else is suave and sophisticated) and lost members of the public who stare, puzzled at a book shop which appears to be plying its customers with alcohol (I see nothing wrong with this approach).
In between meeting and conversing (awkwardly) with all the fantastic authors who attended, I took the chance to have a word (also awkward) with Harry Illingworth, agent and organiser, about the event itself.
Harry, or should it be Mr Illingworth (we are in England after all), can you describe what Fantasy in the Court is?
Fantasy in the Court is one of our annual events that we hold at Goldsboro Books to celebrate fiction in its respective genre. We also host Romance in the Court and Crime in the Court, and at all these events we gather the biggest line-up we can, and put all these brilliant authors in one place and invite fans to come and meet and mingle with them. It’s a really relaxed and fun evening where friends see each other, and people from outside publishing get to meet the authors of the books they’ve read and loved. We get all the authors’ books in who are coming so fans can buy books on the night and get them signed to them.
How long has the event been running and has it changed through the years?
The format has always remained much the same in that it’s an informal gathering of the masses of genre fiction authors, fans and publishers. There’s also always plenty of beer. However we’re always trying to make the event bigger and better so we do get publishers on board and allow them to showcase upcoming titles in order to gain a bit more exposure.
This year was our third Fantasy in the Court, and UK Tor sponsored the event and gave out goody bags which was so kind of them, whilst HarperVoyager did cocktails and handed out proofs of some of their upcoming books too. The event gets better every year and we can’t wait to see what next year’s event holds in store.
How would you describe Goldsboro Books?
Goldsboro is a book lover’s dream, basically. Especially a genre fiction book lover. We’re an independent bookshop that specialises in signed first edition hardbacks but alongside publishers, we also produce extra special limited editions that are exclusive to our bookshop. If we read and book and love it, we’ll go out of our way to do something like an exclusive signed and numbered edition with sprayed edges so that our customers are always receiving something to cherish. We do lots of these editions in the SFF genre as we have a large amount of customers who collect books in this area. So if it’s something you’re interested in, do take a look on our website as we get some really exciting exclusives. Even if it’s not a limited edition, all of our books we get in new are always going to be signed first editions.
If I remember correctly, the authors who came along to Fantasy in the Court were from a range of publishing houses. How do you manage to get them all together?
Ahh, this is the hard part! Well, I say that, it’s not hard to get a fantastic group together as we’re incredibly lucky that publishers and authors are very supportive of what we do here at Goldsboro. So when I say it’s the hard part, it’s just the coordination of speaking to so many publishers/publicists and confirming a line-up that is the hard part!
The event has a really special atmosphere; writers, fans, agents, editors all mixing/talking together. Do you think this is something particular to the book world? I find it hard to imagine film stars doing the same.
I think this is something that is so unique to the event and makes it so special, as you say. It’s so satisfying for us as a team at Goldsboro to put on an event like this and see people from every walk of the genre life in one place, mingling away. I think we’re so lucky in the book world that everyone is a really friendly and supportive bunch, and this becomes so clear at these events when you see everyone there together mixing away and (hopefully) having such a good time. You’re absolutely right, I just couldn’t see it happening in the film world, but as I’ve said, we are very lucky that publishers do support us so much and so we’re always able to put out a wonderful line-up of the hottest talent of the moment for everyone to come and see.
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Amongst the crowd of agents (not CIA or MI5, the book kind), famous people and fans, I managed to have a few quick (awkward) words with some great authors. I fully intend to attend (I’ve a way with words) next year. And if you can make it too, say hello to everyone, even me!