|Guest of Honour Brian Aldiss|
DM: How did you become involved with the BFS? What is your current role within the organization?
MOR: A friend of mine, author Gary Couzens, asked if I’d help edit the BFS newsletter, Prism, at the end of 2001 – that was my first Committee role. From there I went on to be web editor, Dark Horizons editor, Membership secretary briefly, and then Chair from 2004 – 2008. I also helped on FantasyCon from 2001 to 2007, doing many jobs from contacting Guests to editing the souvenir programme. I co-Chaired 2008’s Convention with my husband, Paul Kane, and edited many of their publications along with Paul, after I brought him on board as Special Publications Editor. We’re no longer on the BFS Committee as work commitments meant we had to take a step back, but we put in a successful bid to run FantasyCon 2011 with Alex Davis (founder and organiser of the Alt.Fiction event in Derby), in Brighton, on the BFS’s behalf.
MOR: Traditionally, the numbers have tended to be roughly equal. I’m not entirely sure it could be made more obvious without antagonising the Fantasy side of the society. There has to be a fair balance, and – just as important – there has to be seen to be a fair balance, with no one subgenre being advertised more prominently than another, whether that’s the Fantasy or the Horror side of the membership. The British Fantasy Society is a broad church; it was created to celebrate ‘all aspects of genre fiction’, be that science fiction, horror or fantasy; film, book, TV or magazine, or art. As such, the BFS has to be very careful not to be seen to favour one aspect of the genre over another. There are, and always have been, complaints that the Society is ‘too horror’, or ‘too fantasy’, depending on critics’ viewpoints, but the BFS has always endeavoured to remain impartial, and to make sure they offer a fair balance of material and events to their members. I know that when I was Chair for every ‘horror’ event or publication, we’d balance it with a ‘fantasy’ one, so that things were kept balanced. The BFS does also include SF, of course, but traditionally there’s the BSFA, which has SF as its sole focus. As it is, we have a fantastic president in Ramsey Campbell, and the committee also reflects both the horror and fantasy sides of the membership – publications reflect all aspects, as does the Convention… I think to promote the horror side more actively would shift that balance, and the balance is vital. One of my favourite quotes on the subject came from Clive Barker, when he spoke at the FantasyCon Awards Banquet in 2006. He was making the point that we’re all ‘genre’ writers, but that genre writing was the first storytelling. He said: ‘Fuck genre; we are a continent of the imagination,’ and I think that’s right – whether we’re telling stories of Fantasy, Horror or Science Fiction, we’re telling imaginative fiction; and we’re all fans of the same thing, at that point.
DM: Can you describe some of your favourite experiences from previous FantasyCon?