Praise for Twisted Tales Events

'In the past few years Twisted Tales has become a major force in the promotion and appreciation of horror fiction. As well as putting on author readings and signings at bookshops it has expanded into organising larger events, bringing authors and critics together for discussions of the field. I've been involved in quite a few of both and have found them hugely enjoyable and stimulating - I believe the audiences did as well. May Twisted Tales continue to grow and prosper! If you love the field, support them! I do.' - Ramsey Campbell

‘Twisted Tales consistently produce well-organised events for writers and readers of horror. What really distinguishes Twisted Tales for me is the intelligent themes and investigations they pursue, and the high quality of the discussions they always stimulate. As an author I've been invited to three of their events and have been pleasantly startled, to near shocked, by the attendance levels - two out of three were even sold out. I salute anyone who contributes so much to the literary and cultural life of horror fiction.’- Adam Nevill

'Twisted Tales events are wonderful... a great way of promoting 21st century horror fiction. Supported by Waterstone's Liverpool One and really well organised, Twisted Tales brings together established names in the genre as well as new voices and of course readers. Looking forward to much more to come...' - Alison J. Littlewood

Monday, 14 March 2011

Marie O’Regan talks to David McWilliam about the BFS and FantasyCon

Marie O'Regan is a British Fantasy Award-nominated horror author and editor who lives in Derbyshire with her husband – author Paul Kane – and children. She has had fiction published in the UK, USA, Canada, Italy and Germany, and her first collection, Mirror Mere, was published by Rainfall Books in 2006. Her genre journalism has appeared in such magazines as Dark Side, Rue Morgue, Dreamwatch, Fortean Times and Death Ray, among others, and she is currently editing a number of anthologies, both separately and with her husband. She served in various roles on the British Fantasy Society Committee from 2001-08, including editing their publications and maintaining their website, and was Chairperson from 2004-08. Her first World Fantasy Convention was in 2009 in San José, California, where she and Paul launched their co-edited anthology, Hellbound Hearts. Marie ran the registration area at the 2010 World Horror Convention and chaired FantasyCon 2008 with her husband.

DM: I attended my first FantasyCon in 2010 and had a great time. It is, without doubt, the friendliest and most welcoming convention I have been to. If you were to sell a ticket to a fan of fantasy and/or horror fiction who had never been to a convention, how would you describe FantasyCon?
Guest of Honour Brian Aldiss
MOR: FantasyCon is a convention the BFS organises every year; open to BFS members and non-members alike, and providing interviews with Guests of Honour (this year, so far, we have John Ajvide Lindqvist, Peter Atkins and Gwyneth Jones, as well as Special Guest Brian Aldiss), panels on all aspects of the genre, both from a fan perspective and also from a literary one; as well as providing a platform for author readings, book launches etc. It’s true that we’re primarily a ‘literary’ convention, and that a large proportion of our attendees are professional authors, artists, editors, agents and publishers – but we’re not limited to that, we have a large number of people coming who are fans of genre fiction, and want to meet their favourite authors/artists etc. For regular attendees (and there are many who come every year), it’s a chance to meet up with old friends, make some new ones, and keep up with what’s going on in the genre.

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.

DM: Despite being named the British Fantasy Society, the BFS has as many (if not more) horror authors, editors, critics, and fans as members as those associated with fantasy. Given the distinction made in the publishing industry that delineates fantasy and horror as two very distinct genres (a division that I consider to be highly problematic), how do you think the BFS could make its horror credentials more obvious to prospective members from the wider horror community?
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?
MOR: Oh, there are so many, over the years (I’ve been going since 2003). I first met Paul, my husband, at FantasyCon 2003; that’s the best one. I’ve also met some of my favourite authors, including Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Fowler, Conrad Williams, Muriel Gray… and many of them have since become friends. Meeting Clive was something both Paul and myself had always wanted to do; we’re huge fans of his work, and have even been lucky enough to work with him (and Neil, Chris Fowler, Stephen Jones, to name just a few) on projects such as The British Fantasy: A Celebration, Hellbound Hearts, and Paul’s book The Hellraiser Films and their Legacy. The BFS has become family; so many of our friends were met first at an Open Night or a FantasyCon.

DM: As a writer and editor, how have the BFS and FantasyCon helped your artistic and professional development?
MOR: As a writer… the BFS and FantasyCon have provided a forum for me to be published (I had a short story published in Dark Horizons, many moons ago), and I’ve also made many friends and professional acquaintances at Open Nights, FantasyCon or through my membership of the Committee that have proved invaluable in terms of giving me advice, sharing market information etc. I first met Stephen Jones, editor of the Best New Horror series among other titles, at my very first Open Night in 2001, when he introduced me to my fellow Committee members – since then he’s become a very good friend both to myself and Paul, and is always there with advice if its needed. I’ve made friends with some of my favourite authors, something I never imagined happening before I joined the BFS.

As an Editor… my first editing job was on the BFS newsletter, Prism. Since then I’ve edited Dark Horizons, co-edited various BFS Special Publications with Paul (BFS: A Celebration for example), and learned valuable skills while doing so. I’ve also been part of the reading committee for the BFS Short Story competition in the past. Since leaving the BFS Committee I’ve been lucky enough to edit an anthology with Paul (Hellbound Hearts), and hope to do more of this in the future.

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