Detective Nicely Strongoak has just returned to his spiritual home, as an excited me went back to the University of Nottingham for Fantasycon 2015. Yes, it was here on the Nottingham campus where, after work as an ultrastructural morphologist, I first put down my ideas for the dwarf detective in a modern(ish) fantasy world, on a Apple computer so old it was actually a Pip. And I was now here talking about him.
Officially I was there discussing comedy and fantasy on an excellent panel, with top writers Donna Scott, Frances Hardinge, Steve Jordan, Heather Lindsley and Craig Saunders, and doing a little bit of reading from A DEAD ELF. Unofficially I was getting my first introduction into the current state of fantasy writing in the UK, and very healthy it appears to be.
Oh, and learning as well. And there was a lot to learn! I had no idea of the strength in depth that exists for fantasy in all it’s forms and genre mixing now. In fact one of the stand-out panels for me was on Crime and Fantasy. Suddenly a comedy detective fantasy, or ‘dwarf noir’ as one panellist called it, didn’t seem as ridiculous as when the first radio script version of A DEAD ELF was written some ten minutes away from the conference centre that actually didn’t exist then either.
And did I drink too much? Yes, I did. And did I talk about how hard-done-by gnomes are? Yes, I did. And was I inspired? Well, you just had to be.