For a long time as an SFF reader I didn’t speak to many other SFF readers, my meagre interactions were limited to a local market trader (who I bought many great books from but who sadly moved on) and a few friends who read erratically despite all of the fantastic books i loaned them and for which they had never asked to borrow. To my continued annoyance my reading copy of Dune is still out in the wilderness!
This reading isolation just couldn’t continue, it was sapping my will to read and my desire to write because there was no feedback, no two way interaction, I started to feel like I had my own internal Wilson, a volleyball of my own making in an island of real world non-readers. So I decided to reach out through the power of the interweb and see what online interactions i could find.
I began reading and posting on various online communities; Westeros; The Second Apocalypse; SFFWorld and SFFChronicles and started this blog soon after, a permanent central place for my posts – a Den for my thoughts. I soon started speaking with other readers on a more regular basis and found my enthusiasm for SFF being rekindled.
I became involved in organized events: Podcasts with members of The Second Apocalypse forums about R. Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing Series and many unorganized events; nights spent in Skype group chats with topics ranging from xenobiology to philosophy and perhaps resulting in one of the members reviewing on the Den in the coming months.
I became a frequent poster on online communities, I started getting my first submissions through this site and posted my first Author Q&A. Things were happening and I was continually expanding my online circles. Then a number of weeks ago I attended an event arranged via SFFChronicles; Northern Chronfest, a local event for local people meeting in Leeds for a few drinks and pleasantries. Thankfully there were no axe murderers. My online interactions were no longer wholly online interactions at all, which is why I was grateful for the no axe murderers policy.
The event turned out to be a great success, nice(ish) beer, a relaxed venue and good company (photos above), even if the spicy food was a bit too hot for me. Despite our different backgrounds I had similar tastes in SFF as a lot of the group, although an attendee described one of my favorite series’ opening scenes (see Podcasts above) as “a boring book where I stopped reading about a leaf dropping to the floor in a forest or something.” An unfortunately hilariously and amusingly awkward moment which led to some great discourse. Fortunately one of the other attendees shared a train ride home with me, a harrowing ordeal which saw a large group of drunken girls targetting a poor guy; his ego took a real bruising but rather him than me. It was a funny end to a great night.
A week and a half ago I missed the Joe Abercombie signing in Leeds, one of the Chronfest attendees kindly agreed to take my hardcopy of Before they are Hanged and get it signed for me – fantastic! There are also now talks of a second Chronfest in York which I will be attending in the coming months.
Sigfridvonshrink, a reviewer on SFFDen also joined after meeting on SFFChronicles and since joining has posted some great reviews on the site with more articles planned and some interesting dual reviews on the horizon.
The success of the site so far and the developing sense of community I can feel has spurred me to keep creating more content and continue to improve the site, a redesign is planned for the coming months to give more features and allow for multimedia content – the end of June looking likely.
In the meantime I am still reaching out to new sites, new readers and new authors to get my posts spread and my thoughts heard. After so long in the dark I realize now the only way to achieve a bustling community Den is to venture out, no matter how much the light hurts at first.