Gamesday Italia:The Report

So I’m back from Italy. It was just a flying visit really but it was a lot of fun. I hopped on a plane to Vienna on Saturday night and made my connection to Bologna without problems. I was undoubtedly the scruffiest looking man of my age on the flight. It got me a nice double take from a fellow passenger when he saw the limo that picked me up. Needless to say the driver was a lot smarter dressed than I was. 

I ran into a few people from Black Library, Forge World and GW Italy in the hotel on the Saturday night and spent a fair bit of time catching up. Next day it was up early and into the convention hall. I took a quick look around and saw some of the Armies on Parade being set up. There was some stunning stuff there. Particularly impressive was a wood-elf army complete with a tree-house. If that sounds a bit twee, I can only assure you the model was not. It was really cleverly done. 

Compared to Gamesday UK, Gamesday Italy is a lot smaller and a lot less frenetic. It was very relaxed and very pleasant. I signed a few books and chatted to staff and gamers who came along. I saw the Sword of Caledor hardback for the very first time and swiped an (ahem) author copy for myself. It’s a beautiful-looking book. I am really pleased with it. 

Next up I did my reading, which I confess I was dreading. I have never really enjoyed doing these and I find them doubly difficult when they need to be translated into a foreign language. The auditorium was huge and intimidating and I felt like a contestant on Mastermind with the spotlights on me. That said, GW Italy had a very nice system of back-projecting the translation on a screen behind me, and the reading seemed to go down pretty well. Afterwards there was a question and answer session which mostly seemed to concern Gotrek and Felix and, Grey Seer Thanquol, of all people. I suspect there was a large Skaven contingent (of players, I mean :)) lurking in the audience. 

The questions were fun and they made me think, particularly about the Grey Seer and my life-long admiration for him and the Skaven in particular. I may put my thoughts on the subject up here on the blog in the not too distant future, when I find some time. I would like to thank Manuela for doing the translation. 

After this it was back for more signings and a video interview. All in all, it was a very pleasant day. That night Rik and Mike from Black Library and Lee from GW headed off into Modena to see the sights and I joined them. The town centre is lovely, kind of exactly what you expect the centre of an Italian town to look like. We also wandered out to the reconstructed Roman road, excavated by archeologists when it was uncovered during the construction of an underground car-park.  This was an astounding piece of work, with all the original cobblestones, right down to the tracks worn by the carts in it. Alongside were gravestones from the Roman period, including one of a centurion of the 15th Legion and a freedwoman and her family. I got to try out my very basic Latin skills (last used roughly 35 years ago) and then found out I needn’t have bothered since translations were provided on the noticeboard at the end of the road. 

After that it was back to the town square for one of the most best and most pleasant meals I’ve had in a long time. I tried the local speciality (tortellini as recommended to me by Davide Cortese in the comments of my last post) and it was great. Thanks for the tip, Davide. I also broke my diet and had a desert on the grounds that I won’t be getting a chance to try actual Italian tiramisu for a long time. It was superb. After that it was back to the hotel for a nightcap and off to bed. Up not too early next day for the taxi to the airport. Here the only real blight on the trip occurred. My flight was delayed which led to a stressful run through Munich airport in order to make my connection to Prague. I made it just in time. The guy who was sitting in the seat next to me on the plane in did not. His flight left from the gate next to mine and the gate was closed when he got there. 

After that bit of excitement it was plane sailing (sorry) all the way back to Prague. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all involved for making this a very pleasant trip for me. Hopefully I will see you all again some time. 

Gamesday Report

So that was my first Gamesday in eight years. It was a lot of fun and a lot of travel compressed into a very short time. We flew into Manchester and took a train to Nottingham and checked into the hotel. I dropped in to the Studio, said hello to a few people and recorded an extract from Blood of Aenarion to be broadcast sometime on GW TV. I also picked up a couple of author copies of Blood of Aenarion which is a very beautiful looking book indeed. In the evening we went out to dinner and visited Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem. Well you’ve got to, haven’t you, when you’re in Nottingham for the first time and my family were.

Saturday saw us en route to Birmingham NEC and me in the hall signing books in the company of Dan Abnett, Graham McNeill, Sandy Mitchell, James Swallow and Nik Vincent. We built walls of books while chatting away about this and that. In the evening we went out with a group from Black Library editorial and new author Sarah Cawkwell (check out The Gildar Rift) and her family for a nice dinner. Back at the hotel, we sat around in the lounge until late and chatted.

This was like the secret Gamesday for authors. I think it was Robert Heinlein who said that meetings of SF writers at conventions are like the campfire meetings of trappers on the frontier in the Old West. You get together for a moment and swap jokes and tales and then go your separate ways back into the wilderness. There’s something to that. The life of a tie-in writer is a solitary one. It’s an unusual job, done by a very small group of people with its own language and unique problems and interests. It’s not often you get the pleasure of discussing such things with people who understand them from the inside. It was fun. And where else would you get to hear Dan Abnett give a perfect description of the way collecting comics used to be in the days before modern distribution, discuss the logistics of 40K writing with Sandy Mitchell and Jim Swallow and be reminded of exactly how exciting and intimidating it is to be a new author at Gamesday by Sarah Cawkwell? But I digress…

Aenarion Pic IMG 0336

Sunday was Gamesday itself which passed me by in the usual blur. I did not even get a chance to visit the Studio stands where I was hoping to catch up with old friends from the time I worked there. I did some interviews and signed some books and was, as ever, astonished by the sheer scale of the thing. I remember the old days at the Assembly Rooms Derby. Back then I was astounded that a games company could command such a following. Little did I know what was coming! My wife and son got the chance to see all the wonders of Gamesday, the huge games and displays and the beautifully painted minis. They are not hobby gamers so I think it came as a revelation to them. I know it usually does to me.

For me the nicest bit was getting to chat with readers. Having someone tell you that you are the reason they started reading Black Library books never gets old.  Someone also said the most flattering if incorrect thing I have heard about myself in quite some time; “It’s true, you do sound like Christopher Lee.” If only it were so. You’ll get a chance to hear my actual slurred troglodytic Scottish muttering when the Blood of Aenarion extract is broadcast.

Anyway, I would just like to finish off by thanking everybody who made it such a lovely day and apologising to anybody I have forgotten to mention of whom I am sure there are many! See you all next year.