I was approached a while ago by Charles Millstead, fellow writer and western enthusiast, who asked if I'd be interested in attending a western convention in the UK, if there was such a thing. Having made many friends in the genre from writers and readers to publishers and artists, I thought it was an interesting idea. Since then, the concept has taken shape and I have invited Charles to contribute a guest post for my blog so that he can get the word out to a few more people and hopefully gauge more clearly what the interest might be. So, I hand you over to Charles...
The roots of Westcon started before I got involved. I like to imagine a scene in which there were four of them sat at a round table while the barman stood behind the long bar, slowly polishing a glass. The four were Pistol Pete Sutton, Captain Claire Fisher, Jonathan ‘Doc’ Howard and the mysterious Stark Holborn. They were plotting something big. At some point Pistol Pete contacted me and I agreed to join the ride. Someone raised a hand with all five fingers upwards.
Westcon, the ‘something big’ mentioned above, is a convention planned for 2018 celebrating all things western. We are going to hold a one day event in Bristol at which we hope to have as many western creators as we can entice. There will be authors reading from their books, panels discussing as many aspects of the western as we can fit in, display space for artists, tables for dealers in western books and related merchandise and possibly some western re-enactors (there are two groups in Bristol alone). We might also have quizzes, whisky tasting and other activities. If you have ideas please get in touch.
Who are we? Pete Sutton organises the Bristol Festival of Literature and other events as well as being a talented writer of speculative fiction. Claire keeps Pete in order. Jonathan L. Howard is a games designer and writer who has created ‘The Broken Sword’ game and the Johannes Cabal books among many other things. Stark Holborn is the writer of the acclaimed ‘Nunslinger’ book. And I’m the author of ‘Silence Rides Alone’. Collectively, we all love a good western.
As a build up to the 2018 event we are planning a series of events this October to build interest and awareness. On 14 October the good folks who run Bristol Horrorcon are letting us run a panel discussion about weird westerns as part of their programme. We are being joined for that by horror legend Kim Newman. (See bristolhorrorcon.weebly.com for how to get tickets). 23 October is the date for an event we are calling ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ which will be a showing of the Coen Brothers version of ‘True Grit’ followed by a discussion of adapting novels for the screen. This is part of the Bristol Festival of Literature and tickets can be obtained at unputdownable.org. The last of the trilogy of events is courtesy of the organisers of the local science fiction convention, Bristolcon, who are hosting us for a panel discussion entitled ‘A Fistful of Genres’. That will be on the 18th October. See www.bristolcon.org for details.
If you are finding this at Jo Walpole’s blog then you are obviously a person of taste and distinction and we would welcome your input. What would you want to see at a western convention? Who would be your ideal guest of honour? Do you know others that might be interested to whom you could spread the word? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details of the venue should be available soon. A website will follow that.
Crime fiction has Harrogate and Crimefest. Science Fiction has Worldcon, Eastercon and many others. Isn’t it about time that the western had a convention of its own?
Ian Charles Millsted
On facebook at @charlesmillstedwesterns