On Thursday Cymera Festival kicked off their 2021 festival which celebrates all things science-fiction and fantasy. Like last year, everything is digital and is hosted via Zoom, for their paid events, and YouTube for their free events. I was grateful to accept a press pass and immediately booked as many events as I could possibly attend so that I could share the experience with you.
Inside SFF Publishing
This was a lengthy Zoom event from 12PM till 3PM, with the idea that you can dip in and out depending on your interest, or what else you have on. I really liked the idea of being able to dip in and out, and figured it was the sort of event I could have on in the background. That’s what I thought, but once I began I found it so interesting that I was glued to the screen for three hours. It included a wide variety of roles in order to give us an idea of the scope of different roles in SFF publishing. The schedule ran as follows:
Gillian Redfern- Publisher at Gollancz, Julie Crisp- Agent from the Julie Crisp Agency, Jenni Hill- Editor at Orbit, Nazia Khatun- Publicist at Orbit, Rosie Peat- Digital Marketeer at Rebellion Publishing, and Jim Taylor- Bookseller at Lighthouse Bookshop, Edinburgh.
All the speakers began by giving an overview of how they got to where they were in the industry. What struck me most about this was that everyones story seemed different, and that there was no perceptive way into publishing. The sessions were comprised of audience questions and the moderators questions and a variety of subjects was discussed. I enjoyed all of the speakers, but I especially enjoyed Gillian Redfern, who discussed the differences between the US and UK marker which I found super interesting. One of the examples she gave was that the UK were more open to sex and swearing, while the US were more open to gore. There were also quite a few questions about where genre fiction, like SFF sits, in the publishing industry, and how it can be looked down on. This means that marketing books that crossover with literary fiction, and to people outside of the SFF community you need to consider a different approach. It was all great stuff.
There Be Dragons with R.J. Barker and Mark de Jager
I’ve seen R.J Barker speak at another event, and know that he is a great speaker, and a lot of fun. And who doesn’t love a dragon story? The event focused on the depiction of dragons in Barker’s Tide Child Trilogy and Jager’s The Chronicles of Stratus. There was, as expected, plenty of dragon entered discussion about iconic dragons, types of dragon, and avoiding or adhering to dragon stereotypes. I thought it was very interesting how dragons, and their conventions, link into mythology and folklore. For instance both authors spoke about the way that song plays a role in their books. Since this is the second vent where I’ve seen Barker speak about the Tide Child books, maybe it’s time I finally read one?
Destiny Calls with Victoria Aveyard and Kesia Lupo
This was one of the events I was most excited about because I am a big Victoria Aveyard fan. Her latest novel, Realm Breaker, was just released last month, with Kesia Lupo’s We Are Bound by the Stars published last July. I have been to an event with Aveyard before and I loved this one just as much. Without sounding like too much of a fangirl, I just love anything about her. To my great shame I haven’t actually read Realm Breaker yet. I preordered it. I own it. I haven’t read it yet. I am a little nervous. But seeing her speak about it had hardened my resolve to read it soon… probably. There was a greta discussion about naming conventions, and about the pros and cons of a prologue. For the record I am mostly pro-prologue, but anti-epilogue. They also discussed one of my favourite topics: villains.
Don’t forget that you can still book upcoming events as of right now, and there will also be some free events on Cymera’s YouTube channel that are worth checking out.
If you want to check out any of the books mentioned then I have put together this handy list (affiliate link), or they will be available to purchase from the usual places. Don’t forget to use your local independent bookshops where possible or your local library.
Coming Soon… Saturday @ Cymera 2021