The Edge of the World Expo straddles a line between blessed and cursed. In 2019, it was scheduled and held for the first time on the 16th & 17th of March. In light of the events of the 15th March in Christchurch, the event organizers got the message out that while we would still gather to celebrate things we loved, those things were not to include realistic-looking guns nor military-like attire. I suspect this didn’t put too many people off, as decent Star Wars or Pokémon costuming doesn’t push that boundary. The event ran smoothly, only shadowed softly by the knowledge that, yes, New Zealand is awash with racism.
That year, I attended and shared a booth with four other authors, and a total of five of us did two Q&As over two days (4 each day) and read passages from our books. Those panels went well, I thought, and drew a few interested listeners. I also sold about 6 books over the course of the weekend, which felt like a success.
In 2020, by the weekend of the 14th & 15th of March, Covid-19 was circling, drawing nearer. The Expo went ahead with a few extra hygiene measures, and once again we celebrated things people love safely.
Unfortunately, of the group of writers from the previous year, only two of us were able to make it work in 2020 – myself and Daniel Stride. And, unfortunately, two of us were less able to carry a reading panel, so that was less of a success. Once again, a few interested punters did talk to us at our stall – either asking about our writing or keen to discuss their own, which is always welcome. Dan had more luck finding his target market within that audience and sold a couple of copies of his book over the weekend while I was only able to shift some copies of the anthology we both feature in, but I didn’t mind; I’m proud of the stories I have in there. And, despite the light and sound being quite exhausting, I do enjoy the atmosphere of the Expo.
For 2021, Covid-19 was still in the picture; a brief outbreak in Auckland putting many events at risk in the preceding weeks, but it was contained in time to allow the EotW Expo to go ahead in Dunedin on the 13th & 41th March.
This year, I booked an Artists’ Alley table, as it was more affordable, and I didn’t hire an EFTPOS machine – though, I did download Stripe on my phone, just in case. I didn’t need it (smile).
Very few people stopped by my booth. Some took the pamphlets I had made to cross-promote other Dunedin-based SpecFic authors and writing groups. I had a rather good discussion with a guy who grilled me on my magic system (it’s pretty cool, really), but I think the romance element put him off a purchase (probably more likely the romance-written-by-a-woman, but that’s a discussion for another time). My eldest son (10) spent the entire weekend with me, making the most of the free laser tag and my phone’s hotspot (there was wifi available to stall-holders, but with so many people using it, it was painfully slow).
I, once again, soaked in the atmosphere and went back to basics – how I first got back into writing: pen and paper. Surrounded by the light, sound, and distractions, I couldn’t dig into the action, dialogue, and emotion required to progress Magician’s Touch, but I was able to search up various aspects of Minoan culture and develop the world Ekon and Anaïs will inhabit. I’m growing more and more excited by that project, though I promise to finish MT first.
I was delighted to learn of the place of gryphons (my preferred spelling because it looks cool) in Minoan culture. This suggests an opportunity for me to continue that symbolism in my branding. Yay. My first dog was called Griffin, you see.
And the goddess-focussed paganism lends itself to a fantasy setting really well. While I’ve steered clear of god/goddess interference in the Deadly Touch world, I feel drawn to having more direct deity involvement in this next series. It suits the setting, of course, and – most importantly – has given me a stronger antagonist in the form of the Eternal Queen – someone who made a deal with a god for which everyone is paying the price.
And . . . I really must knuckle down on naming that series.
(Considering it’s taken me some 12 years to settle on a series name for HT, WT, & MT, you can guess at my enthusiasm for that homework).
Anyway . . . Did I enjoy the Edge of the World Expo 2021? Yes, I did.
Was it worth having a table? Depends on your value-system and, of course, is greatly influenced by my lack of sales-person skills. The enforced time to sit proved quite valuable.
Would I do it again? Likely. I think next time I should consider being a crafter rather than just author. We have a peacock at home and I have been known to decorate hair clips into fascinators that I think would be appreciated by the EotW audience. And, if I can make the time, I would like to do more drawing/illustrating . . .
Just so long as I keep writing, eh?
My goal for EotW 2022 would be to have a completed series on offer, and hopefully a second well on the way.
I guess you’ll just have to watch this space to see how I go.