Press Release - 19th March 2014

Image by the Nine Worlds 2013 event photographer, available on Flickr

Heading: Another First for Nineworlds Geekfest?

The Conville & Walsh literary agency team have nobly agreed to spend a day (Friday, 8 August) at Nine Worlds Geekfest reviewing manuscripts and offering one-on-one coaching with budding authors.

Up to 150 submissions will be accepted via an online application form and reviewed by Sue Armstrong and Alexander Cochran, after which 20-30 lucky individuals will be selected for face-to-face meetings on the day. Only those selected for one-to-ones will receive feedback/correspondence.

“As far as I know, this is the first instance of a major agency ever doing something like this at a convention and, given Nine Worlds' thriving community of creative writers, it should be a huge hit,” said Jared Shurin of Pornokitsch, who is running the All of the Books track at Nineworlds, together with Anne Perry (Hodder and Stoughton) and Jenni Hill (Orbit).

“Alexander and I are thrilled to be involved in this year’s Nine Worlds GeekFest,” said Sue Armstrong. “As agents we’re both passionate about meeting, engaging and working with new and exciting writers of SFF. It can be daunting taking those first steps towards publication so, through our one-to-one sessions, we hope to offer some friendly advice and editorial feedback to those who may not have access to it otherwise.”

Nineworlds Geekfest burst out of the woodwork in August 2013 in style. “So, that was Geekfest, a large-scale convention that came out of nowhere around the beginning of the year, funded itself via Kickstarter, occupied a large chunk of two big hotels at Heathrow and had a mind-bogglingly bewildering variety of panels, lectures, games and activities for fans of just about all tastes. And it was, frankly, wonderful,” said Adrian Tchaikovsky

Innovative and ground breaking, Nineworlds brings together a plethora of strands, from the more typical sci-fi tracks featuring comics, literature and film to Fanfic, Queer Fandom, Steampunk, Geek Feminism, Future Tech and Bronies, inter alia. Nine Worlds also hosted the UK's first academic conference on Geek culture, with scholars gathering from around the country. “Nine Worlds has a different shape to anything else on offer right now,” said Paul Cornell.

The inaugural con took place at Heathrow, London with over 1500 attendees. In March 2013, Nine Worlds ran a Kickstarter fundraising drive that was 232% oversubscribed and raised £23,000 (the second most successful convention launch in Kickstarter's history), demonstrating the huge interest for an event of this kind in London.

“Nine Worlds fills a huge gap in the UK con scene, between the more traditional bookish events like EasterCon and FantasyCon . . . and the less focussed multimedia things like the SF Weekender. Nine Worlds has all the potential to be the UK’s equivalent of Dragon Con, which we totally don’t have at the moment,” said Adam Christopher.

The organisers listened to feedback about the problems associated with spreading the convention across two huge conference hotels near Heathrow Airport in 2013, and therefore decided to confine Nine Worlds Geekfest to one hotel in 2014, to preserve the friendly and inclusive atmosphere. The Radisson, Heathrow, is a veteran conference venue, well equipped to deal with the specific requirements of a residential London event such as Nine Worlds.

“You can imagine our excitement when we found out about the Nine Worlds convention – a weekend of ALL the geekery, where expensive signings and meet and greets had been replaced by workshops and talks on a huge range of topics – literature, sci-fi, vampires, skepticism, Game of Thrones, knitting, Joss Whedon, robotics, maths . . . and so on. Sure, there were expensive signings if that’s what you wanted, but the focus of this con seemed to be different – there seemed to be a real focus on discussion and learning. Pair that with a clear commitment to fostering a safe and inclusive space for ALL geekdom, and we were sold,” said Jessica Lowndes.

Traditionally, con-goers are seen as the cliché - white, cisgender men. This can lead to people who don’t fall into that category feeling intimidated, or maybe even at risk. At Nineworlds, diversity and inclusion are hugely important foundations for the event. Specifically, it aims to dump the sexism that infests many geek spaces and sci-fi cons. There is a strong anti-harassment policy and Nine Worlds endeavours to maintain a safe space for women, LGBT+ people, people with access issues, and other groups that are often marginalised at geek/fandom events.

“I think one of the biggest compliments I can give to the organisers of the event is that it felt like Geekfest had been running for years already. I know it’s really early days for this convention but to me it’s already up there with the best we have to offer to Geeks and the rest of the convention organisers should be worried – there’s a new kid in town and, if you want to stay ahead, you’re going to have to pick your game up massively . . . It’s going to be one of the first conventions I look out for when organising my geek events . . . I can’t stress this enough – if you didn’t attend [in 2013], make sure you book up early for [2014]; you may be disappointed otherwise,” said Geek Syndicate.

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Press information: Claire Powell
All of the Books: Jared Shurin

Sue Armstrong, Senior Agent at Conville & Walsh
Alexander Cochran, Junior Agent at Conville & Walsh