I have returned from my whirlwind trip to the Netherlands. The midwinter fair was kind of crazy. Takes place in an archeological park where prehistoric and medieval buildings have been recreated. Lots of folks dressed in medieval garb. And I mean lots. More than half the people have made some effort in that direction, I’d say. Some have made a LOT. Shops selling mystical knick-knacks, mead, and foam-rubber swords. Goth bands and more faithful medieval instrumentation mingle upon the air. Very well attended, though, and a hugely friendly feel.
But the literary aspect is very much a sideline. Professor Roland Rotherham packs ’em in for barnstormingly entertaining lectures on mysticism and related subjects (and brilliant performances they are too), with maybe 100 attendees a go. I will confess my own gripping talk on Expectations in Epic Fantasy plus brief reading from Best Served Cold was marginally less well attended. Two members of the public on the Saturday. By Sunday, word of my awesome crowd-pleasing abilities had evidently spread, because I had doubled my attendance to four. Although I’m reasonably sure one of those had only come in because it was warm, and his eyelids were very definitely drifting down at times. Still, the Dutch writers who were in attendance all pitched in, and we made an intimate chair circle and it was actually a lot of fun. And a couple of people still made the effort to come all the way specifically to see me, which moved me deeply (in so far as it’s possible to strike sparks of warmth from my flint of a heart). So my deep thanks to Erik and Tamara for making the effort on the Saturday, and to Wilfred for driving up there on the Sunday. Wilfred, if you read this, send me an email to the address on the contact page, and in due course I will send you something back to say thanks.
Great thanks also to the Dutch authors who made every effort to make me feel loved. Particularly to Wim Stolk/WJ Maryson (for they are the same man), who not only went to the trouble of organising the event, but also took on the driving duties, and is, it would appear, a very nice fella to boot (aside from an occasionally troubling fire behind the eyes…)
Then it was off to Amsterdam where I got put up in a hotel much too good for me, and on the following was day placed in a small room with two chairs while a variety of interviewers were brought through one at a time, each hour, on the hour. Talking about myself for four hours straight. You can imagine how much I hated that experience. Then straight into a cab, off to the airport, and back here. Shame I couldn’t stay longer, because Amsterdam really is very beautiful. Oh, one other weird occurence which some of you may find amusing. I was sitting having breakfast, looking across Herengracht, one of the major canals, and a van drove past with Sony Ericsson written on the side. So what, right? It’s not like it’s even spelled the same way as fantasy author Steve Erikson.
It was directly followed by a lorry with BAKKER written on it in huge letters.
Strange, isn’t it? Most people would just have seen a van then a lorry drive past, nothing to remark upon. I was laughing for about ten minutes.