The British Fantasy Society has been around since 1971 and is one of the foundations of the British fantasy and horror scene. They publish a variety of magazines and the occasional book, and run the annual FantasyCon convention.
I’ve been a member for many, many years (probably something like 20), and before moving to Canada I attended a couple of FantasyCons. They’re generally small, relaxed affairs and the ideal place to hang out with your favourite authors. One of my literary heroes, Ramsey Campbell, was the society’s President and I had the pleasure of talking to him and a host of other great authors at those events. FantasyCon is one of the (very) few things I miss about the UK.
I moved to Canada in 2005 and was absolutely gutted to find out that two of my all time favourite authors – Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman – were attending FantasyCon in 2006. Sadly, I wasn’t able to make the trip back, and I still haven’t quite forgiven them for waiting until I’d left the country before appearing at FantasyCon. I’ve since met Neil a couple of times and he’s as awesome as you would expect but Clive still eludes me and I’ve had to make do with buying his art instead.
The BFS also runs the British Fantasy awards (naturally, winning one is on my bucket list) and an annual short story competition. I’ve entered the short story competition every year it’s been running but this time, I almost didn’t bother. I’ve been busy with my day job and I was ready to skip a year. At the last minute, I relented and submitted a story called Vicarious. It’s my most recent short story and like so many of my tales, it deals with memories.
I’ve come close to winning the competition a couple of times and I’m pleased to say that this time I got even closer. Vicarious claimed second place, earning me publication, and a bit of cash. Steven Poore won the competition with Encumbrance, and Amy McNee was third with Sibling Rivalry.
I’d forgotten about the competition until the results email came in and to say I’m pleased would be an understatement. The judge, Allen Ashley, had some very nice things to say about the story including comparisons to both Stephen King and Ray Bradbury which is about as good as it gets.
Vicarious should be going out to members in the near future and I’m really looking forward to seeing it in print. I’ve got no idea if Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman are members of The British Fantasy Society or if they read the society’s publications, but I’m going to choose to believe they do and that sometime over the next couple of weeks they’re going to sit down, read my story, and mourn the fact that they weren’t able to meet me at FantasyCon.[Vicarious by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 15 November 2019]