Last Saturday I went to The Rift, the world's first all-Torchwood convention. I was a guest, along with Joe Lidster, Phil Ford, Richard Stokes, Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd, Kai Owen, Keith Topping - and the legend that is James Marsters. Had a great time, it was so much fun. We all got brought out on stage at the start to say hello, which was terrifying. As we waited to go on, we all panicked - including the actors - about the roar that erupted from the audience. We debated the best thing to say or do on stage, so I suggested that scene from the Exorcist - just walk on stage, piss yourself, say "you're all going to die", drop the mic (WHUMP, feedback), and walk offstage again. Some of us (coughEveMylescough) were very, very tempted to do this for a laugh, but cooler heads (and empty bladders) prevailed.
The thing about these things is, even though you know every single person is there because they love the show, it's still a LOT of people, and you have to stand up in front of them and be entertaining. So naturally you start thinking things like "what if I mess it up, if I can't think of anything to say". Which makes you freak out, and increases the chances of that happening. But we all coped really well, especially those of us on the writer panel, because we were on at 3pm and had all been to the pub for lunch. Tongues were loosened. Babies and twisted Weevil dress up games were mentioned (okay, they were both me). And only one of us accidentally swore on the mic - I don't want to say who it is, but his initials are J.L., his name rhymes with Poe Kidster, and his actual name is Joe Lidster. If you're clever, you can figure it out from those clues.
It was lovely to meet everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And it was especially cool to meet James Marsters, who is a force of nature, really enthusiastic and fun. Gareth was lovely and funny as usual, and Eve and Kai are a hilarious double act, roaring into a song or dance or comedy sketch at the drop of a hat. We all ran up to the balcony to heckle Gareth, because he was the first to do a q+a, but then we ran away again, Eve alternately giggling and screaming with laughter, and trying to hide behind everyone. This was the view from the balcony, which you can clickyclicky for biggybiggy:
The actors had special signing sessions, because they had photos and all sorts, but us writey and producey types just went out and mingled in the main hall area now and again, and did informal signing thingies (writers don't have glossy headshots of ourselves, that would just be weird). I did 3 signing sessions, one of which took me by surprise. I'd just come out to have a look around and mingle, and a couple of people came over with things for me to sign, which was all cool. I led them over to the edge of the stage, so I could lean on it and write properly. Signed three or four things, then a few more, and thought hmm, I didn't realise it was that many people - I looked up, and there was a queue of about twenty people. I thought that I'd somehow managed to block some other event, so asked "you're not all here for me, are you?" But they all nodded and smiled, I was amazed.
We went over to a different area, to keep away from the stage, and I signed all sorts of stuff, books, magazines, posters, printed out stuff, slide mounts, autograph books, even a copy of Severance - no body parts yet, although I did sign a hand back at Gallifrey in Feb (will post that report soon, it's a biggun, ooh matron, etc). It was lovely, and the queue kept growing and growing, I felt really flattered and touched that so many people wanted me to sign things. Because I'm just some bloke really, who happens to have written for telly, and don't consider myself special or amazing or anything. Although I *am* hardcore.
I tried to write something funny or strange on everything I signed, so apologies to anyone who just got a "Hello!" or "Best wishes!" or something, I totally ran out of jokes. And I hope everyone who wanted me to sign stuff found me, I popped in and out as regularly as I could. What was fascinating to me was how many people said they read the blog - I know lots of people read it, but it's quite bizarre to actually meet them. You look at the stats, but somehow it doesn't seem real. But there they were, real as anything. So hello to you all, glad you like the blog - say hello in the comments if you were there.
And sorry to anyone who I asked to spell their name about 20 times, but I've signed lots of things where someone has said "make it out to Jim", then I write "Jim", but it turns out that the correct spelling is J'Ymme, or something. Also sorry for the several occasions where I made a mess out of signing my own name. I am so used to keyboards now, that a drunken chimp is probably better than me at using a pen. I should hire one. Want me to sign that? Sure, talk to my chimp. Don't look him in the eye, he'll think it's a challenge, and try to mount you. Oh God, he's killed another kid - call the chimp that dumps the bodies.
During the q+a, someone asked what research we did, if any. I mentioned something about the warhead storage thing, but totally forgot about the other thing: I needed to know if I could realistically (well, TV-realistically) take out the landlines and mobiles for a large city, and spent several dull, complex hours online reading about it. I'll go into more detail in the next Torchwood Writing Process post, but to summarise in advance: it's kind of possible, but extremely difficult and unlikely. So I combined some research, and fiddled it a bit.
Going to events like this really makes me appreciate my job, because I get to meet people who see and enjoy my work. I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who took the time to say hello, say nice things, or ask me to sign stuff. You're all fab, and I hope you enjoy the other stuff I'm working on. I mean, I really hope you do, because I'm writing bloody everything on telly at the moment, and you'll get sick to death of me otherwise...