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Our Guest of Honour: John Meaney

John Meaney writes: "When I attended Novacon 8 in '78, I already intended to be a writer. Afterwards, I knew I had to be. May I, at his point, lay all the blame on Rog Peyton, Anne McCaffrey and Andrew Stephenson? Surely, if it weren't for them...

"It took a mere 14 years to get published in Interzone - Anne's reaction was 'Congratulations!" followed by 'What took you so long?' - with a short story called 'Spring Rain'. It foreshadowed an awful lot of what followed: a standalone novel set in that universe (To Hold Infinity), a trilogy set a millennium later (Paradox, Context and Resolution), the weird dark fantasy/gothic sf duology of Bone Song and Dark Blood, two near-future thrillers (Edge and Point, written as Thomas Blackthorne), and back to the Pilots universe with the Ragnarok trilogy: Absorption, Transmission (not yet out) and Resonance (not yet written).

"I think it was Heinlein (a major childhood influence, now widely dismissed - sic transit gloria mundi, innit?) who said that what writers get up to when not writing is not interesting. He was right, but only partially - everyone's life looks neater from the outside. We like to inhabit other realities from time to time, don't we?

"Martial arts and computers. That's the short version of What I Got Up To In Real Life. An existential crisis accompanied my dropping out of my physics degree course in the final year - duh - which I later made up for, studying both computer science and physics while working as a programmer. (I can still run IBM midrange operating systems in my head.) After working for IT departments then Europe's largest software house, I finally became a trainer, teaching good stuff to software engineers and business analysts all over the place, often in the States or Switzerland. Actually, my courses are stand-up software engineering: lots of laughter, lots of digging deeper into the subject at hand than you normally get in the corporate world. (I like the formal maths stuff more than I expect others to: ∃1 b:book � b.title = Absorption ∧ b.author = Meaney seems like a perfectly normal statement to me.)

"I've been interested in psychology since school days, hence my later training in hypnosis and the applied psychological techniques of Paul McKenna. (I use only what's based on sound neuroscience and experimental psychology.) I once employed covert non-verbal techniques to put a fellow writer into deep trance in a restaurant, but it was an accident...

"Nearly four decades after I first stepped into a dojo, I continue to work out six days a week, and I've no doubt that every attendee at Novacon will be joining me for early-morning jogs around Nottingham. Oh, what? You won't? That's all right. So long as you're happy having a teetotal vegetarian presiding over the beer-tasting...

"Being Guest of Honour at Novacon, for me, is all a bit quantum. On the one hand, I am humble, because you can have a riotously enjoyable con without ever catching sight of the GoH. I do promise to a) turn up, and b) talk to everyone and make them laugh. (And before anyone asks, I must decline to hypnotize Rog so he dances like a chicken. How could you even think such a thing?) ...While on the other hand, given that it all started with Novacon, I'm profoundly honoured. See you there!"

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