Remember that time you went to a thing but you didn't really do the thing, you just hung out with your friends and had a very nice time? Then thought, "well, that was a silly thing to do, we could've done our own thing, and it would've been just as nice". Well, someone has invented JUST THAT THING. And it is called the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. And if that introduction makes no sense at all, just sit back and relax, as founders Jennifer Williams and Den Patrick are about to explain it all...
Pornokitsch: Ok, what is this thing?
Den: SRFC is a group of likeminded souls with one thing in common, they love Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror and anything 'genre'. It's a free night with two readings and a Q&A by authors at the Royal Festival Hall on London's Southbank.
Jen: It's also a chance for fans of genre stuff to meet up once a month and share gossip, I mean, an appreciation for everything science-fiction, fantasy and horror. There's a lot of chatting and general mooching, with a slightly more organised section in the middle where Den cajoles a pair of writers to read from their books and answer some questions. Then we get back to the chatting and mooching about.
PK: What's this 'relaxed' thing about? Does it mean I can attend in a snood?
Jen: Absolutely. Snoods, onesies, mankinis, other items of clothing with unlikely names - we're up for all of it. The point of SRFC is that it is super-relaxed, so you should feel like you can be yourself. Turn up, have a drink, hang out with like-minded SFF people, meet some new friends - regardless of your fondness for neckwear that can't decide whether its a hat or a scarf. Culottes! You can wear those too if you like.
Den: Initially 'relaxed' just meant that it was a meet up without the need for treasurers, chairpersons, committees and so on. We took public votes on the format early on. We also encourage everyone to introduce themselves so everyone feels included. And there is booze and socializing afterwards.
PK: How did SRFC start?
Jen: I had just come back from the most exhausting convention experience of my life (so exhausting I burst a blood vessel in my eye and spent two days walking about like an extra from 28 Days Later, long story) and I thought, "you know, the bit I like best is the bit where we all hang out in the bar together". So why not just do that bit? Cut out all the complicated stuff with committees and fees and you know, structure, and just keep it as laid back as possible.
Den and I, being equally relaxed persons, started throwing about ideas and Super Relaxed Fantasy Club was born. There was a real sense that we wanted to take the idea of a meet-up right back to the very bare bones. We all love fantasy and science-fiction, right? Then let's get together and share what we're enjoying. It's as simple as that.
Also, from a personal point of view, I'm a fairly shy person and I'm often a little intimidated at conventions; with SRFC, there's an opportunity to meet a number of new people in the most relaxed atmosphere possible.
PK: What's happened so far?
Jen: We've had five meetings with a number of readings from some really cool writers, which probably adds up to a lot of awesome fiction, and a lot of relaxed chat. Other highlights have included muffins, cider, Tom Pollock lifting tables, numerous Ian McKellen jokes and the lowering of the general tone of the Royal Festival Hall.
PK: Wait, cool writers? Who?
Den: We always have parity with our guests, so over the five weeks, they've included Scott Andrews, Sophia McDougall, Richard Kellum, Zen Cho, Chris Brosnahan and Kim Curran (plus ourselves, because, D'UH).
PK: Ok. They are cool. Who is up next? What does the immediate future hold for SRFC?
Den: We've got authors booked up as far as October at the current time. People keep attending and people seem to have a good time, so if ain't broke...
Jen: We've got a few cool publishers getting involved, so we should have some excellent readings in the near future. Also, our very first Outside London chapter will be meeting up in August with Adrian Tchaikovsky doing a reading, which is going to be fantastic. It's also going to be in York, one of my favourite places, so I am horribly jealous.
PK: What's the best way of learning about SRFC events?
Den: We have @SRFantasyClub twitter account. There's also the SRFC Facebook group. SRFC is open to all, no memberships, no fees, no dues. Just turn up when you can. Super relaxed, see?
PK: If I'm interested in getting involved - either as a reader or a sponsor or maybe starting up in my home town - how do I go about it?