The GS Effect.
I can’t imagine what my life would be, if I hadn’t discovered Geek Syndicate.
Actually, I can. Scratch that.
I can remember exactly what my life was before GS, and that was settled. It was the well-travelled path. It was… well, it was an early mid-life crisis. You see, I’d done all the ‘wild’ things I was likely to do back in my university days. The last big thing was to get married (in style) then settle down in Wales, hundreds of miles from everyone I knew. We had a gorgeous daughter now, and very happy together, but I was also looking forward to retirement from entirely the wrong end of a career in banking. Responsibilities were racking up, and I’d started to wonder if there’d be any space in my life for… well, me.
I’d already had a wobble a year or so beforehand, scribbling dreadful poetry and posting the occasional random film review online as a way to have some kind of creative outlet. We had a fun family hobby – being part of a mediaeval re-enactment group – but I wasn’t actually any good at it. I had no skills, and couldn’t quite be arsed to do the research. I don’t precisely remember when I discovered Geek Syndicate, but I do remember how. There was a little box-out in SFX magazine, left there (just for me, I’m sure) by the incorrigible Stacey Whittle – and my life changed.
I listened to a few of the podcasts and found myself getting sucked in by the lads’ banter. It started me off exploring a whole bunch of podcasts, having never really encountered them before, and I got a hell of a lot out of that. I still do. Interesting, fun, and informative programming that I could pick when and where to listen to? Brilliant! (You’ve got to remember we didn’t have things like Netflix back then.) The website grabbed me, too. I loved reading the reviews and the opinion pieces, and I wondered if I might contribute. Asked B, in fact. There didn’t seem to be a whole lot about books at the time, and they were my first and strongest geek love, so it seemed like an opening. Happily, Barry encouraged me.
Long-winded story, short – I started to get good reactions for my reviews, and nice interactions with folk on social media. I figured maybe I could take it a step further, and the Scrolls podcast was born. Heh. I was flying high on that baby for a few years. Loved it, even though we never really rose beyond playing silly beggars with the show. And it reunited Clover and I with two wonderful friends; the sparky banter and silliness still brings grins to our faces when we think back on it. Phil and Matty; the many friends we have made through GS; and beyond, to the people we have met online, and at conventions – these have become our extended family.
I’ve moved on to pastures new, but I’m GS at heart for life. You may not find my book and comic reviews popping up any more, but I’ll never be far from the geeking crowd. Inspired by our leaders’ work ethic and passion; and also by Phil’s quietly determined strides into writing fiction, I plucked up the courage to try a new career. Last year I compiled and edited a nutty anthology of short stories called ‘Sunny, with a Chance of Zombies.’ It was a modest success in small press circles. Boosted up by that, by the whole new circle of friends I was developing, I pitched and scored a brand new anthology – one that has haunted my imagination since I was a child. ‘This Twisted Earth’ has finally become a reality after 25 years, and will be launching at FantasyCon in September. (It features a brand new story from the GS official nemesis: Adrian Tchaikovsky— but don’t let that put you off.)
My newfound roles of freelance editor and anthologist are both starting to take off now and, honestly, it’s like I am born again. I’ve worked hard for it, but I’m under no illusions; none of this would have happened if not for the fabulous network of creative, supportive, and inspirational people that make up the Geek Syndicate.
I raise my glass to each and every one of you on this, your tenth birthday.
You are my heroes. I love you all.