I happened to arrive at the same time as Philip Reeve, who remembered me from the Steampunk Evening we both attended. Which was nice.
Whilst waiting for the panel to start (having dutifully taken my seat by 6.45pm as requested) I got chatting to Kirsty, a budding writer who, it turned out, has connections with the Big Green Bookshop where I did a reading only recently.
On the panel last night were Steve Cole, author of the Astrosaurs books (amongst many other things), Kim Lakin-Smith, fellow steampunker, and Moira Young, whose debut novel Blood Red Road won the Costa Children's Book Award 2012. It was hosted by Philip Reeve (who is a very witty panel wrangler) and Sarah McIntyre.
Plenty was discussed - including why publishers shy away from Science Fiction, or whether they do at all; the fact that Philip used to think YA (as in Young Adult) Fiction was 'Ya!' fiction; how Steampunk is a by-product of SF, and is what the literary crowd did when they saw engineers writing Science Fiction; the fact that Moira Young used to be an opera singer, and that this has resonances within her writing style; that Doctor Who books are pushing other children's SF off the bookshelves in shops; why dystopian fiction is popular with 'Ya!' readers; that sub-categorising SF (which is a very broad church) helps sell it - but as is always the way, just as the discussion was getting particularly interesting (and a little heated), 8.00pm came around all too quickly and the panel finished so that we could all buy books and get them signed by those present.
I would have loved to have contributed my own thoughts on steampunk and the fact that most SF people (not just children) read is really fantasy, but Patrick Ness got in there first.