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Lock Up Your Burglars! He Returns to Europe.

I'm writing this in a mix of excitement and raw panic, because in just a week's time I'll be in Nottingham, enjoying Bold Strokes Books's UK Festival at Waterstones.

A week later, I'll also be in Berlin for the second ever Euro Pride Con. Somewhere in there I'm also meeting up with friends in a couple of other cities, so all up, it's a wonderful two weeks for me doing three things I love - talking books, catching up with friends, and exploring Europe.

And I'll be doing it on crutches!

Yes, about a month ago, the gods decided to, as my British friends would no doubt say 'have a laugh,' and shit me to tears test my fortitude, causing me to fall and dislocate a good portion of my midfoot. This stranded me on crutches for 2+ months, dropping me in the deep end of the Canadian healthcare system.

Travel insurance, peeps. Go nowhere without it!

All the same, I am super excited for this trip. It's not my first trip to the UK, but it is my first going outside of London - which many would say qualifies it as my first trip to the UK. And as much as I loved London, I never quite managed to shake the knowledge that I was in a 'tourist' city, mostly because I think it was my first time, and though I spent almost a week there, I was based in Soho, which was great for theatre and some of the more historic bars, but, if we're honest, has definitely been beset by the gentrification demons. Maybe London's new mayor can help turn or slow the tide. Who knows? This has been discussed to death by folks far more knowledgeable than I.

There were many aspects of London I loved, of course, but by far my favourite day was spent with a friend in Greenwich after a Sunday lunch in a pub partly owned by none other than Sir Ian McKellen. (Yes, shamelessly flaunting my nerdy tourist card now.) We ended the day with a show at the iconic Royal Vauxhall Tavern (Calling it. Charlie Hides is one of our generation's greatest living drag stars), and it occurred to me afterward that this was as close to a perfect day out in London as I'd had in my time there. Why? Perhaps because we'd completely bypassed the tourist attractions, taken a break from Soho, and reminded...well, me at least, that this was a city where people still lived, played, and loved.

What's this got to do with Nottingham? I'm looking forward to seeing a bit of the UK outside of London altogether. Is it stupid to think of that day out in Greenwich as a taste of the England I'd always imagined, and to say now I want more? Maybe. Don't know. Don't care. I'm looking forward to it, and to getting a more balanced view on the country, and of course, to meet and chat with some UK authors and readers.

As for Berlin, what else can I say? I've had countless days like my 'Greenwich' day in this city, and my love affair with it just keeps getting stronger. At this point, I'm wondering if Germany should consider a new tourism slogan - 'Last in the Eurovision. First for coolest capital.'

Needs work? Yeah, okay, probably.

I'm also looking forward to meeting the variety of authors and readers from across Europe and elsewhere who'll be at EPC. I'd love to be all fancy and do a bilingual reading, but I fear any attending Francophones would flee the room in either tears or a blind rage, so I'll be sticking to English this time. I had hoped to make it to Munich last year, but no luck. So consider this my making up for it, now armed with a new book in Puppet Boy, plus another new book upcoming.

Will I see you in Nottingham or Berlin? Head to my website for all my event listings, including web links for Bold Strokes Books Festival and Euro Pride Con.


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