I was scheduled to do an hour and a half panel later that afternoon on How To Sell Your Stories and I was happily chatting to (I think) Geoff Ryman when along came Lisa Tuttle to check our table out and Bogna went into full saleswoman-mode. I'd just sold a story to Year's Best Fantasy And Horror and when Bogna mentioned this Lisa perked up and said, "Oh, I'm moderating a panel on Gothic horror in five minutes and someone's dropped out. Do you want to do it?"
My protest that I didn't know anything about Gothic horror was swept to one side by Bogna, who poked and prodded me until I found myself, five or ten minutes later, sitting on a stage for the first time trying to sound as if I knew what I was talking about and failing miserably. This is almost certainly why everyone is looking at me in horror. Who is this fool and what on earth is he babbling about?
Next to me is Peter Wright, who assuredly does know what he's talking about, then a lady whose name I'm afraid I can't remember, then the mighty Maureen Kincaid-Speller, who's forgotten more than I will ever know about Gothic fiction. Lurking at the edge of the pic, I think, is Lisa Tuttle, who was no doubt giggling at my embarrassment.
This, my first panel, lasted an hour and a half. Immediately afterward was the panel I was supposed to be on, the infamous Glasgow How To Sell Your Stories Panel, during which I, Charlie Stross, and Mark Robson, told an increasingly-traumatised and eventually-weeping audience just how tough the business was and that basically there was no point in even trying ("The funniest thing I've ever seen at a Con." - Ian Whates) and finished by inviting the audience to buy us drinks.
And people wonder why I don't like doing panels...