Meet the BFS committee: Online Events Coordinator PS Livingstone

We’d love to shine a light on the volunteers who help keep the British Fantasy Society running—this month, it’s the woman behind those awesome day-long events, PS Livingstone

Name, including preferred pronouns
PS Livingstone (she/her)

Which region are you based in?
Scotland

Your role on the BFS committee is:
Online Events Co-ordinator

If you write, which genre: 
Fantasy

Are you drawn to any specific sub-genres? 
I love epic fantasy, urban fantasy, romance fantasy, cosy fantasy, science-fantasy mash-ups, cli-fi, post-apocalypse with a hopeful tone, any comedic SFF.

Your work with the BFS

Why did you join the BFS committee?

Shona tied me up with duct tape and force fed me Tangfastics until I agreed. Or, the BFS committee is an amazing bunch of people doing everything they can for the genre and community they love; I wanted to be part of that. (Both can be true.)

Tell us more about your role – what do you do? 

I come up with topics I think members will be interested in—either in learning about or have a great time hearing views on, and, of course, adding their own thoughts to. Then I make an event by wrangling lots of wonderful, knowledgeable and talented people into turning up and sharing their wisdom. I’m lucky so many industry professionals are generous with their time. I won’t bore you with the admin; suffice to say info gathering, copy, graphics, blogs, promotion.

What does this mean in practical terms for members?

It means they have access to events for £0 right in the comfort of their own homes. Cons are amazing, but they’re not possible for everyone, and with modern technology there’s no reason we can’t be more accessible. Plus, it’s hard waiting a year to see all the people at Fantasycon (other cons are available) and the BFS is all about building community. I’ve learnt a lot from watching online events and made some new friends – what could be better? My TBR pile has grown exponentially and is threatening to fall over and crush me, but I find it hard to be sad about that. Make it my epitaph.

Why should others get more involved with the BFS?

They should get involved because it’s easy. The writing life can be a lonely, isolated one. It’s easy to stay that way, especially if you haven’t found your people. The BFS is good people and the right people for SFFH writers. That doesn’t mean you need to join the committee or be at everything, of course. I think it’s good to know there’s a group that’ll welcome you whenever you show up.

Your influences

Tell us about the book/film/thing that got you into SFFH: What was it? How old were you? What impact did it have on you?

I grew up in the 80s, watching films like Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, Ghostbusters, The Dark Crystal, Willow, Back to the Future and The NeverEnding Story. My mum (pictured, with baby Pam) read me The Hobbit and a lot of Roald Dahl too. I was big into choose your own adventure, although I cheated a fair bit … you know you all did it! I can’t remember a time when SFFH wasn’t in my life – it seemed the most natural thing. When I started to write, fantasy is what came out.

How does that early influence show up in your work now?

I love writing romance subplots, probably leaning into the romance fantasy at times. Jareth is in my head and won’t quit. I’m not sorry. And I suppose my urge to keep writing is to keep the magic alive, for me as much as anything else. It’s my wish to do it forever.

Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

This is a hard one to answer. We’re all subconsciously influenced by the things we read, watch and listen to. I’m not really aware of influences now, although I have no doubt they’re there. My short stories often come from a single brilliant line in a TV show or book, something that makes me stop and want to build on top. My novels are usually a mystery to me – they just sort of fall out of my head as I go. If you’re asking what inspires me, there’s a lot. From my mum, who always encouraged me to go after the things I want (and inspired my love for books) to my partner, who supports my dreams even when they seem to be going awry, and all the amazing people in the writing community, who keep creating despite all the knocks.

Who do you look to as a genre hero? Why?

Different people for different reasons. I know it’s a cliché, but I will always love Tolkien for his worldbuilding and language creation. I tried to invent my own language once – got halfway through a new alphabet, went to get a cup of tea and never went back.

Neil Gaiman’s ability to turn an old story into a new idea is wonderful, so I’d have to put him on the list. Robin Hobb rocks because her worlds are so immersive and her characters so real. Of late, I love T Kingfisher. Like Gaiman, she takes the bare bones of something and makes it her own, and she gives voice to those who often get forgotten about, but always with thoughtfulness and care.

(Pictured: T Kingfisher’s Swordheart)

Your work

You’re stuck in an elevator for 60 seconds with that hero, and they want you to describe your work. Give us the pitch.

Oh God, 60 seconds? Lemme think … you’re awesome by the way. My work … I’ve had a brain fart. Shit, I’ve said fart in front of T Kingfisher. Now I’ve said shit. Twice. Did I mention I loved Swordheart? Yeah, well … I write epic contemporary fantasy in intersecting worlds: fae, demon and human. It’s about learning to live with the consequences of impossible choices and not shying away from who you are or what life makes you. And a shit-tonne of OP characters. I said shit again … again. *dies* 

What are you working on right now?

Tearing my trilogy apart and making it the story I want to tell.

The map to Pam’s fantasy world

Thinking about all of your stories/work you’ve done, which one sticks out most in your mind? Why?

A short story called Dragons I wrote many years ago, probably because I know there’s a book in it. Someday, I’m going to write it. A close second is a series of novellas I ghost wrote. It’s a world I created from scratch and would’ve liked to explore in more detail, but it’s out of my hands now.

If you’re a creator, where and when do you create?

Recently, I’ve been writing in bed before I go to sleep. I’ve realised I can’t write at my desk anymore, because that’s where I do my day job as an editor. Separating the space has given me my mojo back.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?

Just to find your creative outlet, whatever that may be. Your life will be better for it.

The quickfire round

Sci-fi, fantasy or horror?
Fantasy 

Quiet or loud?
Quiet, oh so quiet.

Dark or light?
Dark 

Strict lines or genre blend?
Blend, baby, blend.

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

Awards or bestseller?
Bestseller

Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction 

Poetry or prose?
Prose 

Plotter or pantser?
Pantser 

Reading or listening?
Reading 

Notebook or computer?
Computer (if I must).

Favourite SFFH book of all time?
Sorry, but no. You can’t make me choose. I will die on this hill.

Last book you read?
The Judas Blossom by Stephen Aryan.

Any SFFH author on auto-buy?
Nope. I’m anyone’s for the right story.

Favourite podcast?
I don’t really listen to podcasts.

The home stretch

What’s the best thing about being a SFFH writer?

I’m not hemmed in by anything. Whatever I can imagine is mine to explore.

Time to plug your stuff! Where can we find you and your work? What have you got coming up? Consider this your advertising space.

You can find me at www.pslivingstone.com, which I update infrequently (it deserves better) or on a bunch of social media platforms – links here – which I update slightly more frequently.

I have a short story, The Grey, coming out in an anthology (watch this space) and hopefully the first book in my trilogy, Awakening, later this year.

I moderated the panel on editing at last weekend’s BFS Online: The Book Journey, which you can catch up on in the BFS Discord is you missed it.

If you’re interested in hiring an editor, you can check out my testimonials here.

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