Tolkien 2019 was different. I am used to attend conventions of this size, and to find the dealers’ room waiting for our books. But not this time, because alongside a team of excellent friends and Tolkien lovers, I organised the convention and run the dealers’ room.
The journey lasted for two years, from choosing the venue (the MacDonald Burlington in Birmingham) all the way to the many goodbyes and farewells.
I had two rooms for dealers, filled up with a mixture of artists, jewellers, calligraphists, booksellers, an odd and ends table and little old us. We helped each other carry our stock up and down, via two lifts and across two floors, and generally keep each other entertained with random shenanigans.
The Luna table was carrying the full Tolkien selection from Academia Lunare, and it looked very colourful and pretty, if I may say so myself. 5 Luna authors and 2 Luna artists attended the conference.
Angela P Nicholas was there. Aragorn – JRR Tolkien’s Undervalued Hero sold out pretty quickly. Guest of Honour Christina Scull had written the introduction for it, and I saw a few people looking for autographs from both – I hope they found them!
Mark Egginton, or URR Jokin’, is the author of Lord of the Grins, a successful parody of LotR from someone who knows and loves the book inside out.
Anna Milon has written both articles and short fiction for Luna. She was taking care of the Tolkien archive room and we only met in the evenings, but it was lovely as always. Her latest Luna contribution, an article on the Green Man, is in our latest call for papers, out this week.
José Manuel Ferrandez Bru was one of the speakers at the conference. Uncle Curro: JRR Tolkien’s Spanish Connection, sold fast, both in Spanish and English. This thoughtful and meticulous biography of Father Francis Morgan, the man who raised Tolkien and his little brother Hillary, after the death of their mother, has been a success since since coming out, in July 2018.
Artist Jay Johnstone was also in attendance. Jay is well known among Tolkien’s lovers and Luna readers, having designed many of our covers.
I had the absolute pleasure of finally meeting face to face one of our artists, and one of our writers, as well their families.
Elaina Olga, came all the way from the USA with her gorgeous boy and husband. Elaina is the illustrator of Michael Haldas’ Echoes of Trut: Christianity in The Lord Of the Rings. Her art was also in the art show and I was delighted when her and Jay met.
Last but not least, I had the pleasure of meeting writer Oronzo Cilli, author of Tolkien’s Library, the book we launched during the convention.
Oronzo and I had only met via Skype, whilst working on the proofs of the book, often bleary-eyed and at the crack of dawn.
We were both thrilled to see the reception the book got. Scholars from all over the world can see the importance of Oronzo’s research, as a gateway to further research and discoveries in Tolkien scholarship.
Oronzo has launched a website to go with the book: a tool to help the book develop as new books are added.
It has been a fantastic week, full of friends old and new, creativity and hard work.
Most of all, I was so grateful for the constant support people have shown for Luna and it’s family. Meeting face to face the people who have been buying our books since we started trading gave me such joy - they have been with us all along!
Tolkien spent a lot of time highlighting the importance of fellowship: at Tolkien 2019 it was more alive than ever.