I'm going to my first SF convention in June. I recently bought a ticket to Alt.Fiction, which takes place in Derby. Apparently it's a good one to start off with, so I'm pretty excited to go. I only really got in to Science Fiction and Fantasy in 2008, after I was told that that's what genre Inter Vivos was. I grew up reading Roald Dahl, Point Romance and Point Horror (back in 1993 when they were popular, so don't scoff!), and children's versions of classic novels - Great Expectations, Tale of Two Cities, Stories of Edgar Allen Poe. It wasn't that I was snobbish against Science Fiction, but those SF stories were always marketed as "Boys' books", and I was never exposed to them. I was aware of Sci-Fi only through Star Wars (a film I didn't watch until I was 17). I first heard of The Hobbit at age 15 and I'm sad to say I probably didn't know anything about Lord of the Rings until the first film came out. So I've been playing "catch-up" since 2008. It's important to know about the genre that you're writing in - not just what's current and what sells, but the history and roots of the genre. I think I'm doing a pretty good job at catching up. I don't like the hard Sci-Fi stuff, as I tend to find most that I've read is not character-focused enough for me. I'm reading Octavia Butler (Wild Seed) at the moment, and she is brilliant in the way she crafts a story - she doesn't mess about, just gets on with it, somehow seamlessly filtering in the back story so she doesn't have to worry about exposition. I wish I could do that.
If anyone has any suggestions of good SF/Fantasy books to read, then please let me know. I'm on to either Ursula le Guin or Orson Scott Card next.