I recently attended the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego (Oct 27 – 39) and thought I’d share a few of my experiences with you. First of all, I learned the difference between business-oriented conferences (8:00am to 5:00pm) and network-oriented conventions (10:00am to 2:00am+).
Yeah. I prefer conventions – those are my kinda hours! And the parties… 🙂
I also met up with fellow writers and bloggers Stephanie Loree and Elena Sodolow. We ran around the con together off and on, attending some of the same sessions and parties. It was nice to have someone to hang out with.
Anyhow, here’s what my first couple of days at WFC entailed:
Thursday – Day 1
WFC didn’t officially start until 3:00pm on Thursday. I attended several evening sessions, including one called, “How to Survive the Coming Zombie War.” One of the panel members was Nancy Holder, an author I recently met at a Yosemite Romance Writers meeting. Nancy is the co-author of Wicked and author of many novels and book projects set in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Saving Grace, Hellboy, and Smallville universes.
As you might guess from the title of the session, the discussion was lively and we all laughed a lot.
Friday – Day 2
One of the more interesting sessions I attended was called, “The Crystal Ceiling.” Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series (aka ‘True Blood’) and Nancy Kilpatrick, horror writer and editor of multiple dark fantasy anthologies, were part of the panel. The topic addressed the bias that still prevails in publishing toward women in everything from pay to promotion dollars. It was a bit shocking to listen to evidence of this archaic attitude in an industry where value should be placed on the written word and not on the gender/race/beliefs of who writes it.
The highlight of the day (well, one of several, actually) was listening to bestselling author Neil Gaiman read selections from his poetry and short stories. His voice is mesmerizing – in fact, he sounds very similar to British actor Alan Rickman (though not quite as deep-voiced), even down to the cadence with which he speaks. He’s like the rock star of literature. Yeah. Wish I had a tenth of his brilliance.
I missed the later session with Neil and the very funny Connie Willis (hopefully someone taped it). Connie has won multiple Hugo and Nebula awards (in fact, she may possibly have won more awards than any other sci-fi writer). She was the toastmaster for WFC as well, and kept us entertained any time she was on the stage.
A most amazing thing – to me, anyways – happened Friday afternoon. I had planned to meet with Suzy McKee Charnas (author of one of my favorite vampire stories, The Vampire Tapestry) after her scheduled reading, but the reading ended up being cancelled. I wandered into Neil’s reading, and just as I took a seat, I looked down the row and sitting just a few chairs away was Suzy. Now, you have to understand this was a huge hall, filled with several hundred people. The chances I’d sit in the same row just three seats away from the person I’d most hoped to meet were pretty astronomical.
I’d like to think Fate might’ve had a hand in that. Or maybe it was a couple of vampires from the ether-world stepping in to make sure we met. Either way, it was pretty cool!
After Neil’s reading, Suzy graciously spent the next half-hour talking with me. She offered very helpful advice on the industry and writing in general when I asked her, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. Writers who’ve spent decades in the publishing trenches are an amazing resource, and she was one of several with whom I was fortunate enough to spend time at this convention.
Friday evening was devoted to the autograph session, a WFC tradition in which everyone can participate – even indie authors like me!
So I unexpectedly had my first book signing event for Watcher! Sure wish I’d known about it in advance…
Fortunately, I’d brought flyers to hand out and a few copies of Watcher with me. I enjoyed talking with the folks who stopped by and did actually sign a few things – flyers, programs, and a copy of my novel a fellow insisted on buying (I wasn’t registered as a vendor and wasn’t allowed to sell any books at the signing – but we managed it anyways). It was pretty cool to sit there with my stuff and my little placard with my name on it. I almost felt like a real author!
I shared my autograph table with writers Sherwood Smith and Diana L. Paxson. Diana’s known for her Westria series and for her collaborations with Marion Zimmer Bradley in the Avalon series and it was awesome to spend time chatting with her.
Sherwood Smith and Diana L. Paxson
At one point I managed to slip away a few times to gather autographs and have pictures taken with a few of my favorite authors in attendance: Suzy McKee Charnas, Steven Erikson, and Neil Gaiman – no pic w/ Neil, though 🙁 .
Suzy McKee Charnas
Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont
When I found Tim Powers at his signing table, I told him that his novel The Stress of Her Regard was one of my favorite vampire stories and that I write vampires as well. We had a few very silly moments when he insisted on getting MY autograph. I, of course, completely blanked out and couldn’t think of what to say when he requested I personalize my autograph, and he kept teasing me which made it only worse. I had trouble keeping a straight face while his wife took our photo together.
It was one of several memorable experiences I had at WFC, and I still chuckle when I think about how my mind went blank when he said, “Now, don’t just write ‘best wishes!’
The day ended with several parties that went into the wee hours of the night. I finally crawled into bed around 2:00am.
Part 2 tomorrow…