I wish I didn’t have to wait almost a full year before the World Fantasy Convention rolls around again. I always have a terrific time at WFC. I never manage to make it to much programming, because I’m usually having too much fun catching up with friends, and cramming as much socialization as possible into the weekend.
Egregious name dropping follows below the cut.
The first friends I encountered, after arriving at the convention hotel in scenic downtown Columbus, were Sarah Prineas and Deb Coates — two old friends from my OWW days and still two writers whose work takes my breath away. Deb and Sarah were kind enough to critique (compassionately) my first laughable attempts at writing back in the day, and I’ve never forgotten that. This was the first time Deb and I had met in person even though we’d known each other online for years, so that was cool. But even cooler was getting to congratulate Deb on her book deal with Tor. Yay, Deb!
Sarah and I had met in person a few years ago, when we attended Blue Heaven together. In fact, she and Paolo Bacigalupi were the two brave souls who volunteered to read through the entire first draft of Bitter Seeds (what there was of it at the time) and took lots of time kindly helping me see how to make the book work better.
Speaking of Blue Heaven, I got to see more of my BH buddies, at least in passing, including Toby Buckell, Paul Melko, and Bill Shunn, plus my OWW-and-BH pal (and soon to be Major Superstar) Rae Carson, plus my OWW-Clarion-BH mentor Charlie Finlay. I never get to see enough of these people. They’re all wonderful.
Speaking of Paolo, he and I had a nice opportunity to catch up at MileHiCon the previous weekend. The Denver crowd has known him for years, and I’m glad for that, because it meant he wasn’t quite as swarmed there as he was at WFC. As I noted to my new friend and all-around-awesome person Brit Mandelo, I think we were actually got to witness the genesis of a proto-Neil-Gaiman. There was a crowd around Paolo everywhere he went.
That didn’t stop us from trying to convince him to jump up on a table and beat his chest when he attends the National Book Awards later this month. Every man has his price, but as Cat Valente pointed out, Paolo’s is way too low. Eventually we decided that bribing him to sabotage his career for our entertainment maybe wasn’t such a good thing. But we did get a fun charity drive idea out of this.
Blake Charlton dubbed it, “Be A Dick For Charity.” And I think it could actually work. I’d never met Blake before, but of course I knew his name, owing to the rave reviews for his debut novel, Spellwright, and for the fact that it debuted the very week that Amazon decided to delist thousands of books during its slapfight with Pan Macmillan over ebook pricing. He seems to have recovered from that, and nicely.
I was pleased to get to meet Blake because several people had recommended Spellwright to me on account of its clever and innovative magic system. I told this to Blake when we were introduced, and, oddly enough, he responded in kind– somebody had recommended Bitter Seeds to him for the same reason! We both had personal copies on hand, so we arranged to trade copies of our books. (I think I got the better end of that deal than Blake did.)
On Thursday, I went out to dinner with my editors and several co-authors from the Ur-Bar anthology (which is going to be awesome beyond words) — Josh Palmatier, Benjamin Tate, Patricia Bray, S. C. Butler and Avery Shade — along with Susan Jett and brand-new baby Henry, and bookseller extraordinaire April Steenburgh. Patricia got to satisfy her brewpub fixation while I got to know Avery and April, and caught up with Susan (who doesn’t get to nearly enough conventions) and met Henry.
On Thursday I also got to see my friend Corry Lee, whom I’d first met at Boskone a couple of years earlier, and who in addition to being an Odyseey graduate is a fellow physicist. Corry is finishing her Harvard Ph.D. thesis cross-country from Seattle, and by all accounts doing a bang-up job of it. We had several terrific conversations over the course of the weekend, about writing, workshops, physics, and the travails of grad school. I’m really glad we had a chance to hang out.
Also that evening I had a hugely pleasant surprise, and ran into my Wild Cards co-writer (and Bubonicon 43 Guest of Honor) Steve “S. L. Farrell” Leigh. I wish I’d had more of a chance to talk to Steve. I’d forgotten that he’s in Cincinnati, and therefore practically a local in Columbus. I’m really excited about his upcoming trip to New Mexico next year.
Unfortunately, my Friday dinner plans meant I had to miss the big mass signing event. But I did manage to sign a few copies of Bitter Seeds throughout the long weekend (and even one pristine ARC that traveled across the ocean to get my signature– what a compliment!). In fact, it was through signing a copy at the hotel bar that I got to meet Brit M., my new party-hopping pal. She and I found we have a surprising amount in common—including having been too uncool in high school to play Dungeons and Dragons. And here I thought I was the only person on earth with that distinction! Now I know what it’s like when doves cry.
Through Brit I got to meet her fellow Tor.com blogger Mari Ness, whose name I immediately recognized from her delightful series of posts reviewing the Oz books. Mari lives in Florida, where election-cycle politics are practically a full-contact sport, so we had some fascinating conversations about that. I also met Tim Keating and Christian Klawer, both stand-up fellows and all-round fun guys to talk to.
Irene Gallo was there, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to gush at her over the awesome cover art for the hardcover edition of Bitter Seeds. By sheer coincidence, she’d just been to visit John Jude Palencar on her way to the convention. She told me that the master’s original painting of Gretel is hanging in his house. That’s about 9 different kinds of awesome. And speaking of incredible artists, Irene introduced me to Greg Manchess, whose name I recognized instantly, because he’s another person whose paintings make me swoon. (Why do these incredibly talented artists have to be so damn likeable, too? It’s like they’re rubbing my nose in how cool they are.)
For all of that, one of the best things about WFC this year was getting to meet Dan Goodman, a high school student and aspiring writer whom I’d met briefly online. Dan blogs and reviews over at Literary Musings, and drove down from Canada with his family to attend their first convention ever. Brave souls! I started out trying to introduce him to as many people as I could, but by the end of the weekend I’m pretty certain he knew more people than I did. Not even 20, and they guy is already making a name for himself at conventions. I hear that his open-microphone reading on Friday night was a big hit! I think we’ll be seeing more from Dan in the future.
Speaking of party hopping, Cat V. and M. K. Hobson know how to throw a book-launch party. I mean, they know how to throw a book-launch party. I’ve never seen a more artistically done convention room party, nor have I ever seen two hosts exuding so much class. There were fountains and bustles and drinks made from rare flower extracts and did I mention the plague masks?!?
So, yeah. Like I said, it was a good time. Looking forward to San Diego next year.