I’m back from the World Fantasy Convention and even after a solid night’s sleep, I’m still exhausted. I could sum up the experience with “WOW!”, but that’s not very informative.
After an uneventful 3 hour drive, I dropped my stuff at the hotel and walked over to the convention center where I picked up my badge, box of cookies, bottle of water, and bag of free books. Fully weighed down, I headed off to the dealer’s room. My mission: find Realms. A short run of 100 copies was rushed to be ready for the con and I found them at the Prime/Juno table. Playing the proud father of this book, I dragged a copy with me everywhere for the first few days. Copies sold well and people were looking for it, so I’m pleased. A few hundred Clarkesworld Magazine postcards were picked up off the table as well.
Several of the Clarkesworld Magazine contributors were in attendance: Sarah Monette, Catherynne M. Valente, Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake, Sharon Mock, Carrie Laben, Paul Tremblay, Jetse De Vries, Cat Rambo, Ekaterina Sedia and Ken Scholes. (in publication order) It was wonderful to put faces to the names of all these fine writers. I had anyone who was part of Realms sign my copy. I have a goal of someday having this copy signed by everyone involved, so I had Nick, Sean, and Mary Robinette Kowal sign as well. I think Sharon Mock has the honor of being the first to sign. Quite the pleasure to meet her and her husband. Wish we could have talked more, but the last time I saw her, she had lost her voice. (Hope you’re doing better!)
On Thursday I had dinner at Wheatfields with Stephen Segal, Sean Wallace, K. Tempest Bradford and some friends of hers who’s names are lost in the weekend blur. There was an interesting conversation on graphic novels for younger children. It seems that it’s hard to get lists of good graphic novels for children in K-5. (I’ve already spoken with my school’s librarian.) There was also talk of Choose Your Own Adventures and who knows what dark places that will lead.
Thursday night wrapped up at the Zombies Need Brains party that several friends (including Joshua Palmatier, Patricia Bray, Jenifer Dunn, and Sam Butler) hosted. A fun time was had by all and it was a great way to end the first day of the con. Afterwards, I wandered back to my hotel, unpacked, and went to sleep around 4am. This would set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
Friday morning arrived quickly. More blurring, because I can’t remember what day of the week I spoke to people anymore. I do remember talking to a lot of dealers about Wyrm and Clarkesworld’s inventory, but there were also a surprisingly number short conversations on all sorts of topics. At one point, I remember realizing that I was among people of similar interests, something that rarely happens in my daily life. Apparently, I’m much less of an introvert in this crowd.
The signing reception was simply incredible. Take a very large room, fill it with tables, and give every author a spot. I heard one person describe it as signature trick-or-treating. Lines, when there were any, were short, everyone very friendly, and I had two heavy bags of books, many of which were from my personal collection. I had George R. R. Martin sign a copy of RRetrospective I found while clearing out stock and Gene Wolfe inscribed a copy of Soldier of Sidon (which later that weekend won the WFA for Best Novel). I ran into Terry McGarry, someone I know from my long-ago convention days, and caught up on what she’s been up to. Also present were Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont, two gentlemen who figured strongly in the sales numbers at Clarkesworld Books. Aside from having them inscribe some books for me, I spent a good chunk of time talking to them about their books, the store, publishing, book covers, and things in general. Would have been nice to have been able to catch up with them again later, but this con was pure crazy. If anything, I’m more convinced than ever that it would be fun to have the chance to work with either one of them.
I’m proud to say that I managed to avoid being a complete idiot when I finally met Tim Powers. I managed to avoid buying some expensive books in the dealer’s room (oh my god, were there some incredible books there) by having some books from my collection signed by Tim. Definitely a highlight of my time at the con. Those books are now safely tucked back into my collection.
Of the three parties Friday night, I only managed to get to one: Ekaterina Sedia’s Secret History of Moscow and Paper Cities party. A great time was had by all. After that, I collapsed into bed back at my hotel.
Saturday was the busiest day of the convention. I did more time helping out at the Prime/Juno table, talked to other booksellers, who apparently didn’t have a very good con in terms of sales. Maybe not having a table was a blessing in disguise. Publishers in the dealer’s room seemed to do much better. The art show next door was incredible. Best I’ve ever seen and it was great to talk to so many of the artists who’s work I’ve long admired.
The big party Saturday night was Tor’s, but it was a madhouse. Packed, hot, and loud. All the measure’s of a successful party, but instead I spent most of the time at the Weird Tales party which was also well-attended but not overpowering. Great food, a trained attack poster, and pictures… my god, the pictures they took. It will be unavoidable.
I left the party (but returned later) to go to the Small Press panel. There were a good number of small press folks in attendance in addition to those on the panel (Ron Drummond from Inacubla (sp?), John O’Neill from Black Gate, Jeremy Lassen from Night Shade, Mary Robinette Kowel from Shimmer, Jetse de Vries from Interzone, George Scithers from many things over the years). Healthy discussion with some friendly disagreements well handled by Jetse, who moderated. Overall a good discussion. Someone does need to tell George about the current state of the limited edition books though. As far as he was concerned “that ship has sailed.” Special props go to Mary for holding up a copy of Realms when the discussion of covers and looking professional came up.
Some of the panel conversation carried over into the bar with Sean and Jetse, but then it turned to writing as Sean left and Jay Lake stopped in. Also spoke for a little while with Mary and two people from Solaris (sorry, I’m terrible with names) and later Mary and I found a table in a less noisy location to talk about the Memorare cover design. We were trying to come up some of those awful sayings that you’d find on 1950’s movie posters when Lon Prater walked by and was dragged into the discussion. I’m pretty sure he came up with the winning phrase for the back cover. When you see this fine work of design, you’ll better understand what we were talking about.
Crash, boom, another 4-5 hours of sleep despite the one hour bonus from daylight savings time.
I was sad to see Sunday come. Time to tie up the loose ends, pack things, up and head out. The good part of this was I was seriously missing Lisa and the boys. When the awards banquet started, everything in the con pretty much ground to a halt. The dealer’s room even started packing up early, so I helped get Prime boxed up while I waited. Bruce Coville had the table next to them, so I took the opportunity to talk to him about his books and audiobook business. I’ve never read Bruce’s work, so I had him recommend a book for my seven-year-old and then he inscribed it to him. My younger son will listen to an audiobook since he can’t read well enough yet. I have a feeling they are going to like his stuff. It seems to be right up their alley. Aidan didn’t know who Bruce was, but was thrilled later that evening when I gave him the inscribed book.
As we carried stuff out to leave, Sean and I ran into Ken Scholes again. He’s a very nice guy and deserving of all the good fortune that has come his way in the last few weeks. I was thrilled to hear some of the things Tor will be doing to promote his work. All three of us have been actively watching blogs to see if anyone says anything about his story in this month’s Clarkesworld Magazine. It’s one of those stories that will likely bother a few people and as a result, it’s had trouble finding a home despite being appreciated. I’m quite pleased that we were able to bring it to print.
Farewells to friends soon followed and off I went. By 8:30 I was home and being tackled by the boys. It was an exhausting and enjoyable trip, but it was good to be home.