Tuesday, November 06, 2007

World Fantasy Hangover

Okay, so I went all the way to Saratoga Springs for the World Fantasy Conference. I talked, drank, talked, drank, and talked some more with a stunning array of writers, editors, artists and many that aspire to become the same. I took my camera with me, but (here’s the confession part) it never got out of my hotel room. I don’t know, my mind was always on something else at the time. I have seen one photo of me on Paul Witcover’s blog, though. It’s a snap of James Patrick Kelly, a guy called Flat Stephen and me. Jim Kelly is a great guy; Flat Stephen, however, well, he took some getting used to. (Although his eventual endorsement of "Acacia" wine sort of won me over. Photo evidence on Paul's blog.)

Anyway, all that’s a way of saying I won’t be offering any pictures here just now. And, honestly, coming off the thing I’m so drained it’s hard to know where to begin with writing about it. I'll say a little bit, though…

First off, I was struck immediately by how friendly and accessible everyone was. This may be old news to Con-goers, but coming from a literary side of things I’m used to writers of any stature placing some boundaries between themselves and their fans (including other writers). Not so in this case. I had an absolutely great time talking George RR Martin, for example. I’m pleased to say he knew of my book and said he’d heard good things about it, and we sat together during the signing portion of the evening. I’ve seen it mentioned on a couple of blogs that I had the unenviable task of sitting next to GRRM. I understand the sentiment. Who would possibly want to embarrass themselves by sitting line-less beside the most popular author in a very big room? Well, me, actually. I jumped at the chance. I knew it wouldn’t change the length of my line, but it did provide me the rare opportunity of chatting with someone I admire for about two hours. That was worth it.

Had a great time with Patrick Rothfuss. He’s a very good guy, lots of fun, solid sense of humor and wonderful humility with his very successful debut. I’m glad to say I’ll be hanging out with him (and Neil Gaiman!) in a couple of weeks at the Fantasy Matters Conference in Minnesota.

Enjoyed talking with Steven Erickson and Ian Cameron Esslemont (also of Malazan), Paul Park, Guy Gavriel Kay, John Kessels, just to name a few. I accosted Garth Nix outside the Orbit party. It was as geeky a moment as any for me considering that I really enjoyed The Abhorsen Trilogy, and I admire the trajectory of his career (selling millions now).

I'm leaving out a lot of people, but it's hard not to. It was such a full-on interactive experience. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention meeting the Angry Black Woman. For someone who is supposed to be so angry, she also manages to be great fun, smiles and wit and humor - and she knows everyone! Also, wouldn't have been the same without the myriad short conversations I had with Lou Anders of Pyr. He was the coolest guy in the room on every occasion I observed. John Picacio was kind enough to introduce me to a blur of folks. Much appreciated.

There were, of course, lots of interesting panels. I'm tempted to mention a low point, though, in the panel roster. I won't mention the panel specifically, especially because I missed the very beginning and the very end, so maybe there was something on either end to put it into context. The problem with this panel was that the moderator simply would not let the panel members really talk. He had an agenda that was at odds with the panelists, clearly. He seemed a bit like a Fox News host. He barely let any of the panelists speak before he'd be shaking his head and grabbing the conversation back. His agenda, by the way, was well-meaning. I think he likely thought he was being inclusive and broadly minded. Problem is, I think, his agenda was based on a limited understanding of the topic at hand. The panelists could have (and wanted to) helped to round out his awareness and provide him food for thought, but he never let go of the reins enough to let that happen - for himself or for the audience. Unfortunate. Happily, though, this was one of few sour notes.

On the more positive side, lots of people had heard of Acacia. Most of them hadn’t read it, but when they saw my name tag many people said, “Oh, Acacia, I’ve heard good things about that!” I’m pleased. And we’ll build on it!

I'll close just by congratulating those that did walk away with award recognition. If you're interested in the full list you can see it here at the Locus site.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Lou Anders said...

Great seeing you there, David.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Aidan Moher said...

I'm jealous!

GRRM
Steve Erikson
Ian Cameron Esslemont
David Anthony Durham
Patrick Rothfuss
Neil Gaiman (upcoming)
Guy Gavriel Kay

Ahh, what I'd do to meet some of those follk!

~Aidan
A Dribble of Ink

1:13 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Yeah, that's a nice list. Oh, Scott Lynch, too. Spoke to him briefly. Maybe I'll add him to the original post. It's a work in progress as the memories unfold and organize themselves...

2:46 PM  
Anonymous angry black woman said...

I am usually only angry away from conventions. Cons are my happy places, and it's rare to find me angry there.

Being drunk helps, too.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous angry black woman said...

Oh, also: picture of you and me (not the hand in your face one).

9:36 AM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

Nice report, man. Hey, it's like I told you coming in to this thing....I figured you'd swim smoothly in this pool. Wish we could've spent a little more time....we seemed to literally be moving fast in opposite directions every time. We'll do better next time, I suspect. Glad you had a great time.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Jetse de Vries said...

Too bad I only met you at the very last moment: I crawling away from another party that got out of hand, you waiting for the early morning bus to take you to Albany airport...

It was short but sweet. Like John says: we should do better next time.

6:20 AM  

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