I went to my first World Fantasy Convention last weekend. I’ve been to other conventions — mostly smaller, regional conventions like Penguicon, Windycon, and a one-day stop at WisCon last year. I thought I knew what to expect. Boy was I wrong.
First, the new friends. So many of my friends converged upon Columbus that World Fantasy was, for many of us, our first face-to-face meeting. I met what seemed like half of my rival Clarion class, all but one of the Inkpunks (Wendy, we missed you dearly), and so many others from Facebook, Twitter, and LiveJournal. There were a handful of people that I’ve admired from a distance and hoped to meet, and did, but will refrain from naming to save some face but I think you know who you are.
There were many that I already knew from previous conventions or workshops and I was lucky to catch up with some of them but not nearly enough of them. If I got pulled away during a conversation with you, sorry!
I didn’t attend any panels but I did go to several readings, by Jim Hines, Elizabeth Bear, Kij Johnson, M.K. Hobson, and Saladin Ahmed. I am super excited to read M.K. Hobson’s debut novel The Native Star (which I ran out of time to buy and get signed), and Saladin Ahmed’s upcoming Throne of the Crescent Moon, which he read from (and the plot to borrow and clone his Kindle failed).
I don’t know if my experience mirrors anyone else’s, if this is a certain stage that a writer reaches in their career, but one thing that happened to me on more than one occasion through the course of the convention was having a slush reader or editor recognize my name and introduce themselves, or comment on something I’d submitted to them. I suspect, between a small but steady stream of submissions before and after Clarion that I’ve leveled up and reached a new larval stage. Thank you especially to the person who took me around the bar and introduced me to a few folks. That meant the world to me.
There was also business to be done. I put on my shiny new Creative Director hat and met with John Klima and Anne Zanoni for an Electric Velocipede business meeting. We have good things coming down the road, but right now you can get this awesome t-shirt, modeled by my friend Sandra Wickham for only $20:
What struck me about World Fantasy, in comparison with other conventions I’ve attended, is how author-centric it is. At most conventions I’ve been to the ratio of fan to author seems to run 80⁄20. I would guess that the numbers are reversed in this case. Everywhere I turned I was faced with a recognizable author. Almost everyone I spoke to was friendly and welcoming and hopefully none of the authors that I committed con faux pas with will remember (or hold it against me)!
Great weekend, great convention, great friends, great people. I can’t wait for the next one. See you all next year in San Diego.