World Fantasy Con Report

As we mentioned in our previous post, Donald and Kristin attended the World Fantasy Convention the first weekend in November. While there, we talked a lot about the new Mysterion webzine, and helped run a table with some friends of ours.

Thursday

Thanks to the fact that our airline changed the time of our flight on us and didn't let us know until Wednesday (another stellar performance by United!), we had to get up at 4 am. After a long flight and a stopover in Houston, we ended up arriving in San Antonio around 1 pm. We headed over to our table in the dealers' room as soon as we could. Fortunately, our co-dealers were already there, and had everything set up.

Notice the prominent place given to Mysterion.
We were sharing the table with Jamie Foley, who writes and independently publishes post-apocalyptic YA fantasy novels; S.D. Grimm, author of YA heroic fantasy; and R.J. Metcalf, who doesn't have any books of her own to sell yet, but was helping out. Plus we had books by Jamie's friend Angela Castillo: middle grade fantasy and some steampunk fairy tale anthologies.

Right next to us (so close that some passers-by thought we were the same table), Scott Minor had the Realm Makers traveling bookstore, with featured author Catherine Jones Payne. Everyone at our table knows Scott and Catherine from the Realm Makers conference, so we were all kind of amused to have been given adjoining tables--as far as we know, whoever assigned the tables wasn't aware that the groups at the two booths knew each other.

It was really great to have some cool people to share a table with, and we're especially grateful to Jamie for transporting our books between her house and the con and back, and shipping them back to us. So go buy some of her books! Don't you think they'd make good Christmas presents for someone you know?

Although we were hoping to sell at least a few books, we were also there to promote the new webzine; so we had Donald's tablet on the table next to the book to show people what the site looks like (and show off Rob Joseph's amazing artwork). Hopefully some of the writers who took business cards will send us stories once we open to submissions in January!

We had dinner in the hotel restaurant that evening. (Support us on Patreon for extra behind-the-scenes convention reporting, including Kristin's restaurant reviews--coming soon!) Then it was time for Kristin's reading of some of her own fiction, including the as-yet-unpublished story "The Vanished Legions", forthcoming in the Tales of Ruma anthology; and a previously published Christmas story.

Kristin reading her stories.


(If you're a Patreon supporter, we've added the Christmas story as a Patron-only post. We might feel weird about doing this if it weren't already November; but Kristin would probably have chosen a different story in, say, July.)

After Kristin's reading, we hung out for a couple more, first Frog and Esther Jones, whom we didn't know. Frog read a clever story about a knight and a dragon, co-written by the two of them. Then Brenda Carre, whom Kristin knows from SF Canada, read an excerpt from her novel. It had an interesting voice and an intriguing magic system.

After the readings, Kristin went in search of networking opportunities (aka parties, and hanging out at the hotel bar), while Donald pretended he was going to bed early but actually hung out in the hotel room on his computer. 

Friday

Despite the late night, Kristin got up early to attend the Codex Writers breakfast, and had a great time talking with Ada Milenkovic Brown and other Codexians. Donald decided he hadn't gotten enough sleep and slept in.

On Friday, we spent a lot of our time at the table. We met up with a couple of Mysterion authors, Beth Cato (who appears to bake as much as Kristin does!) and G. Scott Huggins, who signed some copies of the anthology; and various friends, including Rajan Khanna and Frederic and Julie Durbin.

Kristin went to the Clarion West reunion in the afternoon (she attended in 2008, and Raj was one of her classmates). Then we went to hear Fred Durbin read from his next novel (check out his most recent title from last year, A Green and Ancient Light!).

Tonight's dinner excursion was to local Mexican restaurant Acenar. After dinner, it was time for the Friday book signing, a World Fantasy tradition. Kristin's friend Eden Robins, another Clarion West classmate, showed up; also Ada and her husband Frank. It turned out that Frank had gone to Kristin's reading on Thursday night, so that was cool (he had been rather conspicuous, as the only audience member Kristin didn't actually know beforehand).

After the signing, it was time for more parties. Again, Kristin was more interested in the convention night life than Donald, who was trying to do some work he'd brought with him. (Donald's employer is reading this, right?)

Saturday

Since we had to leave Sunday morning, Saturday was the last real day at the con. Again we spent much of our time in the dealer's room. Kristin attended a panel on "Ancient Cultures, Modern Sensibilities": when setting a story in a fantasy world inspired by a historical culture with different mores than ours, "How do you immerse a reader in that culture without necessarily agreeing with it--or moralizing about it?"

Kristin also went to a reading by M. Huw Evans, whom she knows from Clarion West circles (though he wasn't in her class). He read from an unpublished novel that features a Christian protagonist, something we're always interested in. And Kristin and Donald both went to Raj's reading, which involved space travel and uploaded minds.

For lunch, Donald went to a restaurant called Market on Houston, where he had a very good steak sandwich, while Kristin went to Kimura, a ramen place (they also had interesting cocktails--sometimes the best cocktails are at restaurants, not bars). Dinner was at Argentinian restaurant Dorrego's.

Saturday night at World Fantasy is the art show reception, and although we got there kind of late, we still had some time to wander through and look at the work being exhibited. We especially liked some pieces by Gregory Manchess, Bob Keck, and Mark Roland.

Finally, we went to parties, and spent some time hanging out at the hotel bar. As is typical for the World Fantasy Convention, the bar was kind of an ongoing party throughout the weekend. Compared to many previous years, in different hotels and other cities, the bar was pretty well-staffed. Some hotels seem to think that a thousand writers just won't drink that much, and schedule bar staff for the weekend accordingly; but that wasn't a problem here. Their cocktails weren't awesome (Kristin had a margarita the first night that brought back unpleasant memories of excessively sweet cruise ship drinks), but they had some decent whiskeys and local beers.

Sunday, and general wrap-up

We had to leave early on Sunday, so we could get home at a reasonable time. So aside from the flight, not a lot happened there.

As is often the case, we talked with a lot of people, and don't necessarily remember which day or days we hung out with them. But we were happy to connect with Jerome Stueart, whose short story collection Kristin was reading at the time (look for a review here early next year--definitely recommended for Mysterion fans!); and Scott Andrews (editor of Beneath Ceaseless Skies); and enjoyed meeting Barry Alexander Brown (a film editor who's shopping around his debut epic fantasy novel) and Brandon Crilly (another Canadian!). Also Tina Connolly, whom Raj, Eden and Kristin all met at Clarion West, though Tina attended in a different year.

Eden, Tina, Raj, and Kristin (this picture is for Pam).

Although we were unable to attend the World Fantasy Awards, which are always on Sunday afternoon, Kristin was thrilled to hear that Neile Graham won a much-deserved World Fantasy Award (Special Award, Non-Professional) for "fostering excellence in the genre through her role as Workshop Director, Clarion West." It's hard to explain to anyone who hasn't attended one of these 6-week residential writing workshops how crucial this role is, and it's really wonderful to see Neile being recognized for a job that mostly consists of keeping track of scores of essential details behind the scenes, and looking after the needs of other people. The big name authors who teach the workshops often tend to get top billing, but the program couldn't function at all without the workshop director, workshop administrator, and other dedicated staff. So, congratulations, Neile! Thank you for everything that you do!

Thank you as well to the committee that put together this year's World Fantasy Convention. We had a great time, and look forward to our next World Fantasy experience. Next time we'll try to include some pictures of Donald, too!


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Comments

  1. Yay. Thank you for my photo.

    Great report. Sounds like a fun time.

    ReplyDelete

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