S.G. Browne

World Fantasy Wrap-Up

Back from the 2009 World Fantasy Convention, held annually on Halloween weekend but which, oddly enough, refuses to celebrate Halloween. Something to do with maintaining a professional appearance and not wanting to turn into a fan convention.

Fortunately, with the convention held this year in San Jose, California, and with a strong contingent of rebellious souls, people got dressed up, including yours truly, though I neglected to bring my camera so I don’t have any evidence of my costume. If you’re interested, I dressed up as a 1980s big hair band reject, complete with black mullet wig, red pleather pants, and zebra striped platform shoes with plastic goldfish in the heels. Though a lot of people thought I looked more like a glam rock throwback or Ron Wood from the Rolling Stones.

The convention itself was well attended, with over 1000 writers, editors, agents, and booksellers who dabble in fantasy, science fiction, horror, and all of their sub-genres. While most of the convention was spent either in the Fairmont Hotel’s expansive and comfortable and understaffed lounge area or in the convention suites and hallways attending various hosted parties (the best of which was the Night Shade Books and Eraserhead Press party with homemade beer), there was some top quality programming to be found in the meeting rooms throughout the weekend.

On Friday I hit up the Invention vs Tradition panel, where Delia Sherman, John Kessel, Richard Lupoff, Beth Meacham, and Daniel Waters (of the Generation Dead series) discussed the challenges of writing original stories that surprise readers as opposed to writing formulaic stories that satisfy a reader’s expectations. Like writing a romantic comedy where you know Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt are going to fall in love at the end or having Brad turn into a zombie who eats Julia’s heart.

My favorite panel of the weekend took place on Saturday and was titled: When People Confuse the Author With Their Work. Moderated by Mark Ferrari, with Scott Edelman, Ellen Kushner, Garth Nix, and Tim Powers as participants, the discussion was lively, intelligent, informative, and entertaining. All of the panelists had a great sense of humor about the subject and provided insightful commentary on the various issues that can arise when a reader gets the author mixed up with the characters in his or her book.

As one of the panelists quoted: “I am all of my characters, but none of them are me.”

Throughout the weekend, I had a wonderful time hanging out with and meeting a number of wonderful writers and editors, including Eunice and Greg Magill, Stephen Woodworth, Kelly Dunn, John Skipp, Cody Goodfellow, Alice Henderson, J.C. Hay, Daniel Waters, John Joseph Adams, Simon Clark, and F. Paul Wilson.

The best part about the convention, other than the fact that it’s an excuse to stay up late and drink, is that it’s a gathering of individuals who all share a love of books and the craft of writing. There’s an energy that permeates the meeting rooms and fills the halls and conversation that we’re all able to relate to. That we can all tap in to. It’s a shared, communal experience with like minds that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Where else can you have conversations about the difference between horror and science fiction, the influence of Edgar Allan Poe on steampunk, why I Am Legend with Will Smith was a horrible interpretation of the Richard Matheson novel, and how vampires, zombies, and werewolves are representations of our sexual, consumer, and dark sides?

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Filed under: Conventions,The Writing Life — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 2:38 pm