World Fantasy Convention

Earlier this month I attended my first ever World FantasyConvention (WFC). I traveled all the way to Washington DC, all by my lonesome, and checked into one of those giant corporate hotels that are mostly comfortable but also vaguely unsettling. (Why, oh why do they insist on carpeting their endless hallways with vertigo-inducing patterns?)

I knew a few familiar ladies would be attending, most of whom I met at Sirens (see this post, or this one) or through the ever-sweet Gili Bar-Hillel on twitter. Otherwise I was expecting a whole lot of strangers and strangeness. It is, after all, a convention for fantasy writers, readers, industry professionals, and fans. I felt sure there would be horns. Maybe wings.*

The other group at the hotel that weekend turned out to be RollingThunder (bikers in support of POW/MIA veterans). In a few short hours, I was lost in a sea of black leather jackets, Technicolor hairdos, prosthetic limbs, and intricate Celtic jewelry. I felt quite small and desperately alone. I ate my first dinner by myself, in a random burrito place, and yes, it was gross and depressing. I began to think I’d made a terrible mistake.

Then, by nightfall, I met one lovely person, and then another, and another. The next morning, after a few more familiar faces arrived, I was in the near-constant company of smart, interesting, kind people who all believe in Story. I spent the next three days talking, absorbing, listening, watching, and learning from some of the most fabulous people in the fantasy business.

Usually, when I attend a conference or convention I blog about the content, about the programming and what I learned there. There were certainly some great panels and excellent readings at WFC, but what I really want to highlight are a few of the real life characters I got to hang out with, because they were, by far, the most powerful part:

Ysabeau Wilce: Supreme Historian of Califa, bone-draped, Wild-Woman of the West, and dealer of barrel-aged brandy, metallic temporary tattoos, and literary wisdom.
Read her work here: "Quartermaster Returns"
(photo: here)

Tiffany Trent: Kung-Fu Mistress, Teller of tales steampunk, redneck, erotic, and rusty, Mother of Doom, and Fire Maiden.
Find her work here:The Unnaturalists
(photo: mine!)

Delia Sherman: Tunafish lover, Riverside Walker, silver ring sister, Fierce Antlered Bunny, generous giver of Heart, Mind, Story, and Time.
Read her work here: "Miss Carstairs and the Merman" or The Freedom Maze
(photo: Lawrence Tamaccio)

Ellen Kushner: Director of Merriment, wise straight-talker, gracious hostess and Reader- nay-Performer! of fancy tales both side-splitting and throat-slitting.
Read her work here: Swordspoint or "The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death"
(photo: here)

Kate Arms Roberts: Free Woman, Creator, Player, Mother of multitudes, patient giver of Self, Careful Speaker of Truth and Love. 
(photo: mine!)

Bonus pictures from the con: 
 Ellen during her reading.
 Ysa and Ellen signing books together.
 Books by brilliant ladies = TREASURE, my pretties 
 Ysa's panel on REBELs in YA.
Delia's book that I love love love so very much. 

There were SO MANY other cool people too! Mike and AnitaAllenNicole Kornher-StacePatty Templeton, Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney, the folks at SmallBeer Press, Casey Blair, and Django Wexler. I can’t possibly list them all here. If we said hello at #WFC40, or shared a story, please consider yourself thanked and appreciated! Yes, YOU!

I left on Sunday realizing that once again, I’d been incredibly lucky to meet such good folk, and to survive staying up ‘til 3am three nights in a row. I know who I want to be when I grow up. I know why these stories matter. I know why I journey. 

When life gets hard, when I feel slumpy and tired, when I’m running out of story ideas, I’ll think about WFC. I’ve got work to do.

*There were no wings this year, that I saw, but there were most definitely horns.


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