My Sirens 2018 post is long overdue, but here goes!
As usual, Sirens was a blast. This was my sixth time attending and I think, for me, Sirens has recently become more about the people than the conference itself.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m deeply grateful for the thoughtful way that Sirens opens programming to everyone, and how carefully programming is curated to offer a diverse array of perspectives and topics. I still have plenty to learn and explore when it comes to reading and writing fantasy literature. That said, many meaningful conversations and experiences also happen over meals,
(*Not sure who took this photo.. maybe Rook?! Sorry I swiped it!)
in the hallways (in kaftans),
on rambling walks through the grounds,
or back in the hotel room.
Speaking of special moments, you might have already heard about my surprise gift from Ysabeau Wilce on Facebook, but if you haven’t, it’s here or on Twitter here.
I’m still in disbelief, and occasionally find myself absentmindedly petting my magical motorcycle jacket that once belonged to fantasy luminary, and former Guest of Honor at Sirens, Terri Windling.
A few highlights from my programming experience at Sirens in 2018:
All the keynotes were lovely, but for me, Violet Kupersmith and Kameron Hurley spoke directly to my heart. I always hope to connect to at least one of the keynotes at Sirens, and this year I’m still thinking about Violet’s exploration of matrilineal hauntings and Kameron’s passionate rejection of nihilism. In this disturbing era, but also in my own personal phase of life, these topics moved me profoundly.
I attended just two panels this year. The first, with Kate Elliott, Mette Ivie Harrison, Robin LaFevers, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rebecca Kim Wells, explored assumptions about sexual experience in YA fantasy. The second, with K. Tempest Bradford, Kate Elliott, Mette Ivie Harrison, and Tiffany Trent discussed issues addressed or missing in late female bildung.
I also attended two magical workshops. Lock Picking 201 by Erynn Moss helped me brush up on the skills I learned at her first workshop a while back.
Oh, how I love that stuff! And just in case my skills ever fail me, I whipped up a whimsical wand with Manda Lewis.
Both of these ladies are so creative and delightful. I’m grateful to know them.
This year, I facilitated a round table on “Reading and Writing Fantasy as Self Care in Troubling Times”. I’m pleased to say it was well attended(!) and a genuinely positive experience. Thanks so much to all the good folks who attended and brought so many great recommendations and considerations to our talk.
*I believe a Sirens staff member took this photo. Thank you!
I recently heard from Lily Weitzman, a librarian at the Public Library of Brookline, MA that my roundtable has inspired further programming at her branch. They’ll be putting together a workshop on reading and writing as self care this spring. I’m so honored and delighted to hear this and grateful to Sirens for making these connections possible. Thank you Sirens and thank you Lily!
Finally, the most intense piece of programming I attended this year was a Pacing Workshop with the brilliant Robin LaFevers. This ninety minute workshop provided more resources, strategies, and tips than some all-day workshops I’ve attended elsewhere. Robin knows her stuff and was incredibly generous to the Sirens attendees. It’s truly helpful when a presenter knows their audience and can adapt their material to the interests and experiences in the room. Robin excels at this. I’m still pondering many of the points she made.
There’s much more to say about the wonderful people I got to see at Sirens 2018 and all those special moments that happened outside of programming. For example, I got to swim with an actual mermaid...
So… yeah. There’s just no way to capture it all. Instead, I’ll leave you with these pictures of our celebration at the ever-glorious Sirens Ball.
Thank you, Sirens staff, volunteers, presenters, and attendees for another year of wonderful memories. You have my love! <3 - Edie