Being at World Fantasy turns you into a kid with Attention Deficit Disorder. It's not that you mean to be rude, but you can't keep eye contact for more than fifteen-second intervals, your head whipping around in mid-sentence as you stare at the nametags passing by.
See, everyone at WFC wears name tags, and the big authors are like Pokemon - you gotta catch 'em all. Plus, you have Internet buddies you've never met in the flesh, and any passing name tag could be a dear, dear friend that you've never met. So everyone's eyes are jittering like a marble in a pot of boiling water as you scan the crowd, scan the crowd, scan the crowd.
It'd be rude if everyone else wasn't doing it. But they are. It's just a big bag of "Who's that?" And you drink, and you talk until three in the morning, and when your larynx is worn down to a creaking, thin strip like an overworn tire you take some damn Halls and you try again.
What I am about to tell you are the interesting anecdotes from World Fantasy. I met more cool people than I can say. These are just the highlights.
Not The Most Interesting Story, But You Need To Know This For Later
My friend Brent Bowen interviewed me for the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing podcast. Why me? Well, technically I won the right in a contest to name any author at World Fantasy, and he would interview them - but he thought that as an up-and-coming author with a loud mouth, I would make a good interview. So, over the course of about a month, he talked me into self-promoting.
The interview itself was pretty cool - I got to talk about my writing, my experiences editing slush for Apex, and why I overshare so many personal details on the Internet. (I'll let you know when it's up.) And Brent has a tradition of whoever he interviews has to sign his e-book for luck. So what happened later because of the interview was possibly the most amusing thing at World Fantasy...
The Great Nobody-Off Of 2010
Being at World Fantasy for the first time is intimidating if you're a new fish - all these name authors are walking about, and most of them know each other because they've been at these cons and you haven't. You, on the other hand, have one or two stories that have been published - and that's if you're lucky - and you wake up with this feeling like, "Do I really belong here? I'm a writer, right?"
So it was that I met Morgan Dempsey, an up-and-coming writer, who claimed that she was the biggest nobody at World Fantasy.
"Nonsense," I snapped. "You know everyone here. Every time I turn around, you're introducing me to another bigwig."
"Yeah, but I haven't published anything major yet," she said.
"Yet," claimed I. "But you know people, and I don't. That makes me the biggest nobody at WFC."
"No! I'm the biggest nobody!"
We bickered like two car-trapped siblings throughout the day as to who was really the biggest nobody. And we had just gotten our photos taken by Locus as up-and-coming authors (a feat which can be done, apparently, by a) knowing where the Locus photo booth is, and b) saying the magic words of "Yes, I am an up-and-coming author"), when we started the debate about who deserved least to have their photo taken.
"I'm the biggest nobody," said Morgan. "An absolute scrap of nothingness. When the photo develops, they will see naught but a ghost. That's how much of a nobody I am."
"I told you," I said, gritting my teeth. "I am the biggest nobody."
At which point, e-book in hand, Brent came up to me and said, "Hey, Ferrett, can I have your autograph?"
Victorious in the Great Nobody-Off, Morgan stormed off triumphant.
In Which I Become A Posse
I finally met up with time_shark, editor of the truly awesome Clockwork Phoenix books. We'd corresponded briefly, and even hoped to meet up during a stay in Roanoke, so it was nice to match face to editor. And he was kind enough to tell me of a room party he was holding that night. At which point he looked over at Cat Valente, who he also wanted to invite, who was busy signing books for a bunch of fans.
"Hey, you're one of Cat's posse, aren't you?" he asked. Then, after a brief pause: "I didn't offend you by saying that, did I?"
It was the pause that killed me. Because I was, in fact, a member of Cat's posse, and it would never have occurred to be offended had he not mentioned it was a little weird being possified.
"Yes, I'm her posse," I said, shoulders slumping, and brought her the message about the party.
(Though that led to an interesting conversation about whether it was better to be a member of her posse, her entourage, or her gang. "Entourage" implies that she's paying us and we don't actually like her that much, while "gang" indicates that we're an unruly bunch who she has to keep reining in to keep us in order. We debated this until late in the evening, when Daniel Robichaud (who has one of the greatest author URLs in existence) suggested "coterie." Cat, of course, refers to us as "The Cat Pack.")
Speaking of Clarkesworld....
I met Clarkesworld editor clarkesworld, Podcast director Kate Baker, and slush editors Daniel and nayad, and I could not believe how incredibly cool everyone at Clarkesworld tends to be. It's like, they're one of the best and most quality magazines in the whole damn world, so they have the right to be a little snooty, but they were all so friendly and great that they reminded me of those cool kids in high school who everyone wanted to be with but never got clannish. It's not like I didn't want to be in Clarkesworld before, but now I totally want to get in just so I have an excuse to meet more of them.
One of the really nice things about being at a big con is that you get to introduce insanely great people to each other. In this case, it was about two in the morning and I was talking to Julia Dvorin, a.k.a. quixhobbit, a very bubbly and intriguing member of the Viable Paradise workshop. And Morgan Dempsey - winner of the Great Nobody-Off - came up and asked me about something, and we started chatting.
After a moment, she said, "I'm sorry, you were talking to someone and I interrupted you."
"No, not at all," I said. "You two are totally awesome and as such, you should know each other."
I don't remember who started first, but I do remember the Valley Girl accent of "Oh my GAWD! Yer totally awesome!"
"No!" said the other. "Yer awesome! So awesome. Yer awesome is dripping rainbows!"
At which point a three-minute Valley Girl-off ensued in the hallway, so loud that passerby stopped to watch, as two people who had never met before showered each other in Cali-style compliments, each topping the last.
Then, when it was all over: "I love you." And I mean, really, with an intro like that, how can you not be friends right away?
Nothing Really Spectacular Happened, But You Should Know About Her Anyway
I didn't really have anything externally memorable happen, but Felicity Shoulders not only has one of the greatest names in the world, but as it turns out we were both published in the same issue of Asimov's last month. (She has had four stories accepted by Asimov's, so we all fear her a little. I think she's symbiotically bonded with Sheila Williams.) And she is insanely cool.
The Man I Wish My Body Could Look Like
By far, the hottest guy at the con was Maurice Broaddus - a pastor-turned-horror-writer (and isn't that a combo you're intrigued by?), who showed up at Cat's party with the slickest suit I have ever seen. I mean, he's a pretty good-lookin' guy to begin with, but that suit was like a magic item in a D&D Game:
Suit of Awesomeness
Adds +6 to your Charisma stat. While wearing the Suit of Awesomeness, you may force your DM into acknowledging that Charisma is not a dump stat.
I found myself standing next to him so I could just soak up some of his aura. It was embarrassing. And then you look at the cover to his latest book and the guy on front is even hotter. It's like, dude, somehow you manage to attract amazing looks, I gotta hang with you.
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