And now it’s time for my long overdue WorldCon Recap.
I wrote up a piece for The Woolf Quarterly and you can check it out here. It focuses more on what WorldCon is. In this post I’d like to dive into my personal experiences and thoughts on what turned out to be an exceptional weekend.
My First convention
WorldCon 2019 was my first convention ever. almost twenty years ago, I’d worked as a banquet server at other conventions but this was my first time as an attendee.
My wife was in town for a business trip as well so I took advantage of the extra days and volunteered for setup. It was a great way to not only meet new people but also get familiar with the layout and organization of this massive convention.
My first day was a bit lonely. I’d see a face or two that I knew but I mostly spent my time exploring and attending panels by myself. It had its perks. I was totally free to absorb my first day as I saw fit. The loneliness really only set in with the thought of 4 more days of being by myself in a sea of people. Luckily day two fixed everything.
First thing in the morning I attended a kaffeeklatsch with agent and editor Julie Crisp. A kaffeeklatsch is a small informal gathering of no more than ten people and it’s meant to be both informative and relaxed. Not only was Julie incredibly welcoming and knowledgeable, I got to meet other authors as well as Arnaud Koëbel, a friend and writing group colleague from my time in Paris. I was also lucky enough to meet Dutch authors Kim ten Tusscher and J. Sharpe who took me under their wing.
My convention made much more fun by their company. Check them out. Both are traditionally published in the Netherlands but self publish in English.
The next day I attended another kaffeeklatsch, this time for author Devin Madson. This proved to be a very lucky encounter. Not only was she an awesome person, I got the recommendation for my current editor from her.
I continued to meet all sorts of interesting people in myriad fields but all relating to or inspired by genre fiction. By the final night, I got to watch the Hugos from the bar with authors Devin Madson, Sam Hawke, and Tasha Suri, book reviewer Yasser Ahmed , and artist C.N.R Shiotsuki. I know this seems like a ton of name dropping, and it is, but my intention is to steer you toward their work. These are great people who deserve to be seen.
SO MUCH LEARNING!
Let’s talk about panels. Panels form the academic portion of WorldCon and account for the vast majority of events. I’d planned to attend between four and six a day but quickly found that to be impossible. The line up was great and thus the lines for each panel were usually huge. Between that and sheer timing, I averaged three a day.
I learned so, so much from these panels. There’s too much to ever post everything but the following are The titles and some juicy tid bits from some of the panels I attended.
Editors: What Makes the Cut: Well, the answer is voice. Consistent voice that carries itself through the work. A strong voice can often make up for other shortcomings.
Pitch Perfect: This panel was about crafting the perfect pitch. As a whole the panelists confirmed all our suspicions. EVERYONE HATES SYNOPSES! Why are they still around? Apparently they’re more of a tool for convincing sales and marketing types later in the publishing process.
Contracts and Talking Terms: There were so many pieces of good info from this one but one small but important bit involved specific wording in contracts. If a contract says “reasonable endeavors” will be taken. That means publishers are required to do something but that’s no guarantee of any real effort. “Best endeavors” means they have to try their literal, provable best to solve the issue. This is the term you want.
Horror: Where are we going? : The short answer is up. The horror market is starting a hefty upswing. Good news for all you dark writers out there.
Invented Mythologies: This was a great panel. That two of the authors were also phd’s in myth and history didn’t hurt. All of the panelists were excellent and had some great, thought provoking quotes. The following is my best approximation of what they said based on my notes.
Adrian Tchaikovsky- “So much of SFF myth reads like an instruction manual. Myth should be fuzzy and inaccurate.”
Marie Brennan- “I expect magic and religions to be connected. Of course they would be. It makes no sense not to”
Fonda Lee- “Put yourself in place of a character in your magical world. What is everyday magic and what is special magic?”
Marina J Lostetter- “Modern myth is often just a simplification of history.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg. From industry tips to genre explorations (So excited to dive into Grimdark) WorldCon was a wellspring of information.
I could on and on about my time there but I’ll leave it here. If you have any questions about my experiences or what I picked up along the way, feel free to contact me.