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World Fantasy Report

Those of you following me on Twitter know that, miracle of miracles, my flight actually left LaGuardia on Thursday — and on time, no less! Seriously, I didn’t believe I would get to Toronto until I was actually in the air. Even after we boarded, I was thinking, “Nah, it’s not gonna happen.” Funny enough, LaGuardia can’t get your departure to be on time most normal days, but apparently one day after being underwater everything is working smoothly. Not that I’m complaining, because I’m very, very happy I made it to the World Fantasy Convention!

It was great seeing the ChiZine gang again and meeting more of their authors, including Robert Shearman, who’s the nicest, funniest guy you’ll ever meet, and Tone Milazzo, who’s taller than King Kong and dresses impeccably. I deeply enjoyed talking business and trading laughs with Christopher Golden and James A. Moore, both of whom weren’t able to come to Necon back in July. Of course, seeing Marcy and G Italiano again was a definite highlight — hard to believe it’s been four years! — and so was Saturday night in their hotel room with Michael Kelly and so many others singing our own mangled versions of AC/DC and Neil Young songs while G played his weird, tiny travel guitar. That same night was the epic ChiZine Publications room party, but I’ll leave those stories up to the ones who stayed longer than I did. (Exhausted, I called it a day around midnight. The party lasted another four hours.)

My panel on Gothic Fantasy Noir was outstanding. Shamefaced, I arrived slightly late after lunch went longer than expected, but the panel welcomed me aboard and then, as I suspected would happen, I did a lot more listening than talking. Moderator Elwin Cotman asked very astute and unusual questions, focusing on elements of class, race, and socio-economics. My fellow panelists Dana Cameron, Gemma Files, Elizabeth Hand, and Rhiannon Held were all marvelous. I feel like I learned a lot just listening to them. I talked a bit, of course, but generally I absorbed more than shared. I’m always amazed at how much there still is for me to learn, even after being at this crazy writing game for a long while now.

Friday night’s mass signing in the ballroom was exceptionally fun thanks to sitting with Chris Golden, Jim Moore, Rio Youers, and Sephera Giron. I signed a couple of books, not a lot. It wasn’t a big sales weekend for me. Chasing the Dragon has been out for two years now, and there’s not much buzz anymore. New stuff always sells better, but Dying Is My Business won’t be out until next fall. Still, it was nice to hear from some readers how much they liked Dragon. I also got to sit with Rio, Sephera, Mike Marano and other fabulous people during the World Fantasy Award banquet on Sunday, which was surprisingly yummy for a hotel banquet. At least until the dessert came. I’m told butter tarts should in no way be as tough as hockey pucks. The awards ceremony itself was fun, though. Gary K. Wolfe knows how to work a crowd.

I went to a ton of readings over the course of the convention, including hearing Peter Straub read from a brand new novel in progress. I also heard an absolutely charming new science fiction story by F. Brett Cox. In the end, I left the convention having purchased very few books: Hair Side, Flesh Side by Helen Marshall, SuperNOIRtural Tales by Ian Rogers, and Beneath the Surface by Simon Strantzas. All collections, strangely enough. I also rescued a small handful of books I thought Alexa might like from the enormous, overflowing goody bag. Seriously, there were like twenty or more books in that thing. There was no way I was bringing all of them home with me on an airplane!

Speaking of Simon Strantzas, the convention wouldn’t have been possible for me without him and his wife Fran putting me up at their house just a short drive from the convention hotel. I didn’t know Simon all that well before this weekend, but now I feel like he’s one of my closest friends and favorite people. Somehow we made each other laugh nonstop. (“Nailed it!”) There was no way I could afford the membership, airfare, and hotel, so you can thank Simon and Fran for my presence at World Fantasy. Or blame them for it, depending.

And now I’m home, and it’s back to regular life, alas. But I just wanted to publicly thank everyone who put this convention together, including the amazing people who ran the con suite. Free, delicious hot buffets every night for dinner! Why don’t more conventions do that? So thank you, everyone involved! Thank you, Toronto (or actually Richmond Hill)! And thank you to all the attendees who made it such a fun, successful, and very hard to leave event!

I don’t think I’ll make it to next year’s World Fantasy Convention in Brighton in the U.K., but in 2014 it will be back in Washington, D.C., the same city where I attended my first World Fantasy back in 2003. That one I’ll definitely attend!

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