Back from World Fantasy

I had a great deal of fun this past weekend at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington, DC (actually Arlington, VA, if you want to be technical about it). I got to see Rio Youers read from a work in progress that was absolutely fantastic. I can’t wait for the novel to come out. I also got to see F. Paul Wilson and Thomas F. Monteleone do a joint reading that was very fun and often quite funny. I attended a panel on Robert Aickman, moderated by my good friend and hotel roommate Simon Strantzas and featuring Chelsea Quinn YarbroPeter Straub, and Michael Dirda, which has me eager to try some Aickman. (It’s true, I’ve never read him. This is a terrible oversight I hope to rectify soon.)

My own panel, “The Myriad Faces of Dragons,” went very well, despite my dearth of knowledge about dragons. (I did get to name-check Puff, Tiamat, the stop-motion animated dragon from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and Godzilla, and diss the terrible film Reign of Fire, so my work there was clearly done.) My fellow panelists did most of the heavy lifting: Naomi Novik was her usual charming self, and Marie Brennan, whom I hadn’t met before, I don’t think, was a font of knowledge. Moderator James Maxey asked very good questions and kept the audience interruptions to a minimum, which is no mean feat at World Fantasy. (Michael A. Stackpole was supposed to be on the panel with us but had to bow out beforehand.) For a panel at 8 PM on Saturday night, it was remarkably well attended. The room was packed, and it was in no way a small room. We can thank Naomi and Marie for the crowd, no doubt.

The dealers room was as impressive as ever. One dealer was even carrying copies of Hunt at World’s End and Die and Stay Dead, which I was grateful to see. I spent a lot of time at the ChiZine Publications table, especially once I noticed that copies of Chasing the Dragon always seemed to sell when I was present and did not sell when I wasn’t. I signed a few books for readers, which always makes me happy, even if I can’t always think of something suitably witty to say. (“So nice to meet you at WFC 2014!” became my go-to inscription.) I managed to come home with only three books from the dealers room: Tell My Sorrows to the Stones by Christopher Golden, Burnt Black Suns by Simon Strantzas, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume 1, edited by Laird Barron and Michael Kelly. Well, three in addition to the approximately twenty pounds of books in the overflowing goody bag, that is. Or should I say goody duffel. (I appreciate the generosity, I really do, but sometimes I think they forget that we all have to travel home after the convention!)

The hotel was great, with a layout well conducive to a convention of this size, and the programming was routinely interesting. But as anyone familiar with conventions knows, it’s all about the people. That’s why I go to these things, to see friends and make new ones and network and make new contacts. This time around I had the pleasure of spending time with a great number of old and new friends, including Helen MarshallLaura MarshallRobert ShearmanSimon Strantzas, artist Chris Roberts, Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, Daniel Braum, James Chambers, Craig Shaw Gardner, Rain Graves, Sandra Kasturi, Russell Farr of Ticonderoga Publications, David Nickle, Jeff Conner, Nathan Ballingrud, Dale Bailey, Rio Youers, F. Brett Cox and his step-daughter, whose name I am unfortunately blanking on right now, Michael & Carolyn Kelly, Angela Keeley, Veronica Schanoes, Genevieve Valentine, and so many others. Who you spend your time with can make or break your convention experience, and I’m lucky to have so many great friends and associates in this business that I can spend my time with.

I didn’t stick around for the World Fantasy Awards this year, but you can find a list of the winners here.

I’m very much looking forward to next year’s World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, NY!

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