a quick WFC recap

I wanted to do a quick WFC recap before it gets so far away as to be irrelevant, so here I go. :)

First off, this was the first con I’d been to since about 2006 that I didn’t have professional obligations at. In fact, that’s almost a blanket statement: the first two conventions I went to were the only ones I’ve *not* been at in some professional aspect or another, so it was a bit weird for me in the first place. And I’m sure it’s been said elsewhere, so I won’t harp on it, but usually WFC, which is The Professional Convention, seems to only let none-GoH people be on one panel and perhaps one reading, so that all the pros there can do something. That…didn’t happen this time. And we shall leave it at that.

Also, had I known in advance of buying plane tickets that the banquet would be on Sunday afternoon instead of what-is-my-impression-of-more-commonly Saturday evening, I would have gone out Thursday and come back Sunday. (Possibly failing to know this was my own fault through not paying enough attention.) So those things were kind of odd.

I did, however, get to go to quite a few panels, which I’d practically never done before at a convention. One of our highlights was standing around bantering with an old dude before a panel: he was staring into the very large, very empty panel hall with dismay, saying he didn’t think anybody was going to show up, certainly not enough to fill the place. So he said to me and Ted, “You two go round up fifty people and make them sit at the front, will you?” and we, bemused, went into the panel and discovered this old dude with whom we’d been bantering was William F freaking Nolan, author of LOGAN’S RUN. Holy crap, man! And he felt passionately that even dystopic stories need to deliver hope at the end (he loathes the ending of the LOGAN’S RUN film for that reason), which was an idea I could totally get behind.

The end of the ill-titled/conceived Broads With Swords panel (which went a lot better than it might’ve, all things considered) devolved into something of a “list female epic fantasists we like” thing rather than a Q&A, which is slightly too bad, but it certainly became clear that there are a lot of really awesome female fantasists coming out of Australia. :)

Oh, I went to Mike Shevdon’s reading from his final 61 NAILS book (sorry, can’t remember the series title right now!) and I was deeply and profoundly admiring of how incredibly well he wrote a teenage girl’s point of view. *Superiorly* done. In fact, I asked him when he’d done time as a teenage girl. :)

The “is YA the future of all things written” (or something like that) panel was pretty interesting, with some good discussions about what makes YA work and how YA takes in all genres (and sometimes renames them) and churns them out again as YA which makes them all safe, or something. Interesting discussion.

The utter highlight of the paneling for me was Susan Cooper’s interview, in which she told some wonderful stories, including how she got her first journalism job thanks to Ian Fleming, whom she described as an extraordinarily generous man, and talked a bit about Tolkien being a perfectly terrible lecturer, and other fairly terrific things, most of which are escaping me right now. :)

Someone in the audience asked, in an attemt to settle a debate between herself and her best friend, whether (to paraphrase loosely) whether The Dark Is Rising Sequence has a happy or bittersweet ending. Cooper laughed and said “This isn’t a cop-out, but you’re both right. Once the books are over…that’s my story told. I don’t know any more than you do, so neither of you can be wrong in your interpretation!” The woman allowed as how that was fair, but then admitted she’d really been hoping for a definitive answer so she could go home and say SEE I TOLD YOU I WAS RIGHT! :)

Cooper also said she’d been dining with “Ursula” a few weeks ago and that she, Cooper, had commented on the end of the 5th Earthsea book, where a character says to another, “You haven’t gone into the forest yet,” and the other says, “Not yet,” and Ursula sparkled a little and said “Not yet.” So that made someone else say “You practically opened yourself up for this: is there any chance there will be more books in the Dark Is Rising series?” And she said that while she felt the Drews had to grow up and go their own way she’d always hoped she’d get to write more about Will and Merriman, but the story hadn’t come to her yet. But there’s hope! :)

The only down side to the interview was that the interviewer seemed to be having difficulty remembering who was the person being interviewed. In fact, the woman I was with later said to me that about halfway through she’d begun to wonder if the program did not have it listed as A Susan Cooper Interview but rather A Conversation With Susan Cooper And… which it was not. So that was fairly disappointing, particularly when the interviewer actually answered the final two audience questions without giving Cooper the opportunity to respond at all. I was not charmed or delighted by that in the least.

On a social level the convention was brilliant. Friday night I recognized Tobias Buckell from his, like, Twitter picture, and went and introduced myself and hung out with him at dinner, which was awesome. After that I embarrassed myself with Garth Nix. *laughs* I also met my web designer, and one of the war room word warriors, and a lovely woman who had the astonishing good taste to recognize my name as the author of THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, which had never happened before! I got to see Liz Williams and to hang out with Juliet McKenna, and didn’t see Kari Sperring nearly enough but did get to spend enough time with Chaz Brenchley as to finally feel like we’d really gotten some quality time together (and I also got to meet his delightful wife, who is clearly taking really good care of him, as he looks tremendous), and just on and on. I finally met BABA YAGA’S DAUGHTER editor and completely failed to meet/catch up with at least a dozen others upon whom I laid eyes but never spoke to. :) It was a fine weekend, and I hope to go back to Brighton sometime!

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