It’s taken me about a week to recover from Continuum 12 and I thought I better write this up otherwise I’d put it off until next year. It was the first time I sat on the committee for a convention (I only went to my first con two years ago and now I’m kinda addicted). So it was a really different experience for me sitting behind the reg desk, rather than just going to panels and lurking in the bar with other authors.
Epic Panel Adventures
I ended up being on seven panels throughout the convention, which was an all time epic record for me and not recommended (five on Sunday, including a stint as an emergency panellist on Horror Fiction). My favourite two panels were talking about 90s Point and Click Adventure Games with Brooke Maggs, Tom Guerney, Aidan Doyle and Queenie Chan, and discussing the Novella with Marlee Jane Ward and Brooke Maggs. The panellists on both of these were fantastic and had loads of insight into their topics of expertise. When discussing Point and Click, we each went through some of our favourite point and click games from the 90s. Apart from Monkey Island (which everyone agreed is awesome), mine were Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, King’s Quest VI and Discworld II. I love a lot of these games, not just because they were brilliant stories, but the good memories I have playing them with my family.
The novella panel had some great practical suggestions for writing novellas from Marlee and Brooke, which included limiting your locations, building your world in precise language, using location to convey character and making every word count. I participated in some more difficult panels such as “Consent in Spec Fic”, a late night panel which discussed some very difficult subject matter in fiction, and I really appreciated how respectful the audience was.
Because I was on committee, I only got to one other panel that I wasn’t actually on, which was “The Author is a Jerk”. I was trying to get some tips to cultivate my jerk persona. Unfortunately the panel seemed to be more about how not to be a jerk… 😉 Nah, it was great to finally hear my friend Michelle Goldsmith talk about her research into reader-author relations. To summarise, an author’s personality and actions can really affect whether a reader will buy their book. Many readers won’t buy books from authors if they are actively supporting political or social views they disagree with. Laura E. Goodin did a fantastic job moderating this panel. If you’re interested in learning how to moderate a panel, I’d recommend watching her in action.
Some more highlights for me included:
- Discovering Cat Sparks is basically me from the future come to warn us all about climate change. (I’m not joking, she is me).
- Talking all things Twilight Zone with Rjurik Davidson – turns out we’re both fans, and I got pretty jealous of the signed Richard Matheson Twilight Zone scripts he bought. Now plotting manaiacal ways to purloin the book involving my pet laser kraken…
- The fan fund auction, which is becoming my fav part of conventions these days. They’re hilarious fundraisers auctioning off books, comics, fan merch and silly things like toilet paper and soap. Part comedy act, part theatre, part shop, and very high entertainment value.
- Being an emergency horror panellist and getting to talk to Julia Svaganovic and Michelle Goldsmith about my terrible fear of things coming out of sewers, drains and swimming pools… if you get the chance to talk to either of these ladies at a convention make the time to do so, they are fabulous.
- PEOPLE BOUGHT MY BOOK which always feels weird and surreal and amazing when they come up to you to sign it. Seriously, it is the best feeling ever and never gets old.
- Getting to know the committee members over the space of the year – they put so much effort into the convention behind the scenes. It gave me a new appreciation for how much work people put into making conventions awesome.
- The fact my parents could come and hear me speak, although for the life of me I don’t know how my dad made friends with my arch-nemesis Aidan Doyle… Dad! Seriously! Nefarious enemy!
While I won’t be on the committee for next year’s Natcon, I’ll be helping out a little bit with programming and hopefully bringing my passion for emerging writers into suggesting panellists and panels. In case you were wondering, the Guest of Honour for next year is Seanan McGuire aka Mira Grant. You should all come!
The only problem I have now is how to get through all the books I bought… eek.