* * *
Thursday is my big day at the con, I’m on a panel with a bunch of epic fantasy bigwigs including George Martin and Brandon Sanderson. It’s my only panel at the con this year, and it’s going to be a big one.
So I make a point of getting up extra early so I’ll have time to perform my elaborate grooming rituals, anoint myself with scented oils, and carefully select which of my many stylish tuxedos I will wear to the convention.
My which I mean to say that I wake up at 11:00 and am walking to the con by 11:20.
- 11:30 – Coffee.
Yeah. If I’m going to try be witty on the panel. I definitely need some. So I get some.
For those of you that are curious, it’s a large white chocolate mocha with hazelnut.
Yeah, yeah. I know it’s not the most macho coffee in the world. But I couldn’t get my usual. They didn’t have blueberry syrup.
- 11:45 – Satyriasis
While heading up to my panel I get a text from a friend. Pooka is the lovely fan who took me under her wing at my very first ComicCon back in 2009. I was wandering aimlessly, trembling and dewy as a newborn fawn. She took pity on me and, to completely mix the metaphor, showed me the ropes.
Pooka’s message tells me she’s been standing in line for hours and is worried that she won’t be able to get in. I give her a call and let her know that this is the one place in the world that I might actually be able to use my meager crumb of celebrity and get her in the door.
So I get to the room and start to stroll down the line. Pooka isn’t hard to spot because she’s wearing six inch platform boots and… well… this:
Pooka is the one on the right. You can’t see it too well in this picture, but she’s also covered in glitter.
(Also, those aren’t cat ears, they’re horns. I made the mistake of calling her a catgirl and she pointed out my mistake.)
She’s only about 20 people from the front of the line, so I wander over and say hello. Then I pull her out of the line and we head to the door where I’m also going to try and work my mojo to get her and another friend.
I met Gregory Noveck at the con last year, he’s a fan of the books that works in the movie business, and he’s been kind enough to help clue me in to some of the mysteries of how Hollywood works.
I introduce the two of them, and we chat for a moment or two until the panel before mine finishes. Then I show my badge to the door guy and head inside with my two friends and a few of the other speakers and press people. Once I’m in, I can see that there’s actually a ton of seats available. Pooka didn’t need my help after all.
With Pooka and Greg are safely inside, I head out again to get a drink of water and burn a little nervous energy. I’m preoccupied with the upcoming panel, a little nervous because I’m going to be up there with some people who are a Pretty Big Deal.
It’s not until almost 5 minutes later that I start thinking of how this must have looked to the other people standing in line around Pooka.
So for the record, I’d like to officially state that I’m not a pervert.
Well, wait. Depending on your viewpoint, I probably am.
But I’d like to officially state that I’m not the particular flavor of tacky pervert I must have looked like to the casual observer. I didn’t just show up for my panel, troll down the line until I found some random, scantily-clad, hot girl, and pull her inside as some sort honorary arm candy. We know each other. We’re friends.
- 12:00: The Epic Panel
We talked about epic fantasy.
It was a good panel, but we needed more time or fewer people. Seven is too many in my opinion, especially when you’ve got this many heavy hitters. Especially if you consider that we’re folks who tend to measure our word counts in terms of millions.
For the most part, I tried to keep my answers brief and to the point. And a little funny never hurts, either. I got a few good laughs from the audience and didn’t make an ass of myself, so I consider the experience a success.
If you’re interested in the details, you can check out some videos of the panel over here.
After the panel, Martin came up and shook my hand, said he’d really enjoyed my second book. Said it was a good, quick read. A page-turner.
I was caught completely off guard by this. I was stunned and flattered, in all honesty. Luckily, I didn’t have time to make an ass of myself because the people in charge quickly hustle us over to our….
- 1:30 Epic Signing
Everyone on the panel sits down to sign books for a while. Paolini and Martin were busy as bees. I wasn’t in nearly as big a demand, which was actually really nice as it gave me the chance to hang out and chat with the people that wanted their books signed. That’s something there isn’t time for me to do at some of the bigger events where we get 300+ people.
- 2:30 – Ronin
I owe allegiance to no man. I wander the exhibit hall, a law unto myself, looking at catgirls and thinking a lot about waveform motion.
- 4:30 – Christopher Fucking Moore.
I hear that Jim Butcher’s signing is finishing up at 4:30, so I wander over to meet him and see if he’s interested in grabbing an early dinner with Sanderson, Paolini and I.
As an unexpected treat, Amber Benson is there as well. I totally get a hug. Because I’m awesome.
Then I realize one of the other guys there signing books is Christopher Moore. And at first all I can think is, “Fucksocks!”
You see, up until a year ago, I’d never read anything Moore had written. Then I picked up a copy of You Suck to read on a plane and immediately fell in love. The next day I went to my local indi bookstore and bought every book he’d ever written.
I’ve been meaning to write a blog about his books for ages. But for now, let me simply say that he’s brilliant. Double plus brilliant.
I grab a quick handshake and do a brief, “Hello. Your stuff is incredible.” And leave it at that, lest I over-gush.
Then I buy the last two special-edition copies of Lamb they have for sale. (They look like bibles, gold leaf and everything) One is for me, and the other I’m going to use it as a prize for Worldbuilders later on this year.
- 5:00 – Dinner
So Sanderson, Butcher, Paolini, and Rothfuss walk into a bar….
Or rather, we walk through a bar, and into a restaurant to have dinner. We’re accompanied by Christopher’s sister, Angela, and Jim’s friend, Priscilla Spencer. I know Priscilla from way back (She does Books for Boobs, among other things.) But I never realized that she was the same Priscilla that did Jim’s maps for the Codex Alera.
Yeah. I’m kinda thick sometimes.
We have a lovely time over dinner. We tell stories and engage in the geeky book talk.
Unfortunately, I have a previous engagement, and I have to leave far sooner than I’d like.
I stand up and put my napkin on the table. “I’m really sorry,” I say. “But I’ve got to get going. I’m doing a little cameo appearance at Wootstock.”
I try to say this casually. As if I do this sort thing all the time. But I’m pretty sure I sound smug as hell. Because the truth is, I’m really, really fucking excited about getting to be part of Wootstock.
Also, I am slightly terrified. Slightly completely terrified.
It turns out Jim and Priscilla have tickets for Wootstock, so we share a taxi on the way there….
I’m in a taxi with Jim Butcher, heading to a theater where I’m going to meet with members of the Geek Gliterati. I’m heading to a theater where I’m going to stand onstage, alone, and read something to a crowd of over 1000 people.
My life has become rather strange over the last couple years….
* * *