I had a great time at the World Fantasy Convention held in Madison, Wisconsin, this weekend. Since it was local, I only showed up on Friday and Saturday. I wandered around the dealer’s hall and the art exhibit for a bit, but my razor-keen writer’s senses quickly told me that the best places to be were either the nightly parties or (if it wasn’t night yet) the bar.
I saw some old friends and made lots of new ones. I ran into Mike Stackpole almost immediately and bounced into Rich Dansky and his brand-new wife Melinda Thielbar soon after. When Lucien Soulban showed up, that completed the “faces I know” collection.
On Friday night, I joined the other authors in the mass autographing session and even managed to sell a few books with my scribbling in them. While there, I ran into some more gaming industry professionals—Jean Rabe and Don Bingle—who were just down the table from me. Also, Drew Bittner—the man who designed the WildStorms CCG with me—hunted me down to catch up with me and show off his wife Katherine.
On Saturday night, I moderated a panel about gaming and fiction. My fellow panelists—Rich Dansky, Lucien Soulban, and Walter Jon Williams—did a wonderful job. They were informed, eloquent, and willing to share not only their experiences but their microphones.
In the course of the show, I talked with Ginjer Buchanan (who edits the Conan books with me for Ace Books), Nancy Holder (a fellow IATMW member), Michael Reaves, Marc Zicree, Maria Alexander, John Helfers (another fellow IATMW member), Martin Greenberg, Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, Alice Henderson, Martin Greenberg, John C. Hay, Joe and Gay Haldeman, Robert Vardeman, Maurice Broaddus, David D. Levine, Kelly McCullough, Jack Byrne, William O’Connor, Jim Pavelec, Christopher Golden, Dave Smeds, Richard Chwedyk, Matthew Stover, Scott Bakker, Julie and Scott Wright, David Willoughby, Lisa Frietag, Jerome Epps, Naomi Kritzer, Gary Wassner, and lots of others I’m too sleep-deprived to recall at the moment. One and all, these are delightful people, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them and (in many cases) reading their books.
For an old, gaming-convention guy, the WFC struck me as strange. Most gaming cons scream for people to join them. The WFC caps its “memberships” at 850, plus about 50 staffers. Everyone I met was either a published professional or aspired to be one.
The show had panels but they didn’t seem to be the main draw. Instead, it was a chance for people to meet their favorite authors and to network like crazy. I enjoy doing both of these, and if I can make it down to Austin next year, I’d love to do it again.