Em's place

Writing, anxiety-wrangling, tea.

Worldcon Report, Part the First: The People

By Emma on September 7, 2012

So I am back in Blighty and mostly over the horrific jet lag, which means it’s time to write about Worldcon. I’m a little intimidated actually; there’s just so much to write about and I’m bound to forget something and someone. Let me get this out of the way first:

I met Neil Gaiman. And he is absolutely lovely.

Okay, now that’s done, I’m going to just write about stuff as I think of it because trying to form a coherent narrative out of the last ten days is like trying to pick out a single tail in a sack full of writhing cats.

Where do I start? Well, there were 18 (I think) Angry Robot and Strange Chemistry authors there, along with Lee Harris (@LeeAHarris) (A.R. editor), Amanda Rutter (@ALRutter) (S.C. Editor) and Mike Underwood (@MikeRUnderwood)(Sales and Marketing). They are all lovely. Really. So it meant I got to hang out with Adam Christopher (@ghostfinder), which is one of my favourite things to do, and I met Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig)– everything you’ve heard about him is true. Everything. No, seriously, when the zombie apocalypse happens I want him to be in my party of survivors. He’d stop us going insane and we could build barricades out of the new expletives he comes out with every three seconds (or thereabouts). I met Gwenda Bond (@gwenda) who is frighteningly beautiful and I have fallen a little bit in love with Ramez Naam (@ramez) because he makes me bowl better and because he gave a fantastic presentation on neurophysiology and tech that kept me awake, engaged and interested even though it was 9am and I’d only had 3 hours sleep. Oh that reminds me, don’t listen to Chuck Wendig when he tells you that the best way to bowl is “just throw it as hard as you can, right down the middle, don’t worry about rolling it.” That way only leads to evil. And grumpy bowling alley owners.

Also, Maurice Broaddus is simply kindness incarnate. And he has a gorgeous voice. It’s official. I bottled up all my courage to go to the Tor party all by myself only to end up in the social death of not knowing a soul there. I stood by the new book covers display like a total lemon until I spotted Maurice and from that moment on the party became brilliant. Thanks for looking after me Maurice!

I also want it to be on record that Lee Harris is one of the kindest and most supportive editors in the world.

I also met Stephen Blackmoore (@sblackmoore) who forms a formidable comedy duo with Chuck. Introduce Croatian Schnapps and that’s a fine party right there. I need to get his book, it sounds ace.

Mission accomplished

I phoned my Nana after Eastercon and told her that George R.R. Martin was there, but that I didn’t speak to him because I was too shy. She was pretty appalled and said that if I ever find myself at the same event as him again I needed to give him a message from her. It was “Thank you for writing your wonderful Game of Thrones novels, Mr Martin, they’ve given me many hours of pleasure.” Now, my grandmother means the world to me. She’s 72 and texts. She’s more dynamic than I am on most days and she’s the best matriarchal rolemodel ever: she knows everything that’s going on in the family but doesn’t judge. She gives advice with love and is utterly selfless and generous with her time. She’s amazing. So when she asked me to do that, I knew I had to.

And I did. I went up to Mr Martin on the first day of Worldcon and gave him my grandmother’s message. He was delighted. He smiled broadly, giggled a little and said “Why thank you, and please pass on my best regards to your grandmother.” Isn’t that ace?

Have iPad, will make friends

One of the overarching impressions I have of Worldcon, and indeed Chicago, is that so many people are so friendly there. I was playing with my shiny new iPad (a present to myself for the Angry Robot deal) and people stopped and asked what it was like. One lovely lady, @ShadowsMomCA, stopped by to tell me about a case/handbag and took the time to give me a lesson in the interface as I was struggling to get to grips with my first Apple device. I’d also like to thank Anne Lyle (@AnneLyle)  for app tips!

At the risk of name dropping…

I met Bill Willingham (@BillWillingham), the writer of Fables and Fairest (I read the first 6 issues of the latter on the plane and it’s brilliant) and his PA, Stephanie @hellocookie who totally understands what it’s like to be nervous of revolving doors and the trouble with blushing. Both made Worldcon really rather special for me.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Mary Robinette Kowal (@MaryRobinette). Oh my goodness, she is so very, very cool. We geeked out about historical clothing, fossils and vintage typewriters. She also wore the best dress to the Hugos, in my humble opinion.

Did I mention I met Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself)? I did? Oh. Well, he was so warm, patient with me when I my fangirlish glee struck me dumb and coped so amazingly well with everyone wanting to speak to him all the time. Really, it was a spectacular thing to watch. We talked about American Gods (I love that book) and how having your book blurbed by your heroes becomes less nerve wracking over time. I hope he’s right, as my nerves are pretty damn wracked at the moment.

I also got the chance to hang out with Paul Cornell (@Paul_Cornell)who is one of my favourite people. He is so very lovely and had a really rotten time thanks to broken airplanes and other things. I was so pleased that he and his fellow podcasters won a Hugo for the SF Squeecast, and deservedly so, it’s great.

There’s a picture of Bill, Stephanie, Paul and I here that doesn’t make me want to die. Which is nice.

When online friends are splendid in real life

One of the highlights, people wise, was finally meeting @wiswell – aka John Wiswell – who has been an online friend for at least a couple of years through the Friday Flash community. He’s just as lovely in person as he is online. I took him with me to the SF Signal (@sfsignal) meetup and that was a splendid afternoon. We hung out with Patrick Hester (@atfmb) (also lovely), John DeNardo (another lovely chap – there’s a theme here) who won a Hugo, Brent Bowen (@daemonrange) of Adventures in Sci-fi Publishing, Violette Malan (@VioletteMalan), Laura Resnick and others. It was simply brilliant. I heartily recommend both the SF Signal and Adventures in Sci-Fi podcasts by the way. I listened to loads whilst I was sewing my Worldcon outfits. Oh, and Writing Excuses too, that’s ace.

And an apology

I fear I have left people out of this. There are so many that made Worldcon great fun. @mforbeck, @KimeCurran, @LauraLam, @staciadecker and lots of others, including the chap I chatted to at the Tor Party about writing whose name I can’t remember (sorry!) but was very sweet. Everyone I met was friendly and approachable, thank you for making such a scary event an absolutely delightful adventure.

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{ 8 comments... read them below, or add one }

  1. Brian Buhl says:

    Something Emma will obviously leave out is her own contribution to making Worldcon wonderful.

    At the Tor party she mentioned, where I was feeling completely out of my depth and knew nobody, she took the time to talk to me. Not only did she talk to me, but she listened to me and encouraged me. It was so completely unexpected and wonderful, and I cannot express enough how appreciative I am for that.

    I went on to see her Emma a few more times throughout Worldcon, either by accident or by planning. She demonstrated just how approachable, funny, and genuinely warm she is.

    I think what makes Worldcon so fantastic is that it is a very positive, welcoming community. Emma herself demonstrated those characteristics, and I am very glad for it.

  2. Emma says:

    Brian! That’s it! So sorry I forgot your name (blushes). It really was my pleasure.

    • Brian Buhl says:

      Something of an epilogue to our meeting at the Tor party…

      Monday morning was the first morning in months where I woke up and really wanted to write. I wrote some on the plane, on my way back home. I’ve written a little every evening since then.

      I don’t know how long my new found enthusiasm will endure, but I credit a large part of it to that brief meeting at the Tor party. Thank you again!

  3. John DeNardo says:

    Thnaks for the kind words, Emma. It was a treat meeting you. 🙂

  4. John DeNardo says:

    That’s right, I totally misspelled “Thanks”. Hugo-winning editor, right here . 🙂

  5. Gwenda says:

    It was absolutely lovely to meet you — next time, we must talk more. And you truly are an excellent bowler!

  6. John Wiswell says:

    It was an absolute pleasure to meet you, Emma, and I only hope we’ll meet again in San Antonio next year. Both chatting at the SF Signal lunch and your signing queue were fun. It was a shame my flight was so close to the end of the convention or I would have stuck around longer. Everyone I met from Angry Robot seemed like utter class.

  7. Hi Emma!

    It was wonderful to meet you and hang out. I’m glad your first WorldCon was so memorable 🙂


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