Friday, October 30, 2009

On the road again: World Fantasy Con, San Jose, day 4

So many writers, artists, and editors attend WFC that if you're a beginning writer, as I am, you're lucky if you get on any programming items at all. Consequently, I was quite tickled that this year I was fortunate enough to have the chance to participate in two panels. The first was today at 5:00. Here's what the con program guide had to say about it:

5:00 PM Gold Room The Last Resort

It’s been observed by some that fantasy authors elevate conflicts in their work to the level of lethal violence with considerable frequency. Though on one hand it can make for an exciting work, on the other hand it can reduce the impact of the violence to the point of triviality. Is there a desirable balance that can be reached? And, what are ways of achieving violent tension without actual violence?

Mark L. Van Name (moderator), Sue Bolich, Peter V. Brett, Joan Spicci Saberhagen, Alan DeNiro
The idea for this panel, which was one I pitched, grew from a conversation I had at last year's World Fantasy Con with Malcolm Azania, a great guy who writes as Minister Faust. He and I were discussing the uses of violence in fiction, when writers go too far, how much violence a situation justifies, and so on. We explored those basic topics and more in today's panel, which played to a pretty full house (ca. 150 folks) and seemed to go over fairly well.

Dinner was at Los Cubanos, a Cuban (duh!) restaurant within easy walking distance of the hotel. The portions were larger than we expected, so we both ate more than we should have and also left some food, but it was all tasty. I'd eat there again.

The evening featured the mass signing, which is largely an exercise in humiliation for the lesser known writers. Picture a large hotel ballroom with the perimeter covered with tables and rows of tables in its center. Behind every six-foot table sit two writers, their shoulders touching (or nearly so), their name cards in front of them, their pens ready to sign, promo material (bookmarks, postcards, and so on) at hand--and no one in front of them. I felt lucky that a few hardy souls came to see me.

Next up is the Tor party, which I will visit and then return to work. Enough for tonight; off I go.

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