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31 October 2011 @ 08:00 am
World Fantasy Con Wrap Up!  
Last Thursday, over 800 authors, illustrators, editors, booksellers and fans descended on the Town and Country Hotel and Convention Centre in San Diego, California for the 37th annual World Fantasy Convention.  From Thursday through Sunday, days and nights were packed with lectures, readings, panels, book signings and parties.  So much was going on concurrently that no WFC attendee could possibly take it all in, and no two attendees would ever have the same experience—so I hope readers will understand that this is just a taste of what went on during those fabulous four days.



Inkies at Dinner: (L-R) Cindy Pon, Malinda Lo, Cinda Williams Chima, Erin Underwood, Nancy Holder, Lena Coakley, Shannon Messenger, Kiersten White and friend.

This was my first World Fantasy Con, so I spent most of my time wandering around in a daze, thrilled to be rubbing elbows with some of my all-time favourite authors.  My personal highlights were meeting Peter S. Beagle, whose classic novel, The Last Unicorn, I must have read twenty times; and getting a book signed by Garth Nix, who smiled nervously while I blathered to him about how much I love his Abhorsen trilogy.

These were some of the panels and discussions that I enjoyed, but I hope other attendees will tell us their favourites in the comments section—and post links to their pics!

The Crystal Ceiling
with Kate Elliott, Charlaine Harris, Nancy Kilpatrick, Jane Kindred and Malinda Lo



Malinda Lo and Charlaine Harris

“It’s the patriarchy,” Malinda Lo quipped, as a catch-all explanation for everything that’s unfair in the publishing industry.  Turns out, it really is.  This panel was an eye-opener to all who thought that the great influx of women writers into the fantasy and sci-fi genres had brought about an equality of the sexes.   Not so! Charlaine Harris cited a study published in Strange Horizons that said that men’s books still receive 70% of the review space, and Kate Elliott was quick to point out that the male “gaze” or point of view is still considered the default in these genres. 

Neil Gaiman and Connie Willis in Conversation



Neil Gaiman

Connie Willis is just such a wonderful speaker.  You can see her at the opening ceremonies of the convention here, but I think she was even better when she and Neil Gaiman interviewed each other.  One of my favourite moments happened when she asked Neil about when and how he knew he was a writer.  This was Neil’s (paraphrased) reply:

“I was about twenty-one years old, and I was having a sleepless night, tossing and turning.  I knew that I wanted to be a writer— I’d always known that—but it didn’t seem to be a very practical choice.  And then it suddenly occurred to me that if I did get a different job and worked at it for the rest of my life, I would say on my deathbed: ‘I could have been a writer.’ But I wouldn’t know if I was lying.  I decided then and there that if I tried to be a writer and failed it would be okay, but that I just couldn’t live with not knowing if I might have been one.”

I Believe that Children are the Future
with Karen Healey, Marlene Perez, Tamora Pierce and Cindy Pon

Enthusiasm for YA fantasy was contagious at this panel.  All four women spoke eloquently about how much they loved their children’s and YA audiences.  “This is an area where you can really make a difference,” said Tamora Pierce.  “If a kid says to me that a book of mine changed their life, I believe them because I remember the books that changed my life.”  Cindy Pon agreed, saying, “The books that resonate the most for me are still the books I read as a child, because then I read with an open mind and an open heart.”

 Some YA recommendations from the panel:  Ashfall by Mike Mullin; Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst; The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima; The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner; The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint; and anything by Terry Pratchett.

Guest of Honor Presentation: A Fairy Tale Life, Slide Presentation and Talk
by Ruth Sanderson

Ruth Sanderson is the illustrator of two of my favorite picture books, Jane Yolen's Sleeping Beauty and Where Have the Unicorns Gone.  I'll let her work, which was for sale in the dealer's room of the conference, speak for itself:





The Importance of a Journey

with Cinda Williams Chima, David B. Coe, Bernard Dukas and Bruce McAllister

These four well-traveled panellists had quite a few tips for using travel experiences to create both real and fantasy settings.  Moderator Cinda Williams Chima advised writing about older travel memories because “time often tells us what is important about a place.”  David Coe’s advice to traveling writers was more practical: “Keep your receipts and try to stay with friends.”

“But can you capture the emotional truth of a place without going there?” Cinda asked.  “Absolutely,” Bruce McAllister answered.  His theory: We travel to give ourselves permission to write about a place, but it isn’t always necessary. 

The World Fantasy Awards

Finally, on Sunday afternoon we all squeezed into our finery for the World Fantasy Awards Banquet.  Winners were:



Best Novel

 Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)

Best Novella
“The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All-New Tales)

Best Short Fiction
 “Fossil-Figures” by Joyce Carol Oates (Stories: All-New Tales)

Best Anthology
My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me by Kate Bernheimer, ed. (Penguin)

Best Collection
What I Didn’t See and Other Stories by Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer)

Best Artist
Kinuko Y. Craft

Special Award, Professional
Marc Gascoigne for Angry Robot

Special Award, Non-Professional
Alisa Krasnostein for Twelfth Planet Press

And the winners of this year’s Lifetime Achievement award were authors Peter S. Beagle and Angélica Gorodischer. Congratulations to the winners and nominees!
 
 
 
 
tracy_d74tracy_d74 on October 31st, 2011 04:41 am (UTC)
WOW! You've done such a great job of writing about your experience. The pictures are great. One day I will get to this conference. One day.

Thank you for sharing, Lena!

Edited at 2011-10-31 04:42 am (UTC)
Devadeva_fagan on October 31st, 2011 09:13 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing the recap! It sounds like it was a wonderful con!
keelyinkster on October 31st, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
Wow, sounds and looks like a great Convention, wish I could have been there. I'd seen Neil in his bubble hat on Twitter, such a humble guy, talented writer and inspirational speaker.
Cheers for sharing Lena!
(Deleted comment)
lena_coakley on November 1st, 2011 03:46 am (UTC)
Lovely to meet you too, Cindy!
rllafeversrllafevers on October 31st, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for this great recap! It almost makes up for having to miss the whole thing due to illness! :-(
lena_coakley on November 1st, 2011 03:45 am (UTC)
We missed you, Robin! Hope you are getting better!
Rebecca Upjohn on October 31st, 2011 04:12 pm (UTC)
World Fantasy Con
Wow, Lena! It sounds as if your time there has been inspiring. Makes me want to go next year. Thanks for sharing this.
lena_coakley on November 1st, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
Re: World Fantasy Con
It's in Toronto next year, Rebecca. You should definitely sign up!