This weekend, and most of you will know, was Ottawa's annual speculative fiction convention. Attending as author guest of honour was only my favourite writer ever, Steven Erikson. This is the first and only time I've cared so damned much about the guest of honour (which isn't to say that the others were not worthy and excellent, they were. It's just that I admire Erikson's writing SO DAMNED MUCH).
I decided to take Friday off work in order to get a good sleep in and have enough time to set up in the afternoon before the dealer's room opened. It worked out exactly as planned. Caro of Renaissance Press came by and helped cart all of my stuff to the venue. We were there shortly after the room opened for dealers to set up. We were all done and ready by about 3pm. Since the room did not open to customers until 5pm, I headed out for lunch with Caro and her friend.
There is a fantastic little sushi place called Kyoto Sushi. It's on the corner of Bank and Slater street downtown, and it was absolutely delicious. The lunch special was just enough for very hungry bellies (or at least, my very hungry belly), and it was quite tasty. I highly recommend it. I'll be headed there again.
Following lunch, Caro went off to collect the things that were forgotten and left behind, and I settled in to get a couple of hours of selling in before the official opening ceremony in the evening. It was fun. There was time to catch up with people I haven't seen in about a year, and there was a lot of laughter. I headed up to the opening ceremonies. Mr. Erikson was, alas, delayed, due to a travelling issue and wasn't present, but it was great.
With the convention declared open officially, I decided that I was too tired to continue. There was an opening party in the evening, but I simply could not attend. It was going to be a long Saturday, and I could have used the rest.
Saturday was a long day. I taught martial arts in the morning, as the person I had to replace me had fallen ill. Poor soul. It's going around. I don't regret not being at CanCon in the morning (though I am a little sad for not being there for Erikson's interview with Blackgate Magazine, or for his talk on how he created the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. I would have loved to have sat in on that).
I arrived just before 1pm, not having had time to eat lunch. I was able to chat with people for about an hour before my official signing session.
So. This is the first ever signing session I've ever had at any convention. Ordinarily, I just hope to sell books from my table and I'll sign there. This time, there was a full half hour were I sat behind a desk all official like and hoped that someone would drop by and want a book signed by me. I was fully expecting to sit there and have no one stop by.
Also signing at the same time was fellow Renaissance writer and good friend Eric Desmarais, and Robert Sawyer. And Steven Erikson.
I was sitting at the same table as my favourite author, the one I'd been freaking out about for ages. The order was, from left to right, Eric, myself, Robert, then Steven. Then, lovely human being and wonderful local author Julie Czerneda dropped by to say hello. She went out of her way to introduce me to Steven Erikson. I waved at him from where I was and admitted that I was a huge fan. He and Robert Sawyer swapped places... and that's kinda really all I remember rightly.
What a dweeb.
I probably made a right fool of myself, if I'm perfectly honest. I never thought I would get star struck, but here I was, my brain shutting down like I was a thirteen-year-old girl at the height of Bieber fever. Still, Steven was absolutely lovely.
I was a little too out of it to take proper stock, but my first impression of Mr. Erikson (not his actual last name, I know), was that he was a very measured, calm sort of person.
And as if Julie Czerneda couldn't be lovelier, she bought a copy of Daughters of Britain from me and had me sign it during the signing session. Two things that made Saturday, as long and exhausting as it was, absolutely the best Saturday I think I'll ever have.
That's it, guys. Life has peaked for me.
Anyway, I do hope Julie enjoys the book. I'm always nervous when people buy copies. I do so want them to like what I write.
Also, a lovely young man from New York dropped by my table during the signing (hello, Micci!) and bought a copy of Daughters of Britain for me to sign. The signing went exactly not as I expected. I did sign, instead of sit for half an hour feeling sad and dreaming of a day when I might draw a crowd.
I participated in two panels in the evening, one on Asexual Identities in fiction and the other a goofy thing called a Spam Meet. The Asexual Identities panel had an enormous audience. I was extremely surprised, not least of all because we were in a competing time slot with the always wonderful Paper Aeroplane Contest, run by Marie Bilodeau (whom you must fear). It was a great panel, with plenty of laughter.
There was a wonderful atmosphere in that panel, and it was so wonderfully affirming to be with people who understood what being asexual was. It was so affirming, particularly since some of us have people in our lives who couldn't be bothered to do the mental exercise needed to understand asexuality as an identity, and constantly try to insist that we're somehow deficient.
As the panel said in resounding voices, we're not.
Also, it is incredibly gratifying to have people come up to you after a panel to thank you for speaking up and out about something because it has helped them discover they are not alone in the world. Needing representation myself was a large part of why I decided to start speaking up.
The spam meet was just a bunch of silly fun, where we cut up spam messages and rearranged the words to create flash stories with humorous, and strangely dark, results. There was a lot of death in that panel.
Then, once again, without the energy for the evening festivities, I went home, showered and crawled into bed.
I was bone tired.
But my brain was still buzzing in its useless fashion after meeting with Steven Erikson, and it buzzed for a full two hours after I crawled into bed.
Needless to say, I was not awake Sunday morning. Not even a little bit.
And I had a reading first thing in the morning.
To be honest, I don't really remember it. I don't really remember the first few hours of Sunday at all. I read, I remember. Others read also. I remember enjoying every reading in that session. Then I went back to the Dealer's Room in an effort to be available for anyone who wanted to chat or buy my books. Then I exited again. I was asked to play bouncer for the Steven Erikson kaffeeklatch.
Did you know that hotel coffee comes in little filter sacks? I did not. Clearly I need to hotel more often. Yes, I just used hotel as a verb. Yes, I understand that it's not "correct." No, I don't particularly care. The point is, I'm not the best hostess in the world.
Still, the kaffeeklatch went well. I was surprised that only half of the people who had signed up to attend actually made it. Sitting down for a conversation over coffee with an author is not something that comes one's way very often. I played bouncer, sticking by the door in case anyone tried to sneak in, and also keeping an eye on the time.
My first impression of Steven Erikson held. He is indeed a calm person, but one with great humour as well. He gave some very solid writing advice to those in attendance, with easy, actionable tips to overcoming obstacles to one's writing. I was quietly taking notes the whole time.
From there, with little time left in the day, it was back to the Dealer's Room for the last little bit of the convention. It ended at 3pm.
Following that, there was a get-together for the panellists and volunteers. I did not stay long. My ride was my good friend Bill, who had also volunteered to be Mr. Erikson's driver. We all left the party 'round about 5pm in order to make sure our author guest of honour was safely at the airport. During the trip, we chatted. If ever you get the chance, ask Steven Erikson about his encounters with bears during some of his digs. There were other archaeology stories that I found fascinating (and which I envied!) on the trip. It was really nice to talk outside of the pressures of the convention.
They say never meet your heroes, you will be disappointed.
Well, I had long admired Erikson's writing, and I am thrilled to say that the man is just a lovely person. It was a genuine pleasure to have met him, and I hope to do so again.
Perhaps next time, I'll be less likely to be such a dweeb.
I ended the day with a lovely dinner with my friends Bill and Dawn before heading home to sleep.
All in all, it was a really fantastic convention.
Alas, I didn't get to all the programming I wanted to, but that's what happens when you're also trying to hawk your wares!
I want to extend the warmest of thank-yous to everyone who made this weekend happen, from the tireless work of the organisers and co-chairs, to the volunteers who busted their butts the whole convention, to the panellists who made the programming such a success, and, of course, the convention attendees, who were uniformly (to my experience) wonderful and supportive.
We have a great community here, and I'm so thrilled to be a part of it.
A special thanks also to my Kung Fu brother J.T, who ensured that I got to where I needed to be promptly on Saturday, and was kind enough to collect my exhausted self that same night.
Thank you everyone.