Questing with Friends

This weekend, my girlfriend and I are attending Conquest 44 in Kansas City. This is my second Conquest and my girlfriend’s third. It is an interesting convention for me, because the crowd is largely Fantasy and Science Fiction. Horror writers are sort of the unspoken minority, both on the panels and in the dealer room. However, there is a lot of crossover in genre fiction, and it is always exciting to meet new writers, see old friends and colleagues, and just generally relight the fire.

This year, I heard a couple of writers I hadn’t read yet. John Hornor Jacobs (Southern Gods) and Alan Ryker (Among Prey) were both new faces for me. I was impressed enough by Jacobs to pick up his two novels, Southern Gods and This Dark Earth in the dealer room. He shares a lot of my influences. Southern Gods is described as Lovecraftian Southern Gothic, so should be right up my alley.

Being a Fantasy writer, my girlfriend was especially excited about the author Guest of Honor Patrick Rothfuss. We were on our way to his autograph signing, when who should step on to the elevator with us, but Patrick Rothfuss himself. He saw that I was reading Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon and we struck up a bit of conversation about Percy on the elevator ride down. My girlfriend was a little bit starstruck, but seemed to get over it by the time they met again during the signing, when both expressed their love for Joss Whedon.

I love conventions, which is part of the reason I’ve making this one a part of my birthday weekend the last two years, and hopefully the foreseeable future. Jacobs said it best. The conventions really light a fire under you to work. For whatever reason, you go home itching to write. Whether it is competitiveness or reaffirmation of dreams, I always leaving with the itch to produce something great.

Part of it, I think, is the realization that while we are all essentially businesses in direct competition with each other, we are also in it together. The support and camaraderie of other writers will always be a part of this business. We are all after the same thing. While we compete with each other for publications, the irony is that we can go so much farther together than we can on our own.