ConQuest, Shared Passions, and Upcoming Events

ConQuest was a great success. I saw a lot of people that I don’t see much, hung out with a bunch of people that I see a lot, and met new people who were awesome and friendly. They are starting to add up. It’s easy for me to forget that just a few years ago, I wrote in a constant vacuum. I didn’t see a single person who shared my passion for writing and books. Some back home in Iowa, but none in my day-to-day life. My friends and co-workers were great, but I felt as if I were on an island, tying desperately to keep the whole thing from falling in to the ocean.

It isn’t that way anymore. Writers are a part of my day-to-day social circle. I am surrounded by readers. I used to go to all of the panels at ConQuest that had people I knew on them. That’s not possible, anymore. I know too many. Even if I hadn’t been on so many myself, there would have been too many scheduling conflicts. The novelty is a little less, anyway. Since I spend a majority of my social life within the business, being surrounded by writers isn’t the thrill that it used to be. My panels went well. People seemed to like what I had to say. I met other writers who loved the same things. I even sold some books over the weekend.

Being surrounded by the fans was spectacular. Sitting at the bar and watching the lines for Brandon Sanderson and George R. R. Martin, I was comforted by the fact that readers still care about books. We are still writing for them, and not just for each other.

Conventions are great for shared passions. Getting together with so many like-minded people can really recharge your creative batteries. You walk out believing that anything is possible. All of your goals are attainable, because you are surrounded by people who have attained them, or are doing their damnedest to do so. I’m already looking forward to next year. The horror genre is starting to be better represented, and our panels are starting to draw more people. I want to keep building that.

Conventions are also great for “con crud,” and I have spent the last two days at home, sleeping a lot and trying to fight off whatever 1500 people in close quarters gave me.

In other news, I will be doing a book signing at Hastings, 1900 W. 23rd St., in Lawrence, KS from 1 pm to 3 pm. I will have copies of All Manner of Dark Things: Collected Bits and Pieces available for purchase . Hastings has been very supportive of the book and has been selling it in their store since the release. If you are in the Lawrence area and don’t have a copy, or just want to chat, feel free to stop by.

Friday night, I will be attending an event with Chuck Palahniuk in Kansas City. Palahniuk has been incredibly influential for me. His essays at LitReactor have had a major impact on my writing mechanics. I don’t get starstruck. As far as I am concerned, any famous author is just me with more readers. I’ve met kings and presidents. It doesn’t matter to me. But if anyone can manage to shake me, it’s probably Palahniuk.

I’m looking forward to picking up my copies of his new collection Make Something Up and the first issue of Fight Club 2, as well as listening to him speak. I’ve heard that he’s great on stage. There may still be tickets available.

I have a lot of things going on next month, but I will save those for another blog at another time.

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.