News Flash from the Convention Floor

Just a quickie as I sit waiting for my evening plans to materialize — I’m in the lounge of the Fairmont Hotel in beautiful downtown San Jose, having spent the day hanging out with a bunch of writers, publishers, and fans of fantasy fiction. I attended sessions, listened to reading, and


… and that’s as far as I got yesterday. It’s tomorrow now, relativistically speaking, and I’m sitting in the lounge of the hotel, a little bit jazzed, a little bit fatigued, caffeine wearing off and in need of replacement. It’s late afternoon of day two, and there is still a lot of the day left to go. The most important part of the day, some might argue, the part after all the talks and readings and seminars. The schmoozing. Tonight is the night to seek out liquored-up agents and publishers.

Today started smoothly, an easy bus-ride from home to the hotel where the convention is. On the way I had time to read, a rare luxury these days. The morning started with a reading by Kij Johnson, a friend and colleague as well as a rising star in the biz. Hanging out and chit-chatting ensued, which led to lunch with writers both aspiring and established. Good times.

This afternoon I went to a couple of seminars, and I also learned that Tim Powers walks quickly and washes his hands after using the rest room. There’s something that doesn’t show up in his biographies, I bet. He was signing books for a while this afternoon, but the vendors only had his newer stuff, which just doesn’t have the same magic in my regard. Alas, talk of me having one of John’s battered old volumes (one of the ones he loaned me to introduce me to Powers), had failed.

One of the seminars was a panel of writers discussing the concept of reading for fun, and revealing their secret pleasures. The panel ranged from an old-school writer who loves the pulps he grew up reading to a charismatic Australian cracking wise to a Serbian writer who takes his reading deadly seriously: there is a limited amount of life, and and almost infinite number of books. Choose with care. (Yesterday I heard Živković read one of his short stories, and enjoyed it a great deal.)

A few minutes ago I spoke briefly with Gordon van Gelder, Editor/Publisher of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the magazine that shall go down in history as being the first to pay me for my writing. He didn’t recognize me, of course, but he remembered my name and knew I had been in Prague. I’ll talk to him again later at the party his magazine is throwing. The encounter left me disproportionately nerve-wracked. Or maybe it’s all the iced tea I had at lunch. whatever the cause, I’ve got the jitters now, and I’m reminding myself of two things: 1) breathe in and 2) breathe out. There’s a long night ahead fraught with peril and free alcohol, and I need to perform well.

Now would be a good time to come up with that elevator pitch for my novel.

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