Eastercon blog 3
April 25th 2011
I’m not going to have time to do this in the morning, as I have to be packed and checked out of my room by 10am. And yes, I intend not to be up at the crack o’dawn. So I’m here with a cup of (decaf) tea and my 3G dongle, while the ventilators outside the window rumble away and the lights of the NEC shine through the nets.
Sunday. Easter Day. It’s weird not being in church – it was weird last year, and it will remain weird – attending an SF convention over what is several of the most significant days of the Christian calendar with no religious input at all is a strange experience for someone who has always attended at least two services over the four-day period. Yes, I am at work: not so much selling books, as doing that nebulous networking thing that may or may not produce fruit a month or a year down the line. Being seen and showing willing is almost important as meeting people and saying the right things.
Breakfast was a much more civilised affair – no light opera fans mixing it with the SF crowd – so I get to eat my own body weight in fried food again, wash it down with tea, back to my room to blog. That done, because I’d heard good reports about the pool, and having remembered to bring my trunks and goggles, I headed for the hotel pool.
And very pleasant it was too. Being roughly circular and having a strip in the middle laned off for Proper Swimming, I got into my usual swimming fugue of just swimming quite quickly, not worrying about the time or how many lengths I’d done, not really thinking about swimming at all. There were maybe three or four other people in the pool at the same time – certainly not enough to even be vaguely distracting. Just swim and swim and swim until I felt I ought to come out. To be recommended.
Truth be told, signings and readings are odd things for writers. What if no one turns up? I’d chatted to a few of the dealers, and they weren’t doing fantastic business, the Dealers’ room being much quieter than I remember it from Eastercon 2010 – perhaps the effect of folk having less money in their pockets, fewer attendees, the hotel prices. Also, as I found out from the Forbidden Planet people, the hotel’s restriction on leafleting and putting up posters: always a big part of a con, but not allowed except on the very few notice boards dotted around the hotel.
So I yakked to the FP folk, signed their stock, and flogged a couple of books to someone I managed to dazzle long enough that their good sense and judgement was clouded and their wallet opened. Straight after, there was another author event in the Fan bar. I got to sit next to Stan Nichol, who is lovely, but such was the (lack of) interest, we talked to each other pretty much for the whole hour we were scheduled to be there. The lovely Bella from Orbit graciously plonked a pint of Illustrius in front of me, and Liz Williams passed the authorial ‘Consequences’ game to me for a suitably outrageous addition. I had to work with an enraged giant porcupine in the previous sentence, but I don’t know why it was enraged, and what happened to it after I passed it to Stan.
Also signing was Rod Rees. I’d had my eye on a copy of his Demi-Monde for a while, and he very graciously, because I was his first and only customer the entire session, pressed a newly minted copy of the wonderous Quercus hardback on me, signed and stamped, entirely free. An amazing gift, and straight to the top of my to-read pile.
I had afternoon tea (or hot chocolate in Bella’s case) and played on Bella’s Sony e-reader thingy. I still remain to be convinced of its superiority over the humble paperback, but certainly, for an industry pro, it beats lugging around a dozen manuscripts. They certainly have their place.
The reading. It’s hard, when you’re a classic introvert, to read something you’ve written, out loud, in public. I used to have real problems (as in Too Much Information sort of problems): now I just get incredibly nervous. My secret weapon was BSFA award-winning, Nebula award nominated (and later on that evening Hugo award nominated too) Aliette de Bodard. She’s this tiny bundle of talent who is clearly going places, and I was very lucky to be paired with her – because people came to hear her, and stayed to hear me. I’m grateful. She read a hauntingly beautiful story about the Aztecs. I read stuff that made people laugh. I was even forgiven when I went on too long. But there were cookies and flapjacks as well, and the audience nommed appreciatively.
Phoned home on my steam-powered and increasingly unreliable mobile, then downstairs to hear the Hugo nominations. Orbit have two authors in the Best Novel category: Mira Grant for Feed, and NK Jemsin’s A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
A long beer in the Fan bar with Roy Gray of Interzone, some mad New Zealanders, and a couple of others – the conversation naturally turned to rocket planes and real ale. And so to bed.
Tomorrow sees me here almost to the bitter end, but not quite. I’ve a panel at noon, and the train leaves late afternoon. I have to assume there’s a world outside the con for me to return to – it does become very bubble-like after a couple of days.