FandomFest: A whole lotta weird in one place.

I went to FandomFest at the Galt House on Saturday. The literary track had two or three sessions on steampunk, and I have a steampunk story that’s going to be published early next year. Seemed like a good investment of $25 and a Saturday.  Also, almost everything I write ends up with at least a little humor in it, and there was going to be an all-star session on Humor in Speculative Fiction.

The literary track is only half of the show, though. The much, MUCH quieter and less blood-soaked half.

The bigger part is the Con, which includes science fiction/fantasy/horror celebrities there to do autograph signings, and a massive show floor of booths featuring everything from zombie DVDs to comic books to authors and publishers of fantastic fiction. I spotted Erin Gray from Buck Rogers and Silver Spoons unexpectedly tucked into a corner. It was sort of surreal.

Yes. That sign *does* say "Putting the Laughter back in Slaughter."

I talked briefly with a couple of guys who self-produce “funny apocalyptic zombie movies.”  I’m not into the zombie craze, but I admired their creative spirit. They were clearly engrossed (and grossing people out) with work that they loved. I saw and chatted briefly with Marian Allen, who is always lovely. She was with Ginny Fleming and T. Lee Harris from the Southern Indiana Writers Group (who were all delightful).  If I could get away with a weekly writer’s group, rather than a monthly one, I would probably beg for admission. Didn’t see Kayelle McClive from the southern Indiana NaNoWriMo group, but I know she was on some panels.

I talked for a bit with two exuberant ladies from Rosswyvern Press, who were arrayed in steampunky outfits. I especially liked the aviator hat with goggles. They were there promoting The Thunderbolt Affair by Geoffrey Mandragora, a steampunk book with submarines.  It’s their first release, and I wished them the best of luck.

After chatting up Marian and the other ladies of the Southern Indiana Writer’s Group, I wandered over to the stall of 2 Dames BaZaar, fine steampunk accessories. One of the dames is a milliner (a hatter, state of madness uncertain) and the other dame is a corsetiere (if you can’t figure out what that is, there’s no hope for you.)  They did indeed have some fine steampunk accessories, none of which I could afford just now. Their corsets were gloriously lovely, not to mention HEAVY. I think I may need to do some yoga strength training to prepare for wearing an actual steel-boned leather corset with the requisite clockwork gears n’ such.

I moseyed on over and managed to catch Allan Gilbreath at his booth. He also moderated the Major Press Publishing session I attended. He was funny and garrulous. I had the thought in talking with him that Cons are watercoolers for authors, who work alone most of the time.  I especially enjoyed hearing about the fan mail his vampire character Galen gets. I picked up a collection of his short stories, including one that featured a vampire, two nuns and a duck.  You could get it, too, for $2.99 on Kindle, but yours won’t have a cool autograph like mine. 😉

Moving right along, I talked a little while with a steampunk-attired lady at the Apex Book Company booth. She had a QR code temporarily tattooed on her arm, which I admired. Apex is out of Lexington, and they have a great reputation for fantastic fiction with a literary bent.

After that, I was hovering near nuclear sensory overload, so I wandered up to the meeting rooms for the literary track. It took me a while to find them, and I heard a lot of people grumbling about that. Evidently, the Galt House removed the Con’s signage, so there were a lot of poorly-attended sessions and a lot of frustrated, wandering attendees. Still, everyone kept saying “At least the air conditioning didn’t go out like last year’s hotel.” Apparently, the previous venue attempted to poach the guests in the culinary, rather  than “general thievery” sense.

I attended sessions on Steampunk, Humor in Speculative Fiction, and Major Press Publishing. They were all excellent, and the Humor one was both hilarious and inspiring.

At one of the two steampunk sessions, I got a free copy of Delilah S. Dawson’s Wicked As They Come, which she autographed. It’s a steampunk vampire romance. With vampire bunnies.  She was also in the Major Press Publishing panel, and it was great to hear from someone relatively new to publishing, working in the steampunk subgenre, who’s also been juggling real life and a day job with writing. A lot of the other writers had been publishing books exclusively as their income for a long time. It was encouraging to hear from another relative noob who wasn’t 15 to 20 years removed from having to wear pants to work.

I wanted to catch Michael Williams, who sometimes drops by Quills & Quibbles,  at the Major Press Publishing panel and congratulate him on his book launch for Vine: An Urban Legend. He describes it as a Greek tragedy, set in Louisville, Kentucky. I ended up finding him later down on the show floor, and he was gracious as always.  I told him I was currently reading and enjoying The Night Circus, and that his book Vine sounded similiar in that they’re both about theatrical productions that alter reality.  As a former theater geek, it’s definitely on my list to pick up.

Speaking of theater geeks, John Hartness was the surprise treat of the Humor in Speculative Fiction panel. I was geeking out about Scalzi and some of the other folks on the panel, but Hartness’ Black Knight books have been in my “must read” queue for months. He wore a luchador mask to the panel, which is always a bold choice. As another former theater geek, he made a lot of great connections and distinctions between comedy in theater (which I’m really familiar with) and comedy in writing (which I can’t seem to avoid).

I had intended to stay later, but after almost 8 hours of zombies, ghouls, Bruce Campbell-induced hysteria, writerly neurosis and an onslaught of visual stimulus unmatched since the elevator scene from Cabin in the Woods (“ding!”), my nervous system was fried. I had to amble on over to the dimly-lit speakeasy atmosphere of Doc Crows and soothe my poor frazzled brain with ice water, brisket and Sazerac.

I’ve been a little worried about how I could manage my overstimulation for this convention. I forgot about the benefits of how I process information.  I got so much more out of going to FandomFest than I could fit into one really long blog post.  I got confirmation of the importance and value of humor. I made fewer connections than others might have, but they were more meaningful, at least to me.

I did everything I intended to do at the Con; it’s only when I start comparing my experience with others’ that I get into trouble.


  1. KatFrench

    Awww… thanks! It was really nice to see a friendly, non-decomposing face!


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