At last I have recuperated sufficiently from the 2009 World Fantasy Con to report on it. That fact alone should tell you I had a great time. So much went on that I wish I could have split myself into three or four people to take advantage of everything.
Never having experienced WFC before, I had expected a Con similar to the Baton Rouge and Los Angeles Cons I've been to—guys in Klingon costumes, lots of teeshirt and jewelry vendors, panels manned by unprepared people who learned of their panel assignments at the last minute. I was wrong. WFC was more like the Romance Writers of America yearly convention, only oriented even more strongly toward the professional writer.
The Con ran from 29 October to 1 November 2009 in San Jose, California, and I was impressed from the very beginning. Registration was organized and efficient—I love organization and efficiency, and they are usually all too lacking at Cons—and each registrant received a large bookbag stuffed full with magazines and books, many of them hardcovers. Wowie zowie! I collected more free publications at the giveaway table and came home with hundreds of dollars' worth of reading material.
Official events at WFC included an art show, a dealers' room whose vendors were primarily bookstores and publishers, a group autographing session, readings, panels, interviews, and a closing banquet followed by the World Fantasy Awards.
At least two panels were slotted for each time period, and often I wanted to go to all of them. A sampling: "Poe's Influence" (the theme of this year's WFC was the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe's birth), "The Role of the Raven," "Overlooked Early Writers of the Supernatural," "Why Steampunk Now?" "The Role of Religion in Contemporary Fantasy," and "What Makes a Good Monster," to name a few.
I sat on one panel, called "Writing Human Characters, Whether or Not They're Human," with David B. Coe, Kate Elliott, Laurel Ann Hill, and Kay Kenyon. According to the program description, we were to discuss "the challenges of writing relatable [sic] nonhuman characters in heroic and mythic fantasy...." In fact, though, we talked more about science fiction aliens than about vampires or other fantasy creatures.
The mass book signing was scheduled to last an exhausting three hours, but both autograph seekers and authors wandered away after about two hours. I talked to many people and sold and signed several books, so I consider the signing a success.
My goals for the conference were to network and to try not to buy too many books. I reluctantly skipped most of the panels and readings to go to parties and to hang out with my Clarion friends (which soon included the class of 2008) and their friends. Unlike RWA members at a conference, few WFC attendees had business cards. Thank goodness for Facebook! A flurry of "friending" after the Con means I'll remember names and faces for next year.
And yes, I do intend to go next year, when WFC lands in Columbus, Ohio, over Halloween weekend, and not only because I can visit my family in nearby Beavercreek. I'm already planning what to do differently to get even more value from the Con. Number 1 on the list: Get more sleep before and during the Con. This year, I was Zombie Woman by the end of the first day.
Think you might want to go to World Fantasy Con? Check out my brief post at the NovelSpaces blog on why you should attend next year.