Author: Luisa Perkins
•2:06 PM
Jen of A2eatwrite is another one of these great bloggers who has dramatically improved the quality of my life. She's a talented writer with a wise and funny perspective on life; I am so glad to know her. Cross your fingers that you'll be able to find her YA paranormal novel in bookstores soon, because it's a treat!

Jen's contribution to my NaBloPoMo Scavenger Hunt is a particularly welcome one; she asked me to recap Christian's and my experience at the World Fantasy Convention, which was held the first weekend of this month. This year's WFC theme was "Ghosts and Revenants: Memory, History, and Folklore," so many of the panels and performances were centered around that theme.

Christian and I had a great time. Saratoga Springs is famed both for its mineral springs and for its race track; its lovely Victorian downtown area is thriving with great shops, spas, and restaurants of all sorts.
You can see the Con's riff on Saratoga in the photo above; this is the official T-shirt, featuring the running of "The Van Helsing Stakes," a speculative horse race between Dracula, Cthulhu (we immediately both thought of RaJ), the Headless Horseman, and a Ringwraith. We got to Saratoga a little after noon, picked up our registration packets, and went to lunch at a cute little restaurant on Main Street.

Our first con event was a reading by Jane Yolen. It's always nice when a talented writer is also a gifted out-loud reader; she was fabulous. Then we went to a panel that featured Esther Friesner and Paul Cornell, among others, discussing "The Varieties of Ghostly Experience."
Panels are a crapshoot: sometimes great, sometimes not. An author you love may be a terrible panelist: either so in love with the sound of his/her own voice that domination becomes inevitable, or too shy and retiring to speak up and contribute to the group discussion. Sometimes the panelists stray from the topic at hand; this can be good, but is more often frustrating. But I have often discovered new favorite writers because they were terrific panelists. You just never know.

Next was a reading by Dave Duncan. Oh, how I love this man. His writing is brilliant, and he sounds like a tenor version of Sean Connery. His reading was utterly charming.

After hearing Dave, we hit the bookseller's room, where we met Bruce Coville, a lovely human being who deserves every bit of his considerable success. We bought a book of his for James and one for Hope; he graciously signed them both.

Then we went next door to the art gallery. Many prominent sf/fantasy illustrators had booths featuring both original work and prints; Christian bought a cool signed print by Bob Eggleton, who happened to be right there at the time.

We went to dinner at a surprisingly authentic Mexican restaurant owned by a former jockey from Oaxaca. There's really nothing better than simple, straightforward Mexican food; yum.

Back we went to the Conference Center for the Autograph Party. WFC is mainly for authors and editors; the admission is capped very low, so the author-to-fan ratio is quite high. At the party, we could walk right up to fantasy greats like George R.R. Martin (with whom I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "Go home this instant and finish that long-overdue book") or Lois McMaster Bujold and chat for a bit.

Saturday morning's first panel was a winner: "Tolkien as a Horror Writer," with panelists like Jeanne Cavelos, Ysabeau Wilce, and Douglas Anderson. Next was another great one: "Robert Aickman and the Aesthetics of Ambiguity," with that rock star Peter Straub and Guest of Honor Lisa Tuttle. We were loving life.

After lunch came an hour-long reading with Guy Gavriel Kay. Fantastico. Then we heard a terrific panel of all Australian writers talking about ghosts Down Under, and Christian got some books signed by one of his (and my) favorites, Garth Nix. Very satisfying.

We went back to our hotel room to rest for a few hours, because the evening's program was going to run late. We watched a movie, ate some pizza, and hung out: good Mom-son time was had.

That evening, we went to "A Pleasing Terror," Alan Dean Foster's performance of two English ghost stories written by M.R. James. Foster was amazing; Jim Dale couldn't have done it better. The event was held by candlelight, and with just a few minor props, Foster had us spellbound. If you're going to be in London over the holidays, seek him out. Next was a great panel on Shirley Jackson featuring Kathryn Cramer and that slipstream goddess Kelly Link.

The next morning we enjoyed Christian's favorite panel, "The Ghosts of New York State," with historian Mason Winfield and fantasy icon Betty Ballantine, among others. Unfortunately, the next panel was rather a dud, which was a huge disappointment, as it was on Urban Fantasy. After that, we heard John Crowley, one of my favorite fantasy writers, read from his latest work-in-progress.

At that point, the only thing left was the World Fantasy Awards banquet. The food was horrid and our table company was questionable, but Guy Gavriel Kay gave a brilliant speech as Master of Ceremonies, and seeing the awards presented was very cool. Think "Oscars for geeks," and you'll have a pretty good picture of what went on. That darling legend Gene Wolfe won Best Novel; he'd celebrated his 51st wedding anniversary the day before, so he was a pretty happy guy. Love it.

After that, we hopped in the car and drove home. As conventions go, Readercon remains my favorite by far, but we won't soon forget our time at this year's WFC.
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On 13/11/07 , Anne Bradshaw said...

Is that the Utah Saratoga Springs? I didn't know they had mineral waters there. But I guess the name does imply the possibility :-

On 13/11/07 , Luisa Perkins said...

No, it is the Saratoga Springs in New York State. I didn't realize there was a Saratoga Springs in Utah.

On 13/11/07 , Kimberly said...

Calgary 2008, right? =)

Sounds like a lovely time. So jealous about Guy Gavriel Kay!

On 13/11/07 , Jenna said...

Obviously not my genre. I am so embarrassed that I only recognized a few of the names you mentioned! Sounds like an amazing time with Christian though. Very cool!

On 13/11/07 , Sirdar said...

Who knew writers were such party animals!! :-)

Glad that you had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the authors in person.

Calgary 2008? 2-1/2 hours from our place.....

On 14/11/07 , dawn said...

Well, that must be something hobnobbing with the rich and famous, well, the famous anyway. Sounds like you had a great trip, and wonderful time at the conference.

On 14/11/07 , Julie Wright said...

I too am jealous. I had planned on going until I realized it didn't fit in my schedule. I regret it in some ways and reading your post I regret it even more. I'm glad you had fun. Where is next years World fantasy being held?

On 15/11/07 , Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh, THANK YOU! The recap was wonderful and it just sounded like a perfect weekend, although I share your disappointment about the urban fantasy panel. My DS and I read your post together and now we're drooling to take a similar trip. The fantasy angle is one of the few things he and I share that we don't share with DH.

What a lovely weekend you had!

And thank you, once again, for such kind words!