Back from World Fantasy Con (Madison)
As usually happens now, the convention weekend has ended with Isaiah sick. Sniffles, puffy eyes, cough. He was spared a fever, which is usually his killer symptom, so this is nothing major. But it meant that the con weekend ended somewhat abruptly, from one heady convo in the Concourse bar with Agent Kris of Scribe, to rushing back to my cheap-ass hotel to take a turn with the sick kid. Ah, life.
This was really my first bidness con, a con in which my bidness was right there on the table, almost literally: The book is pending, the editor was present, my agents were working the various parties in order to trade on my (wheeeeze) name. Not only was I was busier, but the whole con just felt buttoned down, grown-up, and, well, busy. People you might want to hang with are often just as busy, so I guess it's all good.
Which is to be expected, but as a regular Wiscon-goer, I was a bit disoriented. It seemed like Wiscon - all the usual suspects were present, same hotel, Madison, Himal Chuli, check, check, check. But the most obvious departure? Very few kids. I held Agent Kris' 6-week-old baby Friday night, but other than that, I barely saw a single child.
Anyway, I natter on. Friday night, I got in late to many urgent messages from Scribe Agency. They'd determined that I'd cancelled my Concourse hotel rezzie and, in a tizzy, left messages on our home machine with that nervous, "Hehhehheh, you comin' to Madison, dude? Hehhehheh..." sorta tone. But we hooked up and Agent Jesse greeted me with a 22 oz hard cider, labeled with my story (too lazy to link - scroll down two posts if you aren't familiar with the beer bottle fiction scheme), and I got to meet markteppo who was working the beer stand for Scribe, handing out the home brew at the Scribe/Wheatland/Nightshade par-tay.
Saturday night I had dinner with Juliet Ulman, editor, style-queen, and fellow foodie. God bless her, she took me to L'Etoille, my favorite restaurant in the Midwest (along with Lucia's). After Dave Hoffman-Dachelet's bank-breaking birthday party celebrated at Wiscon last May, I figured I wouldn't be eating at L'Etoille again anytime soon (accordingly, I housed on the Highland sirloin -Bantam's ticket, and all). Later that night, as Teppo pointed out in his blog, the Scribe guys reduced me to a humiliating pile of laughter. We hung with their old Frenkl-ite co-worker Melanie Oorpen, whom I hadn't seen in years, and her buddy Steve, and when someone decided it was 2am, I couldn't believe it. My favorite thing, when laughter demolishes time.
Sunday was the World Fantasy Awards banquet, the highlight of which was not the wine. Er. I mean, the highlight of which was meeting Mark Budz (whose work I'm very eager to read) and the glamorous Catherine Valente - and John Picacio's acceptance speech. Perhaps it's a cliche to go on about one's fellow nominees, but I highly approve of that behavior, and John spoke with genuine emotion about the company of great artists in which he'd found himself. Plus, I really had to hold down a sob when he asked his parents to stand up. That shit's gets me, I can't help it. Oh wait. There was one other highlight: Carol Emshwiller's Lifetime Achievement Award felt personal. I've devoured her work in recent years and when a hero gets recognized, it feels triumphant and stellar. Got to gush about it with Kelly and Gavin afterwards.
Afterward, I gathered evidence that Alan Deniro and Kristin Livdahl are truly made for each other:
Alan: You're like the balrog with his whip!
Kristin: [grinning] That's so cool...
Saw nihilistic_kid all too briefly on his way out of the hotel. He speaks so damn fast, I'm never sure what he's saying. So Nick either wished me luck on the book or insulted my shoes, then I squeezed in a few more meetings before the end of the con and shook hands on a book deal with an independent press. Details have yet to be ironed out but I'll talk about it here when the project comes into focus a bit more. To say the least, I'm excited as hell. Next year gonna be bizzybizzybizzy...
Had a nice, final taste of the con on Monday just before heading out of town. Ellen Kushner joined Lisa, Isaiah, and I for lunch at Himal Chuli, and I got the opportunity to gush about Swordspoint, which, along with Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason and Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock, made me realize that something amazing had happened to sf/f while I was off reading Borges and Calvino. I had to check myself at one point, because I realized I might be embarassing Ellen, and apologized for going on about her book so much. "Oh, no, please continue. And cite examples!" she said.
The family and I made good time coming back to Minneapolis. Only took about 5 hours, which seems impossible with a sick kid in the car, but we did it. When we got home, Isaiah told Boutros (cat) all about the being at a hotel with a swimming pool, we all ate some veggie take-out from Star Moon, and then crashed hard, hard, hard.