Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Very Long Worldcon Post

I have just successfully downloaded The Killers' "When You Were Young" from iTunes, and I am most happily listening to it now. =) I'll let you in on the little secret of my success: when I bought airline tickets from Continental last month, in order to go to World Fantasy Con, I received five free iTunes downloads per ticket--that's ten in total, since my boyfriend, Chris, will be attending the convention with me. You have to love extras. Just as a side note, if any of you are curious to meet Chris, you'll just have to come to World Fantasy, since I doubt that I'm going to be able to get him to any other convention in the near future, due to lack of vacation time and such. I know for a fact that he and I are very much looking forward to meeting my lovely client, Catherine Avril Morris, who lives in Austin and has promised to "show us the town" come November.

Anyway, let's get back to the real point of this post, which is about Worldcon. I've thought a good long while about what I wanted to write here, since for me, Worldcon was both a professional and intensely personal experience. I've tried to keep this blog a relatively professional one, since I was concerned that it should reflect well on me and the L. Perkins Agency. I don't often talk about my health (I have a myriad of chronic illnesses, btw); I don't bitch overly much (and trust me, I can drip venom, when I want to) ; I don't talk very often about the political or social issues that interest me; I don't talk about what I'm currently writing. But I think the time has come to acknowledge that even though this blog is one about my life as a literary agent, it should also be one that reflects who I am as a writer and a person. These are aspects of my personality that are intimately intertwined with each other, and it's as both an agent and a writer that I attended Worldcon. So with that laid out ahead of time, let us proceed onwards with my Worldcon experience. (Warning: There will be considerable name-dropping ahead, but I'll try to link to everyone's websites or blogs.)

(The prior part of the post was written at about 7pm today; I since took a nap, ate dinner, and watched House Hunters International. We shall now recommence with the writing.)

In fact, there will be oodles of name-dropping, since to me, the real Worldcon experience is the people and the parties.

  • For starters, I got to meet Jason Williams and Jeremy Lassen of Night Shade Books, who are just two of the most awesome guys. I sold my very first book to them last month, and I just love them to death. Jeremy, in particular, is quite a character; he walks around the con wearing these incredibly dapper 40's style suits, and also possesses an awesome hat with a giant red feather. They plied me with free books, a wonderful Night Shade has a posse t-shirt, and introduced me to tons of people, including the Locus staff, James Van Pelt, and Jay Lake. Plus, they're just great to hang around with.
  • As mentioned above, I got to meet Jay Lake and hang out with him a good bit, which was wonderful. He's this great cuddly teddy bear of a guy, who's also a total sweetheart at the same time.
  • John Scalzi. What can I say? I adore the man's books, and he's also great to talk to. He helped me accomplish a most insidious and evil plan I had in mind for my client, John Joseph Adams, and also looks stunning in a tiara. Plus, I got to meet Krissy and Athena, which was nice; although I doubt they remember me, I did play a small role in helping Athena acquire her Hawaiian duck. (Chris, btw, is insanely jealous that he was not there to meet Scalzi.)
  • I participated as an industry professional in the Writers Workshop portion of the convention on Thursday afternoon, and as such, got to go to the Writers Workshop reception on Wednesday evening. It was incredibly hot and stuffy and crowded in the room, so after battling my way to the food table, I managed to secure some deviled eggs and a glass of not-very-good white zinfadel. I encountered Larry Niven by the deviled eggs, since he was directly blocking my path to them, but really didn't speak to him, other than introducing myself briefly. This led to the following conversation with Chris upon returning home... (Chris: You got to meet Larry Niven? The guy who wrote RINGWORLD! Me: Yes, he was blocking my way to the deviled eggs. Chris: Did you talk to him about how great his books are? Me: No, I wanted to get to the eggs. I was hungry. Chris: But how could you not talk to him about that?!). After escaping from the overheated room, I got out into the much cooler hallway, and was promptly pounced upon by Paolo Bacigalupi, as soon as he found out that I was an agent. Lest you think that I was angry about this, I wasn't in the least. It was great to get to meet Paolo and his beautiful wife (whose name I have forgotten; I'm so sorry), and hang out with them. Paolo, if you're reading this, please do remember to send me the novel you're writing--it sounds damn interesting. At the same time that I met Paolo, I got to meet James Patrick Kelly , Sheila Williams, Jim Frenkel, and Toby Buckell (who didn't recognize me at first, until I was like, "I'm Jenny from Codex", at which point I got a nice hug). I felt like my head was going to explode, since I got to meet all these people in the field that I really admire and like. =)
  • At the actual Writers Workshop, I had three lovely writers whose work that I got to critique (hello Stephanie, Cheryl, and Sarah!), and I met Jim Fiscus, who was the other industry professional in our session. I cannot find a website for Jim, but he was a true gentleman, and I had a great time talking with him throughout the rest of the con.
  • Friday afternoon and evening was one continuous blur of appointments and parties for me. I had a lovely time having drinks with Anne Groell (editor at Bantam Spectra), then dashed off to the Eos Books party, after which I went to my friend Lawrence Schoen's Buffalogenesis party, then to the Writers of the Future ice cream social, and finally to the Tor party. I got to meet Charles Brown of Locus there and chat with him, which I greatly enjoyed doing, as well as a whole other assortment of cool people. I got to meet John Barnes at the party too, and was able to tell him how much I love his book, ORBITAL RESONANCE. John looked at me, thanked me for liking it, and then said, "Please tell me you didn't read it when you were a little girl." I assured him that I had read it when I was already a teenager, which seemed to ease his mind; I guess I look really young? =)
  • The SFWA suite was also a wonderful place to hang out, especially on the night they had the chocolate fountain! I had a nice discussion one afternoon with Jerry Pournelle about defense contractors, since that's what Chris does for a living, and Jerry, it turns out, had worked for Boeing in the past. I also got to meet Mike Resnick, who was very nice, and seemed inordinately fond of holding my hands whenever he spoke to me.
  • Also, another lovely internal thrill: I finally got to meet Toni Weisskopf in person, which I have wanted to do for quite a long time, and she then promptly turned around and introduced me to Tom Doherty as "an up-and-coming agent". Life doesn't get much better than that. Plus, she knows my wonderful friend Alethea Kontis, and was happy to discover that I knew her too.

(Ok, that's enough blatant name-dropping for the brief second. For those that are interested, I'm now listening to Aberdeen City's "God Is Going To Get Sick Of Me"--also another awesome song.)

So, like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Worldcon was a dual experience for me. The above is really the professional stuff, I suppose; not really, but those are just the prominent people that I got to meet. On top of all the cool thrills above, I got to meet many of the members of my online writing group, Codex Writers, which was just incredible. Ken Scholes, John Pitts, Aimee Amodio, Christina Kinnan, Eric James Stone, Spencer Ellsworth, David Goldman, Matt Rotundo, Bob Defendi--I love you all! You made the con a wonderful experience for me, not only by being awesome people to hang out with, but by kicking my butt about needing to write more.

And the needing to write more is really what I came away with. I felt like I was reaffirmed as a writer, that it's something that I've been neglecting which is a vital part of my happiness, something that I just have to do from now on. Let me try to explain.

The wonderful and beautiful Bridget Coila managed to get us seats in the Hugo Nominees section for the Hugo ceremony itself. We had great views of the stage, and were sitting literally one row in front of Frank Wu. And as I sat there watching the ceremony, watching the awards being given out and people like Connie Willis, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, Forrest J. Ackerman, and Betty Ballantine speak, I realized that I'm part of something that is so much bigger than just myself. That there is this wonderful community of SF fans and writers, who love books as much as I do, and who love the genre as much as I do. That there is something that transcends all of us, which connects me to these thousands of other people, and for which I am profoundly grateful. Not quite an ephiphany, but almost.

I am so happy that I work in publishing, and that I get to represent SF authors who I care deeply about. And I am so happy that I love to write in this field; that ever since I was a small child I have loved science fiction and fantasy. And so as I sat there watching the Hugos, I made a vow to myself: I am going to go back to writing more and I'm going to work my ass off. I may never get a Hugo or a Nebula or any other sort of prestigous award, but I'm going to write just the same. It's in my blood, in my bones, and something that I just have to do. I imagine that many of the authors who read this blog feel similarly, but for me, it's something that I lost touch with many years ago and am extraordinarily happy to feel again.

To briefly wrap up this very long post, here's a brief rundown of other neat parts of Worldcon:

  • Getting to hold Frank Wu's Hugo. One of the coolest things that I've ever gotten to do in my life.
  • Hearing Ray Bradbury speak and tell wonderful stories about his childhood and how he started writing.
  • Connie Willis' Guest of Honor speech, which was about books, and was purely wonderful. And then getting to tell Connie after the speech about how much I loved her books, and how I had loved her speech too. That was lovely.
  • Meeting and hanging out with so many wonderful people whose names that I haven't listed yet, and which I am too tired to link to at this point... Elizabeth Glover, my dear KGB buddy; John Joseph Adams, who embodies all of the best qualities that one could want in a client and a friend; Stephen Seagal and his father Stu (and congrats, Stephen on your upcoming marriage!); Tempest Bradford, who I want to get to know better; Deborah Layne of Wheatland Press who gave me my very own Hawaiian duck (which I have to find where I packed); Carrie Vaughn, whose books I adore, and who I insidiously put the idea in her head that she really does need to go back to the guy who thinks he's a were-alpaca, and which I hope that she really does; Lisa Mantchev; Mattie Brahen (Mrs. Darell Schweitzer); Deanna Hoak, who is quite literally one of the hottest women I have ever met, and if I can look that way after having two children, I will thank my lucky stars; and finally, last but not least, Brandon Sanderson, who I finally got to meet (that's for you, James Dashner!).

And that, folks, wraps up this post. If I've forgotten anyone, I apologize; just drop me a note in the comments, if I have. =)


Anonymous said...

"Getting to hold Frank Wu's Hugo. One of the coolest things that I've ever gotten to do in my life."

Wow! That's so sweet of you to say that! I really enjoyed passing the trophy around to let other people hold it - I know how they feel, 'cos I remember (before 2004) seeing Hugo trophies in a case, longing desperately and ... the tactile experience of holding one, even one that's not yours... there's nothing like it!

I didn't get much of chance this year, but when I won in 2004, I passed it around and took pictures of people holding it - their faces lit up ("Wow! You'll let me hold it!") which was wonderful and their expressions were as if they were holding the World's Most Beautiful Baby or the Holy Grail. Pictures of folks like Lori Ann White and Cory Doctorow holding my Hugo are around the net.

I love you all. Sniff.

Frank Wu

Deanna Hoak said...

Thanks for the kind words, Jenny. :-) It was wonderful to meet you.

James Dashner said...

Jenny, thanks for the awesome post. (Although it really rubbed it in that I had come so close to going and then couldn't.) Sounds like it was an incredible event.

And man, you really inspired me with your words on writing! That's so cool that you had a reawakening, and I can't wait to read what pops out of your brain now.

When you win your Hugo, will you let me hold it?

I'm glad Brandon got to meet you. :-)

Jenny Rappaport said...

James, of course I'll let you hold it. =) Bridget Coila has a historic photo somewhere of Spencer Ellsworth and I shaking hands after the Hugo ceremony, with Spencer vowing that when I win a Hugo, he's going to steal it out of my hotel room. =)

Catherine Avril Morris said...

"It's in my blood, in my bones, and something that I just have to do."

Can I get a what what... :)

Man, it sounds like you had pretty much the best time ever. What a great conference!

(And thanks for the shout-out. :) )

Aimee said...

It was mega-awesome to finally meet and hang out with you... weird that we had to do it in California and not in New Jersey! LOL

Jenny Rappaport said...

Thank you for letting me hold it, Frank! =)

John Barnes said...

So as I occasionally do -- not occasionally enough -- I was wandering through Google doing ego searches and ran across your reference to me and Orbital Resonance and my slightly cryptic question. Orbital Resonance has been out for 14 years, which means for the past couple years I've been running into young pros and fringe pros and almost pros for whom it's a book that has always been there (any book published before you could read it has always been there, like Stranger in a Strange Land, Great Expectations, and Gilgamesh), and it's one of the books I hear the most about ... (most frighteningly from a young woman who had named her child Melpomene. Sometime next decade when I am abruptly gunned down outside my door, we will know why)... so there's this odd feeling that "some people have had whole lifetimes within the time my book has been out" ... and it makes me feel ancient. So thanks for not making me feel ancient.

And yeah, you do look really young. Stand around people my age and you look even younger.

Anyway, yes, it was nice meeting you too.