Have you ever attended a science fiction convention? Andrew Hiller, whose urban fantasy novel A Halo of Mushrooms is getting rave reviews, shares his recent experience at Marscon.
Williamsburg, Yorktown, and neighboring Jamestown hold a place in our history. Everywhere you look, you see preserved buildings, artifacts, reenactments, period costumes, and an 18th century sense of being. You come here to churn butter, put your head in the stocks, and learn. Wide roads and narrow bridges take you there. The grass in winter leans and the trees are spare. The color is more gray than green, but that too fits with the narrative of colonial and revolutionary struggle. It’s a great setting. It’s just not the place you expect to find aliens traipsing around.
I was invited to MarsCon to share my latest book, A Halo of Mushrooms, and host a couple of panels. It was my first time attending this Con, and to tell the truth, my first time at a Con as an author.
I found my table. It was the first one in Artist’s Alley, right next to the sign-up for the costume contest. As such, I got to witness super heroes, Jedis, wizards, and a hoard of favorites parade by.
Frankly, the skill, effort, and cost put forth by those who engage in cosplay amaze me. I really respect the craftsmanship! So, while I was there to meet my readers, I also got to get lost in the fandom. I think that’s good. It’s all about engagement. It’s all about sharing stories, excitement, and sharing in the moment. The conventioneers come for a good time, and so should the authors.
I talked about my book, A Halo of Mushrooms, of course, but I also chatted about my work in radio, the craft of writing, sports, and everything else that came up. More than one reader decided to give my book a shot because they said I was interesting. Truth is, so are they! Some of the lives and stories the fans gifted me with were amazing!
Our panel consisted of a Hugo Award-winning novelist, an illustrator, a senior editor at a major publishing house, me, and a room full of aspiring writers. I wound up moderating, and we discussed everything from how you begin a project and the value of beta readers and editors to avoiding fads and whether it is ever a “dark and stormy night.”
Probably my favorite moment as an author, though, came on the last day. A reader who bought my book on Saturday approached my table. She told me she was on page fifty already and was loving it. The book was unlike any fantasy she’d read in years! We chatted for a few minutes about what she read, where she guessed it was going, and my philosophy of approaching a story.
That’s what it’s about! It’s about the reader. It’s about a chance to hear back. So often we sent our words into the ether and have no clue how people respond to them.
In the end, I packed up. MarsCon was a good experience and not really alien at all. In fact, based on the responses from readers, I can happily say that I was not a con at the Con. I took Charles de Lint’s advice. He said when you are at the Con to just be yourself, don’t try to act like you think a writer should. That, and be kind....don’t try to act like you think a writer should. #writers #authors #marscon Click To Tweet
Good advice for a Con and for life.
Andrew Hiller is the author of A Halo of Mushrooms; read a preview here. He continues his Con tour: next up, you can catch him at Farpoint Con near Baltimore, MD. He’ll be signing books there Feb. 12–14 before heading to Wilmington, NC in April.To learn more about Andrew, visit his website: www.andrewhiller.net.
Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and learn more here.