Tag Archive for convention

FandomFest 2013: On Celebrities’ Secret Service

At FandomFest, farstucker strategic positioning mediated my male gaze at the beautiful Gillian Anderson

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as well as the OMFG-he’s-better-looking-in-person John Barrowman.

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Farstuckerily, I mention that he and I exchanged words. None of the celebrities were at their tables, and then I saw him running toward me, and I said, aloud, “Oh, there’s one of them!” Surprisingly, I really don’t recall his reply, which was something noble like, “Yep, I’m here to stay!” because I was so stunned by the stupidity of my own utterance. Luckily, “Oh, hi!” was all I said when I almost bumped into he-who-has-neither-aged-nor-lost-muscle-mass Jason Momoa (tattoo actual, other arm effects result of distance/focus/motion problems).

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I cannot claim any interesting interaction with William Shatner beyond being in the same room with him, but I guess I kind of touched his aura, if that matters in a farstuckery way, and I think, hey, there are baby pictures of me with images of this guy on the television in the background, and in high school I focused resume-like on going to enough conventions to see all the main Star Trek and especially Star Trek: The Next Generation cast I loved. I focused so well that, really, William Shatner was the ONLY person who was missing.

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And just think, I got even closer to him on the last day of the con! An official-looking woman scowled at me when I tried to take a picture, though, so the above, from the previous day, is the best I’ve got. Definitely on the just-had-it-out-with-Malcolm-McDowell side of Shatner facial expressions as opposed to, I dunno, how he felt when he saved the whales.

That scowling woman got me thinking. I don’t know if she worked for Shatner or the convention, but either way, she might have noticed either of the badges I was wearing. One said “Guest,” which means that, while of course I was nowhere near the same level, I was in the same category as Mr. Shatner. While professional courtesy may be as dead as, say, chivalry, it doesn’t have to be.

The more important badge for the point here said “Exhibitor.” The Exhibitors either paid a lot of money to be there or were there at the behest of someone who paid a lot of money to be there. Why? The usual: to sell stuff. But it’s kind of a special case. At least I think it is, because it’s why I was there.

Most of us were there sell our work (without charging people hundreds for our autographs like the big celebs). We can’t be artists/craftspeople/whatever if we don’t believe in what we do enough to spread it a little like something between gospel and vacuum cleaners. I was there to help sell and get the word out about my novel Burning the Middle GroundAnd really, William Shatner, bless him because he didn’t have to do it, was there to get people to walk by my table. That’s right, the people who paid for the conference–I was there at the behest of my publisher, who did the paying–as well as the fans themselves, are the clients, and Shatner and the rest of them, as well as the convention organizers, are the service providers. Service providers serve clients. The scowling woman, assuming she noticed my Exhibitor badge, failed to realize this simple fact.

So when I think back on my experience at FandomFest, what’s coolest has nothing to do with the headliners and everything to do with the REAL stars of the show, the ones who were not already assured of adulation, the guests on panels with me and colleagues I was lucky enough to see. That’s right, folks, even though the people pictured above would be welcome to come around for a drink sometime, these writers I got to work with are better than Shatner and Anderson and Barrowman and Momoa combined (perhaps even multiplied a few times over, too).

Tony Acree

Marian Allen

J.H. Glaze

Missy Goodman

Ren Garcia

Ian Harac

Selah Janel

Christian Jensen

Georgia L. Jones

Alicia Justice

Charlie Kenmore

Christopher Kokoski

William I. Levy

Brick Marlin

Lee Martindale

Kayelle McClive

Amy McCorkle

J.L. Mulvihill

Brad Parnell

Scott Sandridge

S.H. Roddey

Sean Taylor

Pamela Turner

Michael West

Stephen Zimmer

Public Reading, No Audience: Ballsy, Crazy, Stupid?

Turns out that actor Bill Moseley is intelligent and, at least after talking to him a bit, a heckuva a nice guy. But he freaked me right out when he interrupted the reading I was doing this morning at the Full Moon Horror Festival in Nashville, TN to tell me I was being unfair to atheists. To have someone I didn’t immediately recognize march up on stage and interrupt a public reading that already had me nervous as hell was bad enough, but then to realize that the dude is, in horror circles, pretty much a superstar (Devil’s Rejects, 2005, and many more) felt like my career had just dived into the hungry mouth of an active volcano.

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Mr. Moseley can be quite scary but quite nice, too.

 

Let me back up a bit. To support that novel I keep writing about, Burning the Middle Ground (read it yet? why not? you’re really missing out!), fabulous BlackWyrm Publishing sent me and my partner James to the aforementioned horror festival. Since I was the only author in the BlackWyrm booth, I decided to keep it interesting by doing readings from my work.

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The 10′ x 10′ booth that I tried to make interesting by doing creative readings.

 

If you’ve ever been to one of these festivals, you might be able to imagine the scene around this booth: loud music, people walking by in bizarre (but fascinating and often impressively artistic) costumes, chatting, drinking, and doing anything but paying attention to whatever is being shouted by the vendors lining every aisle and vying for attention. So I was doing the nerd convention equivalent of standing on a street corner in midtown Manhattan reading from an obscure (allegedly holy) text and expecting to convert passersby on their ways to things they actually think are important. But hey–it was either that or do nothing, right? Between crazy street preacher and nothing, I’ll take crazy. Faulkner said that.

Sadly, this morning, I was on the edge of losing my voice from shouting passages from my novel, and my whole plan had been to read the big Easter passages from my novel on Easter morning, so I had to do something. So I got special permission to use the mic on the temporarily unoccupied stage. Eureka! I read a scene in which my good preacher Jeanne Harper preaches the gospel while besieged by demonic ghosts. Before I got to the part where bad preacher Michael Cox starts burning people alive, Bill Moseley concluded that I was actually delivering an Easter sermon.

I almost lost my nerve, but, well, on the edge of total humiliation, I have a tendency to jump right over instead of running and hiding. Mr. Moseley left the stage, and I not only finished my reading, but I marched right over to his booth, broke into his autograph line, and asked him how exactly a story about a preacher who burns people alive is unfair to atheists. A really smart conversation ensued–Moseley needed about two minutes of discussion of what my novel is really about to realize that it’s a quasi-Marxist critique of religion and that my work and his really have quite a lot in common. I gave him a signed copy as a gift, and we parted on good terms. My stomach was in knots, but I think it all turned out for the best. He even said he’d read the book… if the book is ever optioned, I’m imagining how he might perform in the role of my evil preacher Michael Cox… very intriguing….

Not a lot of sales at this convention, but some potentially good exposure, and maybe even a couple of other good stories I could tell. I felt crazy and stupid doing my readings without a (visible) audience, and after I did the reading with the mic, a couple of strangers (who I didn’t even know were listening) told me it was really ballsy. I can’t believe tomorrow is Monday–I totally need a weekend to recover from my weekend, as my nerves are completely fried–but until I really do go crazy or lose my nerve, I’ll keep acting stupid in public in order to share my fiction with fellow aficionados of scary stories that touch every part of the nervous system, brain included.