Valya and me, photo by Andy Duncan
March was a month of traveling madness, first to NYC for the Armory Arts fairs and then to Orlando for the International Conference on the Fantastic in Arts. The first night there, I got to see Amanda Palmer play her ukulele and serenade the bar with Radiohead’s “Creep.” Very decent way to begin a writer’s conference.
My reading/panel “Transforming Fact into Fiction” with Greg Bechtel lost two members to the flu, but the amazing Valya Lupescu, author of The Silence of the Trees, stepped in as our third panelist. It was only on the plane to the Florida that I suddenly realized I hadn’t told her it was a reading, too. But Valya was amazing, and read from her novel, and we had a great panel, despite the unforgivable hour (8:30 a.m.) on Thursday. The wondrous Sofia Samatar even got up early to hear us talk about about the intersection of memoir/fiction/myth/and history. It was my first time reading my work at a conference, and it was my first time coming as a writer as opposed to a scholar, so it was really a rather special ICFA.
Sofia Samatar, Valya Lupescu, me and Kat Howard. Photo by Jim Kelly
I also heard the lovely Kat Howard read part of the script from her collaborative project with Megan and Shannon Kurashige, “A Thousand Natural Shocks.” And then saw Dora Goss read (no! perform is a more accurate word) an excerpt from her work in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s anthology, Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells.
I also wore a lot of cute dresses, if you can’t already tell by the pics. I’m an academic. I’m mostly covered in chalk and hidden away in a classroom, but this conference is held in Orlando, and so I worshipped the sun gods as every writer should when they get the chance.
Sofia and me
One of the highlights of this trip was finally meeting Sofia Samatar, author of the forthcoming A Stranger in Olondria, whom I had recently found on Facebook. But I knew I had found soul mate, when, at last call on our second night of the con, she turned to me and was like, “We need to buy a bottle of wine. What is up with this last call nonsense?” We, of course, closed down the bar that night. And the night after, and the night after. We also went to war for S’mores and bought magic rings our last night in town. Conferences such as this are made for adventures.
Kat, Maria, me, Sofia at the Saturday night banquet. Photo by Andy Duncan
Speaking of which, included a possible tornado our last day there. Liz Gorinsky, Maria Dahvanna Headley, Dora, Sofia, and Lara Donnelly and I hunkered down in the Tavern (not for drinks, really, but to get away from the windows). The hotel was nice enough to bring us complimentary champagne and chips while the storm blew over. But it was Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, who rescued Sofia and I since they took the Weird Fiction Review team out to dinner in Winter Park.
Jeff VanderMeer, me, Sofia, Ann VanderMeer, Edward Gauvin
Lovely dinner with good wine, laughter, excellent port, and snippets of conversation about a possible future conference on the Weird and Grotesque. It was so fabulous finally getting to meet Edward Gauvin, whose articles I have read over the past year. What a wonderful crew to be a part of, and I can’t wait to see what the next year for Weird Fiction Review brings. And serious kudos to Jeff for his book and movies deals!
Francesca, Valya, me, and Sophia. This was pre-S’more us
Now, there were all other sorts of glorious people I got to hang out with, including Chris Barzak, who also has a new book and a movie coming out (but this gang totally rocks). It was lovely to see Liz Gorinksy, KeffyKehrli, Liza Trombi, Francesca Myman, Ellen Datlow and a whole gang of folk that I only get to visit with once or twice a year (the NYC folk, a bit more). Hearing Andy Duncan and Neil Gaiman read was nothing short of sublime (oh yeah, did I mention Neil Gaiman was guest of honor there? And that he read from his new novel? Jealous?). So, quite the trip, and I am leaving out all sorts of grotesque stories about possums and placentas. And perhaps you are being quite thankful that I have left them out.
One last thing is that I came home and packed up the rest of my beautiful house. I closed on Thursday, and so beautiful house is no longer mine. But I now have the means to go to NYC, starting in July, for about 8 months and write like a motherfucker. What shall I write, you ask? The sequel to Elementarí Rising, for one. A proposal to write a book on the Grotesque, too. I am hopefully going to get more stories and poems published. There are Weird Fiction Review Articles to write, and art exhibits and KGB reading to attend. We shall then see where this path leads. All I know is that I’ve finally found the rabbit hole. And I’m ready to jump in.