So, here we are, one day post-WorldCon. Make it two; we bailed on Monday morning and headed for Scotland, where, come tomorrow, we’ll be stomping through a series of beautiful-and-allegedly-haunted-as-shit ruins east of the Cairngorms.
WorldCon was pretty damned amazing. We hit Dublin running, straight into the convention on the first day. I sat on a panel on Gamelit, LitRPG, and Isekai with my good friend Elliott Kay, moderated by fantasy artist Likhain, who WENT ON TO WIN A GODDAMN HUGO AWARD THREE DAYS LATER WOO!!!!
As a writer of portal fantasy, my input on all this LitRPG-ness was largely limited to the experience with LitRPG that you, my readers and fans, have given me. I didn’t even know that LitRPG/Gamelit was a thing until I started getting strident emails and DMs from readers complaining that my fight scenes were too hard to follow because there were no stats.
It was brought up at the panel, incidentally, that there really isn’t any modern/current Western portal fantasy for adults. To which I say, AHEM, madam.
Anyway. It went pretty well. Likhain, as I said, went on to WIN A HUGO. So, that was pretty cool.
That evening, I went to a party hosted by SFWA. This was exciting to me because this is only my second year in SFWA, and while I’m far from the only indie author to join, I’ve been told I might be the only indie novelist to qualify for membership with their first book out of the gate. Many of the indie novelists in SFWA got there doing the write-one-book-per-month, $0.99-or free-pricing, get-as-many-books-out-as-you-can-until-you-build-a-following model. While that’s a perfectly acceptable business model, and it does in fact work for a certain type of reader-author ecosystem, I write slowly, and have a different readership for the most part.
At the SFWA party, I had the opportunity to talk with several writers whose work I love, and also meet a handful of up-and-comers.
Friday was my big day. On Friday, I moderated a panel entitled “Is Epic Fantasy Conservative?”
Ten minutes prior, the line to get into the room looked like this:
So, no pressure or anything.
It went pretty well; I made a point of not getting political on either side of the issue, and worked hard to keep the conversation on the rails. This was a hot-button issue, though, and the discussion was highly charged, to say the least.
Toward the end, talk of conservative gender roles and expectations about The Good Woman morphed into a discussion about sexual violence and misogyny in epic fantasy, and especially the prevalence of rape and patriarchy in grimdark fantasy.
If you don’t know my stance on this, it’s pretty simple:
A.) Rape is lazy writing.
B.) Read the goddamn room. The vast majority of SFF readers appear to be exhausted with this trope.
I pointed out that misogyny is shorthand for female character development, and after taking a moment to digest that, the room erupted in applause.
Hey, write what you want; don’t let me stop you. But within four hours of announcing that I’d engineered sexual violence out of my worldbuilding–that I’d used it in Dragon’s Trail to show the difference in societies but I’ll never use it again—Dragon’s Trail sold every paperback copy that we’d brought (and we’d consigned a suitcase full of books on-site going into this), and The New Magic was down to three. They sold out so fast that the store we’d consigned with, Hodges & Figgis (now owned by Waterstones, who just bought Barnes and Noble), will be keeping the series in stock. They’re the oldest and largest bookstore in Ireland. It also turned into our best online sales day of the year.
(For the record, Dragon’s Trail is still selling far better nearly three years after release–and selling at $9.99, now–than it did at any point in the first six months after launch. So, as I’m fond of saying, 30-Day Cliff, my ass.)
Leaving the panel, a game designer offered to hire me on the spot, and for the rest of the con, industry heavyweights were coming out of the woodwork to give me their cards and introduce themselves. So, I could be wrong about rape in fantasy being a wearisome and tone-deaf cliche that mainstream audiences are sick of, but I’m pretty sure I’m not.
I was still shaking hands and taking business cards three hours later when my last panel, on conlangs, rolled around.
This was SO COOL. The crowd was brimming with fantasy and SF linguists–walking in, I heard people speaking Dothraki, Klingon, and Belter–the panelists were great, and I wound up sitting next to Stanley Schmidt, the former editor of Analog magazine. He’s also a conlanger, and we had a hell of a good time.
The panel had this many people in it:
One of the attendees who made notes posted them on Twitter, and they looked like this:
Saturday, I had an autograph signing, which had an air of excitement about it having sold so many books, and we ditched on Sunday to head out into the countryside and go check out some castle ruins. Because, research. I’ll post pics from that adventure another time, but I’ll leave you with this one: