My Worldcon: Anticipation report, part 1

First of all, let me begin with a mea culpa: I'm a complete dumbass, no question about it. Though I brought my camera every day, I only have nine photos to show for it. Lame, I know. . . The upside is that a few members of the Brotherhood Without Banner took hundreds of pics between them, so there will be links to some of those at some point. At least I hope so!

Another mea culpa: I'm terribly sorry not to have been able to find enough time to meet up and have a drink (at the very least) with several industry people. The convention is a bit of a whirlwind if you are an author or editor or a blogger like me, with lunches and dinners and meetings filling up your agenda. Two I would have loved to spend some time with were Pyr editor Lou Anders and artist John Picacio. Funny thing about this is that I bumped into both of them on my way to the BwB party on Saturday. So at least I was able to introduce myself and shake their hands.

Sadly, to my consternation the recession appears to have hit Worldcon: Anticipation pretty hard. Which means that MANY of the editors and authors I couldn't wait to meet in person never made it to Montréal. Chief among those Joe Abercrombie, R. Scott Bakker, Steven Erikson, Ian Cameron Esslemont, Scott Lynch, David Louis Edelman, Richard Morgan, Brian Ruckley, Hal Duncan, Ian McDonald, and a whole lot more.

Okay, so Worldcon officially began on Thursday, August 6th, but fans and pros alike started to show up on Monday. Volunteers were invited to help set up the whole gig. I met up with those members of GRRM's Brotherhood Without Banners (BwB) who had made it to town on Wednesday night at a downtown pizza place called Il Focolaio. It was kind of fun to have the chance to put a face to a screen name, especially since I've been hanging out on Westeros for a couple of years now. There I met Mormont, Kat, Mandy, Peadar, Pebble, and a few others. Sorry, I totally suck with names. With dinner done, we stopped at an Irish Pub for a drink before heading out to the Reno party at the Delta Centre-Ville. It was the only party that night, so as you can imagine it was packed.

Peadar had told me earlier that the difference between Worldcon and smaller, regional cons was the average age of the participants. Crap, that Reno party felt like a senior hippie meeting. I mean, I'm now 35 years of age. Supposedly no longer a spry young chap, regardless of the fact that I work out four times a week and bike about 120km a week if the weather is good. Biology says I'm fourteen years past my sexual prime, and that five years from now I should have a doctor stick something up my ass every year or so to make sure I don't have cancer. Still, glancing about me, if not for the BwB crew, I was definitely a junior. For women wishing to fool around with older men, Worldcon is doubtless for you! And if you are looking for a Jedi or a Klingon, even better!:P

We hung out there for a while, but the heat was suffocating, and at some point we made it down to the hotel's bar, where we met up with a number of other BwB members who had taken the train from New York City. My cellphone rang, and I was forced to make an exit circa 11:00pm.

On Thursday, I was to have a late lunch with none other than George R. R. Martin. I was eager to meet him in person. We had spoken on the phone and corresponded via email in the past, but this would be our first face-to-face meeting. I met him at the Intercontinental Hotel, and GRRM was basically everything you thought he would be. Low-key, affable, jovial -- it's impossible to be intimidated by his friendly character.

To set the record straight, this was not an interview. So those expecting a Q&A will be disappointed. I used Worldcon: Anticipation as an opportunity to socialize with authors and editors and fans, which is probably why I ended up enjoying it as much as I did. Hence, a lot of what was discussed falls under the "off the record" umbrella.

First thing GRRM said to me was that I didn't look like a Dallas Cowboys fan. When I asked whether or not it was a compliment, he laughed and said yes. Interestingly enough, most people who met me mentioned that I didn't look at all like what they expected. . . I may not have the profile of the usual SFF fan, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the genre as much as I do!

As you can expect, George and I did talk about football. The Cowboys, the Giants, the Jets, Plaxico, T. O., the Eagles likely being the team to beat in the NFC East, etc. It was a great way to break the ice. On our way to the Newtown (Jacques Villeneuve's restaurant in downtown MTL), I mentioned that the fan in me felt that it wasn't right for me to be sitting in a cab with a #1 NYT bestselling author like him. GRRM just laughed (he laughs a lot) and replied that I was a VIP fan with all the work I do with the Hotlist.

As is always the case whenever I meet a writer or an editor, the talk then centered on Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. The blog has become a big success, and they are always curious about how it started off, and how it ultimately became what it is today. So we talked about the traffic of our respective sandboxes in the World Wide Web, trolls and how to deal with them, content, etc.

Then George seemed very happy to answer basically every question that popped inside my head. I got a few sideways glances, followed by a "We are still off the record, right?" Anyone who thinks that George -- or any other SFF author, for that matter -- confides secrets to me is crazy. So no, I don't know any more than you do about Jon, Arya, and the rest. But we did discuss the HBO TV series for quite some time, and yes for the time being I might be aware of a few details that will soon be announced. GRRM revealed that Jaime and Cersei are extremely difficult to cast. As twins, they must look alike. But every time they found a good Jaime, they couldn't find a good Cersei to go with him, and vice versa. But with the recent announcement that Jaime has been cast, I wonder if that means that they have given up on getting two actors that are nearly identical. The same thing goes for every Stark sibling. It's very hard to find good child actors, and Rob, Arya, Bran, and Sansa have important roles to play if the series is picked up.

We also talked about the various ASOIAF products, such as the video game, the miniatures, etc. I asked all sorts of questions about his approach to editing and the difference between editing mosaic novels like the Wild Cards books and anthologies such as Warriors and Songs of the Dying Earth.

I basically had George to myself for the better part of two hours, so we discussed a panoply of topics. Some would be of great interest to you guys, like his thoughts on Terry Goodkind (strictly off the record!), while other subjects, such as how he enjoyed Tallinn, Estonia (which I loved), would bore you to death. Some of that stuff was covered during the Q&A following his reading yesterday. I'm thinking about questions such as why the Bran chapters continue to be so difficult to write. We also talked about the forthcoming anthology I'm editing for Subpress.

One thing I'm not sure was ever covered in an interview and which made an impression on me was when I asked him which scene had been the most difficult to write thus far. With no hesitation, he replied the Red Wedding. George said that a number of scenes had been more difficult to write than others, but the Red Wedding scene was probably the worse. He was lost in thought for a moment or two, and then told me that his fans always say he loves to kill off main characters. While the plot demands it, he explained, killing them is never as easy as fans think.

All in all, it was a terrific lunch. The food was good, though I couldn't care less about what I ate (even though the Newtown is a pretty trendy and expensive place). In the end, it was a fantasy fan's greatest dream. I had one of the most popular SFF authors on the planet sitting next to me and chatting about whatever we wanted to talk about.

I'll tell you more about GRRM when I post something about the BwB party and his reading on Monday. But I'll never forget how easy-going and fun it was to be there shooting the breeze with George R. R. Martin, sipping on my beer while he was drinking iced tea. And on the way back, sitting in the cab as the driver had to get us through heavy traffic, the fan in me no longer felt that something wasn't right. Indeed, the fan in me wants to kick this author's ass when the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants duke it out again this fall for our annual wager!;-)

When he first introduced me to Parris, George mentioned that I never learn and I like to suffer. We'll just have to see about that, won't we!?!

More to come, so stay tuned. . .:-)

25 commentaires:

Ran said...

Excellent write-up, Pat. George is indeed a great dinner companion, and Parris and he are perfectly charming people to chat with.

I'll not hold the Cowboys thing against you; we all have our faults. ;)

dwlandis said...

Great stuff Pat, I am so jealous.

Juhan said...

Being from Estonia, Pat, I'd VERY MUCH like to know how GRRM enjoyed Estonia/what his thoughts about it were. I'm serious. Could you share this information?! :D

P. S. I love this blog. You rule.

ediFanoB said...

Well done! Thanks a lot for sharing your impressions. It is a good opportunity for all people who couldn't take part at Worldcon.

Anonymous said...

Cheers on the convention experience. Truly, it was fun, even vicariously through reading the Hotlist. See, even a Bruins/Patriots/Red Sox fan can support the Hotlist.

Neth said...

Pat, as Cowboys fan, I cannot let you wager GRRM again. Everybody in sports knows to be properly supersticious, and you inability to win a wager with GRRM is cursing the Cowboys. So don't make the wager and let the 'boys win this year.

Jebus said...

You post pictures up on this blog of yourself all the time, why wouldn't anyone know what you look like?

Also what does a typical SFF fan look like? Are the stereotypes still around eh? ('course I fit smack bang in the short, hairy, chubby, half-blind stereotype...)

The next Worldcon is in Melbourne Australia right? My hometown, is it really worth, for the average fan, paying so much money to attend? I've been to one con before and got drunk with Terry Pratchett and David Gemmell but that was a very small one in Sydney ages and ages ago.

Ken from Vancouver said...

Fantastic Pat! Its a pleasure to see the joy you exert in having expierenced something most of us only dream about. And its especially nice to hear that G.R.R.M is a class act even if a Giants fan.


Todd said...

Sounds like you had a great time Pat! Thanks for the write up on all the fun!

Anonymous said...

Whats with your obsessive hatred of goodkind?
Can you keep from gossiping like an old woman at every turn?

ChrisM said...

Glad you had a great time Pat. :)

Looking forward to Worldcon when it comes down here in Australia next year!

Rizal said...

Love your story Pat. I've never attended a con yet and it's nice to see it through your eyes.

Don't mind the trolls.

Isis said...

Nice write up - glad you enjoyed meeting George.

Have you considered banning anonymous posting? Might make a dent in the number of idiots you get round here.

Patrick said...

Juhan: George and Parris both enjoyed their time in Tallinn. They were only there for a night, but they had the chance to wander around the old town and loved it.

Neth: Can't help it, my friend. The thought of dying a spectacular and gruesome death in the next ASOIAF volume keeps me coming back for more!

Jebus: Well, given the profile of most Worldcon goers, let's just say I didn't exactly fit the mold! Which is good because I could almost always get away with taking the elevators reserved for "real" guests at the Delta Centre-Ville instead of the only one reserved for the con party crowd.

Is it worth it? That depends, really. Is is worth 200+ dollars to you to get the chance to attend panels, readings, and a few signings? To me it wasn't worth it. But I'm in a position where I can still meet the authors and attend the parties, etc, so it's a bit different...

Anonymous: If Terry Goodkind didn't always make a complete ass of himself, perhaps people wouldn't talk about him. But the guy is pretty much a total fuckwit, and I can assure you that he has basically no friends among his peers.

We started talking about him when I asked George, an author who has always embraced the genre, what he and others thought of someone like the Yeard, who had used fantasy to get rich and famous, but who was pissing on the genre and its fans basically every chance he got.

Isis: Idiots are sadly a necessary evil when you run a website like this.

When GRRM asked me how I dealt with trolls, I told him that the best way to downplay the whole thing was to ignore them. Which is how I've always dealt with idiots thus far.

Interestingly enough, on the subject of trolls and TG, GRRM asked me, "Do you know Mystar?" I laughed out loud and told him a few Mystar stories. Good fun was had!;-)

Unknown said...

Just so you know, the Newtown ain't a Villeneuve place since a few months ago, Got bought by known restaurateurs, hired some of the best chefs in town.

And you're a lucky bastard btw...

bloggeratf said...

BTW, you have the reading eyes... and I run 120 miles a week... so there.

So jealous. I will make it next year if I have to sell an organ to pay for it.

Machine Messiah said...

That sounds wonderful! It's always nice to see that an author's friendliness and personality surpasses the success of his books. :)

Neth said...

Well Pat, I think you'll curse the Cowboys again.

Remember all that I said it here - if the Cowboys fail again this year, IT'S PAT'S FAULT!

Dream Girlzzz said...

"Crap, that Reno party felt like a senior hippie meeting. I mean, I'm now 35 years of age. Supposedly no longer a spry young chap, regardless of the fact that I work out four times a week and bike about 120km a week if the weather is good. Biology says I'm fourteen years past my sexual prime, and that five years from now I should have a doctor stick something up my ass every year or so to make sure I don't have cancer. Still, glancing about me, if not for the BwB crew, I was definitely a junior. For women wishing to fool around with older men, Worldcon is doubtless for you! And if you are looking for a Jedi or a Klingon, even better!:P"

LOL!!! That cracked me up!

Anonymous said...

When is part 2 coming out?? :D

Anonymous said...

Pat, it's really a pleasure to read you from south of France, since my friends of a french forum noticed me you existed and the quality of your blog, I became a fan !

Steve MC said...

Thanks for bringing us along for the ride, and glad to hear GRRM is just as he seems.

Thanks also for that insightful, somber note on the Red Wedding. When I read that scene, and what they did after... I wanted to destroy House Frey with all I had.

Also, in your comment, thanks for the candid view on Goodkind. I didn't know a thing about him until last year, when a fantasy author I like raved about his work. I promptly dug up his site and printed up interviews and excerpts, eagerly hoping to discover a grand new series of work... and was promptly disgusted with it all. I have no clue what worth anyone could see in it.

Thanks for keeping it real, and go Pats.

Anonymous said...

Pat, come to the BwB board on Westeros and let us know what you and GRRM said about Goodkind!

Come on man, you know you want to!:D

Adam Whitehead said...

GRRM has not-commented on Goodkind before, as I dimly recall. I believe it was at a con panel years ago and someone asked what he thought, and his long reply was he thought that authors should't snipe at one another or criticise one another in public, as among other things they might cross paths professionally and it's not uncommon for authors to be friends with other authors whose work they don't like and so on.

I think at the end of this long, detailed explanation about why you shouldn't say anything about authors you don't like, he failed to say anything at all about Goodkind ;-)

Conversely, GRRM was friends with Robert Jordan. They did one con appearance together where they debate what event would happen first: 1 - WoT completed, 2 - ASoIaF completed, 3 - heat death of the universe :-D GRRM also did a nice tribute after RJ passed away.

Lou Anders said...

I was sorry we didn't get to talk longer too! We had been trying to extricate ourselves for 30 minutes to go back and pack. But I'm glad to at least put a face on it.

I'll be at DragonCon, OryCon, and IlluxCon if u go to any of those.