Archon 2015

So, good times at Archon! I caught up with people I knew — Walt Boyes and Joy Ward, for example; they’re dog people as well as writers, so we have that in common.

Plus, Walt and I were both on the Designing Alien Cultures and Species panel and turned out to admire many of the same works — CJC’s Foreigner, “Katherine Addison’s” The Goblin Emperor — I bet between the two of us we got the whole roomful of attendees to buy The Goblin Emperor. Hope so, although it’s always a bit risky to raise expectations sky-high, but still. This was my favorite panel, obviously — I mean, it would be. Of course my emphasis is on how instinct informs culture.

All the panels went well, though, even the Paranormal vs Supernatural panel, where we all agreed that definitions can go in all kinds of different directions. My own feeling is that your personal idiosyncratic definition of “paranormal” can be all very good and precise, but if you get too far away from the types of books that readers are actually shelving under “paranormal”, then it hardly matters how much more precise your definition is — so definitions have to follow usage. Anyway, the panel wandered a bit, which is liable to happen when the title doesn’t impose a clear direction. I met Sarah Jude, whose mystery/horror novel The May Queen Murders is coming out next spring; and Claire Ashgrove, who writes stories involving the Knights Templar, among other things.

Every single panel was well attended. The Harassment panel on Friday night could have turned into either an Airing of Grievances or a political argument, but actually stayed pretty much on topic and also fairly civil. Personally, I hope I never see another panel titled “Harassment and the Female Fan”, as though women are always targets and never offenders, but the actual harassment policy of the convention wasn’t written with that assumption. It was quite interesting to talk to people later about the evolution of Archon’s harassment policy and how that issue has changed over the past few years.

I was hoping for maybe ten or so attendees for the Trends in YA panel, not because the topic isn’t a draw, but because 11:00 AM on Sunday is a tough slot. Actually I would say by the end maybe 20 people were there, not counting panelists, so that was pretty good. Kasey MacKenzie and I were both on that panel, so it was good to catch up with her. Also Deborah Millitello, who I’ve also met before.

Incidentally: Trends in YA. We all agree: paranormal is dead, dystopia is dead, fantasy is okay, horror is okay, SF is up, contemporary is way up, especially if there’s a spy/criminal/con game aspect to the story. We also all agree: gotta be careful writing to a trend, because the market is likely to be utterly saturated with whatever by the time you’re shopping your completed book around. But if you’re flipping a coin between paranormal and contemporary right now, contemporary is the way to go, because most likely that’ll be up for several years yet. I met no fewer than three writers during this small convention who have switched to contemporary because they are having trouble placing paranormal-ish types of stories.

We ALSO all agree, if you write something that’s not marketable right now, wait five years or so, because these things certainly do come and go. If you’re waiting for the market to turn back around toward paranormal, nothing stops you from waiting for that while writing something else in the meantime.

Let me see, let me see. The masquerade was good; I didn’t take any pictures, sorry. My favorite: The Christmas scene. Cutest: possibly The Addams Family, especially Wednesday. The Lego Riddler was hilarious; you see how important it is to keep up with movies? If I hadn’t seen the Lego Movie, I would have been baffled.

Also! Yes, I got a fair bit of work done. That was a major reason I stayed up there rather than driving back and forth: when the convention doesn’t start rolling till ten in the morning, a lark has plenty of time to work on other stuff before leaving the hotel.

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2 thoughts on “Archon 2015”

  1. Paranormal is dead for YA, really? Is YA just that different than non-YA fantasy, or has paranormal collapsed while I wasn’t paying attention?

    What was special about the Christmas scene?

  2. Oh, Paranormal’s dead everywhere. It’s not that new titles aren’t coming out, but they are either sequels to existing successful series or they were already in the pipeline two years ago. Very, very tough to sell a new Paranormal right now, YA or adult.

    Okay, the Christmas scene was performed by Master class exhibitors — the costumes were good, the presentation was super-snappy and confident. The woman playing a Christmas tree kept tilting rather than standing up straight while another exhibitor tried to straighten her up; at the end, her whole costume lit up with Christmas lights. There was a guy swinging mistletoe around on a fishing pole and a woman caroler stepping smartly out of his way each time he tried to get the mistletoe above her. Honestly, there was so much going on, I missed at least half of it. Not sure why it was considered SFF-themed, but it was fun.

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