I'm feeling a bit dark myself, having finally come to a halt after a grueling few weeks of convention attending. Right now, I'm extremely pleased to be at home, in my own bed, with my husband, able to slob around in my sweats and not care about ANYTHING - except the mountain of housework that grew in my absence :)
I've been attending science fiction (umbrella term - also covers fantasy and horror) conventions since 2004 and romance conventions since last year (RWA Sydney). Since March 26, when I zipped up the road from Canberra with Tracey O'Hara to attend the signing session at the Australian Romance Readers Convention, I've been across to Los Angeles for the RT Convention and then to Perth for Swancon 36, the 50th National Science Fiction Convention.
The mass signing at RT Convention in LA, early April. Dozens of authors, hundreds of readers. Numbers swelled because a special teen day was held and hundreds of teenage girls attended as well. YA is HUGE folks!
That's not the end of my convention adventures for this year either. In June, Tracey, Erica Hayes and I will be at Supernova Sydney. On the October long weekend, I'll be at Conflux, the Canberra science fiction con and I'm still tossing up RWA in Melbourne in August.
There are sooooo many things to love about conventions - both science fiction and romance. Similarities include the meeting of minds - the great moment when you realise you're finally amongst friends and can relax and talk all things geeky/romancey. Socialising - often these are friends with whom you only communicate electronically and as author Tansy Rayner Roberts said to me at Swancon "That's a great form of communication but it's only when you get to cons that you realise it doesn't make up for face-to-face chatter". Networking - getting to meet other authors, publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, readers and making the connections that are sooo important in this industry. Sharing war stories - finding out that you're not mad, but just dealing with some weird stuff in as sane a manner as is possible.
Then there are the differences. First, science fiction conventions have been running for decades, and so there's a lot of history involved. Politics as well as some fans want to cling to the traditions of the conventions while others want to experiment and try new things. There's a larger group of men in attendance and this does change dynamics. Then there's the interesting way that authors, no matter how big, just become part of the crowd. You can sit and chat to someone at a bar and not know they're an author unless they have a name you recognise.
The prizes given out as part of the Romancing the West workshops. I was delighted to see romance writing featured at a science fiction convention. Congrats to Lesley Ann Smith and the RWAers from Perth for organising.
Explicit promotion of yourself is something that's kinda frowned upon at science fiction conventions. As opposed to romance conventions, where it's expected that authors will come with 'swag' to give out to the readers. There's more of a celebration of the role of the author in the genre in romance.
I'm still trying to nut out where this difference comes from. Is it because authors were involved in romance conventions from the very beginning, whereas science fiction conventions were started by and run for the fans? Is it because for the most part romance conventions are organised and run by women, whereas for a long time it was men that ran things on the science fiction side? Does it say something about the genres themselves - science fiction doesn't want to draw attention to itself, while romance stands loud and proud and says 'look at me'?
Whatever the reason for this difference, the similarities mean that I can happily look at both science fiction AND romance conventions and say - love. Love, love, love, love, love.
I've got copies of Secret Ones to give away to two commenters so tell me, friends - have you ever attended a convention, science fiction or romance? If so, what did you love about it? If not - what is keeping you from attending?