Like many of you, I’m something of an introvert. Public speaking makes me wish I were a turtle so I could hide in my shell (or fight crime, if I were the ninja variety), and I don’t like crowds, so the idea of attending a science fiction and fantasy convention presented a certain measure of dread. This was compounded by the fact that J and I were attending as active members of the Central Washington Authors Guild (and me as the reluctant shepherd of this particular group of authorcats). So, it was with a mountain of apprehension and a belly full of nerves that we set out across the central Washington desert in search of the raddest (not to mention most radioactive, hence the name) of cons, RadCon 7.
Now, safely back within the confines of my fortress of solitude, I would like to take a few minutes and ruminate about the events of the past weekend. The good, the bad, the indifferent, and the cosplay.
We arrived on Thursday night, ahead of the actual con, in order to be on-site when our author group assembled early Friday morning to build our little bookstore. The convention hotel was built in another time, and we could feel the weight of those years as we shuffled down the corridor, laden with luggage. The ancient elevator chugged and strained to raise us to the third floor, and the scent of burning wire and electricity raised a few hairs by the time the doors opened, but we reached our destination without too much incident.
The next morning, that elevator, the only semi-functional one in the hotel as far as I knew, coughed its last and was thus festooned with miles of caution tape to ward away any convention-goers in search of modern conveyance. Since our last trip down that elevator that morning involved a brief drop followed by a more leisurely descent to the ground floor, we felt that perhaps the stairs were the much safer option. Still, for a gentleman of such significant proportions as myself, that presented an entirely different set of challenges.
Still, the weekend was filled with far more than back pain and falling death-traps. We attended a variety of panels featuring artists, authors, and podcasters (including Scott C. Brown and Andy Dopieralski of Dead Gentlemen and Two Bards in a particularly funny panel about getting started as a podcaster). We ate some excellent Chinese-American food from a local restaurant (whose delivery man was intensely confused by all the cosplay when he arrived) that was nearly as good the second day. But the highlight of the weekend was attending a talk hosted by Toby Froud that included a screening of his short film Lessons Learned.
You may remember Toby as the baby from the brilliant Jim Henson movie Labyrinth, which featured both David and his Bowie. Since those long-ago days, Toby has grown into a charming young man (gin and pickles, did I just say that?) and an excellent artist in the vein of his parents, both of whom were highly influential during those early days of the Jim Henson Company. He demonstrated how muppet-style puppeteering works and showed off a pair of puppets he used during the production of his film. It was a great time, and everyone seemed to have fun. Frances Pauli, in particular, nearly fangirled herself to death when she actually got to play with one of those puppets.
But despite all the great panels, fascinating guest speakers, and cosplay in all shades of kawaii to terrifying, our group was there to work, sell books, and make contacts with local authors. For weeks, I have been thrashing from one bundle of stress to another in trying to prepare for setting up and running the Radcon bookstore. Looking back at it now, most of that worry was completely unfounded.
The store we set up looked great, and there was very little drama in either the setup or execution. While we did not make up the cost of the room in overall sales, it was by far our best sales year since we began attending, and everyone in the group sold at least one book. I have to admit a little thrill when a sweet lady bought a copy of My Name Is Michael Bishop and asked me to sign it after J pointed out that I was the author. I’m still really proud of that book. Maybe I should write another.
Somehow, I managed to get through the weekend without spending myself into oblivion. Other than food expenses, the only trinket I purchased during my stay was a pose-able rubber dragon that looked very much like one of the characters in an upcoming story.
Needless to say, the final return to our single-story home was such an immense relief that I celebrated with fourteen hours of sleep. Of course, now I’m awake and struggling to return to the normalcy of Life Before the Con. While it may have the benefits of effective air conditioning and a decided lack of stairs to climb, it is certainly less colorful and runs at a far slower pace.
Bring on RadCon 2017.