World Fantasy Con was an EXPERIENCE.
I got to meet a whole new set of readers and writers, had the pleasure of putting online profiles and books to faces for Tiffany Trent, Malindo Lo, Sarah Beth Durst, Cindy Pon, and many other lovely authors, sat and talked with wonderful publisher and editor-mate Cinda Williams Chima, and stumbled like a bumbling fangirl through an introduction to Holly Black, the awkwardness of which is sure to live in infamy.
I listened to Cindy Pon, Marlene Perez, Karen Healey, and Tamora Pierce talk about growing readers, and Holly Black, Patrick Rothfuss (!!) and others talk about not-so-fair folk (fae). I sat in the front row with Kiersten White and Shannon Messenger and listened to Neil Gaiman read short stories and poems.
I got to see my incredible agent, Holly, and probably talked far too much. And I got to have dinner with Holly, her husband, and the incredible Rae Carson.
I only had one not-so-lovely experience (aside from the food, which was inedible), and that happened Saturday night at my panel on metafiction, when I got on stage only to have a co-panelist take one look at me and ask me if I was in the right place, explaining that the panel on stupidity (it was real, btw) was in the other room.
But what happened Sunday morning more than made up for all of it.
Let me set the scene.
It’s the last day of WFC. I’ve attended panels, and been on one, listened to Neil Gaiman read, and be interviewed, and had him pass by my table at breakfast, but I’ve yet to meet him. And to be honest, I’m okay with it. I feel so lucky to have had the other experiences that it’s fine. I’m good.
And then I find out that he’s having an extra signing (he couldn’t get through everyone in the 3 hours of allotted signing time. And I think, “You know what? I’m going to get my books signed.” I’d brought my two favorites all the way from Nashville, and carried them around in my bag all weekend, just in case.
I get up, grab some breakfast, and head over to the signing venue a full hour before the doors open. I stand in line and chat and eat and wait and try not to panic. We’re led inside in groups of ten, into a hall, and at the end of hall is a table, and that’s where he’s signing.
A few words are being given and taken here and there, but for the most past people are waiting and Neil Gaiman is signing, and I’m starting to freak out about what I’ll say…if I manage to say anything.
And then ot’s my turn.
“Hi,” I say, and the word is barely a whisper so I add, “I’m a huge, huge fan.”
Neil Gaiman honors me with a warm smile and sets to signing, head bent over my books.
“And,” I add, “Um…I’m afraid I’m the one whose followers were nagging you a bit on Twitter––“
His head pops up, and he smiles, and says, “It’s you!” And then… “I’ve got to give you a hug!”
And he does.
Neil Gaiman stops signing and stands up and wraps me in a hug. And then more words happen, though I’m not terribly sure which. Basically I laughed and apologized for my followers’ persistence (I love you ALL), and he smiled and said it had gotten to be quite funny, and that they were certainly very devoted and and and…more words.
My hero, my planet, the kind I orbit and aspire to be like, talked to me. He hugged me and he smiled and he laughed and he talked to me.
I feel dizzy (and admittedly a bit tired, since it’s 5 in the morning and I’m sitting in an airport) but mostly I feel driven.
Thank you all so much for helping make this silly girl’s dream come true.