This month I went to my first in-person convention since 2020, Boskone in Boston, MA. It was lovely being back at my ‘local’ con, but weirdly stressful, too. To paraphrase a friend, ‘we’re all a little feral now’, and have to re-learn how to do the event thing! By the end of each day, I was quite ready to retreat to my hotel room with a book…
That said, I did have a great time… I was on four programming items. I led a Friday night meet up for young writers and ended up having a delightful chat to the two youngest participants — 10 and 13 years old. And a shout out to the pink stuffed axolotl that kept us company. On Saturday morning, I was in charge of organizing the Rapid Fire Reading for Broad Universe, an organization I belong to which supports women and non-binary people working in speculative fiction. We had eleven readers, and a nice variety of genres and writing styles to enjoy in five-minute bite-sized snippets.
I was also on two panels: I moderated Silver Haired Warriors on Saturday night, with Dana Cameron, Zin E. Rocklyn, and N.T. Swift, which I thoroughly enjoyed and yes, if you’re curious, we did decide that older characters are more than ready to take charge of spec fic, and that experience absolutely wins out against the hastiness of youth. On Sunday, I got to play with the other side of that coin, with Writing Realistic Teenagers. R.W.W. Greene was our trusty moderator, and my fellow panelists were Michael Stearns and Brad Abraham. One of my favorite takeaways was to remember to work from the heart and not the brain when writing teens, and to channel not necessarily your own memories, but the emotions that lay beneath.
There were plenty of good programming items to watch, and as usual the hard part is choosing! I caught a great panel on Friday called Digging the Past, with Darlene Marshall (M), Melanie Meadors, Katherine Arden, and Walter Jon Williams, where my favorite quote came from Katherine: “The best historical fiction wears its research really lightly.” (Along with a reminder that the writer does not owe the reader perfect accuracy.) After my Saturday reading, I stopped by the International Fandom Meetup, which only had a few of us attending but provided a nice break from the larger program items.
Saturday afternoon, I managed to fit in two program items before my own panel. First off, How to Kill…a Character, an energetic debate with Max Gladstone (M), Brenda Clough, Bracken MacLeod, P. Djèlí Clark, and C.S.E. Cooney. Brenda Clough reminded us that nowadays, “no one has plot immunity”, while P. Djèlí Clark brought up the differences between how writers and readers experience a character’s death. Bracken MacLeod warned us that there should be emotional consequences, that a character’s death should feel ugly, even if they are evil and absolutely had it coming. The other Saturday item I caught was the Horror on Saturday group reading, with Nicholas Kaufmann, Bracken MacLeod, Max Martelli, and F. Brett Cox, a fantastic taster of great writing!
On Sunday, I stopped by at Seven Easy Steps to Taking Over the Universe, with Marshall Ryan Maresca (M), Christie Meierz, Mur Lafferty, Dana Cameron, and Steven Popkes, an absolutely hilarious discussion which concluded that: minions need good and fashionable jumpsuits, preferably with five pockets; that better toilet technology is a must, as well as a history degree (immortality is a maybe, but debatable); that every overlord-to-be needs a good slogan AND a good title; and that cats may already be our overlords… The last panel I attended was The Shadow of the City, a discussion of cities as characters in urban fantasy with Walter H. Hunt (M), Sharon Lee, Darrell Schweitzer, and Carole Ann Moleti, and I think my favorite quote comes from Carole Ann Moleti: “Walk the city. (…) Observe the people, because that’s the story.”
All in all, a wonderful and inspirational event. Thank you to the New England Science Fiction Association for once again organizing a successful weekend, and for inviting me to be a part of it!