This last weekend I attended Bubonicon for the first time. It’s a local, fan-run convention for sci-fi and fantasy. Apparently they started out46 years ago with six people and had worked their way up to something like 800 this year. They treated me very well and I’m glad I went.
The SFF community, however, is very different than the romance one. Having been at RWA the week before, I found the contrast marked. Never I found a more supportive, generous and non-competitive community than the romance writers. So much so, that I’d forgotten that not all writers are like this. Don’t get me wrong – the Bubonicon staff and fans were amazing. Some of the featured writers were, too. More of them were than weren’t. I got to sit and have a drink with SFWA president Steven Gould (author of Jumper) and his wife, Laura J Mixon, who also writes as MJ Locke. They made time to introduce me to their daughters and are really wonderful people. I hadn’t known Laura or her work before, but we were on a panel together and she’s so smart and amazing.
A couple of authors, however, were less generous and pulled serious attitude on me. I’m sorry to say they were older women, more established than I in fantasy writing and full of teh bitchee. One, sadly, is a writer I’ve been reading for a long time and I now regret having a bad experience with. They very much reminded me of being in grad school and the way the older women scientists singled me out. One, for example, gave my essay a C and my male classmate an A. I looked at his, to see what I missed. Not finding it, I asked her. She said that she graded me more stringently because women had to work harder to succeed in science. Seriously. She said this with a straight face.
That, however, was the 80s and I’d really thought we’d put that shit behind us.
*Deep Cleansing Breath*
The best part of the weekend, however, was meeting and listening to Stephen R. Donaldson, pictured above. I’ve always had a mixed relationship with his books. I hated the Thomas Covenant books (and I’m not alone in that, I know – possibly the most unlikable hero ever), but I loved the Mordant’s Need books. Even hating Thomas Covenant, I read anyway, recognizing the brilliance of the writing and storytelling. Those books were tremendously formative for me, especially finding in Mordant’s Need a heroine like Terisa at a time when the dense fantasies all seemed to feature male protagonists. I’d had no idea Stephen lives in Albuquerque and I was thrilled at the prospect of hearing what he had to say (on ending an epic series – right up my alley) and I was also nervous. As with above, sometimes meeting heroes can be more disappointing than anything.
You guys – he was amazing. So thoughtful. So genuine and not full of ego. I sat with writing buddy Darynda Jones, who is deep into her Charley Davidson series and was also blown away by what he had to say. I’m going to be a tease because I was so rapt that I didn’t take notes and I can’t quite reconstruct what hit me so profoundly. Except that he talked about how finishing a series left him hollow and in this state where he couldn’t even celebrate because he felt so removed from the world.
Exactly how I’ve felt. Remarkable for me to feel both that sense of connection with one of my writing heroes and that I might be doing things “right.”
I’m hoping to invite him to visit our local chapter and speak there. If he does, I promise to take notes this time!