World Fantasy Convention 2013 – Sunday 3/11
Sunday, the last day of the convention. We had to take a train at 16h45, so no banquet for us unfortunately. We decided to do some panels in the morning and discover Brighton or shop in the afternoon instead. Which was a bit of a shame actually, because some of the people we’d met were at the banquet and I’d loved to have been able to say goodbye to them properly.
As it is we started at 11am with the panel “By Any Other Name: What Makes an Author Change Their Byline?” with Janine Ashbless [Keris McDonald], Shannon Drake [Heather Graham], Daniel Fox [Chaz Brenchley], Robin Hobb [Margaret Ogden], Michael Marshall [Michael Marshall Smith] and Jude Fisher [Jane Johnson] as moderator. Why do authors write under a penname, a pseudonym? The panelists compared it with a coming of age thing, they said it is part of the fun to re-label ourselves. But are they a different persona when they write under another name? Do they ‘become’ that different person? Chaz doesn’t think so, he claims the voice remains the same but it just tells a different story. Heather agrees with this. Janine created her penname because she started writing Erotica and she wanted some distance from that, some kind of safety net. She wants to keep the different identities apart and tells us that her alternate identity gives her a bit of courage when writing in the Erotica genre.
Michael pointed out that it might be confusing for the readers if you are used to a certain genre from your favourite writer and you buy a book with the same name on it and it’s something totally different. But he too doesn’t feel any difference when he’s writing.
Robin on the other hand writes very differently under her different pseudonyms. As Megan Lindholm she writes Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction and the occasional short story, she has a more brisk writing style then. As Robin Hobb she claims to have more room to sprawl out.
Some funny anecdotes were mentioned about signing the wrong name and then having to sign it with multiple pseudonyms to kind of cover up your mistake. I can see this happening quite easily, I don’t know how they keep their identities separate at signing events. You have to really have a good look at the book they give you before you sign it, right? Seems a bit confusing to me.
Then the panel went on to the most important pseudonym that has been all over the papers this year: J.K. Rowling’s Robert Galbraith. Did she ever intend for it to come out? Was it an attempt to do something different? What was she trying to do? The panelists all believe she was indeed trying something new and wanted to see how it went without her name on it. But it’s hard to keep secrets in publishing, someone was always going to leak it. And the book actually did pretty good for a crime novel before it was ever known that J.K. Rowling was the author. Now it’s booming, evidently, but that has really nothing to do with the book itself, but with the revelation that it’s a J.K. Rowling book.
Another important topic was the effect of a female name on a book. Does it sell in a certain genre or should you chose a more male name? Or initials? Seems like this happens quite a lot, publishers telling their authors they should pick another name because it would sell better. This baffles me, I usually don’t think twice about the gender of the author of a book I’m reading, for me the story is the most important part.
I have to be honest with you here, at noon we went to our last panel but I didn’t take any notes. Why? Because it was freezing in there and I felt like my fingers were going to fall off at any point! That’s why I tucked them away instead of taking notes. It was an interesting panel though and I’ll try to write down everything I remember about it. The panel was called “Please Sir, I Want Some More: How to Write That Difficult Second Book” and the panelists were Mark Barnes, Laure Eve, Snorri Kristjansson, Alison Littlewood, Den Patrick replacing Sarah Pinborough because unfortunately she broke her foot, and Lou Morgan as moderator. The panel handled that difficult ‘second album’. The sentiment that it’s a real daunting task to create a second novel after your first success was quite unanimous. All of the authors agreed that with the first book you can take as much time as you need to complete it. Once that one’s done your publisher will set a deadline for the second one and that’s the hard part. Now you don’t get as long as you want to finish it. The only solution they saw to this problem was completing all your books before you submit them. Well, a solution to some extent that is. They also explained that sometimes you can write yourself in a corner in the second book and wish you had done something different in the first one. You might have a brilliant idea that would have worked great, if only you’d be able to amend something in the first book. Unfortunately this isn’t possible so you have to keep in mind that you have to have some consistency with the first one.
Other things I learned from this panel: Snorri Kristjansson exclaims the most amazing version of “awesome” and writing a second book is equal to having huge amounts of stress.
The moderator also asked if any of them read the reviews of their first book and if they changed anything in the second book due to what was being said in those reviews. Interesting question! They all agreed though that they wouldn’t change anything about their writing and I agree. When I give a comment about the writingstyle of the plot or the pace it’s just to hint at what didn’t work for me personally. I don’t think an author should change his work just because one aspect of it doesn’t work for a particular person (or maybe some people with the same taste). Most of the panelists can’t withstand the temptation of reading review, though some of them would rather not read them.
This signaled the end of World Fantasy Convention 2013 for me. I was lucky enough to run in to Patrick Rothfuss in the lobby, because I really wanted a picture with him, which you can see here.
In the afternoon I went shopping for another bag, because I had no room at all to put all my free books. I dragged that bag all across Brighton in the afternoon, because I wanted to do some sightseeing before I left. I visited the Royal Pavilion and the Brighton Pier. The weather could have been better though, at times I swear if I had wings I could have just lifted off on the gusts of wind assaulting me from every direction. At 16h45 it was time to leave and say goodbye to Brighton and WFC2013. I’m planning on going to LonCon3 next year in the summer, so I hope to see all of the lovely people I met again over there + I hope all of the amazing people that couldn’t attend this year’s WFC will be able to make that too.
WFC was an amazing experience, one to never forget. Big thanks to the organizers and a lots of hugs and love to all the people I met there!
Also included here: a picture of all the books I received/bought over there. 11 of them were for free, I bought 4 to get them signed in the mass signing. I can’t wait to dig in to them!