I have finally returned from my quick tour of the US, San Diego Comic Con, and Celsius 232 in Spain. It’s only a couple of weeks ago that I left but it feels like months. 10 flights in less than two weeks and a hell of a lot of signing, hand-shaking, and talking to readers, authors, publishers and other folk of all kinds.
San Diego Comic Con is quite the event – beyond massive. The focus these days is obviously on the big media stuff but there’s still a hell of a lot going on with writers and publishers. I’ve since realised there were all kinds of people there I know and never got to see. I did many dinners, lunches and breakfasts. I was driven in a golf cart through some dirty service tunnels beneath the convention centre wedged between George RR Martin and Diana Gabaldon and with Lev Grossman on the back. Truth is, indeed, sometimes stranger than fiction. I did four signings and was on two panels, one the yearly epic fantasy panel this year moderated by my arch-nemesis Brent Weeks (and I shall be revenged upon him, oh yes I shall), and featuring no less than eight authors. Great authors, but that’s actually way too many, I think, it makes it impossible to really get any flow or conversation between them. The introductions take ages, then you maybe get a response from each to one question, half a response to another, an effort from the audience and you’re basically done. Still, you can watch that one over here. Much better was a five-author effort with GRRM, Diana Gabaldon, Lev Grossman, and Pat Rothfuss, covering various elements of world building and writing epic stories. There were maybe 6 or 700 people in the audience, I’m told (all there for me, I’m sure) and it was one of the best panels I’ve been on. You can watch that one over here.
I also did some great events at independent bookstores – University Bookstore Seattle, Mysterious Galaxy San Diego, and Borderlands Books San Francisco, and ended up at the Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe being interviewed by GRRM along with Cherie Priest discussing our careers and approaches to writing.
I then set off from Santa Fe for the Celsius 232 festival in Aviles, Spain. They started this event three years ago and I’ve been every time – it’s amazing to see how the attendance has increased year on year. It was always going to be a gruelling journey but as luck would have it the first plane was delayed, then broke down in Albuquerque, so I missed my connection from Dallas to Madrid and instead had to get to Madrid via Heathrow, and work out a new connection from Madrid to Oviedo. To call it a total nightmare would be unfair to other nightmare journeys I’ve been on, it took 30 hours, 4 flights, 2 of them delayed, plus two lengthy car journeys, a bag mislaid, a bag search (though the officers did appear to have pressed my jacket afterward, which was nice).
The downside was that I missed my panel in Aviles and therefore the chance to talk at length about how great I am. The upside was that Pat Rothfuss agreed very kindly to fill in and talk about how great I am instead, which I’m sure had far more impact on the audience, and I was able to do a great panel along with him and Brandon Sanderson the following day.
All in all an amazing time, but it’s a good thing I don’t have any other events coming up.
Until Worldcon in London next week…