Monday, June 23, 2014

Phoenix Comicon 2014: Authors I Met

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Authors at a YA panel! Laini Taylor is easily recognizable by her vivid pink hair. :)

I think one of the coolest things about Phoenix Comicon is all the opportunities for interaction with authors and publishers. There are so many chances to see your favorite authors, whether at a panel or performance of some sort, and to also meet them, gets books signed, and chat for a bit at the PHXCC-sponsored signings, publisher signings, signings at Mysterious Galaxy’s booth, or at the author’s own table in the authors alley. There were so many cool writers this year that it was at times a challenge to plot out our panels-and-signings schedule!

I always feel kind of like a book-obsessed weirdo when I recognize an author on sight. While I was waiting in line to get my media badge on Thursday, I passed the time locating points of interest on the dealer hall map and taking in all the passers-by in all their cosplayish glory. (The coolest was seeing a family of Jedi getting interviewed by a news outlet. Nerd families are so awesome!) After about 20 minutes of this, I started to zone out a bit, and I was staring off into the middle distance when I registered pink hair. I thought to myself, “What bright pink hair! How nice.” Then I registered the person it was attached to, and also that she was walking with a man and a little girl, and I realized that it was Laini Taylor! That was my first in-the-wild author spotting. While in line I also saw Lynne M. Thomas of SF Squeecast (and Editor-in-Chief of Apex magazine) and Django Wexler (whose book The Thousand Names I’ve been meaning to get to) wandering about. Later that night, when I was navigating the crush of people exiting the Books and Authors Kickoff Panel, I noticed someone moving against the flow, trying to get toward the table at the front of the room. I registered that this person had pink hair, and I again thought to myself, “My, what bright pink hair! How nice.” I then, of course, realized that it was Laini Taylor, again. And because I was so surprised by this, I squeaked, “Laini Taylor!” at her when she was standing right in front of me (as if she didn’t know who she was). She said hi and shook my hand, and then it was a little awkward because I was trying to move toward the door and she was trying to move toward the front table, but neither of us could go anywhere because the crowd was in a bit of a traffic jam. That’s me, always smooth and sophisticated… XD

Del Rey had a cool thing going on during the con (in addition to all the free books, of course), where they encouraged you to take selfies with all their authors and tweet them with the hashtag #RHAuthorHunt to be entered to win a box of books signed by Del Rey authors. This sounded like an acceptable challenge to me, and I managed to take photos with all five authors. I also apparently blocked out the selfie part, however, and press-ganged my friend into taking the photos for me (don’t worry, I returned the favor). Here’s who I found in the scavenger hunt!

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Left to right: Pierce Brown, Jason Hough, Scott Lynch, Kevin Hearne, & Naomi Novik.

No word yet on if I’ve won the box o’ books, but I’ve still got my fingers crossed!

Here’s a bullet run-down of the weekend’s greatest hits, author-wise:

  • Pierce Brown made me feel a little guilty about not being sad when a character dies early on in Red Rising. (He also pantomimed being hanged. I promise this makes sense in context.)
  • After we warned him that my friend’s name is hard to spell, he wrote as the dedication in her book, “Your name is strange.”
  • Jason Hough, whose books I was unfamiliar with pre-con, was very nice! I’m looking forward to reading The Darwin Elevator.
  • We ended up seeing Scott Lynch twice, first to sign our Locke Lamora books, and then again the next day when we discovered that the Rogues anthology was mysteriously and fortuitously on sale early at a booth which shall not be named. We then had to of course get it signed, too. The first time we talked about humidity in the Minne-consin area (inspiring this awesome dedication in my friend’s book: “The Minnesota swamps miss you!”) and the second time we somehow ended up discussing whether or not George R.R. Martin is an omniscient being.
  • Scott Lynch was also the first to put himself in the running for best book dedication of the con. He had already signed near the bottom of the page, and accidentally started to sign his name again:

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  • Elizabeth Bear was super friendly! We talked about the heat, arriving at the conclusion that where one lands in the dry heat vs. humidity debate largely depends on what you grew up with.
  • I told Carrie Vaughn that I’d liked her story in the Dangerous Women anthology and how it had reminded me a bit of Code Name Verity with the lady pilots in WWII stuff. She said that one’s been on her TBR, and I overflowed a bit with encouragement for her to read it.
  • My friend (I suppose it might be good to start calling her by her name—Cristi!) won one of a limited number of ARCs of John Scalzi’s Lock In, and we met him at the Tor table to get it signed. (Since I already had one from BEA, mwahahaha, I decided not to be greedy and go for another.) I also got the chance to tell him how much I’d loved the codas in Redshirts!
  • We didn’t get much of a chance to talk with Kevin Hearne while he was doing a signing of Hounded at the Del Rey booth, but we did mention the awesomeness of the Holy Taco Church.
  • Cristi gave Wesley Chu her fancy blue Sharpie when we found out he had no pen for signing!
  • I don’t know how it happened, but I ended up talking to Chuck Wendig about BEA and how Sus was sending me a huge box of books from it. Add to that the fact that, since the protagonist in his Miriam Black series sees how people will die, he likes to predict the manner of your death when he signs your copy of the book. The two combined to produce this dedication, which is also part of the three way tie for best book dedication of the con:

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  • Since I bought an early copy of Rogues, I figured it would be silly to not get Rothfuss to sign it. Luckily, the line was not too long, and we talked about the infectiousness of pirate “Arghhh!”-ing resulting from the previous night’s Paul & Storm concert.
  • When I confessed to Seanan McGuire that I read the entire Toby Daye series in two weeks and told her how sad I’d been when a certain character died, she told me she was glad he’d been somebody’s book boyfriend (apparently he’d been her original pick for the series’ long-term love interest! Wahn wahn.).
  • Naomi Novik had a really cool feathered hair accessory that she bought from one of the vendors!
  • Cat Valente sounded like maybe she was coming down with something, but was very nice while I spewed fangirl-y praise at her.
  • When I produced a copy of Dragon Prince for Melanie Rawn to sign, she said, “Awww, it’s mommy’s little cash dragon!” Also, I had no idea she lives in Flagstaff!
  • Laini Taylor and her husband Jim Di Bartolo were signing books together, and their daughter Clementine was signing, too! She drew and wrote things on sticky notes to stick in the books. So adorable. I got them all to sign my copy of Lips Touch Three Times, and Clementine’s addition guaranteed it a spot in the tie for best dedication of the con. It’s like she looked into my soul, and saw what truly matters to me:

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  • Laini said her epic vacation (if you follow her blog, you know what I’m talking about) was fun, but she’s glad to be getting back home. She said it was weird to be done with the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, but that she has a few new projects on the radar already that she’s excited to get to work on.
  • I also stopped by the Top Shelf booth and said hi to Rob Harrell! I first became acquainted with his work when I read the graphic novel Monster on the Hill on NetGalley, and loved it. I asked if he’d ever consider doing a second one in that world, and he said he has the idea for it all planned out and just needs to see if the publisher is willing!
  • He also doodled a majestic Rayburn in my book:

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  • And finally, I may not have made it to any panels with Charlaine Harris and I did not brave her very long signing line, but I DID snap this pic from when I was in line for Seanan McGuire next door!

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Tons of fun, and now I’ve got all kinds of awesomely defaced books. And I kind of want to be best friends with Scott Lynch and Pat Rothfuss. Who wouldn’t, right?

What authors would you like to meet (or have you met)? Do you have any autographed books with epic dedications? Let us know in the comments!

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