Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Limestone Genre Convention (Kingston)

Because I'm based in Ontario for the next six months or so, I was able to attend Limestone Genre Convention in Kingston this year. A newer, smaller convention, it was quite the change for me because I was only on a single program item (a pitch session for Five Rivers) and I only knew half a dozen people there. Which turned out to be great because it forced me to meet new people and to listen to people I hadn't heard before on panels, rather than me being the one who was pontificating. (Well, okay, I couldn't totally resist pontificating anyway, so 'contributed' from the audience whenever they asked for questions from the floor, but mostly the structure and moderators were able to restrain me.) So as a consequence, I learned a lot! Listening will do that!

As is often the case, smaller convention translated out to 'more intimate' and I was able to actually meet and talk at length with a number of people I had never encountered before or only corresponded with through email. This was great, because I discovered a number of self-published Canadian authors I hadn't know existed, and who turned out to be fabulous. For example, I was totally impressed by Jen Frankel who in turn insisted I go hear Kit Daven's reading, whose books I had bought on Kindle before she even finished her reading. I've met Suzanne Church before, but always a pleasure to see her in action, and Marie Bilodeau did a great performance, and Derek Kunsken was fabulous moderator on his panel and Derek Newman-Stille was as insightful as ever, and on and on with so many great people. Brandon Crilly and Ira Nayman were people I knew but never met. So many great conversations, and new authors for me to read.

The pitch session for Five Rivers went well, introducing me to many local authors who were not normally in my catchment area. A couple of promising things there.

I really enjoyed the panels and learned a lot, again because I was hearing opinions from people I don't usually hear at conventions out West and a lot of what they were saying was new to me. After going to some of the same conventions for 40 years, I've heard a lot of the same people over and over and pretty much know what they are going to say before they say it, but that was definitely not the case for me here. And sitting in the audience instead of on the panels, I interacted a lot more with my fellow attendees and particularly with younger writers. I got to ask these youngens a lot of questions about their writing and publishing and --that whole listening instead of pontificating thing--learned a lot. I like to think I'm on top of trends, but um, instead of following what is happening, I think I got a glimpse into what is coming down the road for the future as I heard very different attitudes from a lot of these kids than I'm used to with the people I usually work with. Brave new world / exciting times if half of what I was hearing reflects widespread attitudes among the next generation of writers.

Of particular revelation was the panel on fanfiction. Look, I have my copy of Mirror Mirror (probably the first piece of modern fan fiction) and my daughter is big into Victor Hugo fan fiction, and I've been working on a paper on Lynda Williams and her encouragement of fan fiction in her universe, so I thought I knew a little about the topic, but oh my god was I out of touch with current trends. So exciting! So hopeful about the future of writing. (Hey listen, my day job teaching in the Education Faculty to students who no longer read has been incredibly depressing--I mean, if your kid's English teacher doesn't read for pleasure, let alone write or publish, what the hell hope do we have? So re-discovering the world of fanfic on the scale it now exists, hell yes, I'm excited!)

So hat off to Liz Stranger and her crew for organizing a great convention. Well worth attending for anyone within range next year.

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