First I had the Adventures in Airline Tickets, which I will not go into except to say I’ll be making an early-season batch of fudge to send off to people who, while admittedly doing nothing more than their job, did it with grace and humour and helped me immesurably.
Next I got safely into Fargo, where the con-runner (Tony) awaited me along with another of the guest’s handler (Holly). While we waited for my luggage, my friend E, whom I haven’t seen in nigh unto a decade and who was coming up for the weekend laid eyes on me and we attacked each other with what can only be called a roaring hug. Beneath our bellows of joy, I heard the handler Holly say to Tony, “Another guest?” to which Tony replied, befuddled, “No. It must be a friend.” :)
Unusually, many of the guests had arrived Thursday evening, and one of them, author Alan Dean Foster, is an inveterate traveller who had never been to Fargo before. He’d asked if there’d be any chance he could see some of the town, so Tony had arranged for any of the guests who wanted to, to have a drive around Fargo with one of the con volunteers and see the sights.
I’d already arranged for E to be my +1, so Friday morning we appeared in the lobby at the appointed time, where Holly, Alan, and Chase were hanging around with a tall, good-looking young man named Ben who reminded me enough of Skeet Ulrich that I spent a while staring at him convincing myself it couldn’t possibly be Skeet, who was a lot older than this kid, anyway. Then Chase invited him along, and I had this awful idea that he was a fan she couldn’t get rid of and she was too nice to just walk away, but he turned out to be somebody she’d met on the plane the night before and who was speaking at the convention.
It also turned out he’s a 26 year old paleogenomic scientist (studies the genetics of dead things) and the world’s foremost expert on passenger pigeons, which he’s working to bring back, so that was, uh, cool. (Holy shit, man!)
I asked if we could stop for doughnuts, because doughnuts are Not Right here in the Emerald Isle, so we did, and there was a doughnut there as big as your head, and… well… I bought it so we could take pictures with it being as big as our heads. :)
We actually had a *fantastically* good time going around doing touristy things. We went to the tourist centre and saw The Woodchipper from the film Fargo (and obligingly took pictures with it. And with the doughnut.), we went to see their Viking ship (where Chase, upon seeing the wooden statues of trolls with very Ferengi-like ears, immediately went over to fondle said ears (eta: this was apparently E’s idea, but Chase not only didn’t hesitate but totally hammed it up *laughs*)), we went to the *beautiful* art deco movie theatre to admire it, we went down to the park, and we went out to lunch at a local diner (our guide had intended to bring us for pizza, but she mentioned that to Alan, who said, “Why don’t you take us somewhere you like to go, instead?” and she was faintly embarrassed because it was just a diner, but local diners are *exactly* where you want to go in a town you don’t know!). It was a spectacularly good time, and particularly great because guests almost never get to spend any time together, nevermind actually hang out and goof around like that, so it was extra fun.
Alan has travelled all over the world and has a huge number of terrific stories; Ben was utterly fascinating—I mean, we could and did listen to him not only all day but also went to both his lectures in the evenings!—and Chase is an absolute sweetheart whose stories cannot be shared in public. I also got to meet—and not hang out nearly enough with—artist Chris Jones, who I really liked. Total win on the guests at ValleyCon!
There were a few things that weren’t so awesome: the hotel’s food was downright terrible and the restaurant service bad (I ordered a bowl of cereal the second morning because the first morning’s breakfast had been so slow in arriving; not only was the cereal equally slow but it was also *stale*, which, just, wow), and there was a casual air to the con’s organisation which left things lacking (like, for example, books of mine to sell, or name plackards, even printouts, at the tables we were available at during non-panel time), and I found their MC to be fairly appalling.
OTOH, the sets they’d put together were perfectly amazing, and the party rooms were great fun. I got a henna tattoo and hung out at Hogwarts (where I was mistaken for cosplaying Delores Umbrage: a young man came up to me and said “It makes me angry to just look you!” I was like, “…it does?” O.O He was *mortified* when he realised I wasn’t supposed to be Umbrage, and I felt terrible for him, because once I understood what he’d seen me as, it was a perfectly reasonable interpretation of my outfit, especially since I’d just come out of Hogwarts!), and listened to Ben’s lecture at Inara’s Shuttle, and eventually found the con suite where I had rice krispie treats. Nom nom nom. :)
Our Friday night writers’ panel was a lot of fun, and the few lucky people who turned up for my reading got the first two chapters of SHAMAN RISES. I enjoyed doing my “meet the writer” panel (although Alan’s was much better, he talked about his adventures whereas I mostly did a Q&A), and I got to meet several fans and family members of friends, and talk about writing and sort of everything. And and some of my own high school (and before, for that matter!) friends came in to visit, which was *wonderful*!
I didn’t get to meet the final guest, Zoie Palmer, until Sunday, but then it turned out she’s got an Irish connection *laughs*. Small world. So she comes over here often and hopefully next time she and her partner are in this neck of the woods we’ll be able to catch up and hang out, because they were also lovely people. I really felt tremendously lucky to have met such a lot of great people over the weekend, guests and attendees alike. It was all a very good time, and I’ll post pictures as soon as I get them off my phone… :)
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)