I’ve returned from Austin, Texas, having attended ArmadilloCon. It was a wonderful trip, and a very small, very literary convention, with a lot of amazing professional authors. Texas is big, and its population hides many surprises. Any convention of similar size up here in Arkansas, or Tennessee, or Missouri, would be packed-tins of self-published authors (which is not a bad thing on the face of it, but it is disheartening when they are the lion’s share of literary guests) desperately scrabbling to sell copies of their self-designed novels. Calling it as I see it.
Highlights of the weekend included Justin Landon’s GOLF hat, reading with Wes Chu at Book People, hanging out with the leonine Sandford Allen whose hair and shirts are fucking majestic.
*UPDATE: Totally forgot the supremely talented John Picacio and Tara Smith! These two beautiful people always, always, always make me happy. Time spent with them is time I cherish.
The original plan for ArmadilloCon was for me to stay with Robert Bennett to attend a barbecue at his house – Robert’s brisket is an Edgar Award-winning brisket, and his slaw is a two-time Shirley Jackson award-winning coleslaw – but, he informed us on Wednesday that his grandmother had passed away and so he would be out of town, which bummed me out, because Robert is one of my favorite people.
Wes Chu was very kind and invited Robert and me to “sit-in” his Book People event where Justin Landon had running bets as to the final count of attendees. At the convention, we were joined by the lovely Stina Leicht – whose hair is not only a work of art, it looks like a confection of spun sugar and, well, hair – and Cassandra Rose Clark who is a delightful conversationalist, level-headed, and fine driver.
Robert Cargill was there, doing his thing, being all skinny. Cargill’s breadth of viciousness and depravity are the stuff of legend. A brilliant, hilarious, strange and sinister man. ‘Nuff said about the Gill.
I had an opportunity to chat with Steven Brust, who has been a major influence on my writing since high-school. You’ll notice in The Incorruptibles, there is a Ft Brust, where the third Occidentalia makes its home. In high-school, Brust’s Jhereg was a revelation to me – that book and Lethem’s Gun, With Occasional Music, opened my eyes as to what interesting new things could be done with genre fiction. There is no Ft Lethem, though.
I broadcast on Periscope a panel with Justin Landon and the sad puppy Lou Antonelli – whom I know very little about but who seems well-liked by most attendees. And, after the panel, I felt some sympathy for him. He mostly disavowed any allegiance to the sad pups, tucked his tail between his legs and showed his belly, if you’ll pardon me for extending a metaphor to the breaking point – from what I understand, the submissive pose in direct opposition of some statements he’s made on Facebook.
I was on panels, and said stuff about writing, and publishing. Had a woman I will not name tell me what I said was bullshit and idiotic. Felt a little bullied but got over it, eventually. Then I had another panel with her. She wasn’t so bad the second time.
Drank a lot, ‘natch. I’ve made the mistake so you don’t have to. It’s true, I’ve got issues. Had two psychologists give me cards and a recommendation for a life coach, which I will probably take up.
My hotel room was a dump, and I kinda loved it. Two-hundred bucks for two nights. It was like a refrigerator in there, the industrial sized ac unit blowing near antarctic temperature air in the room. Outside it was brutal. Texas hot.
Sold all the copies of The Incorruptibles I brought, and some others, Southern Gods and the Incarcerado books. Came home with copies of Seveneves and Daryl Gregory’s We Are All Completely Fine.
Here are some photos of stuff. And people doing stuff.