Friday, March 23, 2012

CoastCon 35

This past weekend was a very good weekend to be Rob. I was a guest at CoastCon 35, and while I have been involved with the organization for years, it was far different to be on the other side of the guest table.

I owe CoastCon a lot, when I think about it... The first time I realized that this whole "writer" thing was going to work out for me was at last year's convention when a fan I was unaware I had approached me and asked if I had any copies of Dimensional Games for sale. I had already learned that one of the best things you can do as an author is to carry a copy on you at all times, so of course I did... But just the one, because I was a staff member at that con, not a guest. Then a second person came up to me and asked me the same thing. I was flattered, but didn't have a second copy.

I now carry two copies at all times, either in the trunk of the car or in my bag.

Still, being a billed guest is a really humbling experience. I had people hanging on my every word at the panels I was on, looking for my "sage advice" about the craft of writing. Said sage advice consisted primarily of how much is too much to pay for an iced mocha, and how if you want to be a writer, don't assume that fame and fortune will immediately follow.

One of the strangest experiences I've had so far as a guest has more to do with my interactions with other guests... I sat on a panel with my publisher, Allan Gilbreath, my editor, Kim Richardson, and Hugo award winning, NYT best selling author, Timothy Zahn.

Read that again, and try to think of it from my perspective... Two of my bosses, one of my idols, and me, all talking about the craft of writing. What was really strange is that among these incredible writers and personalities, I totally held my own on that panel, very much giving the newcomer's perspective on my craft. In less than a year, i've gone from "goober in audience" to "respected colleague". When the heck did that happen?

Afterward, I got compliments from all three of them about how well I handled myself, and what good advice I gave about writing. Mr. Zahn was particularly gracious and encouraging, using terms like "after you're done with your next twenty books, you'll see how much your opinion of certain things will change" then he goes on to tell a story about him and George Lucas ("George" to him of course) like these are the types of stories we all have to tell. I told him I would check in with him in twenty years, and we would have the conversation again.

Before I get accused of having a swelled head, let me say that there are definitely some media guest types that still intimidate me. Ms. Lindsay Wagner was a guest at this con as well, and I spent a good part of the weekend trying to talk to her and not come off like a gibbering fanboy. It was not easy... I have had a crush on the bionic woman since I was six. For most of the weekend I totally avoided her, and got teased mercilessly by my wife and friends for the fact. It was finally the sage wisdom of Allan Gilbreath that made me buck up and go up to her, by reminding me where I stand on the "con food chain" at this point in my carreer.

"You're not just joe shmoe off the street, Rob" he said in all seriousness, "You're an award winning screenwriter and novelist with a story in an anthology that has itself been nominated for three prestigious awards! Years from now, she'll tell the story of the young fanboy that approached her blushing at a con, and turned out to be Rob fricking Cerio!!!"

"You're right!" I yelled, granting a few stares from the other people in the merchants room, "I AM A BAD ASSED NOVELIST!!" I screamed a primal scream, and ran from the room right to the end of the autograph line.

I still came off like a gibbering fanboy, mind you.... But I was a fanboy that had every right to be there and gibbering. Ms. Wagner was very gracious and sweet for her part... Although she did seem very slightly disturbed when I explained about the whole " crush since I was six" thing. It occurs to me now that she probably gets that all the time, and was probably just sizing me up to see if I was "harmless goober" or "psycho stalker". (Wrong on both counts... More likely "psycho goober".) I even got off an intelligent question as she signed her picture for me that she answered thoughtfully and at length. (Why did she pass on the role of Captain Janeway? The short answer- she didn't... Her agent passed without asking her)

The most interesting thing about her to me was that her voice still sounds just like it did when she played the Bionic Woman... She still very much has that " schoolteacher" air about her, and carries herself with an easygoing dignity that is rare among pop culture icons.

Speaking of pop culture icons, it was also a good weekend for Captain Chaos. He participated in a lively panel about super hero movies, and got to help judge the costume contest. He's well on his way to becoming a fan favorite in his own right, and I couldn't be any prouder. I doubt that they will ever allow the good Captain to be a judge again, because he kept inventing awards in the intrests of equality and justice. (and the award for best jumping jacks goes to...)

1 comment:

Melinda said...

I'm so freaking proud of you! You talked to Lindsay Wagner! LOL... No, I'm really proud of your writing career and that you had the courage to go for it. Now, if I can just find where I put *my* balls...