More on ConFusion 2014

michael and howard

Michael Underwood and Howard Andrew Jones at the ConFusion 2014 AMA. Photo by Steve Drew.


I participated in three panels at ConFusion, an “Ask Me Anything” session, and a Question and Answer roundtable, and I ended up pretty pleased with all of them. (Oh, and I almost ended up on several wrong panels Friday night before I learned to read the hotel map, but that’s another story.)

The first was “Why Does Bones Need to be a White Guy” on Friday at 9:00, with Christian Klaver, Seleste deLaney, and  Gretchen Ashand. It turned into a lively discussion of gender and racial portrayals on screen and in fiction. I don’t think any of the panelists expected much of a turnout at that time of night, but we had a decent sized crowd who brought a lot to the conversation. A panel can sink or swim based on its audience, after all.

Of all the events I was scheduled for, the one that most worried me was the Historical Fantasy Q &A. It would just be me, alone, at 11:00 Saturday. I was most worried that no one would turn up at all, and at first it seemed that my fears would materialize, because when I walked into the room around five ’til, no one was there. Shortly thereafter, though, one guest turned up, and then a few more, which was good enough, but at about one ’til the room suddenly flooded with people.

I suppose I’m a bit of a ham, or maybe it’s easy for me to talk to people about subjects I’m passionate about, but I had a blast with the Q&A. I’d talk a little about hard lessons I’d learned  in research, or discuss a few tips or tricks, and then I’d toss things out to the audience and they’d ask questions based on those, or bring up topics of their own. And like any good teacher will tell you I learned some things from the participants. Hopefully they learned some things from me!

Sunday I had two panels back to back right before the end of the convention. The first was “Faking History,” with Brigid Collins, Brian McClellan, Kameron Hurley, and Charles Finlay — basically when and how to simulate historical information in your epic so that it feels “real.” None of us was quite sure who the moderator was supposed to be. That meant that none of us had turned up with prepared questions, yet, because we were all interested in the topic and the audience had plenty of good questions themselves, it turned out quite well.

The last panel was one I shared with Saladin Ahmed and Carrie Harris, all about gaming and writing, and it might have been the most relaxed panel of them all, with lots of give and take throughout the session. As you’d expect from the topic title, most of the audience were gaming enthusiasts, so there was a lot of sharing about favorite games we’d played and how inspiring they were to  writing.

I did attend one more event, and that was an AMA, or “Ask Me Anything” session on reddit. A bunch of authors turned up and, administered, coralled, and assisted by the mad genius of Steve Drew and Dave Wohlreich, logged on to the Internet and answered interview questions from around the world. I was only slated for a half hour session, but I had so much fun hanging around with  Steve, Dave, and the rotating band of authors that I remained for most of the afternoon.

For greater detail about my convention experience, check out my essay at Black Gate.