Well, Laura and I are both home from Dragon*con … the amazing and sometimes frightening convention in Atlanta, Georgia held over every Labor Day Weekend. It was something of a miraculous event for us this year, marking our return after several years absence.
Thursday, September 1st
Laura and I started the day early, rushing to get to the airport on time. We had previously mailed to ourselves at our destination hotel in Atlanta two boxes from Indianapolis, Indiana and one box from our home in South Jordan, Utah. The Indianapolis boxes were from our GENCON appearance (where our Kokomo crew kept them for us rather than ship them back to Utah and then have to ship them to Atlanta) while the additional box contained some additional ‘Eventide’ books. Since airlines have decided to charge for everything including the nuts on their flights, it’s cheaper to send these things ahead via UPS or FedEx Ground than to pack trunks of them in luggage. The downside is, of course, that with two separate shipments of three boxes AND us coming to the hotel all at the same time … there was some question as to whether we would all arrive in the same place at the same time.
At the airport I realized once again how we had lost the War on Terror … as I trudged through the Kafka-esque process of getting through Homeland Security and its moment at the end where I must hold my ticket in one hand, my ID in my second hand and my belt-less pants up with my third hand while allowing myself to be unconstitutionally search and scanned. Air travel was once exciting and fun … it has now become a dystopian reenactment of ‘Metropolis.’ We flew to Houston, foregoing purchasing a ‘snack box’ and managing to survive only on a half can of Coke Zero, ice and our own snacks packed by the resourceful Laura. George Bush International Airport in Houston, however, offered us immediate solace in the form of a Pappadeaux Seafood restaurant. A little Andouille Sausage and Seafood Gumbo and a shared plate of Shrimp Etouffee and we were set for the rest of the day, walking onto our flight just as it was ready to leave.
We arrived exactly on time in Atlanta, worked things out with the Dragon*Con transportation representatives and were on our way to our hotel along with Michael Stackpole, renown author in his own right and another pioneer in the field of e-publishing.
Much to our amazement, every one of the boxes we had shipped from various locations around the country had arrived and were waiting for us. It was a great omen for an incredible weekend to come.
Friday, September 2nd
It’s Killer Breakfast time! Laura and I emptied one of our suitcases and packed it full of Killer Breakfast materials then, madly, set off in search of a Kinkos where we could print out copies of the character sheets. This turned out to be four blocks in the wrong direction. Eventually feeling the weight of the roller back behind us we staggered into the Killer Breakfast room in the Hilton. There we were delighted to be surprised by Richard Garriott. I first met Richard at Dragon*con twenty-five years before and it was great to see him again. Richard is perhaps better known to you as ‘Lord British’ from his Ultima computer games and, more recently, from his incredible adventure flying into orbit aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and spending ten days on the International Space Station.
The crowd was already lined up outside the conference room when we arrived and after getting all the equipment properly placed and checked out, we brought them in. Richard graciously agreed to help us with the opening part of the performance as Laura and I launched into ‘Phantoms of the Ravenloft.’
This year’s performance included a tavern in Barovia complete with storm troupers (players begging them to shoot AT them since storm troupers never hit what they are aiming for) and the crash landing by Richard of a Soyuz spacecraft on top of the tavern. There was yet another encounter with Zombies Anonymous (Zomanon) and a rather exciting and confused piece of dungeon crawling through the ‘Hall of Silence.’
Laura also got to sing her rendition of ‘Don’t Kill Me Now Dungeonmaster’ and run the game show ‘The Dying Game’.
That afternoon I performed a reading from ‘Eventide’. This was by acclamation from the audience who, I was surprised, wanted to hear this gentle tale over selections from my upcoming Batman novel. You can watch this reading here if you like…
After the reading, I sold all the copies of ‘Eventide’ that I had carried with me to the signing … and even promised one more to a wonderfully patient woman for the next day. This made me late for my scheduled World Building Panel with Jason Bulmahn of the Pathfinder RPG from Paizo and with Mike Capps with Epic Games — creator of the Unreal Engine for computer games. It was a heady experience being on a panel with both of these fabulous creatives.
What could have made the day absolutely perfect for Laura and me? That would be an elegant dinner with Richard Garriott which was one of the most enjoyable evenings we had experienced in a long time. Perfect day.
Saturday, September 3rd
Up early and a good thing as Laura bravely blazed a path through the packed crowds lining the street for the Dragon*con parade. This so that I could get to an autographing session being held DURING the parade. Not the best of timing for that exhibit booth signing.
This, however, was followed by our official signing … and what a wonderful signing that was! So many great fans coming by … and suddenly Laura and I had run out of Eventide novels AGAIN. Laura rushed back to the room (literally) that was several blocks away and brought back every copy we had left. Only two remained by the time we were finished … and a good thing since I still owed that nice woman from the day before!
Many of our fans came in costume … and this was our favorite and most incredible costumes I think I have ever seen…
After the incredible autographing session we were — again — late for our Old School D&D Seminar. Richard Garriott had come to watch the seminar … and we found him there running it for us when we arrived and joining us on the panel. That’s absolutely appropriate since Richard is very much an Old School D&D man himself. After the panel, Laura and I connected with the woman from the previous day and finally got her the book she had been trying to buy for two days. We even sold the last of our books … and sadly had to turn away a final fan.
Then came our XDM seminar with Howard Taylor — which was so crowded that Laura had to give up her seat to a fan and LEAVE THE ROOM! Then came the rush to get to the writer’s seminar in the Hyatt on Characters that Come to Life. This turned out to be with Eugie Foster, John D. Ringo, Lynn Abbey, Nancy Holder and a surprise moderator … me.
Pressed again for time, Laura and I went straight from this seminar to the Awards Banquet. There was saw William Shatner receive two separate awards. (Laura and I sat at the table kitty-corner from his — we felt so cool!) Then James Darren came onstage and sang three remarkably great numbers. He had starred in the Time Tunnel, ‘T.J. Hooker’ with William Shatner and had even been a hologram on DS9. The many really still has a great set of pipes!
So, how was Dragon*Con? I was SHINY!