DragonCon panels

Because I have friends who insist on proper con reports I thought I’d talk about some DragonCon panels. Most of which were excellent and peopled by knowledgable and entertaining folks.

First I must rant:

Hey, Author People, yes, you lot, who respond to every question with deeply tedious plot descriptions of your own books and never mention anyone else’s work—I have written down your names and the names of your books. And I will NEVER EVER EVER buy them or recommend them to anyone. You are boring and the death of many a potentially good panel. I am filled with hate for you and your kind.

Okay. I feel much better now. Now onto the good panels which were all part of the YA thread. So many thanks to the folks what ran it: Bev Kodak, Suzanne Chatham, Lydia Watson, Karen Smith, Heather Lauer, Tara Smith, and Mary Moline! You are all deeply awesome.

My favourite was the one I did with Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson and Scott which was excellently moderated by Bev. We nattered about how we write together, swap ideas, critique each other, and how important it is for us to be part of a writing community. This involved sharing anecdotes from those dark days when we thought we were the only ones incapable of finishing a story or ever selling one. Or—now that we’re published—meeting the deadlines from hell. It was a lot of fun and only marred by being cut off before enough people could ask questions. The few we got were dead smart.

I also enjoyed the panel where Maureen Johnson went berko at the two members of the panel who dared to dismiss the “expanding pants” section of YAland. By which they were referring to Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and all the other chicklit YA books. As Maureen writes those kind of books and considers their writers and readers to be her people she was somewhat ticked off. I ably assisted her by pointing out the quality of not only Maureen’s books but also Meg Cabot’s, Sarah Dessen’s, Rachel Cohn’s, Jaclyn Moriarty’s and many, many others.

I find dismissals of whole genres particularly bizarre when they’re coming from lovers of a genre like fantasy and sf which is routinely dismissed as trash. Can we all agree not to trash a genre unless we know it well? Reading one or two or even a dozen examples does not cut it.

My most embarrassing moment was on the YA around the world panel. I was bemoaning how little non-English YA gets translated. Then Cassie Clare pointed out from the audience this little thing called manga. Der! I smack my forehead. How did I forget manga?

My favourite panellists—other than Holly, Cassie, Maureen and Scott—were the librarians. Specifically, Susan Fichtelberg, Bonnie Kunzel and Diana Tixier Herald, who not only have an encylopediac knowledge of the field but are also witty and smart. They kept bailing us out when we’d describe a book then flail hopelessly for the author or title. They knew. Every. Single. Time. They also kept referring to YA books for their examples and not TV shows or movies. I’ll admit I was a little depressed by the folks who only used media examples and seemed not to have heard of even the most famous YA writers.

Fortunately, they were few in number. The vast majority of the audience and panellists were dying to talk about J. K. Rowling, Diana Wynne Jones, Garth Nix, Jonathan Stroud and Stephanie Meyer—an excellent fight broke out about her character Bella Swann—and oodles of others including Holly, Cassie, Scott and me. I also enjoyed the opportunity of telling many more people about the glories of Kathleen Duey’s Skin Hunger, which I managed to mention not just on all my panels but from the audience of many more. Read it!


  1. Maggie on #

    I bought ‘Skin Hunger’ the other day! Can’t wait to read it! 😀

  2. cecil on #

    I’m so glad that you are taking names of authors who do that whole plot thing and never mention anyone elses books on panels. It is one of my biggest pet peeves. I’ve got my own list going…

    thanks for the update, sounds like it was a total blast!

    xo cc

  3. Justine on #

    Maggie: Enjoy! Um, well maybe that’s not the right word. I hope you like it as much as I did.

    Cecil: Yay that you are with me! I’m forgiving if it’s the writer’s first or second book. But the two writers I saw doing it had pub’d lots of books. They had no excuses. None!

    We should compare lists.

  4. Adam Israel on #

    Amen to your rant!

    I’ve seen some potentially great panels ruined by authors like that. They spend more time than the other panelists combined introducing themselves. Every question is answered with a reference to one of their books or one of their websites. Ugh!

  5. Dan Goodman on #

    “Can we all agree not to trash a genre unless we know it well?” I’m going to continue trashing Nazi utopian fiction. But aside from this and a few other exceptions, I agree.

  6. Ally on #

    There was a fight about bella? haha

  7. Addie on #

    Sound like you had tons of fun. I am quite curious about this fight, though.

  8. Addie on #

    I agree with your rant, also. I can’t stand those people.

  9. Justine on #

    Dan Goodman: Fine! Be difficult then.

    Ally & Addie: The disagreement is about whether Bella is an active heroine or not. Some people argue that she never does anything but has stuff done to her. They wish she had a bit more get-up-and-go.

  10. Addie on #

    it’s kinda hard to fight vampitres……

  11. Robin L on #

    I bought SKIN HUNGER today on your recommendation. It looks sooo good! Plus, Kathleen Duey seems like a really great person who gives tons back to the writing community.

    And yeah, I hate that whole Selve-Serving ‘R Us thing that some authors do on panels. Although it’s even worse when they pretend it’s a workshop, and they’re the only one up there and all they do is use the workshop as an excuse for self-promotion.

  12. Dawn on #

    I would have liked to hear what they were saying about Stephenie Meyer’s books…heck, I would have liked to hear all of it! That would be so cool to sit and listen to a panel of authors. I don’t care how nerdy that makes me sound.

  13. Lydia on #

    Just wanted to thank you again so much for coming to D*Con this year! You were such a wonderful addition to our panelists! I must now go out a find a copy of Skin Hunger. 🙂 You mentioned it so many times, I figured it must be worth a read!

    And yes, Maureen going off on those people who where “making fun” of the “expanding pants” section. That was one of the hardest panels to moderate! Every one wanted to say something, plus I was about to fall asleep in my chair… whew! Thanks for kinda jumping in their and making sure Maureen got her words out!

    Any way… thanks again! Glad you enjoyed the Con! Any chance you might consider coming again next year? We’d love to have you!

Comments are closed.