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!