Folks, I am happy/sad to report that my 2017 convention schedule is officially over.
First, it must be said that I love conventions. I love seeing my writer friends, I love meeting readers, I love discussing my favorite topics on panels, and if I’m being honest, I really love staying in hotels where I don’t have to clean up after myself. At the same time, conventions are exhausting and take me away from my writing and my family, so by the end of the season, I’m usually glad to be done– at least, for awhile.
This year was a particularly exciting one for conventions, not because of the quantity (2016 is still the winner there), but because of the exotic locations involved. In March I brought my family to Honolulu for Left Coast Crime, and in August I did conventions in London (Nine Worlds) and Helsinki, Finland (Worldcon). In the continental US, I also returned to CONvergence in Minneapolis and Dragoncon in Atlanta.
If I had more time and ambition, I would love to do a write-up of each con, and get into detail about what I loved and didn’t love about each one. But as mentioned, I do need to get back to work, so I thought I’d just take a moment to hand out my own personal (imaginary) awards for location, tourist attractions, people, programming, and more. Behold, my first annual convention awards.
Best Airplane Ride: Easily the flight from Chicago to London, which was so empty that the spouse and I each got a row to ourselves. A row.
Worst Airplane Ride: I’m gonna have to give this to the Helsinki to Chicago flight, because a) I was beyond exhausted due to the time change, b) it was nine frickin’ hours long, c) both my TV screen and the internet didn’t work, and d) I was in a seat that was its own row, so I couldn’t sleep on my husband as wished.
Creepiest Foreign Pokemon: Mr. Mime wins in a landslide! Because he’s terrifying!
Weirdest Thing Done to Entertain Children: Taking a train to Paddington Station at night just to get this picture. I regret nothing.
Best Depiction of Hell in Stained Glass: The stunning medieval stained glass windows at this church in Fairford, England. Take a moment and really drink in the lower right hand corner of the photo.
Weirdest Restaurant/Best Appearance of a Burricorn: Shanghai Cowboy, an Asian-Mexican fusion restaurant in Helsinki. If that sounds weird, it just gets weirder: the decor was bizarre (a Luchador Michelin Man greets you at the entrance) , the dishes were cheeky, and our entire experience was overseen by an enormous portrait of what I can only describe as a burricorn (pictured). Easily my favorite dining experience of the summer.
Best Checking Off of Bucket List Item: This was a tough one, but I’ve gotta give it to seeing one of Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe Theater in England. My inner high school sophomore was squealing the whole time.
Best No-Makeup Selfie at a Castle:
Classiest Souvenir: cane umbrella from James Smith and Sons, London. It’s cut to fit me!
Souvenir Most Likely to Make Me Feel Like a Frickin’ Nordic Princess: This amazing wool cape from Helsinki, which lives in my basement office and keeps me cozy while I’m working.
Best Convention Programming: I’ve got to give this to Dragoncon, which boasts its own Urban Fantasy track and draws a lot of big names. It also helps that the woman in charge of the track, Carol Malcolm, is organized, patient, and dedicated.
Best Castle to Visit: Dover Castle
Castle I’m Most Likely to Return to With My Children: Leeds Castle
Peak England: Drinking English tea in an English tea shop in England with an Englishman, in this case Paul Cornell.
Best Use of Photoshop: Okay, I better label this so you can tell Bryce Dallas Howard and me apart. This is from the poster of Jurassic World:
And this is me on the Kualoa Ranch movie sets tour in Hawaii. Everything is real except for ONE thing (Thanks to Cynthia Moyer for the Photoshop help!)
Best Tour Guide: The guy at the Globe Theater, who was quick, funny, and let us sit down literally the entire time.
Worst Tour Guide: The woman at Kualoa Ranch who insisted on audience participation and quizzed us on our professions, hometowns, favorite movies, etc. Fuck you, lady. I LIED.
Place I Had No Idea I Really Wanted to Visit: Suomenlinna, the island fortress/tourist attraction/home of creepy doll heads/great place to meet Kameron Hurley for lunch in Helsinki.
Photo Most Likely to Make the Christmas Card:
Photo Least Likely to Make the Christmas Card: