Monday, April 12, 2010

Ye Old Ad Astra 2010 Report

So Ad Astra is over for another year and I have to say, per usual, I'm pretty exhausted today. That isn't to say that the experience wasn't totally awesome, just that talking for two days straight can get really overwhelming. I know I know, even for someone like me, who, you know . . . talks . . . a lot . . .

Let's be honest, talking is kind of my superpower.

Could Ad Astra be my kryptonite?

But I digress.

The convention, for those new to this blog and not from the city, is a SF/Fantasy convention here in Toronto with a very literary focus. This year Robert J Sawyer (SF author extraordinaire, and the author of the book that the TV series FlashForward is based on) was the guest of honour, for example. It takes place over a weekend, and this was my fourth year.

When I attended way back in 2007, I had a book deal but I had yet to be a published author. The amazing Lesley Livingston brought me along to act as Vanna White for the Sunburst Awards Auction while she and other author extraordinaire Caitlin Sweet were the auctioneers. I knew almost no one, and met many people.

And now, by my fourth time, I know a lot of people, it feels a bit like a reunion, and now sit on many panels. Also both Lesley and I are now officially published authors. How things have changed.

But I always get to meet new and amazing people. So without further ado, the play by play of the weekend:

It began Saturday morning. Now technically Ad Astra starts the Friday night, but I was busy and could not attend. However I did get a phone call from my awesome friend (and fellow correspondent) JM Frey to tell me that she had just got a publishing deal for her book that night (yup it pays to go to these conventions and meet editors in person my friends) so that was uber exciting and you must all send her your congrats.

Lesley and I arrived at the hotel in time to check in, say hey to some people and then make our way upstairs to her first panel about Fairies. Now I thought I knew a fair bit about fairies, but I had no idea all about Newfoundland fairy lore which the panel discussed at length due to two authors on the panel having written on the topic. It was fascinating. Lesley, as usual, was awesome and hilarious.

Then Lesley and I made our way to our reading. We were supposed to be doing it with the lovely Tamora Pierce, but she had had to bow out of the convention last minute sadly, so it was just me and Lesley. Or what is otherwise known as The Lesley and Adrienne Show. Seriously. I think we have our own comedy team going there. We are pretty ridiculous individually, but together . . .

Lesley read from her sequel Darklight and also gave everyone a sneak peek at the third in the series, Tempestuous (and she shared the cover art for that one, let me tell you . . . gorgeous!). I decided to read from the work I have currently on submission, fighting my own superstitions and I have to say, I felt pretty awesome. The audience laughed in the right places and seemed genuinely intrigued to know more. Author Kelley Armstrong (many wonderful things to say about her in a moment) was in the audience and told me several times over the course of the weekend that she really hopes the project finds a home.

From your mouth to the editors' ears, Kelley :) .

And thanks.

Next was a panel on writing YA which both Lesley and I were on, along with Kelley Armstrong and Alison Baird. I always really love sitting on this panel because it gives us a chance to dispel the many myths around YA. As some of my blog regulars will know, YA now is not the YA of our youth (my blog on the subject: The New YA).

Then Lesley and I got a break and were allowed to have lunch. We met up with the many regulars of years past. Most exciting was to see Nadine who had been in Australia for a year and I hadn't seen for even longer than that.

At 3pm I had a Reading Your Writing Aloud panel, which I really enjoyed. I got to share it with Ed Greenwood, with whom I'd sat on the Humour panel last year and who is just so funny and sweet and a little naughty with the best stories, the charming Brad Carson who was on Lesley's fairy panel and Ian Keeling.

Ian and I have a very interesting relationship. Basically he owes me his soul. Or at least several drinks.

We met last year at Ad Astra and then at Polaris. He'd given me his MG manuscript (which is utterly hilarious) and then later emailed me for some finding an agent advice. I gave him the usual links etc (which to be honest he already knew about), and then mentioned the Backspace NYC Pitch and Shop conference. Because of my most brilliant suggestion, he decided to go, and when he went he so impressed the agents there with his work that 12 hours later he had an offer from an agent. He emailed me to let me know and that he totally owed me.

So okay, maybe his work kind of got him his agent, but don't tell him that. I much prefer him to go around thinking he owes me big time.

The panel on Reading Aloud was tons of fun, and also something I am quite passionate about. Once more, check out my blog posts on the subject: 1, 2, 3, 4

At 4pm it was time for the mass signing, where I and Lesley joined the likes of Robert J Sawyer, Guy Gavriel Kay and Kelley Armstrong to sign our work. It was fun. But the room was very hot. I did not like that.

That's when I got to chat with Kelley (as we were sitting next to each other) and I just have to say, she's so awesome. I guess I just really like people who have strong opinions and who are intelligent and lovely. We shared our thoughts about the industry, about YA. About her awesome pen that's shaped like a skeleton. In all, a wonderful person.

Then I was done for the day.

In theory.

The rest of the day was hanging out in the hotel bar, chatting with the usual suspects, having dinner, debating LOST and just in all enjoying each others' company. Like last year, I had some fabulous conversations with Karin Lowachee and Derek Molata. I got to finally meet Peter Watts (a most fabulous SF author with I think one too many post graduate degrees quite frankly. I mean seriously, when does it go from being super smart to just plain showing off ;) ) and of course Caitlin came to hang out and, man, she's just so awesome.

Then I had an early night and made my way home.

Next morning.

Sadly Lesley had no panels on Sunday so I ventured north on my own. But I arrived and ran into Chris Szego from Bakka Phoenix Books right away so we hung out for a bit talking about, you guessed it, books, until my first panel which was a "Getting An Agent" panel. It was very well attended for a first thing Sunday morning panel. I sat with Ian again (who did let everyone in the audience know that he owes me his soul, which is good), Gregory Wilson and Megan Crewe (who I have met at several MG/YA author gatherings in the city, and who is utterly charming and wicked smart). What was really interesting was we each had got our agents in different ways which really spoke to how there's no one right way to get an agent, and that you have to do what works best for you as an individual.

It was a great panel, but I felt it could have gone on for another hour. Maybe next year I'll suggest we make it a 2 hour workshop.

We did however have a print out with a list of useful resources online that I think people really appreciated. So much so that despite all the info being available somewhere on this blog, I'm going to post the entire handout as an entry after I finish this one (which I guess means that it's before this one? Woah. Blogging is trippy . . . ).

Then I had some time to kill so Ian, Megan and I went to see Douglas Smith read from one of his short stories. The guy is awesome, always shortlisted for awards. Then we went to the greenroom where we indulged in some crackers, and fruit, and fab chocolate cheesecake. We chatted, mostly again about the industry . . . it's weird how that doesn't seem to get boring.

Then it was time for my Constellation Awards panel.

Okay. So there's this Canadian SF/Fantasy Awards thing called the Constellation Awards and they are given out at the Polaris Convention in July. The nominees are nominated by fans and voted on by fans, so it's pretty cool. And I was asked to sit on a panel at Ad Astra to talk about the nominees and who I thought would win or should win. That kind of thing.

Let me tell you, I was a little upset that LOST hadn't been nominated for anything and that my idol, Michael Emerson (Ben on LOST) hadn't got a mention. I made my displeasure known.

But the rest of the panel was great fun and I just love talking about television and movies and actors so really I was stupidly happy to do so. I was on the panel with comedian Gavin Stephens (we sat next to each other and fortunately considering his career choice he is very funny), JM Frey (the one who'd got the book deal on the Friday? My awesome friend? Yeah, that one), author Derwin Mak who is turning into my personal photographer, we are always at geek events together and he always takes the most awesome pictures of me, and actor/playwright Kate Hewlett, whom I had never met before but had seen a fair bit and who I just adored. We didn't get to really chat, but many of our opinions on the nominations were in line with each other and she is very funny and down to earth.

Then I was done. I returned to the hotel bar to hang out with some folk, had a lovely conversation with Peter Watts about being an author and our favourite Onion videos (I mean the parody website, not the vegetable). Ian bought me the first of several drinks he owed me (I want to keep cashing in on this for as long as possible) and in general it was a delightful relaxing way to end the weekend.

And then . . . it was done. And maybe now you can understand why I'm feeling a bit exhausted now.

Now, I didn't take very many pictures this year, but I do have some courtesy of others. I apologise though for not doing my duty as well as I usually do in that respect:

Lesley's fairy panel

This was funny. I was taking a candid snapshot of Lesley while she was talking, but she moved so caused the picture to blur. I made a frustrated noise and she noticed. Then she paused in her speaking to pose for me. And then continued.

Me and Lesley at the mass book signing

A close up shot that I quite like of the two of us, courtesy of Sylvie Lafontaine.

Guy Gavriel Kay next to us

JM Frey in her fabulous Steampunk costume. Yeah, she made it herself, she's just that awesome.

The Constellation Awards Panel, L -R: Kate Hewlett, Derwin Mak, JM Frey, Me, Gavin Stephens. Photo courtesy. . . well I'm not sure who took it but it was in Derwin's camera.

Me and Derwin (again, this is Derwin's camera, but as you can see he's in the picture with me so he obviously didn't take it).

1 comment:

Derek Molata said...

The sad thing? I'm just reading this post now! But yeah, super fun times. Except, well, for that bartender of course. ;)

Sushi. Soonish.