Time for our annual Ad Astra report! (echo echo echo)
For those of you who don't know, Ad Astra is a nice intimate SF/Fantasy con here in Toronto, with a very literary bent. This year was their 30th anniversary and the list of Guests of Honour included:
• Ben Bova • Kathryn Cramer • Julie Czerneda • Ellen Datlow • Dave Duncan • Scott Edelman • Eric Flint • Ed Greenwood • David G. Hartwell • Tanya Huff • Don Hutchison • Stephen Jones • Guy Gavriel Kay •Todd McCaffrey • Shawna McCarthy • Tamora Pierce • Howard Tayler • Élisabeth Vonarburg • Peter Watts
But, of course, I was also there, and truly I am such a huge draw that they don't even have to mention me on the front page of the website for people to know I'll be there and that is why they come to the con.
That's the reason.
So . . . let us begin!
I arrived very close to 11am which coincided with my first panel, one I'm on every year and which never gets tedious: Young Adult Writing. Of course it helps to share a panel with the amazing Tamora Pierce (who aside from being a brilliant writer is a brilliant panelist - she says the best one-liners ever), and getting to meet the delightful Sarah Zettel and of course hang out with the usual suspects: Lesley Livingston and Rob St. Martin.
I wound up moderating the panel, though I hadn't been meant to, and we discussed what made a successful YA story (in conclusion, the same thing that makes a successful story period) and why did we choose to write YA (in conclusion, because the story we wanted to tell happened to be YA).
Quickly I then moved on to discussing the nominations for the Constellation Awards (Canadian SF/Fantasy awards given out at the Polaris Convention), and then got to have a quick break for lunch, where I hung out with the posse: Lesley, Guy Gavriel Kay, Caitlin Sweet, Steve Perry, Nadine Bell, Russel Winkelaar, and Martin Springett (who later signed two absolutely gorgeous prints of his for me, which I can't wait to frame and put on my wall).
Then Lesley and I flew off to discuss book trailers on a panel and then it was time to jet off to the mass signing, where I had the distinct pleasure of signing an Aero Chocolate Bar wrapper for someone's daughter - the father explained that he was sad he hadn't brought the daughter's copy of ALEX along and that's when Lesley suggested I sign the wrapper. Also he mentioned that ALEX had surpassed Neil Gaiman's CORALINE as her favourite book. Which means I only need around 30 million or so other readers to do the same in order to finally topple the king. So doable.
After that, it was dinner time already. And then Lesley, Caitlin and I did a joint reading which was wonderfully well attended and in general rather hilarious. We were all feeling a wee bit silly (panelists and audience alike). I read a bit from my short story THE CLOCKWORK CORSET in the CORSETS & CLOCKWORK anthology, which I think went really well. It's a lot of fun reading something in the first person and in my most charming British accent (RP, for those of you curious which one).
Then it was off to J.M. Frey's launch of her debut novel TRIPTYCH which was packed to the rafters. She had these awesome cookies shaped like 1950s style UFOs and a great UFO cake. And the amazing Liana K had crafted these fabulous blue alien ears and I was quick to nab a pair for myself. J.M. did a lovely reading and then we got our books signed. It's amazing watching someone launch their first book, the emotions are pretty strong and you know you are in the process of witnessing someone's dream come true. Needless to say, I got a little verklempt.
Back to the bar after, and then, back home.
I returned on Sunday to sit on two panels, Why Professionalism Matters and Getting Your First Novel Published. They were both well attended, especially the latter. I've noticed that the publishing panels are always packed and I think it might bode the conference to consider doing a day of writing/publishing workshops. I think people would just love that.
But I digress.
After that it was lunch with Steve Perry, Caitlin Sweet and Peter Watts. All just such lovely people.
Then I went to see JANE EYRE with my friend Heather that evening (quite good, actually).
NOW . . . picture time:
Caitlin Sweet, Me and Lesley at our reading. We move around a lot and make funny expressions while talking, so it was tough to get a shot of us all still. Needless to say this is the best and most flattering of the lot . . . yes, THIS is the most flattering shot of the three of us.
At the TRIPTYCH book launch:
The amazing UFO cake made by the amazing team at The Sweet Escape.