Monday, September 25, 2006

Confessions of a Fangirl Dork

I had so much fun at FenCon over the weekend, and it appears that there's a direct relationship between amount of fun had and how tired I am afterward because I now feel like I spent the entire weekend doing heavy labor. I actually whimpered when I woke up this morning, until I realized that there was no reason I had to get up anytime soon. So I didn't. Now I'm more or less caught up on reading all the e-mail I got over the weekend (responding may take longer), and I've even caught up on all the various web sites I try to keep track of.

I'm not sure I'll ever grow out of being a big fangirl dork. I could be consistently hitting the top of the bestseller list, and I'd still start shaking violently and go into a complete panic about meeting one of my favorite authors. Never mind that every time I've met one of my favorite authors, they've turned out to be very cool people. Would I really be able to relate that well to books coming from the subconscious of a real jerk? There's got to be something in there I'm responding to.

So, this weekend it was Alan Dean Foster, who's probably my longest-term favorite author. I started reading his books when I was nine, and I'm still reading them. I'm not sure there's an author I was reading before him who's still alive that I would care to meet. Like many people of my generation, I got into science fiction through Star Wars. Back in the Dark Ages, we didn't have stuff like VCRs, DVDs and the like. If you really, really loved a movie, the only way to see it over and over again was to go to the movie theater over and over again. And if you were eight or nine years old and your parents were so totally unreasonable as to not be willing to drive you to the movie theater on a weekly basis so you could wait in line for an hour to see a movie you'd seen already, the only way to revel in your obsession was to read the novelization over and over again. My parents finally got tired of me reading that one book repeatedly, so they gave me a book they'd just read, The End of the Matter. They figured if I liked Star Wars, I'd like reading about the space adventures of another young orphan (we didn't learn until many years later that Alan Dean Foster actually wrote the novelization of Star Wars, in spite of George Lucas's name on the cover). They'd read Icerigger a few years earlier and had picked up this book because it included a character from that book. I was hooked, and I was soon reading all the rest of the adventures of Flinx and Pip. I got into the Icerigger books, as well, along with just about everything else taking place in the Commonwealth universe. When I was in high school, the Spellsinger fantasy series came along, and while my parents weren't as fond of it, I enjoyed it. I read a couple of Foster's short stories for prose interpretation competitions in high school, and I cited his development of alien cultures and ecosystems in a college paper for a course on the search for extraterrestrial life. Along the way, I started having dreams of becoming a writer, myself, and I even pictured having my own book with the little Ballantine logo on the spine (of course, they changed the logo, so I don't have the same Ballantine logo I dreamed about having).

So, yeah, it was kind of like meeting Superman in person for me. I went through most of the weekend just attending panels between my own sessions and going to the keynote talk without getting the nerve to approach him or speak to him. Then on Sunday, I had to actually talk to him because I was sitting next to him for a booksigning. EEEEEE! I think I was actually shaking, and the nerves meant I probably talked too fast and maybe giggled too much. During a lull, I got him to sign some of the books I'd brought with me. When some fans said they thought it would be cool to have some kind of cruise event with authors, I mentioned that I'd heard of the romance market doing that, and that Pocket books had sent some of their authors, and then we started quipping about needing to talk to Ballantine. But that was about all the interaction I managed. Then, though, I had to moderate a panel that included Alan Dean Foster and Jim Butcher. And ended up sitting between them (the fact that they both made remarks about sitting by the pretty girl didn't help the nerves). Ultimately, though, I managed to return to being somewhat professional and ran the panel in a way that I think flowed pretty well. I only managed one of my trademark rambling, drawn-out answers, one that earned me a pat on the back from Alan Dean Foster (EEEE!). Then I managed not to gush too much when thanking him afterward.

I have realized that I really need to work on that Get A Life project in case I ever reach the level where I get to be a guest of honor at something like that and am expected to speak for an hour just on my experiences. I haven't traveled the world, swam with sharks, been in a pen with a cheetah or had a flat tire when surrounded by lions. The craziest things I've done include wandering the Cotswolds alone and walking alone in Manhattan after dark (which isn't really all that scary, depending on where you are). I guess the point is to tell stuff about your own life that helps people better understand where your books come from. His stories about studying wildlife and visiting a variety of places show how he's able to build such vivid alien cultures. I guess I'd be talking about dating and working in an office.

Next year, the guest of honor will be Connie Willis, whom I've already met, gushed over and eventually managed to relax around. But still, I really want to be there again. Whoever plans the next Browncoat Ball, let's talk scheduling, please, so I don't have another conflict! Speaking of which, the folks at the Browncoat Ball this year sent me a photo with a banner they did for me. AWWWWWW! I'm so touched. I even got a bit teary-eyed. Seriously.

Now I need to think of who else is on my "would love to meet" author list. I guess Katherine Kurtz, but I think that would have been a lot more intense when I was in high school or college. I might be able to be sane now. JK Rowling, of course (I get the sense from her non-book writings that I'd really get along well with her), but I'd have to fight off the mobs and probably wouldn't get to interact much. Marian Keyes would be cool to meet. I probably wouldn't be able to talk coherently to Dick Francis.

I'd really love to spend the rest of the day collapsing and recovering, but I must go to the post office, and the retirement home I pass along the way is having an art exhibit by their residents this afternoon, so I may pop in and visit some. Then I must get back to work on the book.

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