I dragged myself out of bed Friday morning for two anticipated panels: Defining Urban Fantasy and YA Urban Fantasy. *Defining ______* panels are always hit and miss. Sometimes you get a fascinating discussion about the origin of the genre, other times it's a panel of people disagreeing on what they're even there for. This year I discovered that the two aren't mutually exclusive.
|Defining Urban Fantasy: L-R S.M. Sterling, Tim Powers, Linda Poitevin, Ginjer Buchanan,
David B. Coe, Adria Laycraft
Tim Powers insisted that Urban Fantasy had to involve cell phones*, while editor Ginjer Buchanan pushed for a change of the name to Contemporary Fantasy because many Urban Fantasies aren't actually Urban (a point echoed by the presence of Adria Laycraft, editor of the Urban Greenman Anthology). This led David B. Coe (D.B. Jackson) to bring up the question "What is contemporary?" His Thief Taker series is set in Revolution-era America, but is arguably Urban Fantasy--it's also arguably Historical Fantasy, Alternate History and even Steampunk (though that's a stretch). He said that at Dragon Con, defining Thief Taker had been discussed so much that it was eventually decided that he'd invented Tri-Corner Punk. (David's point was echoed in Sunday's "The Road to Urban Fantasy" where Farah Mendelsohn made the point that in England, "contemporary" is defined as anything 1750 and later.)
In the end, a true definition was never offered.
|Young Adult Urban Fantasy: L-R Holly Black, Alyx Harvey, Joel Sutherland, Isobelle Carmody,
Charles de Lint, Leah Petersen
The YA panel touched on much of what the Defining Urban Fantasy panel did, with additional discussion about the blending of Paranormal Romance and YAUF. One of the most interesting comments came from Charles de Lint, one of the authors credited for creating the genre. He said several times over the weekend that he doesn't write Urban Fantasy at all. He describes what he writes as Mythic Fantasy.
Charles' subtle shift in semantics was the revelation I took away with me this year. I've looked up to him as an author and a person and see much of what I enjoy writing reflective of his work. But I don't see myself as an Urban Fantasy author. Not that what I write can't be defined as UF, or even Magical Realism, but I don't connect with the word urban for some reason. Mythic Fantasy, however, is exactly what I write. I'll can-of-worms the discussion about the ups and downs of defining yourself and your work for another blog.
Lunch: Introducing a New Generation of Novels
Lunch at the Con Suite found me chatting with Miles Romney, the producer of David Farland's enhanced novel "Nightingale." I'd been hearing about Nightingale through Dave's "Daily Kick in the Pants" posts but this was the first time I'd gotten my hands on it. What is an enhanced novel? In this case it means the novel includes an electronic version, audiobook, full soundtrack, embedded interviews with the author, and expandable graphic novel formats. Of course, all of these things are available only if you're experiencing it on an iPad. I had concerns that the array of things they were trying to accomplish would result in a noisy final product, but it didn't. The interface is intuitive and the extras are both intriguing and well presented. I'm looking forward to seeing what this format looks like in a few years.
Book Signing (Wait, that's not a book...)
Friday night at World Fantasy features a book signing. It's been a great opportunity for me to learn about other authors' work, especially those with similar leanings to my own. Of course, spending time with Sean Williams (bribing people with tasty Tim Tams), Sarah Beth Durst, Patrick Rothfuss and others is great. Meeting new (or new to me) authors like Travis Heerman, E.C. Meyers and Cinda Williams Chima is a highlight of my night. As I was wandering around, I noticed my new friend Simon Larter (the legendary Drunken Scotsman from Write Drunk, Edit Sober) sitting behind a signing table. Turns out he was visiting with his friend Allison Pang (author of the Abby Sinclair novels). I'd never heard of Allison's work but somehow, some way, Simon convinced me to get Allison's signature on my chest. It's like the man carries around a reality aura that we're all just pawns within!
Okay, maybe I did participate a little without mind control. It is possible that Simon and I are both of the "yes, and?" school of conversational absurdity and perhaps having us in the same room at the same time found us leading each other into bizarre circumstances. Having admitted to that I want to make it clear that everything was Simon's fault.
After getting officially introduced to Allison, I found out about her work. If you're a gamer geek, fan of quirky characters (like a meat-eating, drunken unicorn) and love a good laugh, you should check out her work. References to everything from Warcraft to Bioware find their way into her stories and I can't wait to check them out.
Later that night, at the bar...
The bar was it's usual slice of writerly life, bouncing from one fascinating conversation to another. While talking game geekery with Barb Ferrer (and her husband via text) I nearly elbowed Garth Nix in the head (yes, he was sitting. He's very tall). Garth said he only turned around because someone was having so much fun behind him that he wanted to participate, but I think he was covering my accidental assault; those Aussies are really nice people. Turns out that like many of us, Garth is an old-school gamer. Makes me want to repeat the Myke Cole/Peter V. Brett experience at next year's Con.
To be continued...
* = Tim later corrected himself and said that what he meant was modern technology. Cell phones were the first thing he could think of.
Additional photos of WFC 2012 can be found here.