After Friday’s writing workshop, I took part in four panels: two on Saturday and two on Sunday. So I had plenty of time to attend other panels and hang out with my daughter.
On Saturday morning, I was on a panel called “Why Do Shapeshifters Get the Girl?” and it was my favorite panel of the conference. Stina Leicht moderated, and the other panelists were the Ilona Andrews team and Rosemary Clement-Moore, author of the Maggie Quinn YA series and The Splendor Falls (which sounded so awesome I had to order it).
I thought it was kinda funny I was on that panel, since in my series the shapeshifter is the girl, but it was an interesting and productive discussion of what shapeshifters represent and what makes leading men attractive. Ilona or Gordon came up with the phrase “loyal but unleashed,” which I thought was brilliant. (Curran, anyone?) And in the course of the discussion, Gordon pointed out that shapeshifters don’t always get the girl, particularly in a contest between a vampire and a werewolf. So which do you prefer?
In the afternoon, I was on a panel called “Vampires: From Folklore to Fanfic,” along with Mark Finn (who moderated), Rick Klaw, Scott Cupp, and Skyler White. We discussed vampires past and present, in literature and film. There were tons of great book recommendations throughout the hour, and I later bought Skyler’s book And Falling, Fly. I’d already been hearing good things about it, but I enjoyed her comments so much I had to read her book for myself.
Favorite film vampires ranged from old-school demons Max Schreck and Klaus Kinski to sexed-up Dracs Frank Langella and Gary Oldman. When the question came up of which vampire book you’d recommend to get someone started in the genre, if you could only pick one, just about everyone agreed to start with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. What do you think—would that be your choice? Or would you prefer something more contemporary?
Saturday evening I listened to a really helpful panel on City as Character. This is an interesting topic to me, because of the importance of setting in urban fantasy. Boston, where Deadtown is set, has a very different feel from, say, the Atlanta Kate Daniels lives in or Cassie Palmer’s Las Vegas. Panelists spoke about working with maps, even if you’re creating your own city. One author mentioned that she used a 16th-century map of Paris as the basis for the city in her second-world fantasy. She also said that you need to know how people get their food and water, how the climate affects daily life.
Gordon Andrews made the point that a city is its people. I agree. Although layout and architecture and geography are important, it’s the people you encounter that make, say, New York City feel different from Chicago or Boston, or Miami feel different from Los Angeles or Houston. Although maps and guidebooks and Google Street View are great resources, if you’re setting your story in an actual city, it helps to start with some place you know well or to make time to visit that city. Even reading its newspaper online can give a stronger sense of what it’s like to live there.
On Sunday, I was on two writing-related panels. I’ll talk about those tomorrow.