On the last day of ArmadilloCon, I moderated a panel on “Better Writing through Mythology,” which had a great mix of speakers: Guest of Honor Rachel Caine; Stina Leicht, author of the forthcoming Of Blood and Honey; Shanna Swendson, who writes humorous contemporary fantasy novels; Katherine Beutner, author of Alcestis; and Matthew Bey, author, editor, and publisher of Space Squid. I moderated.
This was a first-thing-in-the-morning panel, and on a Sunday morning, no less. So we started with numerous, heartfelt comments about great parties, tequila, and lack of sleep. But before long we had an interesting discussion about mythology underway. It would’ve been hard not to, with the mix of panelists, whose work covered fairy tales and Irish, Welsh, Greco-Roman, and other mythologies. Not to mention the djinn of Rachel’s Weather Warden series. We talked about what mythology is, how it helps with worldbuilding, and how freely authors tweak the mythology to suit their own story. Good stuff.
My final panel was also about writing: “Worldbuilding: First Steps,” and I shared it with authors Joe McKinney, Steven Brust, and Jayme Lynn Blaschke, as well as artist Mark Nelson. With a wide variety of genres—science fiction, horror, and two flavors of fantasy—we had many different approaches to this question. Because I write urban fantasy, I use a recognizable, real-world city (Boston in my case). I start with a city and mythology of my choice and sort of mix in stuff from my own imagination. But it’s important to me that the Boston of Vicky’s world be recognizable as real-world Boston. In fact, I’m traveling there soon to poke around some sites that will appear in Deadtown #3 (and take pictures).
After that panel, I had a signing in the Dealers’ Room. Met some great readers and signed some books. Then I was done—and my daughter was ready to show me more of Austin. We saw the film Get Low at the Alamo Drafthouse. (Terrific acting—especially from Robert Duvall—but IMO the script didn’t earn its big, climactic scene.) At sunset, we took a bat cruise to see hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tail bats fly out from the homes under the Congress Avenue bridge to find their dinners. I’d seen this on previous visits (I love bats!), but this was the first time we witnessed it from the water. It was an amazing sight.
Tomorrow, I’ll show you my favorite souvenir from the con. It’s a good one, I promise!