Albacon was tons of fun. Two of my favorite panels were the very first and the very last on my schedule. The first panel, Getting Started as a Writer, was at 10:00 a.m. on Friday morning. Not many people had arrived yet, and the audience was small. So we dropped the usual panel format and just had a conversation about writing. The hour flew by.
My final panel, yesterday afternoon, was on Sex and Gender in Speculative Fiction. The discussion moved quickly and ranged over a variety of media—books, movies, and TV shows—and made some interesting points. Bianca D’Arc noted that, to demonstrate a female character is “strong,” the male characters around her are often portrayed as bumbling fools—and that this is unnecessary. Bianca said she likes to write equally strong male and female leads who work together. Jackie Kessler talked about how well-rounded characters, with strengths and weaknesses, are the most interesting and believable. To me, the best characters either possess some kind of strength (not necessarily of the physical, kick-ass variety) that they can draw upon to face challenges—or they discover their strength in the course of the novel. Jackie questioned whether that’s true of the Twilight novels, noting that Bella isn’t exactly a paragon of strength. I thought that was interesting. I’ve only read the first novel in that series, but she’s right. I think part of Bella’s appeal may be that it’s easy for readers to project onto her, identifying very closely with her. I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this.
Albacon is a small con, but it’s overflowing with terrific writers, a wide variety of interesting panels, and informed, dedicated fans. I missed the ball because I zipped across the state line to visit my family in Massachusetts. (And I did see some gorgeous foliage, too. I think the colors are the best I’ve seen in several years.) If you get a chance to attend Albacon, GO! Next year’s Guest of Honor is Jackie Kessler, who’s smart and funny and thoughtful and articulate, and you really should hear what she has to say. 🙂