Sunday, October 18, 2009

VCON Day 1, part 2: The Book Launch

The dealer room closed at 7. All the dealers tidied up for a few minutes, and left the room to be locked up for the night.

By the time that was all done, I had a bit less than an hour to waste until the book launch. I don't want to send the wrong idea, it's not as if it was some huge gala event just for Watching Yute. Every year VCON has this event, where Authors of any sci-fi books released in the last year are invited to come and talk about their book.

Last year, I found out 2 weeks before the event that I'd be expected to do a reading. After the little panic attack, I carefully chose a passage from Lifehack, and did some practicing. It was going to go awful, I just knew it. But I was 'ready'.

And then the readings were canceled, due to unfavorable acoustics at the lounge. It turned into a 'meet & greet' casual thing. It was a disappointment and relief.

This year, (new location, BTW) I hadn't gotten an invite to the launch, but was ready. I had joined a couple meetup groups, at which I was asked to do a little reading. I was semi-prepared.

At the first one, I chose a melancholy passage form the perspective of Watching Yute's heroine, Cassidy. This was a mistake. Between my nerves, lack of a female voice, and the fact that it's a section better ready to one's self quietly, it just didn't come off well. The group was supportive though. I wormed my way to having a 2nd reading. I chose a section of one of the antagonists, Jacob Kirison, trying to fight his paranoia when meeting with a mafia contact.

Here, my rattling nerves proved an asset. The reading didn't go perfect, but it went a lot better. Kirison's generally a jittery fellow, and I used most of my fumbles as part of it, and pressed forward.

At the next meetup with a different group, I did Kirison's bit again. It went smoother. I 'acted' a bit. My errors were secondary to the fun.

Now I was at VCON's book launch, with red bull coursing through me, and no idea if there'd be a reading. I bought a horribly overpriced cuba libra from the 'bar cart' that the hotel had running there. It was twice what I expected to pay, and half the alcohol. I chattered with professor Whovianart, and a few others. One person, I feel bad I don't remember her name... she invited me to a convention party afterwards for Canadian sci-fi writers, but I knew my time would be really tight by the time the launch was over. I was expecting a 2 hour transit ride, and I didn't know what time they buses stopped out on the destination end of the trip.

Some time after I had given up on the idea of a reading, someone walked up to the front, where there was this stage-ish long table with a podium, and suggested to the room that the authors should come up and talk/read a bit. Alright, it was on.

I didn't know what kind of order the authors should go in, so in my typical aggressive style, I waited patiently and listened to others.

One lady was a representative of a local publisher. She got up there and thanked a long list of people, listed books, and prattled on. I was a little confused, she didnt fit into the flow that the room had going. We'd been listening to writers get up there and represent their own brain-children. This didn't feel like the venue for what she was doing. Just when I thought she was wrapping up, she introduced a paid actress, who was going to be doing a reading from a book who's author wasn't there.

I have no idea what the reading was, I was a little lost in a cloud of WTF. That sounds aggressive, but... I just didn't get it. When she wrapped up, people around me nudged me to get up there. Alright. Alright, I'd better go to it.

By the time I crossed the room, a graphic novelist was at the podium already. I forgot his name.. I'm horrible. He had the table across from me last year. Nice meek fellow. I don't think he was planning on a reading, and struggled valiantly to read a graphic novel story without the audience seeing the pictures. He did a good job for being on the spot, but next year, maybe he should see about a projector screen or something.

Alright. My turn at the podium and the microphone. Up the steps, and.. oh. Hm. Wheelchair. I sat below, in front of the podium and stage, and promised to read with my big-boy voice. Two words into reading, someone marched up from the back of the room. "Nah, can't hear ya in the back." and a mic was wrenched from the table, into my hand.

Jacob Kirison came to life once more, fuelled by taurine and nerves. Some time before I got to the line "What?! Why not?!", I was really into it, I was acting it the way I heard it in my head when I wrote it. (FYI, what I read was the Kirison sections from the experts I have on my page, here.)

When I went back to my 'seat', someone peeked over my shoulder to get the title of the book, soon returning from the little sales table looking for a signature for the book. Yaaay!

It wasn't long after that that the launch event was thinning out. I had a bus to catch. As it happened, on the last leg of my journey, I'd be on the 2nd last available bus, and I'd be waiting an hour for it... I might have gotten the 3rd last bus, but on the way out of the launch event, I was stopped in the hall.

"Hey, hold up, you're next, okay?"

Who am I to argue with a TV camera crew? They were interviewing some lady I didn't know. I knew the interviewer though, kind of. Before the launch event, I spotted a guy with a really cool wrist.. bracelet.. thing. It was pretty punk, and would have gone well with my costume bits. Yeah, I was still wearing it. Keep in mind, it's a bit hazardous- though I didn't look as freakish as I will by the time Halloween comes around.

So, the interviewer recognized me and tagged me for a spot. A spot on what? I have no idea. It seems like could have just been a student project, but once again, who am I to argue with a camera crew?
"So, introduce yourself!"
"I'm Joseph Picard!" Was I feeding off his energy, the red bull, or the good reading? In any event, he joked,
"I'm Joseph Picard, he says, as we should already know!" Well of course, aren't I famous yet?

He asked about the costume bits I was wearing, and about what I was doing.

"... and I just did a reading from my new book in there...!"
"Wow! How'd that go?"
"Well, it's hard to be objective, but I think I did pretty good..!"
"Oh! Listen to him and the false modesty! You nailed it didn't you? Yeaaah, you nailed it!"

Hehe, I wish I knew who that guy was, I wouldn't mind a copy of that vid.

That wrapped up, I had to get my transit-unfriendly costume bits safely into the dealer's room. I went to the 'HQ desk' of the convention. Three people were behind the tables, the one on the left partly hidden in shadow. I rolled up and got to the point.

"Hey, I need to get into the dealer room.."
One of one on the right piped in. "Dealer room closed at 7."
"Well, Jeff said I could get in to drop stuff off after the launch, and if he wasn't around, to find Danielle, i think her name was, and-" I blithered on a little bit. The partly hidden figure on the left stood, and waved a keycard for the dealer room.
"That's Danielle." the guy on the right said.

Yeah, she was sitting there all along, and between the low lighting and my fatigue, I didn't see it. She looked a little tired too, which was understandable- she runs the friggin con.

With my transit-hostile costume bits stored safely, I began the longest trip home of the weekend, between pushing my chair uphill to burrard station while already tired, and waiting an hour in coquitlam for the 2nd last bus home, I was spent. And glad I didn't succumb to the temptation to go to that party. Next year, get the hotel room.

I ended up getting into bed at 2:30 or so, and had the alarm set for 6 am. I woke up at 5, and couldn't get back to sleep. I was still tired as heck, but also hyper as heck. It was an odd mix that would get me through saturday... with some assistance from taurine.

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