Some people plan their vacations around non-business activities but for me, a conference is a reason to get out of town and explore just a wee bit. So, this last week of July is a doozy! Gwen and I are on a road trip from Dallas to Tulsa to San Francisco and back to Dallas. For some that is a reason to fly but I’ve never been able to see the deserts of the west except at 40,000 feet and I really wanted to explore the famous Route 66 before it completely disappears. So I convinced Gwen that a week in a car in the summer isn’t really that bad! The good news, we haven’t killed each other.
So to our tale of exploration…first stop Tulsa and the Conestoga 12, Oklahoma’s largest literary science fiction and fantasy convention. The 2008 guest of honor was Diana Gabaldon. I’ve been a fan of Ms. Gabaldon since my favorite bookseller — Judy Oerke — suggested OUTLANDER in the late 80s. And when they still had two Gold Tickets left — dinner with Ms. Gabaldon — I couldn’t say no! Well, I could but it was a “golden” opportunity! Also, the Fangs, Fur and Fey community was having its first “con within a con.” FFF is the largest Urban Fantasy author community on the Internet according to founders Melissa Marr and Jeaniene Frost. Plus a slew of favorite urban fantasy authors would be there — including: Michele Bardsley, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Marie Brennan, Sarah Rees Brennan, Rachel Caine, Dakota Cassidy, Kristin Cast, PC Cast, Mark Del Franco, Jeaniene Frost, Justin Gustainis, Bev Hale, Mark Henry, Carrie Jones, Caitlin Kittredge, Dean Lorey, Melissa Marr, Cheyenne McCray, Patrice Michelle, Devon Monk, Justine Musk, Gena Showalter, Jeanne Stein, Shanna Swendson, Tiffany Trent, Rachel Vincent, Steve Wedel, and Jaye Wells.
Our Friday night with Diana Gabaldon was sublime. After checking in, we found the room for the Plenary Session (opening ceremony) and met a few of the distinguished guests and participants. Then it was off to the dinner which for a hotel meal of chicken wasn’t bad. Or it could be it was my second meal of the day after driving for four hours and anything within reason would have been delicious. No, upon reflection, the chocolate cake was sublime. Anyway, we were at a table with other DG fans, some who had driven from Denton, Texas, another couple from Kansas City, Jeanne Stein from Colorado and two local fans. We had a great time at dinner and then DG walked between the tables dressed in a long dark blue underskirt covered by a beautiful white dress. With her beautiful black hair flowing down her back she looked like a character from one of her books. And she is so beautiful, talented and perfect for an after dinner speaker!
Diana Gabaldon told us about how she started writing fiction at 35, her inspiration for Jamie — think old school PBS Dr Who in a kilt — and how Claire popped into the story with a 20th century voice and wouldn’t go away. How she wrote in her “home office” a converted garage and how she had to sneak out to the local mall to go to the bathroom so her kids wouldn’t know she was “home.” And then she told us about the new graphic novel she’s working on. It will be a bridge story and nothing reworked from Outlander books. The graphic artist is VERY talented but he does have to work on Jamie a bit more. He does have the red hair down.
Then she signed books and Gwen and I tripped off to check into the hotel across the street — we decided to come too late to get a room at the Radisson. But were waylaid by Dakota Cassidy. After much arm twisting, okay, a simple invitation, we trouped back to the bar for a night cap and to meet some of the UF crew.
Today (Wednesday) we’re finally in San Francisco and we’ll be meeting HUNDREDS of romance authors as well as the some of the Fresh Fiction team: Mindy Ewing, Faye McMichael, Tanzey Cutter, Suan Wilson and Leonore Howard. We’ll be blogging the rest of the week from SF and posting pictures as soon as we pry them out of Gwen’s camera. Check it out!