Yesterday I attended a Supernatural fan convention. I am honestly quite surprised I stated that so boldly. After all, being a fan is something you're supposed to be slightly ashamed of, isn't it? Or is that being a genre writer? (Ooh, cutting literary commentary so early in the piece!)
My rational mind came up with many reasons to attend. Not only was it a chance to do a photo that could be fun publicity for my books, it would be good research. After all, my current WIP's hero is a horror comic book author who goes to a convention as a guest star. My non-rational mind knew that while that was all true and made a convincing cover story, it was not at all the real reason I wanted to attend.
When I turned up at the quite posh venue (the Park Hyatt, if you don't mind) I had no idea what to expect -- I really did wonder if it was going to be filled with people who only emerged from darkened caverns somewhere for such things like this (an initial fear Misha Collins himself shared, apparently).
But actually everyone was pretty normal. If primarily female. But then when the stars of this show look like these guys, that wasn't such a surprise.
What happens at a fan convention? Well, a lot of sitting around for a start. Everyone wants photos taken with the stars, and that takes time. (BTW, each photo costs a certain amount, as do autographs -- the more notable the star, the higher the price. Much of the day's conversation is spent discussing how to allocate "budget" and lamenting the state of credit cards...)
So while that's happening there's not much to do. The organisers did a good job of running trivia competitions (which totally demonstrated that I am not even in the league of a "Real Fan" -- Sam's LSAT score?? Seriously someone knew that??) and showing episodes of the show on the big screen. There were also things to look at, like the merchandise available (still don't know why there were Disney plushies and Game of Thrones T-shirts on sale). And the very cool Impala:
|Don't think Sam and Dean have been anywhere near this one, but it's still a cool car. |
And see what I mean about the hair? Damn. If Misha and Jim were available for a re-take, I'd so be there.
The system for photos and autographs was that they called people out to line up row by row. So yep, you've got it -- that meant a long, long wait for me. (I filled it out by texting my friends until they got bored of me and my phone battery began to run dangerously low. And by a stroke of luck, I shoved my Kindle in my bag at the last minute as I left the house. In a funny twist, there wasn't any 3G reception in the ballroom and I was too lazy to walk upstairs for the few moments it would take to download a new book to read, so I just went into my "Classics" folder, where I've downloaded a few of those freebie masterpieces Amazon has on offer from time to time. I had a few Dickens books and Don Quixote and the like, but I picked "Alice in Wonderland." Seriously, it wasn't until Alice was running the Caucus Race with the Dodo that I realised what my subconscious had done to me. Good one, subconscious. #win)
What it also meant was more time to get nervous. I was pretty annoyed with myself for that, to be honest. Nervous? I do public speaking for a living for goodness' sake! The thing that most people rank as being more scared of than death is what pays my mortgage! And I was getting all short-of-breath and shaky about standing next to a couple of guys from TV. Gah.
In retrospect, I should have had more than one photo done, so that I would have known what to expect. It's hard to explain, but it's kind of like being in a car crash -- your brain is trying to process "what's happening?" and "it's over?" at the same time. Because it takes like THREE SECONDS. I mumbled something about "would you mind posing with my books" and "you can read them and look interested or horrified or whatever" (I actually have no idea what exact words I used) and then I'm looking at the camera and then I'm walking away with my books in my hand again. Actually, I don't even remember the looking at the camera bit, but there's photographic evidence that I did, so I must have.
My standby self-talk when I get nervous or am facing something I don't want to do is, "In x minutes/hours/days this will be over and you'll be back home/asleep/drinking chardonnay". I told myself the same thing ("In five minutes you'll be back sitting on that stupid chair") as I waited in line watching other people do cool poses and joke around. And then I was back sitting on the stupid chair. Seriously, it was THAT QUICK.
Then the afternoon sessions began and I finally got to understand what this convention stuff is all about.
Just because people are actors, doesn't mean they are entertaining. I've known some actors over my lifetime, and they wouldn't necessarily be top of my list for dinner party invites. Luckily, the people we got to see yesterday were both actors AND entertaining.
Richard Speight Jr and Corin Nemec were an awesome double act -- jumping through the audience, telling funny personal anecdotes and surprisingly admitting to never watching the show they're actually there to promote. (As a former publicist, I did squirm a little at that.)
Traci Dinwiddie was incredibly cool and the girl has biceps that I could see from the back row! She had some interesting things to say about the female dynamic in Supernatural which is only of interest to other fans with a feminist bent like me, so I'll shut up about it for now.
Jim Beaver's posts on Facebook are something I actively look forward to. He posts interesting, thoughtful articles about movies, politics and all sorts of things. Strangely, he wasn't quite what I expected, even though I couldn't tell you what I expected. He posted on Facebook this morning that he was exhausted and perhaps that's why he wasn't as sparky as I thought he would be.
Then there was Misha Collins. Last year I did the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. (I blogged about GISHWHES here.)
[Edited to add: Misha was the instigator/organiser of the hunt. In case you were wondering about that strange-seeming non sequitur.]
I loved GISHWHES and I met some wonderful women assigned to my team and we all still keep in touch. What I loved most about it was pushing myself to do things I ordinarily wouldn't do at all, and realising (or, perhaps, remembering) in the process that most people in the world are nice -- it's not something our mainstream media would like us to believe. But that week, I asked a lot of strangers to do weird things for me, and no one said no, and overall I found it a pretty life-affirming thing.
I was thrilled that during his session Misha talked a little about the hunt and how much he'd enjoyed it too. He was awesome on stage -- funny, engaging, silly and effortlessly confident. He's just one of those people that you can sit back, relax and know he's going to sail the whole room through everything with wit and charm (even the occasional stupid questions and star-struck fans).
|See the tiny man on the stage? He's actually life-size in person.|
So okay, I decided I would. Cue: a whole heap more waiting around. (This time I beat the nerves by discovering a fellow a-ha fan and reminiscing merrily about Morten, Pal and Mags. Would you believe it?? In the some-hundred women in the room I meet an a-ha fan. She'd been to their first-ever live gig in Perth. I'd been to their last-ever gig at Wembley. It was awesome.)
It was after 7pm by the time I stood in front of Misha, gushing about GISHWHES. (I'm quite proud of that alliteration.) He was utterly charming, friendly and warm. And he gave me a wink. I filed away all the resulting feelings in my body into the file in my brain marked "romance author inspirations: heroine swoons".
And then I said goodbye to all my new friends and I went home. And instead of going to sleep, I wrote this blog post in my head until even my brain got sick of it and made me unconscious.
So that's it. If anyone is still reading (which would be quite a miracle, what with all the parenthesis and random comments that totally disrupt the narrative flow of this story, not to mention the overly-lengthy photo captions) then all I can say is that if you ever get a chance to go to something like this about something you love, do it. Just, do it.
Oh, and before you ask -- "In His Eyes" isn't available, I don't even have author copies yet. I made one up for the photo, so the book Jim is holding is actually Cassie's Grand Plan with the In His Eyes cover glued around it! I had some fantasy that I was going to be able to explain that to them, and talk a little about my books and have them ask politely disinterested questions about my writing. Ha!
I'll know better for next time... ;)