I went to WorldCon! This was not a thing I planned. Not in advance, anyway.
As I’ve said in a couple places, I’m working on a new project—new genre, new series, etc. Part of this concept is to produce a few shorter books in a shorter timespan than my usual work for Poor Man’s Fight and Good Intentions. (Yes, I will continue both series.) Early this summer, I finished the first book and got to work on the second, laying aside the issue of cover art until I was ready to go.
Except my goal posts drew ever nearer, and it was getting on time to figure out cover art, and I was having a problem. I wanted to try working with someone new. I love every one of my covers so far; it’s not a matter of dissatisfaction with the art, but I thought working with a new artist appealed for a number of reasons. Since this would be a new line it seemed like a good time to give it a try.
Then I kept striking out on my other prospects, often before I picked up the phone. The problem with good artists is they can be busy. Also, I usually prefer to bury my head in my writing over handling the business end of this business.
In the midst of procrastinating, I got a call out of the blue from Lee Moyer, who has done most of my covers. He asked if I was going to WorldCon in San Jose, because he had a panel series all lined up about the process for creating a book cover…except he was lacking a book that needed a cover. The idea had a lot of merit. I’ve had to learn a lot about book covers, what to ask for, how to communicate with artists, etc, and I’ve always felt this sort of thing would be a good subject for conventions. The goal was to go from concept discussion to finished book cover in the course of four days, demonstrating and answering audience questions at each major step.
So I thought about my goalposts, I thought about my plans, I wrung my hands a bit, and I figured I needed a book cover and signed up.
I’ll talk about the cover panel series itself at a later point. Suffice it to say there was a lot to, er, cover. We got to work with Hugo-finalist Heather McDougal (art director at Strange Horizons), photographer Richard Man for reference photos, and two absolutely excellent volunteer models from the audience. Chris and Ian, thank you again!
Steering away from my paneling stuff, though: I had a great time at WorldCon. Many people may know the initial schedule led to considerable controversy and wound up going through a major revision. The end product put together by Mary Robinette Kowal and her team turned out to be excellent. I learned a lot.
In particular, the artist Guest of Honor, John Picaccio kicked off The Mexicanx Initiative to bring in pros and fans of Mexican ancestry for this WorldCon. Again, I was late to the party on WorldCon, so I had only heard fleeting references to this before I turned up. This crowd turned out to be the absolute highlight of the show for me, even above and beyond my own experience as a panelist. I saw (and bought) a bunch of great art and learned a lot in hearing from the panelists.
One of the things about the SFF convention circuit is how things often grow familiar before too long. Art galleries often have a lot of the same artists. They’re good, often amazing, and I don’t want to come off as saying otherwise, but again it gets familiar. I’m left wondering what I’m missing. The creators who turned out for WorldCon really brought in a breath of fresh air.
To give some shout-outs to the artists in particular that really wowed me, I want to share some links. Check them out. Their stuff is amazing. I could gush over each of these artists.
Also, I’m not sure where else to link this other than the finished Kickstarter, but the Codex Valtierra by Oscar Ramirez and Emmanuel Valtierra is freakin’ amazing. Check it out.
The other thing that blew me away at WorldCon was the frequent kindness of strangers. This morning I was at a UPS store in the convention center hoping to ship off some art prints that weren’t going to work as carry-on items for the plane. Naturally, I wasn’t the only one with last-minute shipping at the tail end of a con. Amid casual conversation standing in line, someone realized I had the earliest flight amid the customers and offered up their spot—and so did everyone else. I wasn’t in a nail-biting time frame, but it was a little tight, and these people who had no idea who I was stepped aside just to be nice.
I ran into moments like this all weekend, both at the con itself and going out and about in San Jose in general. Part of this may be my California roots talking, but it’s a great town.
I’m gonna leave it there for now. Again, I should have something new out soon! Also, to head off a couple of likely questions, the Audible edition of Last Man Out is somewhere in the production queue and yes, there will be another Good Intentions novel in the works soon. I’m looking forward to all these things.