Monday, December 28, 2015

A Day in the Life #41: In which Elizabeth shares the SECRET THINGS she has not told you yet

Well it's certainly been a while since I've posted one of these, hasn't it?  I promise it was for a good reason though - I went to AN EVENT and was too busy to post, and then I couldn't post about SAID EVENT because I had surprise presents I was sending to people and I didn't want them to know about it beforehand and all I wanted to talk about was OH MY GOD THIS EVENT and I couldn't so I just didn't write anything at all.  But now everyone has got their packages and so now I can tell you:

GUYS I MET TAMORA PIERCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Apparently she comes down to Chessiecon (previously Darkover Con) every year and it's held just around the corner from me (...Well. Relatively speaking) so I'm going to be able to hear her talk on panels ALL THE TIME. (...Well. Relatively speaking)  I was able to hear her read some excerpts from books that are going to be released in 2017 (and she'll have releases lined of up 2018 and 2019 since she had a book that ended up being split into two books) and to hear her talk on a variety of subjects - from dealing with magic from a world building aspect, to hearing her talk about race and culture and gender, and unsurprisingly I have a similar mindset to hers on said subjects, and she had plenty of thought provoking things to say.  When I went to go get the books signed by her, I ended up meeting one of her "fairy godchildren" right beforehand which was very fun and honestly that's the only thing I remember really talking to her about haha.  I...tend to lose my mind and babble when I'm nervous.  Which I guess is better than losing my mind and crying? (This was a legitimate concern of mine).  And while this is the #1 reason I came to the con, it was SO amazing for a variety of reasons.

This was my very first con OR bookish event!  I always feel intimidated by the thought of going to a con, particularly by myself because they seem giant and overwhelming and I am usually not fond of large crowds of people I don't know.  I am so, so glad I decided my love of Tamora Pierce won out over all my concerns about the former because it's probably the best experience I could have had as far as a first con goes.  It's not a huge con so I didn't feel overwhelmed, but there were still SO many panels/events I wanted to go to!  And it was such an awesome eclectic mix of things.  The con itself is primarily about science-fiction and fantasy, with a focus on female authors (so basically totally my jam).  Beyond that though it's got a ton involvement with filk music (which I will get to in a moment), gaming (board and video), art, and there were a ton of events for dancing, druidic healing, bard circles, knitting...I mean seriously it was SO. COOL.  I unfortunately couldn't make it to any of the druid events because they conflicted with a lot of the book events I wanted to go to (and I had priority on bookish events particularly those with Tamora Pierce) but I absolutely am going to try and go to at least one next year since I'm super curious about it.

But first the bookish events!  This year was extra awesome for me on the book front because not only was Tamora Pierce there, Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant, author of my favourite zombie series) was a guest author!  Intisar Khanani (author of Thorn and Sunbolt)  is also apparently a regular at Chessiecon, and I'm so glad I got to hear her talk as it's made me want to read her books even more. (Thorn, as a fairy tale retelling, has been on my radar since it came out, but unfortunately my library doesn't have it.  But it's officially been bumped up to the YOU WILL BUY THIS list on my end, and I'll be suggesting it to the library to buy).  Intisar actually ended up being probably my favourite panelist - I quickly made it a point to go to any panel she was talking on (...which since they were often with Tamora Pierce and/or a YA fantasy panel it was hardly a difficulty on my end since I was planning on going to them anyway).  She takes the time to really think about what she's saying, and everything she said was just...well, it was interesting and thought provoking.  A lot of things I wouldn't have thought of. And she was funny as well, as all the panelists were, really.

Other panels of note were the zombie apocalypse one I went to - lots of tips I hadn't thought about before.  Namely, that you are likely going to be trying to survive the apocalypse with whoever you are next to, so statistically speaking it's fairly likely to be your neighbors.  And in cities, we aren't as friendly with our neighbors (heck I don't know who half of mine are) and if someone doesn't have an emotional connection with you, they're less likely to try and help keep you alive.  The panel on fairy tales really brought to light how much power Disney has had over which tales are commonly known - there are plenty of fairy tales that don't have a female lead or don't end up with a prince.  Most interesting for me - and I think Intisar brought this up - was that while we see marriage as women "finding their happy ever after/being saved by a man" it's different when you look at it through a historical lens.  Women of the time really had no other way to bring themselves out of poverty - marriage meant running your own household and having a stable livelihood - so being able to arrange a good match for yourself as a woman really was achieving success on your own terms.

While I spent the majority of my time going to bookish panels, I would have been a poor musician if I hadn't made a point to go to some of the musical ones.  Which is where I discovered that Seanen McGuire actually has a really great voice and she founded Lady Mondegreen and used to tour with them.  A fair number of their songs have a filk crossover, but I get the idea they aren't all filk?  In any case, it was a ton of fun.  I also went to a bardic circle which was super low key - I just sat in the back instead of joining the circle since I didn't know what was going on exactly, but basically someone would just say hey does anyone know "this song" and someone would say "yeah I can do the chords" or people would sing acapella, and it was just...I guess similar to a jam session, just much quieter and low key.  Mostly there were guitarists, although people would beat drum patterns on their legs, and there was someone with a few auxiliary percussion instruments.  It was fascinating, and I would have stayed longer if I wasn't so tired.  They end every night (I think it was every night, it might just have been Saturday) with a rendition of the Hallelujah chorus. No idea why or when the tradition started but I LOVE IT.  A crowd of people just gather at midnight, grab the music and organize by voice type, sing it, and then disperse to whatever else they wanted to do.  It felt a bit surreal haha!

But lastly, I wanted to end with Heather Dale, who's song Mordred's Lullaby has basically changed my life:

I've linked to a live unaccompanied version of the song because I actually think her voice sounds better in this version (and it's how I experienced it) and when you're in the audience and everyone joins in...seriously it raised chills up my arms.  But the finished product is also well worth listening to and has some interesting instruments/textures (for your viewing pleasure, here's a link to it being used in a fan video from the show Merlin.)  She's actually writing a musical that was inspired by this song - it's basis is - what if Morganna and Guinevere best friends? And I have to say that this song just absolutely nails the rage and power that for me encompasses how I envision her (seriously, the lyrics in the last stanza? Amazing.) and I literally have been listening to this on loop since I saw her perform it.

I will say that I wish I'd had someone to fangirl with all this about. I met some people at the con which was nice, but for most of it I was on my own and I would have had SO much more fun (basically I would have exploded with funness because this was fun as hell to begin with) if I'd had friends there!  Soooo...basically this is my way of saying that I've already bought tickets for next year, so if you are going to be anywhere near Lutherville-Timonium in Maryland from November 25-27, that's where I'll be and we should hang out!  (Or even if you aren't near - it's well worth your time and money!) Tickets are on sale for $45 until the new year starts, and if you don't want to commit a year in advance, tickets won't rise past $60.  They won't have much information on panels up for ages, but they have the featured guest artists for the year (if you're there for Tammy too, don't worry she's there every year) keep checking the site if you want more info!

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