karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

Capclave 2010: Connie-con Recap

Capclave is the annual DC-area science fiction and fantasy convention. The focus is on short fiction, although two out of three of this year's guests of honor work in both short and long fiction. The GoH's were Connie Willis and Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Connie Willis has won awards for fiction in every length except maybe flash. And while Ann VanderMeer edits short fiction at Weird Tales, her husband Jeff writes both short stories and novels.

Friday night I was on a panel with him:
Writers and the Internet; When Is Enough Enough?
Panelists: Oz Drummond, aka birdhousefrog, Tee Morris, Jeff VanderMeer, and Jean Marie Ward.
A lot of what we said was obvious: don't let online activities take the time and energy you need to write. Some panelists said they “unplugged” from the net cold turkey when needed to finish something. Jeff VanderMeer also warned against creating an online persona at odds with your real self.

Conie Willis & Boats
Also on Friday night, I attended the interview/roast/chat with Connie Will conducted by Oz, Doug Fratz, and Jim Freund, moderating. In theory, it was supposed to be about Connie's obsession with boats, but as Oz was able to demonstrate easily, she didn't really have one. The closest thing to a universal theme in her work is a rage against injustice and unfairness. Connie did say that having spent so much time researching the Titanic made her unwilling to participate in a literary cruise, even though it was in warmer waters than the North Atlantic.

I got a late start but spent some time in the dealers room picking up books by mindyklasky and scottedelman, as well as browsing and schmoozing with friends from my writer's group.

Panelists: Scott H. Andrews, Neil Clarke, Tee Morris, Karen Wester Newton, and James Maxey, who moderated.

If you read this blog at all, you know if there was an ebook panel, I would do my best to be on it. I thought this panel went well, and was really interesting because it had such an interesting mix of points of view. Although Scott is a writer, he also edits Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Neil is not only a publisher (of Clarkesworld) but also an ebook designer. Both of them have put their magazines on ebook platforms like the Kindle. James has digital rights to his backlist and is putting his books on the Kindle, also. Tee also writes fiction and nonfiction and has handled the production aspects of publishing as well as the editorial side. Everyone agreed that ebooks would continue to increase as print publication decreased, although no one was willing to say print would go away any time in the next twenty years. I made the case for a lot of print publication shifting to print-on-demand (POD). For the most part, we were preaching to the choir, although there were a couple of print lovers in the audience. A survey of the audience revealed that Kindle was by the far the most popular dedicated eReader (only two Nook owners in the room!) but more people read on phones and similar devices than dedicated eReaders. There were several iPad owners in the room (including one of the Nook owners, who said he no loner used the Nook).

Connie Willis Non-Reading
As Connie's latest book All Clear is really just the second half of her previous book Blackout, she didn't want to read from All Clear for fear of ruining the suspense for folks who had not finished Blackout. ergo, she simply talked about how she came to write the book, and all the research she did that never made it into the book. It was fascinating, and I hope it's all written down somewhere!

After a lovely dinner with mindyklasky, we went back for one more dose of Connie.

Interview with Connie Willis
Mike Zipser interviewed Connie about how she got her start, among other things. She published one science fiction short story in the 1970's, also wrote a some lurid-sounding “true confessions” that weren't true at all, and then hit it big with two Hugos in 1983 (for a short story and a novelette; the novelette also won the Nebula). She described herself as “a Midwestern housewife in a dress with a Peter Pan collar.” She also talked about her WIP, an alien abduction/Roswell story with cow mutilation.

History in Science Fiction
Panelists: Connie Willis, John Hemry (aka Jack Campbell), Mark Olson, and Alan Smale, who moderated.

The panel were all writers except for Mark, who was a reader and occasionally a reviewer. They identified several ways that science fiction could use history: time travel, alternate history—with and without scientific differences—and merely using the past situations as a model for future events. An interesting observation was that there were sometimes things in history that were true but that the average reader would assume was made up, as when an ancient Roman pulls out an umbrella or when John Adams said, at the start of American Independence, that if the question of slavery was not resolved then, within 100 years America would be torn apart.

Summers in Oz
Tom Doyle presented a nonfictional account of how L. Frank Baum's summer resort, Macatawa, MI, still keeps his memory and work alive, even if they aren't always accurately recounting his time there. Tom wrote a wonderful short story called “The Wizard of Macatawa,” that won the WSFA Small Press Award in 2008, and he's now working on turning the story into a novel.

By then I was pooped, so I went home. But I had a brief chat with Connie Willis and her charming husband Courtney, and discovered she will miss WFC because of her book tour, so I am happy she made it to Capclave!

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Tags: connie willis, conventions, writers

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