I thought I would share some of my experiences from ConQuest 44 this past weekend in Kansas City. All in all it was a fun conference with lots of quality writer workshops and wonderful presentations. There were lots of enthusiastic fans – some in some pretty nice costumes! But it was a small enough gathering making for easy access to the dealers’ tables. I was fortunate enough to get to meet and talk with Both GRRM and the fabulous John Picacio!
On Friday, I was looking at some of the art in the exhibit room and John walked up to me, hand held out, and introduced himself. He had most of the prints from his famous Song of Ice and Fire Calendar, and even the original pencil drawing of my favorite, Arya. My wife and I ended up buying the print, which we took to get properly framed yesterday. To show you just how incredibly nice John is, he said if I got a mailing tube he would pack it for me for the plane trip back. On Sunday, while the other panelists are waiting to start their program, John is carefully rolling my Arya print while explaining how to care for it. I got to see one of his other presentations on cover art for sci fi and fantasy books. He lamented the state of the art, where generic packaging aimed at the masses is taking the place of work done by true artists. He encouraged us to use our dollars and our voices to encourage quality art on books to be able to continue. John is up for a Hugo award; all of you who are eligible, please vote for him. When I said good bye to him on Sunday I told him that it was great when the most talented people are also the nicest. Do yourself a favor and check out his art at http://www.lone-boy.com.
Late Friday Afternoon, I first saw GRRM just standing by the conference registration table. I walked up to him and said hello and he shook my hand. I said “You know, we were on the same Sword and Laser podcast last summer.” He looked at my name tag and said “Oh we were, we were.” I asked him if he knew of my book and he said that he did and that he had it. Then he called his lovely wife Paris over and introduced her to me and my wife saying “This is the fellow who wrote Game of Thrones and Philosophy.” He also introduced us to his “minion” Jo, who was really nice (I later got to talk to her and she told me the whole story of how she met and became great friends with Paris). Then he reached into his pocket and gave me a Westeros coin! He then posed for pictures. Later that evening, at one of the many parties, I found him seated on a couch and knelt beside him. We talked for probably a half hour – about football, the tv series, and he even asked me questions about my book. I told him I had read his vampire novel Fevre Dream long before I started the SOIAF series, and he said they were working on turning it into a movie. Let’s hope that happens! I asked if he was going to read us something from The Winds of Winter and he said “Oh, I have several things in mind “ wanting to keep it a surprise.He was so gracious; it’s truly wonderful when you get to meet your heroes and not only don’t they disappoint you, but they actually exceed your expectations.
We went to all of GRRM’s presentations (of course!). The first, on Friday, with some other authors and with John, was the aforementioned “State of the Art.” John showed various book covers and George and the other fine writers commented on them. On Saturday morning there was the autograph session and we got him to sign several of our favorite books. Later that afternoon, he read (for nearly an hour!) from the forthcoming World of Ice and Fire. The book contains a history of the Seven Kingdoms written by various maesters. He read us the account of Aegon’s conquest and it was fantastic. The dragons burning Harrenhal, the gathering of the swords of the conquered used to make the Iron Throne, and many many other significant moments. By the way, he said that he was planning on writing more Dunk and Egg stories (this came up in the Q&A), but that his main concern was first finishing ASOIAF. I know all the fans were glad to hear this. Lastly, on Sunday morning there was “90 minutes with GRRM.” I had no idea what this was going to be. It turned out to be a showing of the “Blackwater” episode that he wrote for the show from season 2. He frequently stopped it to tell funny and informative background stories about the episode and the actors. One example was that he said that he didn’t write the scene with Bronn and The Hound – it was added by the show front runners -- but that he really liked that scene. During the Q&A someone asked “So what did Pod do?” In “Blackwater Pod saves Tyrion by stabbing the fellow who had slashed his face, and since we had just seen that, George said “He stabbed him with his sword.” Everyone laughed, because the crowd knew that the person was asking about what Pod had done with the (ahem) ladies in season 3that pleased them so. Finally George said, “Well he stabbed them with his sword!”
Finally, if I may, I’d like to mention two authors who I enjoyed meeting – John Horner Jacobs and David J. Pederson. And I’ve attached a picture of me with John and one with George. I look at them often to remind myself that this was not a dream.