Note: I'll mostly be leaving out names here to protect the innocent and the shy. Any names that I do include are there because I'm confident nobody will mind. If you do, let me know and I'll remove you ASAP. Or the opposite is cool too :)
PART 1: FLIGHT
I crossed the Atlantic in the company of Adrian Tchaikovsky's Spiderlight. It's a fun book that grows increasingly dark towards the end. Adrian is a great author who can handle everything from Science Fiction, to humour, to manners, to kick-ass high-concept fantasy. Spiderlight is the story of a typical D&D type adventure where certainty and escapism are slowly poisoned by moral quandries.
I also watched the Irish movie, Sing Street. It entertained me mightily apart from one particular moment that made me despise the protagonist. Nevertheless, very well done.
PART 2: VERMONT
My friends T&C drove several hours to pick me up from Boston airport and several hours in the other direction just so they could have the privilege of waiting on me hand and foot. They have a stunningly beautiful, cat-crowded house, and a preposterously friendly dog by the name of Jake.
The first night, when my eyes started to droop, they fed me a gorgeous green curry where the vegetables came straight from the garden. Wow! The sweet corn lived up to its name. I couldn't get enough of it.
Vermont is lovely and green and quiet. The bears grow fat on careless hikers. Know, dear reader, I was not careless this time.
PART 3: NEW YORK
I travelled there by train -- business class, no less! -- moving from Albany, all the way down the languid Hudson river with fine views and hilarious shouted conversations between the crew members.
After that, New York was just one hightlight after another. The Soho Grand Hotel? Like something out of a movie. Quirky, lovely, friendly. Scholastic Books HQ? A nest of creativity, humour and joy.
My publicist JA had a mountain of vegan snacks piled up before a stack of books for me to sign. I smudged one with the other so that each reader can have the pleasure of peeling apart the pages to discover a unique, fragrant surprise.
I met many, many other people there. I clinked glasses with them while they were ridiculously friendly to me.
That night, my US editor, NT, took me to a Yankee's Game. Yes, you heard me right. Yankees.
The subway shimmered at a temperature close to the boiling point of titanium. It wouldn't surprise me if New Yorkers brought raw pizza to work to be cooked on the foreheads of their fellow passengers. Although, with everybody sweating so much, steamed dumplings might be the better option...
But I digress! We got to watch one of the world's most famous sports teams from a private box with all its own snacks and with a pack of cheerful people open to chatting to a baseball-innocent like myself. Fantastic experience!
The next day, there were interviews with Bustle and Sci-Fi Bulletin. Both interviewers really knew their stuff.
And then, came lunch... I should really play some kind of musical intro here, because Blossom provided me with the best meal I've had since I turned vegan four years ago. Everything was beyond delicious and the great company I had only enhanced the dining experience.
That evening I had another great meal with an absolutely wonderful crew of booksellers and librarians from in or near NY. Everybody -- absolutely every one of them -- wanted nothing more than to talk books all night long. It's been years since I've seen sports, politics and weather so thoroughly ignored throughout such a large crowd!
PART 3: KANSAS CITY
Although this was the longest part of my trip, I don't have a whole lot to say about it. Not because WorldCon, the usual highlight of my year, wasn't filled with joy and fantastic meetings with the best of friends, but because most of what occurred fell within the bounds of a typical Con experience.
At La Guardia airport, I had the good fortune to run into Xray and McBigski from the BwB. Company and hugs were evenly distributed. When the airport ejected us at the other end, having extracted our nutritional content, Mr. X collected us and whizzed us all the way to our hotel. I would be sharing a room with McBigski and Ser Scott -- two manly men who mostly left me alone when darkness fell.
A panel, including legend Tamora Pierce. (The MidAmericon Program, was in general, superb, by the way.)
Dinner with the BwB. Met a few new ones to add to what was already an august company. Best part of the menu? A salad marked "V" for vegetarian that contained prosciutto ham! Luckily, they were happy to do one without the meat for me.
More panels. Wonderful greetings from old friends. A tremendous parade of fascinating topics.
Irishers and diplomats at the Dublin 2019 desk.
A vegan restaurant called Fud that I found only with D's help and guidance.
A free dinner in the same restaurant, foolishly paid for by Black Gate editor, John O'Neill. I bet he's cursing now as the moths fly out of his wallet.
A meeting with the academic and podcaster, Amy Sturgis.
A visit to Program Ops to sign a book for EU's friend.
More BwBers, always more of them, like a horde of ants, remorselessly bearing hugs and humour. We threw a party, of course, at which I was permitted to give prizes to people. Best of all was a talking George R.R. Martin doll. Apparently, a mere squeeze of its hand is enough to make it say "I'm still working on it". Alas, it would not speak to me...
And yet, despite the indifference of the GRRM doll, the following evening, I had the good fortune to attend the Hugo Loser's Party thrown by the real GRRM. Even better, two groups of my friends won Alfie awards -- Black Gate, whose editor is the same John O'Neill (see above), and Journey Planet, whose staff include James Bacon, Chris Garcia and Esther. How cool was that?
Finally, came the last hurrah of a barbecue meal with the BwB. A vegan option, fought for by LG, kept me happy, 'though I was surrounded by vicious carnivores at every turn...
PART 5: HOME AGAIN
And that's it, really. Other than the fact that I made it home to find my house all the better for my absence. I spent more time than is healthy at O'Hare, and made the mistake of counting how much money I had spent. But what a brilliant ten days it was! Roll on FinnCon!