WFC holds about 600 people and maybe three or four tracks at a time. I never tend to make it to too many panels. When I went to New Orleans, like everyone else, I went to the French Quarter and shopped. In the evenings it was going for dinner or going to the parties to schmooze and get free booze and snacks. So I tend to only get to a couple of panels at most.
When I attended WFC in Montreal, it was at the end of October (as it always is) just after September 11, 2001. I’m sure it was one of the few WFCs that did not cover its costs. Many publishers and attendees pulled out because of the rampant fear at that time. This made it quite a small convention. Surprisingly, Montreal had no snow but it was a bit crisp at night.
Rhea and I arrived about 11 on a Thursday night and my friend Melanie was already there in jammies. When we got up to the room I said, “I don’t know what you guys are going to do but I’m going down to have a drink at the lounge.” The three of us went down and I noticed San Francisco bookstore owner Allan Bates (sp?) who I’d met before at a convention.
The lounge closed an hour or so later and Allensaid they were going down to a pub so we joined them. There were about seven of us and it turns out Montreal pubs have a soft closing. We were there till four or five in the morning. And that set the flavour for the whole convention. There wasn’t a night I went to bed earlier and I recall on the last night a group of us wandering about and sneaking glasses of booze out of some pub when they closed down.
It was at one party where of course the booze flowed that we were standing around talking and I think I splashed UK writer Graham Joyce, with a bit of wine, accidentally. Then I was drinking some water and fellow Canuck writer Brett Savory (it’s his fault, really) said I should pour my water on Graham, so I did. It established a friendship for the convention, or at least a camaraderie with the Brit writers. I also met agent Chris Lotts there and still chat with him time to time but book agents are very busy. I met Tina Jens, one of the Twilight Tales founders at one convention too. It’s a great benefit meeting similar thinking minds and establishing friendships that span countries.
There have been conventions that have been nothing but calm as well. It can vary a lot. But you always meet new people and I like the smallness of WFC for that intimacy of getting to know people. It was at one WFC autograph signing that I had my arms signed and freaked out Harlan Ellison. The World Fantasy awards are given the Sunday of the convention. This year it is in Calgary and I’l be going. 2004 was the last one I attended so it’s been a while.