This was my second year in a row attending Ad Astra. It’s neat to get to do multiple runs at a convention. Not only do I get to hang out with my writer pals, and meet some new folks, going back to a con means you get to chat with some of the fans who checked out your panels the year before and came back for more. That’s pretty sweet.
What wasn’t sweet was my landing at Pearson. Most of my flight into Toronto felt like the plane was getting slapped around like a hockey puck (when it didn’t feel as if it was plummeting out of the sky). Fun stuff. I didn’t know my aislemate well enough to make any Buddy Holly references though.
After arriving at the hotel (thanks Ryan McFadden for meeting me at the airport!), I had a quick and spicy dinner and then prepped for my shared reading slot with Arlene F. Marks. Arlene read from her humourous fantasy novel, The Accidental God, and I read an excerpt from “The Last Good Look” (The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir), “A Taste of the Other Side” (Beast Within 4: Gears & Growls), and “A Simple Twist of Fate”, my illustrated Thunder Road short story that I had printed for C4.
Despite arriving pre-exhausted and recovering for a seemingly endless cold, I made it through. Our reading slot was sparsely attended, but attendees outnumbered readers, so that is always good, even better, it was an interested crowd.
This is the sort of Champion Author breakfast that allowed me to face the public:
Photo by Leah Bobet.
I also want to thank Leah for this amazing coupon, which I am hanging onto, and will be willing to drop on someone at a moment’s notice.
I met a bunch of new folks this year. Some completely new, and others that I only knew from Twitter or Facebook, or because we’d shared an anthology ToC. Seeing these people in person is always one of my favourite parts of going to cons, and so I was happy to meet Kelly Robson and Dale L. Sproule for the first time, both fellow contributors to The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir (Dale is the author of “Nunavut Thunderfuck”, great title, or best title ever? I loved Kelly’s “Good for Grapes” story also.) as well as Amal El-Mohtar. I’ve read and enjoyed a bunch of her blog posts, but haven’t read much of her other writing, I’ll have to remedy that.
I didn’t take in a lot of programming or readings, and I did a limited amount of programming myself–only two panels besides my reading. I was mostly trying to catch up with friends. I got to have great conversations with Alyx Dellamonica and Annette Mocek, who I don’t see nearly enough of. I do think both of my panels went well, good turnouts, and lively Q&A. Thanks fellow panelists Amanda Sun, Karina Sumner-Smith, Robert Boyczuk, and Sandra Kasturi on the Grant writing panel and Doug Smith, Kelley Armstrong, and Marie Bilodeau on the Gods Run Amok, Mythology and Urban Fantasy panel.
I spent a lot of time browsing at the Bakka-Phoenix table in the dealer’s room looking for a new read for my flight home. Bakka is one of the best places for book lovers on the planet. And Chris Szego and all the staff at Bakka have been pretty good to me, so it’s nice to have a chance to say hi, and to buy some books from their table (and they have some signed copies of Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues, just sayin’).
I missed some of the mass signing as it coincided with one of my panels, I sat with Suzanne Church for the last hour, and talked up “A Simple Twist of Fate” and wonderful artists, Kevin Madison and Scott Henderson whose work graces much of my promotional material.
In what is becoming a Saturday night Ad Astra tradition, I went out for Indian food on Saturday, with Derek Newman-Stille, Angela Keely and whoever is available to join us.
The late night Bad Slash/Fiction Readings returned, this time spread out over two nights. Skin Head Hamlet was performed by several attending authors. Michael Matheson read a unique noir take on Pacman/Ms. Pacman. David L. Blackwood’s Alien romances Predator story was the perfect mix of appealing and appalling (his accent maybe? I’m not sure. My ears are still bleeding). And as is tradition, Angela Keely read from My Immortal-the best/worst Harry Potter fan-fic out there.
Saturday night was also the ChiZine Publications room party! If you ever have a chance to go, do it. It was loud and hot (as always) but lots of fun (as always). It was shut down too early, this year (evidently having fun is loud) but thems the breaks. Also, if you happen to turn up at a ChiZine party, buy a book while you’re there, yeah?
On Sunday I attended Geoff Gander and Marie Bilodeau’s shared readings which was a good time. Since my WiP is starting to amount to something, I also took in the panel on finding an agent. It’s been a while since I’ve sent out a query for a new project, and it was informative. After that, it was pretty much time for me to head home. Big thanks to Annette Mocek for getting me to the airport on time for my flight!
And I’ll end off the roundup with one of my favourite sights of Ad Astra, the Lego Room! Thanks ToroLUG (Toronto Lego User Group)!
See you again next year, Ad Astra.