Welcome to our newest series. I don’t know about you, but those of us who at one time marked our schedules by which convention we were attending that month are really feeling the impact of these transformitive times.
Conventions are where we connect with our friends, our fans, and our family by choice. For those of us that find fandom our natural habitat, their absence is felt even more deeply in this time of isolation. Online events help fill that gap, but it isn’t quite the same.
Pros & Cons hopes to share stories of cons gone by from the authors and industry professionals around which those events shape themselves. We hope you will join us.
Weirdness Abounds by Ty Draco
Weird things happen at writers’ events.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve attended plenty of conferences, workshops, and retreats and they’re all awesome! But the fact remains that whenever you get a bunch of artists together, sometimes peculiar things happen.
Two cases in point:
While attending a conference, a young man approached me in the hospitality suite. Apparently aware that I was an ALLEGORY editor, he asked, “I’ve written the greatest short story of all time. Want to see it?”
Reading his earnest expression, I replied, “Well, sure!” I mean, how can you turn that down?
So, he handed me a single sheet of paper. On it were his name, address, and email. Then there was the title in bold caps, which read simply “EVERYTHING,” and a byline. And nothing else. Zilch. Nada. Zip.
I stared at the paper and thought, This has to be joke. It’s not even a very original joke.”
When I looked up, his earnest expression now included an odd glint. “Do you get it?” he asked. “By capturing nothing … I’ve captured everything!”
“Um … I don’t think we’re the right market for this,” I commented.
His expression fell. Sourly, he mumbled, “I thought you were an editor with vision.”
Well, that ticked me off. So, I replied, “Oh, I have vision, and my vision tells me there’s no words on this goddamn piece of paper.” Then I handed it back to him and added, rather snarkily, “Thank you for submitting your material. We regret it does not suit our present needs.”
That really happened.
Here’s another that really happened. At a separate conference, I took part in a “murder mystery theater” event. There were maybe eight of us, each in character. I played the big, menacing orderly in an asylum. I was also, as it happens, the “murderer.” I hammed it up shamelessly and the entire evening was a blast.
The next morning, however, a woman approached me in the hotel lobby. I didn’t know her, but she told me she’d seen last night’s show and wanted my help with something.
Apparently, while in the bar afterward, she’d been approached by a man who’d ended up accosting and frightening her. From what she said, the incident bordered on assault – a shitty thing to have happened and I immediately commiserated.
Then she asked me to go up with her to the guy’s hotel room and beat the crap out of him for her.
I remember gaping at her before finally replying, at little lamely, “Uh … I’m a writer.”
She immediately apologized for disturbing me and left. I felt bad about it. I still do. But folks, I’m not Jack Reacher. I’m a practicing Quaker and I’ve never hit another human being in my adult life. But she’d evidently seem my “act” and had decided that I was the guy to defend her honor.
Maybe I’m a better actor than I thought.
Anyway, that’s two. I’ve got plenty of others. Ask me about the time I was slapped across the face by a Tor editor in public or about my ghost experiences at the writers’ retreat in the Catskills.
Trust me. Weirdness abounds!
Ty Drago is a full-time writer and the author of eight published novels, including his five-book Undertakers series, the first of which has been optioned for a feature film. Torq, a dystopian YA superhero adventure, was released by Swallow’s End Publishing in 2018. Add to these one novelette, myriad short stories and articles, and appearances in two anthologies. He’s also the founder, publisher, and managing editor of ALLEGORY, a highly successful online magazine that, for more than twenty years, has features speculative fiction by new and established authors worldwide.
Ty’s currently just completed The New Americans, a work of historical fiction and a collaborative effort with his father, who passed away in 1992. If that last sentence leaves you with questions, check out his podcast, “Legacy: The Novel Writing Experience,” to get the whole story.
He lives in New Jersey with his wife Helene, plus one cat and one dog.