Last year was my first time at a con with pro obligations, and we didn’t get off to a great start. We left the morning the con was scheduled to begin, hit traffic, got behind, and things didn’t get much better than that for the rest of day one. I did my first panel with the most horrible migraine of my life (not recommended at all), but things did get better as the weekend progressed.
This year, forearmed with knowledge, I took the day before off as a travel day, which made for a nice and relaxing mini-vacation for my wife and I. If last year was classified as a ‘good’ experience, this year was most definitely great.
In one of the more interesting offerings this year, the con staff arranged for long-time editor and author Bill Fawcett to conduct one-on-one mentoring with some of the younger writers. I jumped at the opportunity when it was offered, and it was truly a great session. Bill is an all-around-awesome guy with a wealth of experience in the business. I’m looking forward to utilizing some of his tips and strategies moving forward.
Saturday night, I was on a panel debating the merits of vampires versus zombies in fiction. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that part of my recent ‘Vampires Suck’ blog past was a preliminary ordering of my thoughts on the subject, since I’ve been pretty zombie-focused these past few months.
Great panel, lot of fun interaction with the audience, and thankfully there were no Twilight fans in the house. One of the more interesting points raised was the zombie horde or vampire as apex predator as an explanation for why they are so terrifying, and popular in genre fiction. I feel, and said as such, that’s an oversimplification. Humans are pretty good at taking out other predators, and if we’ve learned anything from Blade, silver, sunlight, and stakes are a pretty easy set of weaknesses to leverage.
For me, what make both sets of monsters terrifying is the concept of loss of self. Zombies, depending on the story, are former humans become mindless cannibals, which is frightening enough. Vampires, in most fictional examples, still retain sapience, even while turning into parasites driven by their need for blood. In that regard, you almost have to wonder if such creatures would retain that which me might call a soul . . .
Which dovetails nicely with the second half of this post. Night’s Black Agents, the sequel to Fade, is out now for your reading pleasure. To say I’m pretty proud of it is an understatement, though the reasoning behind that might seem a little strange. The larger … Paxtonverse, I guess you could call it, has been wandering around in my head for a while now. My full intention a couple years back was to get A Place Outside The Wild out of my idea factory so that I could focus on other things. That didn’t work out the way I’d planned, of course, which is why I’m currently working on the second sequel to a book I always intended to be standalone.
Minor spoilers for Fade, but it doesn’t really end where you’d expect. There is a pretty good chunk of story left after the final confrontation. It’s an important chunk, both in terms of future payoff, as well as setting up the launch point for Night’s Black Agents, but I’m fully aware many readers and reviewers saw it as odd or possibly indulgence on my part.
Here’s the thing, though. When I first started sketching out this parallel version of our own world, Pax wasn’t really the first character I walked into it with, nor was Fade where I initially planned to bring you, the reader, into it. Those pesky plans, again.
But, for all that, the sequel continues to open the window, just a peek. And trust me when I say it’s going to be one hell of a ride.