Last week, I attended my first International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA), but from the moment I arrived – on the same plane as my fabulous roommate Siobhan Carroll – I was made to feel so welcome and at home that I’m positive this will not be my last ICFA.
John Kessel, me, and Jim Kelly. Photo credit: Bill Clemente
The panels and readings were fantastic, with both guests of honor Nnedi Okorafor and Ian Macdondald giving generously of their time and knowledge, and guest scholar Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr. delivering a powerhouse of a talk during Friday’s luncheon. The book room was stocked with both fiction and theory, and thanks to Veronica Schanoes, I’m sinking my teeth into some great nonfiction and research.
Though they tried, Brett Cox and Andy Duncan didn’t succeed in convincing me that first-time ICFA readers always stay out all night drinking, so I made it to my reading with Sara Pinborough and Greg Bechtdel (spoilers: they were brilliant) on time and managed to stay awake for the whole thing, despite turning in novel edits just a few hours before. I read from the novel, which was great fun and I received amazing feedback on it.
Meantime, Ellen Klages and Jim Kelly gave me excellent career tips at lunch, and I did a podcast interview with the Skiffy & Fanty folks that started off completely normally, I swear. (It should be up soon.) And then Emily Jiang, John Chu, Max Gladstone, Ilana Teitelbaum Reichert, Ellen Klages (as judge) and I accidentally started a flash fiction contest. Max has a great write up of it on his blog. Still waiting on that photo of you in the hat, Max!
From visiting with friends and folks I know, love, and admire to staying up until the wee hours talking good versus evil and Bob Dylan to dawn swims in the pool (with singing, thank you Emily & Julia) and meeting new friends – I feel so lucky to be a part of this community, and about 10,000% smarter, by osmosis.
Many, many thanks to Sydney Bowling Duncan and IAFA for an amazing conference.
If you’re reading this and wondering whether you should attend? Read Sofia Samatar’s brilliance forthwith.