Everything is a paraphrase, unless there are quotes around it. All the reports from the panels are based on notes I took and my memory, so mistakes are very possible.
You can jump to specific panels or events with the links. Or read through for the whole con report.
If you want to see just pics without the report, go here
Secret Adventures of Jules Verne Dinner / Laurell K. Hamilton Panel
Kelly and Dare came up to get me on Thursday. At her house, Dare packed, and we looked up addresses for the Marta and the hotels to try to figure out where we were going once we got to Atlanta. Our flight was at 6:30 Friday morning, so we got only a couple house of sleep that night. Dare slept a little on the plane, and I dozed off after breakfast. We were in first class because the plane was almost empty.
We got into Atlanta around 8:30 or so. And we decided to go, with our luggage and everything to register for the con first, then try to find our hotel and check in. It took us a while to find the registration, because we didn't want to ask anyone for directions, and the registration was in the little separate part of the hotel you could only get to on certain floors. Anyway, we eventually found it, and the line was semi-long. It basically circled the room. It took maybe 30-45 minutes to get all the way through and get our badges. Of course dragging the luggage through those little lines was a pain, but it wasn't too bad.
Then we left the Hyatt and went looking for our hotel. It wasn't too hard to find, about 4 blocks away. By the time we got there we were all tired and sweaty from lugging our stuff around for a couple hours. We checked in around ten, and basically went to sleep until around one. We were going to go to the Buffy track welcome, but we ended up skipping it because we were tired. We took showers and changed clothes (we changed clothes a lot since we overpacked so much. :) We decided to go over to the Buffy track to look for Lynn, Lex, and Chelle. They were showing the fan music videos, so we watched a couple of those, then we left. We were trying to find the dealer room, looking at our numerous confusing maps, and we went up a level to the registration again, and ran into Chelle, Lex and Lynn there. Hugs all around. We all decided to go back down to the Buffy room. They ended up re-showing all the videos so we stayed and watched them from the beginning that time. There was a Buffy/Angel video that ended with Becoming 2, and I started to cry. Luckily, Lex was there for moral support, and to cry with me. And someone else gave me a tissue to cry into.
After the videos, there was Buffy Jeopardy, which was like a trivia game. So we stayed for that. It only lasted about half an hour. There were three contestants picked from the audience. Redd, Ray, and Prodigy (the black guy). The prizes were a box of Buffy fruit snacks, a slightly less damaged in shipping box of fruit snacks, and a Buffy yearbook. It was sort of fun, but I thought the questions were too easy.
After the game, David Hines introduced himself to me because we'd been e-mailing around the time of the last Dragoncon, which I couldn't go to. Anyway, our group left the Buffy room in search of the dealer room. We wandered around looking at the pretty stuff for a while, and Dare got a temporary Empire tattoo from a Stormtrooper. She bought a really cool dagger for Kelly's birthday, and we saw the Jules Verne table. Chris was at it, so I had a little freak out...look, it's Chris! moment. It was pretty crowded so we didn't go over. But I talked briefly to Grace from the sci-fi posting board, and we told her we were coming to the dinner later that night.
Then, near the back of the room, we ran into Jessica. She had on some really cute little horns and a Spike doll in her backpack. I didn't know Natalie was going to be there too, so I didn't even notice her at first, and then my jaw dropped. We talked for a while about some of the stuff they'd been doing, and they showed us some drawings one of the comics guys did of them, which were really cool. I talked to Natalie about Witchblade, the show, since she'd been a fan of the comics. We all exchanged room info, and then Jess went with us as we checked out the rest of the dealer room. She had her homework books with her in her backpack, which made me kind of glad I graduated in May :) Eventually, around 6 I guess, Dare and I returned to our hotel to get ready for the Jules Verne dinner. She changed her outfit, and I changed my pants, so we officially had 3 different outfits that first day.
Secret Adventures of Jules Verne Dinner
It wasn't too hard finding the right restaurant at the mall. We weren't sure how we were going to find the rest of the group, but when we went down the stairs I saw Chris at one of the tables. I asked if we were in the right place, and said we recognized at least one face (Chris'). Then we sat down at the end of the table. I introduced us, and said Dare didn't actually watch the show, I'd just dragged her along. And Chris joked that there was room for her over by the pool table. We were sitting next to Davodd, Doug and JerriLynn, all of whom were super nice. We talked to Davodd for a while about the second season and whether or not he thought it was going to happen, and syndication, and it was really encouraging to hear that a second season is more then possible.
We also talked about this one woman who was wearing a purple dress with a corset or something, that lifted her breasts up to about the level of her neck, and was extremely disturbing. The whole weekend in all different panels, people we talked to would say...did you see that woman with her boobs...and everyone had seen her and was disturbed by her. We were trying to place people, and since I'm more of a mailing list person than a posting board person, there were some folks I didn't think I'd met online. Doug admonished me to stop lurking on the board.
Eventually we went up to order our dinner. We were standing in a line (cons always involve standing in a line at some point or other :). We were looking at the menus which we didn't realize at first were for different times of the day, one for AM and one for PM. Dare said she was getting the chicken sandwich, and Chris was behind us in line so he asked if we were going healthy. I said she was, but I hadn't decided yet. Dare said something about drinking slim fast everyday for breakfast, and then Chris said he does the same thing. So they started talking about how doing that was so easy, and they liked how it tastes, and Dare was saying she liked the Chocolate Royale flavor and Chris said that was too chocolatey. And then she said she mixes hers, and he said he has his in the can, and if he tried to make them it'd probably be like sand. And they had a whole Slim Fast conversation.
When we came back to the table to eat our food, people had moved around, and after Jana ordered, we ended up sitting across from her. She was really, really sweet and talked to us about whether we were having a good time (which we were :) and how she kept wondering if each person that came down the stairs was part of our group because she only knew how a couple of us looked.
Eventually Chris came over and sat across from us too. He asked me if anyone had ever told me I looked like Fiona Apple. And I said yes, and Dare and I were sort of laughing because we had just been talking about that the day before...all the people I've been told I look like. Chris told us he'd had an acting class with her before she was Fiona Apple, when she was Fiona something that starts with an M. And I said I hadn't even realized that wasn't her real name, which is kind of silly because Apple isn't exactly a usual last name. And then he and Dare both said that it's her middle name. He talked about how she was a lot like she is now when she was in the class, and she was sort of odd and withdrawn. And Dare brought up one of her award acceptance speeches, and Chris and I talked about how great her music is and how old her voice is. And he told us about how one of his other friends from the acting class had told him about Fiona being a singer, and he hadn't realized it was the same girl.
Later on, Doug asked me if Secret Adventures was my only sci-fi interest, and I said I had four websites. One for Buffy, one for SAoJV, one for Robin of Sherwood, and one for Gilmore Girls, which isn't sci-fi. I can't remember if Chris was there at the time, but I guess he must have been because a little while later he told me he could ruin Buffy for me. And at first I was just like...what do you mean, cause I thought he meant spoilers. But he said he knew some things about someone acting on the show. I said it wouldn't ruin it for me if he told me because I'd still appreciate the show and the writing, regardless of a what the actor was like in real life. And he said he wished he could separate things like that, but for him if the actor is a horrible person it ruins the whole thing for him. And I said, well it's easy for me to say theoretically it won't affect me, but who knows. And he whispered to the person next to him what the thing was, and then he told all of us that it was Sarah Michelle Gellar. He explained that a friend of his and Jana's was an extra on the show, and that she was blowing all her lines and blaming it on the extras and saying that they'd been talking and distracting her when they weren't. And he also said that she wouldn't speak to anyone but the director on the set. I wasn't really surprised because I've heard Sarah is a diva rumors before. Jana is so sweet, and doesn't like to think badly of anyone, and said maybe Sarah was just having a bad day. Maybe. :)
Somehow, I think it was Dare's fault, the fact that I wrote a fan letter to Seth Green got brought up. And I was going...wow, I'm a dork. And Jana said no, and told about how she's a huge fan of John Cameron Mitchell and she and Chris had seen Hedwig and the Angry Itch 6 times and it was great, and Dare and I both want to see it even more now. She said Chris doesn't usually like musicals, but he sings along with that one. (which is cute to think about :) And she told us about meeting James, and made us feel better about acting like fans in that hyper dorky way.
Other Chris stuff, he got brought a different type of pizza than he wanted and had to pick stuff off his slice and there was some talk about whether he was "picky" or "choosy." Heehee. This is like a ridiculous amount of detail isn't it?
We had to leave a little while later because we wanted to get to a Mystery Science Theater panel, so we left just before 9. Before we left we thanked Jana and told her how cool it was that she and Chris organized the dinner for us all. And she said she and Chris aren't the typical LA type people (which is so very true). And we basically thanked her again.
Chris was really great. There were two tables so he went around, sitting in different places at different tables, to give everyone a chance to talk to him. I am such a spaz around celebrities, it's really pathetic. But I wasn't quite as bad with Chris because he's so normal about talking with you, and he doesn't put any distance between you, in that standoffish way a lot of actors have when they're approached by fans. He and Jana were just so kind, and so open, and willing to share themselves with us. It was really wonderful to be around them in that setting. It was definitely one of my favorite things about the con.
Laurell K. Hamilton - Women in Horror
At ten we went to see Laurell K. Hamilton at the Women in Horror panel. Poor Dare, Friday was the day I dragged her to all these things for shows she hadn't seen and books she hasn't read. The women in Horror panel was Laurell and a woman who edits an erotic horror magazine. I can't remember her name. Laurell was tiny. Lots of curly black hair, and she was wearing a hat. She called her outfit goth Annie Hall.
The other woman started things off by asking Laurell about becoming a sex symbol. She said that she used to get more sexual propositions before there was more sexual content in the books. She said she had set things she would say like, Thank you for thinking of me. I don't sleep with strangers, but thanks. Or, No, I don't really want to participate in a bondage three-way, thanks anyway.
She talked about a big tour coming up in October, 12 or 13 cities in 2 weeks. She's really afraid of planes, but she wanted to get back to her daughter as soon as possible so everyday of the tour she'd on a plane. She's learned from all the touring how to talk to anyone. She said not to show her weapons, guns or swords because it scares the writer. She did a little thing where she sort of acted out a dialogue of a person telling her how cool their sword was and pulling it out and her cringing and ducking away under the table.
She said she always puts the sex scenes at least 60 pages into the book because she can read 60 pages in an hour, so she won't have to read the sex-scenes out loud in a reading. But for Narcissus that didn't work because she didn't want to ruin the mystery so the only scene she could read was the sex scene. She said her sex scenes don't seem hot to her when she writes them, but reading it in a packed room she was noticing all these things that she hadn't realized were in there.
The other woman asked her whether she gets hot and bothered writing her sex scenes, and she said generally not because it's hard to write on paper. The first sex scene she did with Jean Claude in The Killing Dance she said she was sweating bullets and really worried about it. She sent it to someone twice, and kept doing revisions. She talked about the pressure of writing him because he's centuries old, a ladies man, French, and male, and she's not any of those things. She wanted to do a good job to carry through on all the build up. It was only when she read it over several months later that she could see it as a hot scene.
Someone asked about whether the series lost something after sex entered into it. She talked about the fact that she's a Midwestern girl, and Anita has that same mindset, and the idea that sex is wrong. She said it would definitely be a different series if there was no sex in it. Not that the books lost something, but that they are different. She reminded the audience that three years have passed in the series.
She talked about not always getting a vote, writing things that weren't in her original ideas. She also said writing Kiss of Shadows pretty much killed the rest of her inhibitions. The other woman said that she'd found a great formula with that book because the character has to have sex with all the guys for the sake of her country, and that puts the sex it in a context the Midwestern housewife can accept.
She talked about writing erotic scenes and violence and the difficulty in having Anita do the things she does, and still be good. She said she has to either have Anita drugged, forced or traumatized into sexual situations.
She talked about one difficulty in writing sex scenes is making them distinct. Especially in Kiss of Shadows, there has to be some distinction, some variety. She said when she was growing up she didn't date much, partly because people assumed she wouldn't do much, which was probably true. She said that lack of experience was a deficit because she didn't know how different sex could be. She interviewed one man for research who'd had sex with 300 partners. But she's found the best sex is monogamous sex because when you're having sex with different people, you can use the same old moves, you don't improve your "skill set." When you're monogamous you have to learn new ways and work at it and think about it. Keeping things fresh means better sex.
She said because she writes werewolves people offer to tell her bestiality stories, which is "oversharing."
She talked about wanting to get the BDSM right in Narcissus in Chains. It's still not socially acceptable and it's portrayed badly in the media. She felt she was safer at an SM club than a bar, because there no means no. If someone pressures you after you say no, they can be blacklisted. She also talked about how women are desirable for intelligence, experience, not just youth or being a size zero. And what is size zero, it's nothing, invisible. (I like that cause I'd been talking about that a few weeks before with a friend. I don't like wearing a size zero because zero is nothing.)
She said the one thing she got wrong was that in Narcissus she had everyone dressed in leather, but in real life the leather is really saved for the big, special events because it's expensive and hot. But she thought it was cool, so she used it anyway, and she thinks the rest is accurate.
Someone asked if she writes from an outline, and she said no. She knows the beginning and the end. She knows the mystery and how to solve it. She also knows certain scenes and relationships. But there are choices that change where the book goes.
There's a term in publishing now, calling a style "Hamilesque," but she wasn't sure what to think of it because it seems to refer to high erotic content or fantasy in a contemporary setting. She likes mixed genres, contemporary fantasy, so she liked that there's more of it. She said she can't read other people's vamps though, because she's always thinking of how she would have done it.
Someone asked about the St. Louis setting, and called it a smaller city. She said her hometown had under 100 people, so St. Louis is big to her. She set Anita in St. Louis partly because she lives there. She has to know the setting she's writing about. She can't just go from a map or pictures. She needs to walk around and see it. She's a visual and tactile person. Touching a building makes it more real. She joked that we shouldn't offer to let her touch things. She also thought St. Louis was a good setting because within 30 minutes you could be in the true country. She felt it was a good size city.
She said something about having "little johnnys" when she was growing up, which I think is an outhouse.
Because it was a women in horror panel, there was some discussion about women not being allowed to have sex or violent content within the mystery genre.
She talked about being stuck for 3 weeks when she was writing Obsidian Butterfly because she couldn't figure out a way to scare Edward. She still thinks the hospital scene is icky. She talked about men in combat and soldiers having fear, not of death, but of being crippled. She felt Edward would have a similar attitude.
One thing that was different with Obsidian was that usually she starts with a monster. But it was the Edward book, not the monster book. Her starting point was Edward instead of a specific monster.
She talked about the hardback of Obsidian and how on one hand it was a thrill because it feels like a real book. But she also felt guilty, especially because she was raised poor. She said paperbacks are more user friendly. She talked about how she's being mainstreamed. Not because she's changed her style, but because it's now popular.
She talked about publishers being disturbed by the sexual content, especially in Kiss of Shadows. She said her publishers were giggling in that nervous way, and saying there's an awful lot of sex. And she was going...so? And they said, you might think you want to have sex with more than one man. And she was going...yeah? She felt that the sexual content was more of a problem to them because she's a woman.
She called weaponry the great equalizer.
She talked about the new covers for the Anita books, with the naked lady's body parts. She said she'd tried to get them to do a few covers with naked male body parts, but they were afraid men wouldn't buy the books because they'd be afraid of appearing homosexual. She felt there should be sexual exploitation equally. She also talked about being a little disturbed when one of her friends brought one of her books home and his wife told him she didn't want him bringing pornography home, and he had to explain it was Laurell's new book.
She also talked about different covers in different countries and how the Danish cover has bare breasts on it, and the British cover for Kiss of Shadows has a woman lying on her stomach, barely covered by rose petals. She said Merry's burn is in the wrong place on that cover, but the woman would have had to turn over to show the burn in the right place and Laurell didn't want that, so she let the mistake slide.
She also talked about the cover for Narcissus and how it was a woman in bondage, but Laurell wanted her to have a weapon so she wouldn't look helpless. And she was pleased with how it turned out. She thought it was elegant.
She talked about sex and violence in her books, and she said she has a rule about including it. It has to further the plot, or help explain a character, or help explain her magic system, or show the reader something new about the world.
She talked about doing a library reading once, and said that at the time she was still wearing a crucifix and was a churchgoing Episcopalian. At the reading a little old lady stood up and told her she wasn't a good enough Christian to wear the crucifix. She was really upset, and she wanted to blast the woman for saying that, but she could see the headlines...Little Old Lady Killed By Horror Writer. On the same theme of intolerance she told about a wicca friend who'd been renting a goat to keep the grass cropped in her yard while her husband couldn't do the yard work. Her husband recovered, and she returned the goat, and her neighbors thought she'd killed it. Someone burnt down her garage.
She talked about her own issues and life coming through in her writing. At times it turns into something like therapy in public. Richard, in the beginning, was like her ex-husband. They were so alike to her that she would be angry at her ex for things Richard did, or her feelings would bleed from one to the other. He told her he hoped she never killed Richard off. Now though, she said Richard reminds her of herself in college. She said when she started Narcissus, she wanted a happy ending for Anita because she wasn't having one her in her life. She wanted the bickering to stop because there was so much of it in her life.
She called Jason a "minor major character" because he's in almost every book.
Nathaniel was based on a real person who was totally helpless without dominance, someone so hurt they couldn't protect themself. The real person couldn't be saved, so she wanted to save him in a way through saving Nathaniel.
There was some discussion of her Anita-verse and the morality of the universe, how the bad guys are punished and the good guys flourish as much as possible. They compared it to the Old West.
Someone asked where she heard of Rawhead and Bloody Bones. She said she's Scotch-Irish, and her grandmother used to tell her stories. Her bogeyman was Rawhead.
She said in general in her books, anything you can't use her magic system for really happened, and is something she researched.
In Obsidian Butterfly, she said she didn't know about Donna until 2 sentences before she was on stage. And then her reaction was shock, oh my Lord! Edward has a girlfriend? Who would be engaged to him? She said some of the best things are surprises, and mentioned again that she doesn't use an outline. She said in book 1 she didn't know she would raise Philip from the dead again. She was crying because it was so pitiful.
In Blue Moon, Anita speaks as Jean Claude. She said it caught her off guard. She had to look up the French. She called Asher fascinating, and said there would be more of him in Narcissus. There was a scene she was trying to write where he would drop the towel he was wearing and be naked, and it wasn't working. Asher wasn't ready, he wasn't comfortable. She said you shouldn't force a character to do something they aren't ready for, and she told him (Asher) they'd wait.
There was a question about turning Anita into a movie, and what her ideal cast would be. She said, she'd love whatever cast was picked because she's "professional." She said she'd have to be given a lot of money (the national debt) to sell Anita to Hollywood because she doesn't have the clout to protect it. She could be bought, but not cheap. And she's worried about what Hollywood would do since the series treads a line between erotic and erotica, amazing and trashy. Movie making is done by committee, so there's no real way to keep any control.
The discussion moved to horror in general again, and that's about when we left.
We went to Lynn, Lex and Chelle's hotel room. By that time they had picked up Mala at the airport. We all went to the Hard Rock, and then hung out in their room afterwards for a couple hours talking about Anita and Witchblade and stuff like that.
continue to Saturday