World Fantasy Convention – Panels and Reading

The World Fantasy Convention is the great ‘Business Convention’ of the SF/F/H Literary World.  It’s not a Comic-Con, it’s not a fan con. There’s dealers, but they’re just one room.  Mostly, it’s Writers, Agents, Editors, Publishers and Artists, people in the trade, and people trying to get in the trade, hanging out, hobnobbing, socializing, enjoying each other’s company, and sometimes wheeling and dealing.

Go there, and odds are you’ll meet all your favourite writers.  You can walk down a hallway, and see the writers you grew up with, the writers that helped form your identity, the people you passed time with, the writers who were guilty pleasures, and the ones you’re reading now.  You can just go up and talk to them.  It’s a business Con, the panels are about writing, serious writing, genres, where the industry is going, insider views.

It’s the place to be if you’re dedicated to the craft.  This year, it’s in Salt Lake City, and due to Covid-19, it’s online.

I’m doing two panels and a reading!  Wow!  I feel like Pinochio when he turns into a real boy!

Check out the panels I’m on….


Alternate History, Thursday, October 29th 6:00 pm – 6:50 pm

Alternate history has long been the domain of science-fiction writers, but it is now being enthusiastically colonized by writers of fantasy, who are bringing in magic, dragons, and the full panoply of the uncanny into what used to be an orderly and rational sub-genre. Who’s doing this and what’s going on?

Moderator:   Gillian Pollack.  Panel:   Charlaine Harris, Den Valdron, Madeline Robbins 

Wow, alternate history!  This is right up my ally. For those of you who follow my non-career, I’m pseudo-known for Green Antarctica, a disturbing history of terrifying civilizations that evolve in a non-glaciated south pole. It got a TV tropes page. I was also given a TV Tropes page for Land of Ice and Mice, about agriculture north of the arctic circle, and the resulting Inuit civlization. Bear Cavalry, available as an ebook, about the Viking domesticating bears, and their use as mounts in medieval wars. Axis of Andes, in progress, about WWII overtaking South America. Two of my short story collections, Dawn of Cthulhu and Fall of Atlantis heavily explore alternate histories.

As to the other panelists…  Charlaine Harris… yes THAT Charlaine Harris, the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, True Blood TV series, she’s definitely the big name on the panel.  Gillian Pollack, our moderator, is a PhD in history, and an award winning Australian fantasy writer.  Madeleine Robins, generally known as Mad, has worked in publishing (magazine, trade pub, comic books, and kid’s activity books) doing a diverse set of things, has written a series of Regency Noir, featuring a heroine who is a Fallen Woman of good family who supports herself by… being a private eye. As you can see, everyone’s pretty awesome.


Reading – Den Valdron, Saturday, October 31, 2020, 12:30 pm – 12:55 pm

Join Den Valdron, author, storyteller and all round strange person, as he spends twenty-five minutes regaling you with his best, or worst, or most disturbing.

Yep.  I get a half hour all to myself.  Clearly, an error of judgment on someone’s part, but I’m not giving up the slot.  There are undoubtedly better and more deserving writers, but… too bad for them.  Actually, twenty-five minutes of reading on zoom sounds pretty punishing both for me and any audience.  So my plan is to only spend ten or fifteen minutes actually reading, and the rest of the time hopefully telling interesting and funny stories about writing, and chatting with anyone who actually tunes in.

As to subject reading – I’m thinking my most recent novel, the almost published “The Luck,” a sequel to “The Mermaid’s Tale.”  It’s a grim and gritty novel about Orcs, Gnomes, labyrinthine conspiracies, murder mysteries, magic and religion… and pure love.  I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever done.


The Laws of Fairyland, Sunday, November 1, 2020, 10:00 am to 10:50 am, Mountain Time

Every society, real and imaginary, has at its basis a legal system, a method of evaluating right versus wrong. What influences have modern legal systems had on fantasy fiction? What fictional worlds demonstrate a finely-tuned legal system, and what impact do those laws have on the development of the stories?

Moderator:  Den Valdron (!),  Panelists:  David Drake, J.R.H. Lawless, Mary Thompson.

Turns out we’re all lawyers, go figure. Is that a hell of a coincidence, or what? And I’m moderator, which suggests an appalling lack of judgment on someone’s part, but too late. David Drake is the big celebrity on the panel, he’s been around forever, and he’s written some absolute classics in the genre. Compared to him, the rest of us are small fish. J.R.H. Lawless is a fellow Atlantic Canadian, far more accomplished than me, with a couple of what look like hilarious novels. Mary Thompson does teen contemporary and teen fantasy and middle grade books, so obviously, a good diverse group.

It’s an esoteric subject. In fantasy, people are much more interested in the rules of magic than the rules for living together. But I think that there may be some interesting things to say about law in fantasy.  It seems, at first glance, that mostly fantasy is about ignoring and disrespecting laws – it’s all about having adventures, breaking rules, or dealing with evildoers.  But when you think about it, social laws, for instance, rules of descent and inheritance of property and titles, wills and estates, contracts, marital rights, really end up providing structure and driving plot.  I think we may be able to have an interesting discussion.


Honestly, I don’t really know that I belong here.  My credits are one small press novel, now out of print, an almost published novel, a semi-finalist in a couple of contests, and a handful of obscure ebooks and short stories. This is the Pro world, and all these other people are professionals, either established big time or the next hot new things.  It’s a weird thing, being here, participating, gives me the appearance of actually being a credible writer, much more than my career does. Not that I don’t write constantly. I’m just not setting the world on fire.  What’s that phrase,  ‘make it till you fake it‘?

But hey, maybe they’re short of warm bodies, or maybe my future career will justify it. Maybe I’m on the cusp of knocking everyone on their butt, making a big splash. Maybe next year, or in four or five years, I’ll be selling books, doing tours, getting nominated, the hot new whiz kid. What’s life without dreams?

All I know is, I’m going to be on the panels at WFC, and I’m going to do my best.

Final note:  Check the comments boxes.  I plan to post the web sites for my fellow panelists. The seem like terrific writers. Check out their work!