Sorry about the radio silence as I yukked around at Sirens, and then came back and tried to get over my jetlag (surprisingly difficult! Or maybe I’m just a sleepy person).
I have SO much to say about the conference, but some of it is going to come out in separate and more thoughtful topical posts. There were a lot of really stimulating panels, presentations, and roundtable discussions, and the whole experience really got my wheels turning both as an editor and as a reader (and who knows, maybe also as a writer, but I’m not taking that label seriously right now).
Just as an overview, the conference was AWESOME and totally worth the money and hassle of travel. Sirens, now in its second year, is a relatively small (and therefore intimate) fantasy conference dedicated to the role of women as authors and/or characters. (This doesn’t in anyway exclude or alienate men! We had male attendees, and to all appearances they had a great time. The theme manifests as a lot of discussion of the roles, relationships, and depictions of women in the fantasy genre, from classic to epic to urban to YA. And there is rather a lot to talk about there. A LOT.)
The conference is held in Vail, Colorado, a charmingly isolated (very high-altitude!) ski village 3 hours from Denver. I had never been, and was rather pleased with how pretty it turned out to be. Since the first weekend of October is off-season–neither ski season nor summer vacation–our (super-swanky) resort hotel was actually affordable. Visual representation break!
There were two and a half complete days of programming (from Friday at 8am to Sunday at 10:30), panels, presentations, roundtables, and author signings from 9 to 5, and nighttime programming (a tea party, keynotes, “bedtime stories” by the guests of honor, a closing “fairy lights ball” with a murder mystery you could play if you were inclined), so we were well fed and constantly occupied. It was also the friendliest group of total strangers I’d ever met.
The guests of honor this year were Holly Black, Marie Brennan, and Terri Windling, all three of whom gave a very different special something to the conference. I’ll talk about them each later. But there were many contributing authors who showed up, too–a huge number of authors, including some very high-profile fantasy ladies: Sarah Rees Brennan, Mettie Ivie Harrison, Ellen Kushner, Malinda Lo, my bosom buddy Cindy Pon, Delia Sherman, Janni Lee Simner. I also met Valerie Frankel, whose forthcoming book on the Heroine’s Journey is a revisiting/reworking of Joseph Campbell through female archetypes/stereotypes–it sounds really fascinating.
Particularly telling (for me) was the presence of Sherwood Smith, who was a guest of honor last year at Sirens and loved the experience so much that not only did she come back, she chaired the programming board for this year’s conference.
Here’s Sherwood Smith chairing a Books for Breakfast conversation with Faye Bi, the whippersnapper who got me to come to Sirens in the first place. (Side story: Faye was partnered with me in a women’s mentorship program several years ago, but alas I think she’s taught me more about fantasy than I’ve taught her about publishing. The Rally Monkey (you know, F’s evil stuffed alter-ego) has been very jealous of my relationship with Faye for a long time and has been asking for a mentee of his own.)
Here is one shot of Vail from a walk we took. Sorry I’m not a better or more representative photographer. But it was really purdy.
I won’t bore with any generalized and watered-down programming commentary here, especially since I’m hoping to write a lot about different ideas that came out of the conference later. But I will post one picture of the Fairy Lights Ball. This picture features (on the left, in a dress she made herself!) my friend Jennifer, who I’d met briefly at BEA and who turned out to be a loyal and indefatigable partner in crime all weekend.
Because JES was very worried this entire post was going to go by without a picture of something delicious I ate, here is a pot pie:
And that’s all I have to say about the conference for now, except that if you’re interested, email me–I’ll send you a link for discount registration for next year (or you can ask me stuff I can’t post online).
Oh. One last story.
I actually failed to remember F at all until I was already in the airport in Denver, on my way home (shh, don’t tell him). I felt bad for a little while, but then, in an airport gift shop, found the thing that would make him happiest in the world:
Anybody in this picture look familiar? Now he has a mentee, too.