*–Standard Disclaimer: As usual, it’s impossible to name drop all the cool folks I hung out with, met, and reunited with over nearly a week in New Orleans. If I try, I will make omissions, likely glaring ones, which would not do.
When planning for WFC22, my roommate Brandon the Elder and I decided to stay for extra time, to see the sights in The Big Easy. While this was a great idea, we made a few mistakes. Well, I made mistakes and he got screwed. I flew in uber early on Wednesday, meaning I was at my hotel by 11am–sweet!–leaving me freaking exhausted from getting up at 3am–bummer. Brandon the Elder was due to get in at a reasonable time, but his flight was changed a few months back, and he didn’t get in until around 8pm. Plus, while he had a normal timed flight back Monday morning, I stayed until after 4pm when, really, my trip was over, and I was merely wasting time at the hotel. At least I was let into my room upon arrival, then hit the caffeine shop (better known as the Hyatt Regency Starbucks), got a kick of energy in the afternoon, and managed a long walk down to the Mighty Mississip, where I checked out the River Walk and rode the ferry across the river and back. The aquarium looked amazing and huge, though there was no time for a visit.
Although the host hotel was nowhere near as confusing as the one at Chicon, it had its own weird quirks that gave it charm and character. The elevators were called by hitting the button for the floor you wanted, and then the screen would tell you which elevator to take. Strange, but they worked, and I like strange, so that was okay. The space itself was beautiful and quirky, kind of a cross between Nakatomi Tower and a brick terrace building from suburban London. Yippee Kay Yay, mate! Thankfully there were no Hanses harmed during this con 🙂
World Fantasy is a much more intimate convention than Worldcon, and that’s fine by me. The con got back some of the numbers it lost during the first year back from COVID, in Montreal. I’m not sure what the final attendance numbers were. Let’s just say there were enough great artists and fans to interact with, learn from, and just be around. Informative panels, outstanding art, vibes from other writers, all served, as usual, to spark my creative energy. Which is always a welcome boost.
Brandon the Elder and I had a lot of fun not just at the con, but with the city as well. Beignets and café au lait at Café Du Monde were a must. The street cars were fun to ride, although few and far between, making for long waits. Haunted New Orleans is mandatory to check out, for spooky ghost tours. The Voodoo Museum provided not only a cool experience, but a lot of facts that corrected some preconceived notions about the religion and the people in and around its history. Last but certainly not least, the WWII museum was an absolute marvel. A cannot miss is Eisenhower’s letter apologizing for the D-Day failure, written before the battle. We might remember the battle as a foregone conclusion; it was anything but a guaranteed win. I only managed half a day there, but Brandon the Elder stayed all the way until dinner time, soaking in a lot of history he had not yet learned about.
It’s always fun to appear on programming, and WFC22 didn’t disappoint. Although my reading was sparsely populated, the listeners had a good time as I regaled them with tales of Verum Venatoris and the true history of Julius Caesar’s supernatural squad that operated during the Gallic Wars. Speaking of Legio Damnati, I sold a few more copies during the mass autographing session, earning my mother a few extra dollars, as they were her copies lol Finally, it was my honor to moderate a panel on trauma in horror. Even though I’m an expert in trauma, as a mental health professional and trauma therapist, I could do nothing more than sit back, provide questions, and let the excellent panelists absolutely blow the audience away with their knowledge and insight. Trauma is a serious mental health issue plaguing many individuals, and while horror must use trauma in its narratives, it’s important for artists to be mindful of readers when utilizing it.
I can’t get away without writing more about the food. Cajun is an exquisite cuisine, and despite being a good boy with my diabetic diet and holding my blood sugar to reasonable levels, I simply had to partake. Jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, gumbo, beans and rice…OMFG, yum! I probably overdid it with the hotel restaurant’s Cajun popcorn too, which were Cajun fries stacked with fried shrimp and crawfish tail meat, but dayum, where else am I going to find that?
Sadly, by the end of the con and the trip home, my surgically repaired ankle was shot. I walked over five miles a day, and it simply can’t handle such exercise any longer. I’m fairly certain the one screw is ready to come out, and I’ll have to get minor surgery for that. Let’s hope that’s the extent of the problems. My blood sugar also kept crashing, and I ate almost a full bottle of sugar pills while there, thus proving that though I now have it at normal levels, I still need to fiddle with dosages to find the right balance. A better problem to have than soaring high blood sugar levels, I assure you!
True, my disabilities kept me from further exploration Monday before my flights home and forced me back to the hotel room more often than I liked during the con. Nevertheless, my experience in New Orleans, and at WFC22, left me energized and ready to create. Much love to everyone I interacted with, the organizers, and all the awesome folks I didn’t get a chance to meet. There will be further opportunities to network–and I will be at World Fantasy 2023 in Kansas City next year to do just that!