Moving along here: on Thursday the 29th, I went to the Winchester Mystery House. Let’s save that for a post unto itself: it was fascinating. I’d read a lot about it, and I’d wanted to see it for a long time. Never did I dream that one day the World Fantasy Convention would be held in the same city! I couldn’t not take the opportunity to go there! I went on that Thursday morning before the Con got started. The hotel desk person was very helpful in giving me directions. She looked up bus stops and times on her computer.
By the way, I need to add here that the Fairmont Hotel yesterday sent a message to the WFC organizers that they asked be passed along to all the members — it was a note of appreciation for how nice the attendees of WFC were! I thought that was really cool. The Fairmont hosts a great many conventions. (The counterman in the restaurant across the street was telling me how they get quite a few famous people through there, people from all over the world.) And the staff made a point of telling us that often, guests treat them like servants, or don’t see them at all. But they were deeply impressed that the World Fantasy people looked them in the eye, said hi to them, chatted with them in elevators, smiled when they passed, and said “thank you.” Apparently these things are not common sense, not a matter of course! So there you have it: people in the fantasy industry are good folks! (I know I did all those things — I appreciate it when someone gives me directions in a strange city, or makes my bed, or washes my towels, or brings me more packets of coffee. . . .)
So anyway, I got up early and took a bus at around 8:00. I wasn’t at all sure I’d gotten on the right bus, because it came earlier than it was supposed to (which never happens in Niigata). But the driver was incredibly nice. I didn’t have two one-dollar bills for the fare, so he said, “Just ride for free.” He talked with me on the way, which I didn’t expect — Japanese drivers aren’t allowed to do that — and he told me exactly where to get off. He even made a special stop for me within a few hundred yards of the Winchester House!
On the way back, another TVA driver told me which bus to get on — very helpful. I did get the gritty San Jose experience when one customer had heated words with the driver about getting his free day pass, and even moreso when a young white male, in his late teens or early twenties, made an absolute jerk of himself by riding his bicycle at a very slow pace in the middle of the lane right in front of the bus. The bus couldn’t pass him. The driver was Hispanic, and I’m pretty sure it was a racial thing — although the cyclist was inconveniencing everyone on board, regardless of ethnicity. The driver never blew his cool. He just drove along at the pace the cyclist allowed him, and he didn’t respond to the faces the cyclist made at him or to the rude gestures. One time, at a traffic light, the driver waved to the cyclist in a gesture that conveyed, “Why don’t you step aboard the bus?” This went on for a good ten minutes. The other riders on the bus were just clucking their tongues and shaking their heads in exasperation. Finally, the obnoxious cyclist planted himself in front of the bus at an intersection while the light was green — blocking us, blocking every vehicle behind us — and kept making faces at the driver, adjusting his hat, adjusting his earphones, etc. The light turned yellow, and just as it was about to go red, the cyclist rode off and turned right, off the bus route. So we had to wait through the red light. That’s something you don’t see in Niigata.
I had a great time browsing through the dealers’ room back at the convention. Now that I’ve been there for several years, there are booksellers I know and enjoy catching up with. The wonderful couple who own Ygor’s Books graciously offered to sell Dragonfly for me again, so I turned over the five copies I’d brought along, and they wouldn’t take a cent of the revenue, though I offered them 50%. We ended up selling three of the copies, plus I signed one that someone bought from another dealer, and I signed one that a guy had brought along with him to the Con from home. [I also signed two copies of Fantasy & Science Fiction for an attendee — the ones with my stories in them, of course!]
I bought two Arthur Machen books in the dealers’ room. I’d been reading some of his work recently and really liking it, so I thought this was a good opportunity. (By the way, at one of the panels, I learned how to pronounce his name. It’s apparently pronounced “Macken” — it rhymes with “blacken.” These were scholars talking specifically about how to pronounce it, so I have every reason to believe that’s right.)
Thursday night, my reading was scheduled in the Market Street Foyer. That was kind of odd, since readings are usually scheduled in rooms. The foyer was basically a hallway — flared wide at that point, with a chandelier overhead. It was outside a big ballroom. As I understand it, the organizers’ thinking was that the foyer venue might help to draw in people who were just passing by. I honed and timed and practiced and practiced my reading, and I thought the delivery itself went extremely well. But I just had 9 people, including the sound lady and Eddie (my agent) — so really, 7 people who came of their own volition and didn’t know me. To be fair, my reading was opposite the Google Books settlement meeting. I’m sure that drew some people away.
More to follow soon — please watch this space!