We’re so pleased to carry on the GRL 2016 countdown celebration today with Featured Author and GRL veteran Jordan Castillo Price.
(**And P.S., I do remember the first time I met Jordan. She sat down at my table. I gaped at the person sitting across from me and said, “Oh my god, that’s Jordan F*cking Castillo Price.” And then I choked on a grape.) 😀
JCP’s Con Survival Guide for Newbies
AKA Do Talk to Strangers
Greetings, fellow introverts! I’m presuming as readers and writers, probably 85-90% of you are introverts, at least some of the time, anyway. The GayRomLit Retreat is drawing near, and soon we will all be thrust outside our comfort zones and forced to mingle. With other people. Even strangers. Conventions can be fun and exhilarating, but they can be overwhelming and downright scary, too.
The first time I went to a convention, a feminist SF con called WisCon, I was so terrified that I realized I couldn’t feel my feet when I got out of my car. I forced myself to go anyway…and then I got a prescription for beta-blockers to manage my anxiety because, seriously, that “I think I’m dying right this moment” sensation wasn’t pretty.
I wish I could say the next con was better, but the terror level remained excruciating for probably the next half dozen. For me, the tide turned when I was invited to be a keynote speaker at the UK Meet in 2012. What? Giving the keynote when I can barely climb out of my car? It’s counterintuitive, but something about getting invited and having a job to do, a purpose, allowed me to have a much better time.
This will be my fourth GRL (wow!) and other than maybe some butterflies when it’s time for my panel, I honestly don’t anticipate much anxiety to speak of. Even though the venue changes, I’ll see enough familiar faces to feel welcome and secure.
So, given that you can’t magically put numerous conventions under your belt to desensitize yourself, what if you’re as stunningly shy as I am and this is your first GRL? What sorts of things can you do to make your experience less excruciating?
- Say hi to people and ask them where they’re from. It may be an awkward, stilted conversation, but no one’s going to think less of you for saying hello.
- Once you’ve seen a panel or two you can talk about the panels with other folks.
- If you see any stragglers around meal time, invite them along. At the Writer’s Police Academy last month, I met all sorts of interesting folks just by inviting them to share a table. We’d simply call out, “We have three people, does anyone need somewhere to sit?” and have a single stranger join us. Because we all had common interests, this turned out to be a really fascinating way to start the day. (I also tend to meet people waiting in line.)
- Even announcing, “Ugh, I’m such an introvert!” is an acceptable opening line. I’m sure there’s a good chance you’ll hear an answering, “Ugh, me too!”
- If your mood is tanking, go have a time out. Either in your room or in the bathroom, or just walking around outside a little. Emotions at cons often run high, especially when you factor in a lack of sleep, and if you find yourself reacting to drama, just be easy and remind yourself that it’s an intense time, but you can shake it off, regroup, and rejoin the chaos as soon as you’re ready.
- Be prepared to say something ridiculous to the person you most want to impress. When I met Lee Goldberg (writer of the TV show Monk, among many other things) I was eager to come off well. So what did I do? I told him about how I got out of a speeding ticket by acting chagrined…and then discovered I didn’t have my license on me either. We were in a group doing a simulated traffic stop so it kind of made sense, but still. Way to make a good impression, right?
Of course, you might also have a deer-in-headlights moment like I did when I met Amy Lane. Because…Amy Lane! She said a whole bunch of wonderful stuff to me and I totally froze.
(Come to think of it, Lisa and I had a meet-cute too…I wonder if she remembers.)
There will be plenty of time to chat with me at GRL—at the author lounges, in the dealer’s room, at the events, or even bumping into each other in the hallway. I look forward to saying hello! Hopefully I can make your introvert experience somewhat less excruciating.
About the Author
Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price writes paranormal sci-fi thrillers colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to rural small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison. Her influences include Ouija boards, Return of the Living Dead, “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” girls with tattoos and boys in eyeliner.
Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who’s plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her trippy, touching series, Mnevermind, where memories are made…one client at a time.