Friday, March 9, 2012

Fantasy on the Bayou: In Which I am Called A Vampire

The first FF and P (Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal) national conference, the "Fantasy on the Bayou" kicked-off in New Orleans this past weekend, and it was a delight.
The first special interest chapter I joined when I first became an RWA member and began networking in the paranormal and fantasy realm was FF and P. I'll never forget my first Gathering at Nationals when I won my first PRISM award, where everyone was so wonderful, everyone was so kind and on my same wavelength, I knew I'd found "my people". And I'll always belong to FF and P. I may not have time to be as active on the loop as I wish I could be, but what was so wonderful about the conference was being present with "my people" in person. Big shout-out to local paranormal author Dawn Chartier who took such good care of me from the get-go - I truly wouldn't have made it there without her, and huge thanks to the entire conference team for such a pleasant event on all counts. The lovely and talented Kerri Nelson also has a great rundown on her blog.

Here's what was great about the Fantasy on the Bayou: Um. New Orleans, for starters. New Orleans is one of my "magic special places", much like London, a place where the spirits of the city open their arms to me and say "welcome home". I'm going to set a novel there, and have several ideas percolating. It's an inspiring and gorgeous city, a dreamland for a lil' Goth girl like me.

The con: I was SO impressed by the level of programming, there were so many interesting and impressive offerings that the only problem I found was not being able to be in two places at once. I tried to juggle a bit of writing research (I'm going to set a future project there), beignet eating (a crime not to), and catching up with friends amidst wanting to soak up as much conference programming as possible. I enjoyed everything, from a valuable Editor / Agent panel to Terry Spear's discussion of Conflict, to keynote guest Maggie Shayne just being flat out amazing, down-to-earth, talented and kind, to Ursula Whistler explaining the science behind the physical effects of attraction - FASCINATING and brilliantly presented. I wish I could have seen everyone's presentations, but darn that inability to be in two places at once.

I had the joy of presenting Steampunk / Gaslight Fantasy 101 and my Direct Your Book: Theatrical Techniques to a Blockbuster Novel workshops, and as always, presenting and workshopping are some of my favorite parts of being a writer. I get so invigorated by panels and by sharing with and learning from others. I also really appreciated some quality time with the wonderful agents and editors the conference brought in. What wonderful company.

Our ghost / vampire tour ROCKED, we had an amazing tour guide (also a writer) and saw some seriously spine-tingling sights. And as I walked beneath the gaslight in my Neo-Victorian regalia, again, it was magic and I was home.

I adored being able to catch up with some beloved authors who I just never see enough of (*poke poke* Angie, Amanda, Maggie) and we managed to "haunt" a couple of New Orleans famous establishments (and they haunted us). I had the best Absinthe of my life in Pirate's Alley and the next night local brew and local ghosts (seriously, major ghost action) at Lafitte's Blacksmith shop, oldest continually operating bar in the country. (1720).

And the book-signing was an additional blast, I sold lots of copies of DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul and talked up the sequel coming this November from Sourcebooks, THE TWISTED TRAGEDY OF MISS NATALIE STEWART. More creepy Gothic goodness with heartfelt characters coming your way soon!

Needless to say, I didn't really want to leave my home away from home, New Orleans, but I was consoled by the fact I'll be back in August for Authors After Dark! Yay!

So kudos, FF and P Board and Conference Committee, for being lovely and charming and making me feel just as at home as New Orleans makes me feel.

Oh, and PS. A Highlight:
As you know, I take rabid joy in my Neo-Victorian wardrobe that ranges somewhere between casual Goth / Victorian to full blown regalia, depending on the day. It isn't really costuming, it's me. I also walk really fast even for a New Yorker. Transplant me to the slow and relaxed South? I appear as though I am moving with preternatural speed when at my normal pace.

So imagine, dear reader, I am walking at dusk along Jackson Square, dressed in a long black velvet coat with capped sleeves and corseting on each side, tall black boots, black corset, my black raven choker and black roses pinning up my hair, all beneath the beautiful gas lit sconces of the French Quarter. I pass a gaggle of teenagers. One elbows another, another claps hands over their mouth, another says as I pass: "Ohmygod. That was a LEGIT vampire!"

Made my weekend. Thanks, FF and P, much love, sincerely,
Leanna Renee Hieber, author, Legit Vampire


lexcade said...

That sounds like an amazing experience. So glad you had such a good time!

As for the vampire comment, I think only paranormal authors would take that as a compliment, myself included ;)

Anne Francis said...

What a great recap, thanks! Wish I could've gone this year. And yay vampires!

Unknown said...

I can so picture the scene with you at Jackson Square .. adorable! I did a conference there a few years back that was over Easter weekend. Since I had to do a panel Sunday morning, I decided to attend Easter vigil at the Cathedral on Jackson Square. As I waited with a bunch of people for the Cathedral's doors to open (there was a procession in, since that's an Easter Vigil-y kind of thing), there was another group gathering just across the way under a Vampire Tour banner. If I hadn't already fallen in love with New Orleans, that would've done it.

Angela Quarles said...

I enjoyed the conference too! Loved your steampunk panel :) I wish I could have seen more panels too... Totally missed hearing about you being mistaken for a vampire--too funny!

Laurie A. Green said...

Was really sorry I had to miss the conference, but I really enjoyed your wrap. Sounds like it was a great success in terms of informative workshops and fun wanderings.

Qwillia Rain said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed yourself. Loved your outfits, wish I had a few of my own (just need to get off my but and make them).
With luck, FF&P will decide to have another conference.


Devon Alexander said...

Leanne, It was a joy to meet you at Fantasy on the Bayou. Hanging out with you and the other ladies on Saturday night was definitely a high light of the conference for me. Like you I wish I could have been in 2 places at once (sometimes 3 LOL) Unfortunately I'm not the least bit sensitive to the paranormal (that's why I love to read so much about it) and couldn't pick up on what y'all did at Lafitte's but I enjoyed listening to y'all talk about it.
I too will be attending AAD and look forward to seeing you there. I'll make sure everyone keeps up with you when we go walking in the Quarter again.

Hope Tarr said...

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is a a national treasure and a must stop when in New Orleans. And being dubbed a vampire in the Big Easy is high praise indeed!

lisekimhorton said...

Your secret is now out, m'dear!

Sounds like a purely magical event.

Unknown said...

Oh my Legit Vampire, I do wish we lived closer but alas I will have to settle with only seeing you occasionally. I do so very much hope that the conference is held in NOLA next year so we can resume our exploration of Lafitte's. :) Much love & hugs!

Juturna F. said...

It was great to meet you! Nyssa has received her present and is already in love with the books. Yes, I was a nice person and finally broke down and gave her all but the one signed to me, since our friendship is now officially of legal adult age. But I plan on stealing it back as soon as she finishes reading it. Going to have to buy another set for my own shelves later...

I'm glad you had a good time, and I love your outfits so much!

-Rebekkah N.
blogging as Juturna F

Beth McClarren said...

Hi Leanna,

Had a wonderful time in New Orleans and felt the magic undercurrents of the city.

Love your outfits! What a funny experience you gave those girls thrilled to see a real vampire.

Great to see you again and get a chance to hang out. Have a picture of us at Pirates Alley if you would like it.

Happy Writing!