How to Put Your Best Foot Forward at Conferences
by Danny Fahey
I am not sure about how to put my best foot forward. I am not even certain I have a best foot. When dancing I have many left feet even after a few years as a youngster trying to learn Ballroom Dancing. Not, I should make clear, that conferences bother me. I have been a speaker at conferences as a writer, a teacher and an actor. Having been an actor I just switch to performing mode and I am up and away. Luckily I have a pleasant enough face and a really good speaking voice. I am trained to use my voice, I am quick on my feet, love to talk, am humorous and I can touch any and all emotions very easily but all this matters little (when thinking of the author conferences) because the conferences I have been to (as a writer) have been about the big names – and I have not been one of them.
Still when thinking about this question I thought about an incident at a certain conference that I have tucked away as a ‘what not to do’ story about being on a conference panel.
I am on this panel with three other writers. We are at a Sci -Fi/Fantasy conference and each of us has been asked to chat about our latest book and read a little snippet from that book.
So on we went. First author. Me. Third author.
We came to the last author.
A woman…in her forties…from Queensland – it shouldn’t matter that the author was a woman, tor that she was in her forties…Queensland doesn’t matter, but the other two…well you make up your mind.
This conference was during the absolute height of the Fifty Shades of Grey hysteria…if your mind had gone there you’re probably ahead of me in this story.
So this author (woman…forties…) says that she doesn’t ant to read from her fantasy novel called Blah Blah, but instead will read from her latest work, a novel in progress, a novel inspired by and along the lines of…yes you were already there weren’t you…Fifty Shades of grey.
It began something like (well this is how I remember it at least) On a dark night I sat at my computer staring past the screen out past the window…I noticed a light come on in the window of the apartment opposite mine…then a young man walked into the room…a beautiful young man. I watched as he slowly started to take off his shirt, revealing…
This went on for fifteen of the most excruciatingly boring minutes I have ever spent in the presence of so many people. It was mind-numbing boring and at the end you could hear a pin drop. No one came to hear her erotic dreams…They were Sci- Fi or fantasy fans. That’s what they wanted…. Although there was this one elderly gent who seemed to have enjoyed her story and rushed forward at the end (there were no questions at the end of her reading so the whole panel things ended rather abruptly) to talk with her.
For me, then, putting your best foot forward might be to stay on track. To remember what conference you are at, to remember, as all authors should, your audience.
One day the orphan Catalina is taken home by her lone surviving relative, Aunt Griselda. Unfortunately for Catalina, all does not quite go as expected. Her aunt hates her and makes her life miserable. She learns she is to be sold to Stefano the Knife-thrower and used as a human target. To escape a certain death, Catalina leaps through a mysterious crossover point and ends up in a new land called Arboroth.
There, she is encounters a wolf-boy and a talking rat. She is beset by a cruel and inhospitable landscape, and all the while hunted by a pack of relentless hounds. Then Catalina discovers her aunt is also in Arboroth. And Griselda isn’t happy.
This is a fantasy tale of magic, of an evil witch and a little girl who just wants to know who she is.
Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG
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