Going to Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions is great fun, as is talking to societies and student groups and the like. Yes, it’s always lovely when people tell me how much they’ve enjoyed my books and I get invaluable feedback about my work that way. And yes, my presence does help publicize my books, simply by letting people know more about me. But that’s not nearly the only reason for going, or even the most important.
With so much of a writer’s life spent alone in front of a keyboard, possibly with a cat for company, it’s vital to get out and meet people and hearing what’s interesting them, whether it’s my books, another writer’s or something else entirely in the news, in politics, whatever. Quite apart from anything else, you’ll only write about realistic people if you spend time among them!
Then there are the panels at conventions, both the ones I participate in and the ones I go to as a punter. I always come away with some new perspective on a facet of the writing craft or the genre. Then there are the Guest of Honour interviews. Hearing other writers talk is one of the best possible ways to learn about writing and about the often complex business of being a writer. And I’ve never yet been to a convention where discussion and exploration hasn’t continued after the panels and formal interviews, in the bars and over assorted Indian and Chinese meals, with many of these notables and a good many others joining in besides.
All of this ultimately feeds back into my own work, one way or another.
Here are some reports on trips I have made.