My brother and I arrived at the Crown Plaza around noon, and walked into the lobby to see a small gathering of people involved with the con who, it appeared, had also just arrived. Authors and MadCon staff all bunched together and oozing with an anxiousness to get things underway. We stepped up in line to check into our room, and looked to see that Gene Wolfe had also already arrived, and was in front of us in line. He politely asked for a bellhop to assist him with his luggage, and shuffled over to join the others. While my brother and I were speaking with the concierge; the MadCon guest of honor Harlan Ellison stepped in to interrupt my transaction, and proceeded insist to the nice lady behind the desk that they were being to slow in sending Gene’s bellhop and they sure hurry it up. Harlan turned and apologized to me but I was too amused by the whole encounter to be irritated with him. I hadn’t even checked in yet, and was already enjoying seeing the convention guests in action.
The fist panel discussion with Gene was later that afternoon, and so after a bit of lunch we attended it. All of the panel discussions that weekend were fairly enjoyable. Gene definitely proved to be a very intelligent and witty individual. John Krewson, an editor from The Onion; and Patrick Rothfuss, author of “The Name of The Wind“; were two other very enjoyable additions to many of the discussions that took place. I was eventually able to meet both John and Pat, and picked up Pat’s book as well.
The next day was when we were able to group into one of the smaller rooms, listen to Gene read some of his work to us, and then answer questions. He read the first draft of the first chapter of a book he’s currently working on called “The Land Across”. Then, during the question and answer half, he went on a tangent, for about thirty minutes, about New Zealand. This was a thrill for me because I’ve always been a little too overly fascinated with Australian and New Zealand history so naturally I ate it up. After his time was up he gave away some books and then did a signing. It was here, when he signed my books, that I did the whole geeked out fan thing, and told him how much I enjoyed his work, and had a picture taken with him. He seemed to really appreciate my praise, and from that moment on was kind enough to greet my brother and I every time we passed him during the rest of the con.
On Sunday, the last day of the con, my brother and I had been packing up and prepping for the last discussion Gene would be a part of. A bunch of us were waiting in the main lobby reading, and feeling the drain of the last two days. I looked up to see Gene and his wife seated at a table across the way just sipping on coffee, and waiting like the rest of us. So, knowing this would be my last opportunity to chat with him again; we headed over and joined them. Gene was more than happy to chat with us, and we ended up talking more about New Zealand, and he told me to read “The Island of Doctor Moreau.” It was a nice, normal conversation with my favorite author, and the perfect end to the convention. After coffee with Gene we attended the last panel, and then made our seven hour trek back home.
Overall I was really satisfied with my experiences at Madcon. I took a lot with me, and made some new friends. I didn’t end up taking notes at the discussions. I tried, but it took too much from the enjoyment of being there. The panels really focused a lot on how to be a writer. Each author had their own take on it, and Gene’s was by far the most simple and the most profound. I’ve read a few essays on writing by Gene, and have now listened to him talk about it in person. If I were to sum it all up in just a few sentences I would say that Gene’s take on writing is simply this- If you want to be a writer then just write. Don’t wait for the right moment or for the right amount of research; just write.