Paneling at Conventions

Within the next couple of days I will be leaving for Dublin and Worldcon 77 and, not content with selling my books, I have also signed up to the programme schedule. Now that the programme has been released I can, at least, tell you which talks I’ll be sitting in on.

So, on Thursday at 4:00pm I’ll be in the Eccocem Room with Kathryn Sullivan, Dr Kristina Perez, Deirdre Thornton and Kerry Buchanan and we’ll be discussing Celtic Mythology and how faithfully the legends are represented in modern literature and on Friday at 11:30am I’ll be in Odeon 2 with John R. Douglas, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Michi Troya and Julia Rios and we’ll be discussing how Creators and Fans respond to Political Unrest.

Now, with the shameless plug information shared, why would a self-published writer think themselves an authority worthy of sitting in on panels and sharing their opinions with a room full of fans? Well, at it’s most basic level it *is* about visibility, it’s an opportunity to put yourself in front maybe a hundred prospective customers and make an impression so that they think ‘yeah, this writers books might be worth reading’. It’s also a chance to network and meet others in your field and compare notes (albeit in front of a room full of people). But there’s a deeper connection perhaps, by becoming a writer you’ve essentially declared to the world that ‘I have something to say!’ and, while most of your statements are going to be presented in literary form (and some of us are more than happy for it to stay that way) there are those among us who will revel in the chance to get out there and talk to an audience.

Again, why as a self-published author, is my opinion of any value to these discussions? Well, in any topical discourse there are different levels of awareness to the subject. There are those who might have studied it all their lives and there are those who have just stumbled upon it and many levels of knowledge in between. In regards to Celtic Mythology I personally have a long standing casual interest and, more recently, I have undertaken research as part of paid projects as well as my own research for my own literary efforts. That puts me at maybe ‘passingly familiar’ but, another aspect I’ve looked into which might set me apart from, say a Professor of Celtic Mythology is my interpretation of an audiences understanding. The broader general understanding of any kind of mythology has been influenced over time by different creators portrayals of different original stories and by the adoption of hand picked elements from those stories for new, different purposes. So, by having different experience and different sources I can bring a broader understanding as long as my sources are verified and sound. I will and have been doing additional research before the panel just to cement my foundation of knowledge before the event.

The point is your very individuality makes your opinion valid. If you write crime and mystery then your opinion of how to write such a story makes you as valid to a panel as would be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s or Agatha Christie’s it’s the differences of experience that bring vibrancy to a panel. If everyone on the panel agree’s then there is no real, valid discussion, just a bunch of statements of fact.

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