Last year we did a profile on local children’s fantasy author Jessica Rising. While she is just as amazing as she was back then (and it is totally worth it to check out the profile on her), lots of great things have happened to her since that time. She’s signed with a publisher and her post-apocalyptic middle-grade novel trilogy Guts and Glory, Freedom Fighters of Nil is now being released by Second Wind Publishing LLC. She’s done book readings and signings in Spokane and other areas of the Northwest AND she’s become kind of a big deal at SpoCon. Luckily even with her busy busy schedule she found time to answer some questions for us about the convention, writing, and being a nerd in this day and age.
Q. How many years have you been involved in SpoCon?
A. This was my second year at the con and my first as volunteer “staff”. I put that in quotes because I’m not currently official but I was involved in content meetings and their inevitable work this past year. That was a blast!
Q. What was your first SpoCon experience like?
A. It was pretty laid back. I had a selling and signing table which I was at most of the time. I was on two panels as well, which was so much fun that I insisted on attending a lot more this year. My first panel ever was just myself and C.J. Cherryh. That was pretty intimidating but exciting as well; she was wonderful!
Q. What has this year’s SpoCon experience been like for you?
A. Well, I can certainly say it wasn’t laid back! I attended about seven panels, taught two workshops, directed the Mad Marmot Variety Show, and spoke at C.J.’s tribute, as we have gotten to know each-other better over this past year. I was REALLY tired, REALLY busy… and had a LOT of fun! I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience this year (well… except maybe get a LITTLE more sleep).
Q. What were you most looking forward to at SpoCon this year?
A. Hands-down, my children’s writing workshop. I requested it from the SpoCon content team myself, as I really wanted to work with my actual readership one-on-one. It was a lot of fun. In the end, I think I may have learned more than they did. I was also looking forward to the panels. They’re always SO much fun!
Q. Have you been to other scifi/fantasy conventions? If so, how would you compare those conventions to SpoCon?
A. SpoCon is the only con I’ve ever attended. I know, I know. I plan on fixing that ASAP. I’m a little addicted now.
Q. Why do you think it’s important to have events like SpoCon?
A. Growing up as a nerd is not easy. At least it wasn’t when I was a kid. For an adult — especially these days — being a nerd is a little more acceptable for most people, but there are still more “normal” people out there who we work with, play with, and otherwise spend our time with. They can be great people, but they don’t understand fandom like we do. They don’t understand the obsessions we have. They can’t relate, and that can be really difficult to deal with. This is especially true for those of us who don’t have nerdy family or friends close by. To spend a whole weekend immersed in our very favorite things — with others who love them too — is invigorating. It re-energizes us, giving us the drive we need to keep going to our day jobs the rest of the year.
This year especially I felt even more than that. Surrounded by people who not only understand the things that drive my soul but also create those things AND think highly of my own work, I was revitalized to continue writing and to make it even better.
Q. What do you hope people get out of attending this event?
A. I hope people have fun, first and foremost. That’s what SpoCon is all about! Adding camaraderie, encouragement, family bonding, learning, growing, beauty, fandom, music…I could go on and on… well, that’s just icing on the cake!
Q. What are your favorite things about the convention?
A. The writing track of course. For me, networking with fellow authors at mealtimes, discussing nuances with up-in-coming authors at the panels, and teaching budding authors in the workshops is almost as great as writing. Almost. I also love the cosplay and being surrounded by my fellow nerds. It’s not just anywhere that I can begin a Monty Python quote and receive a perfectly timed finish from a bunch of people at the same time!
Q. Will you be participating again next year?
A. Yep! I also hope to continue working with the amazing content team on making next year, and every year after, better and better!
Q. What guests were you most excited to see this year, and who are your dream guests for future years and why?
A. I always love being around C.J. Cherryh so she’s definitely a number one! I was also excited to meet Scott C. Brown who I worked with on the Mad Marmot Show. The Handsome Author’s Society was a lot of fun to work and hang out with too. Roget Ratchford was also so fascinating!
As for future guests, as a bibliophile my first choices are authors. Stephen King would be AMAZING, though he’s difficult to book. I’d also love to see Terry Brooks, who calls the Inland Northwest home and even includes Spokane in some of his work. Rick Riordan would be a lot of fun, as would J.K. Rowling (also difficult to book). Outside of the book realm, I’m excited to meet just about anyone from the realms of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, though if they worked on Stargate I’d be pretty starstruck! (Pun totally intended.)
Q. Do you have anything else to add?
A. Just that SpoCon is only getting bigger and better, and I’m so excited to remain a part of it for many, many years to come!
*To keep up with Jessica Rising, her book releases, and all the random fun stuff she likes to write/talk about, find her on the web at her site or on Facebook! You can purchase books from Second Wind Publishing online (and it’s totally worth it, our blogger-gal Mia has read the first two books in the Guts and Glory trilogy and she loved them even as an adult reader).