So, this happened.
FandomFest Louisville was a blast. My besties and I arrived for events Saturday and had a great time. Tickets were really reasonable–$25 for the day, though if you wanted autographs from some of the guests, they were $30 apiece. Among the geekdom celebrities available for (paid) autographs there were John Rhys-Davies, Sean Astin, James Marsters, Nick Brendon, Peter Davison, Gareth David-Lloyd, and Luke Perry. (These were all the ones I saw.) Other celebrities included cast members from the Walking Dead and Boondock Saints, Colin Ferguson from Eureka, and of course, the headliner, Bruce Campbell. He was only going to be available for two hours Saturday evening, due to conflicts with his shooting schedule for Burn Notice, and tickets went amazingly fast.
Read more about FandomFest after the jump.
A word of warning to those who might be considering visiting FandomFest in the future: FandomFest started out as Friday Night Fright fest–basically a horror movie convention, and it hasn’t forgotten its roots. After running into a clown zombie (because let’s double up the nightmares, right?), I thought it probably a good idea to warn our readers–this is not a convention you want to bring small children to, especially after it gets going after noon, unless you want them to be terrified for the rest of their lives.
We got there about nine, and the con opened at ten. I had been looking forward to some of the author panels, but FandomFest did two things very badly. One, there were no schedules to hand out, and two, all of the panels were hidden away down a small hallway. Between not knowing what time things were and not being able to find them, panels were very badly attended from what I understand. I did, however, manage to make it to a panel on self-publishing by Peggy DeKay, author of Self Publishing for Virgins. I learned a *lot* about self-publishing, both with print-on-demand and ebooks (she recommends new authors do both!), and if you’re interested in self-publishing your novel, I would highly recommend checking her book, website, and podcast out.
It didn’t take us very long to track down where Timothy Zahn would be that afternoon, after a rather fortuitous stop by the Joseph-Beth Booksellers booth. While I was disappointed to have missed his panel that morning, I used the time to make the rounds of the vendors. There were a LOT of people selling books from their small presses, so if you’re not wanting to go the self-publishing route with your novel, I would really encourage you to go to a con like this and make some contacts.
One thing that really stuck with me was the Fantasy Grounds booth, where they were showing off their new table-top RPG software. Preloaded with rules for plenty of popular RPGs, including D&D 4E. It offers an interactive online RPG experience–great if you don’t live near your gaming group anymore. I can’t say enough about how shiny Fantasy Grounds is. From the ability of the GM to give notes and backstory to the dice-rolling mechanism (need to make a Stealth check? Click on Stealth and the software automatically pulls up the correct dice for you to roll) to the map creation ability, it is truly beautiful. You can download a demo of the software at fantasygrounds.com.
I was able to meet and converse with Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor from Doctor Who. I had been instructed by one of my Whovian friends to ask him about being the Dish of the Day on the BBC television adaptation of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a role he quite enjoyed, despite spending four hours in makeup for two minutes of filming. He is a truly delightful person, and I felt bad that more people were either not aware or not interested that he and Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto from Torchwood) were there with the Doctor Who North America booth.
One of the group I was with went to get a picture signed by Colin Ferguson (Jack Carter from Eureka), who confirmed, sadly, that the SyFy channel is cutting all of their light-hearted shows in favor of more serious fare. While Eureka’s cancellation was already well known, Colin confirmed that Warehouse 13 is also getting the ax, which is incredibly unfortunate. Now, the only humor left on SyFy will come from the original movies.
Then, of course, came the highlight of the entire trip for me–meeting Timothy Zahn. I tried not to fangirl too hard (I’m pretty sure that I failed), but I have to say this: Timothy Zahn is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He was glad to see us, glad to sign books, was up and bouncing around the Jo-Beth booth, and was more than happy to have pictures taken with us (even encouraging that I link it on his Facebook page!). I think I sputtered something about loving all his work, but especially The Icarus Hunt. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I did manage to stop sputtering long enough to confirm that Brian and Nanci will be interviewing Tim on the podcast in the very near future, so start tweeting those questions at us!
Fandom Fest continues to grow and next year will expand beyond the Galt House hotel and convention center, which is proving to be far too small for the con, so I hope that some of the problems that were had will be rectified. I also hope that next year, fans don’t have to pick between FandomFest and Derby City Comic Con, because if this con was any indication, Louisville can certainly supply enough convention-goers to support both.