It's kind of cruel that I was born and bred in Ireland, Land of 363 Days of Rain, when I love sunshine so much.
It may also have been kind of cruel of me to woo my roommates Karen Healey and R.J. Anderson out into the glorious light of day when they find the endless beautiful golden sunshine oppressive (I don't understand this - are they vampires in their souls?) but I feel no shame. I bribed R.J. Anderson with the third book of the Demon's Lexicon trilogy and the first hundred pages of my new thing, which were both on my ereader, and Karen Healey (handily enough for me) bribed herself with poolside Diet Cokes.
However, I did do things in Florida besides lounge like a giant brunette lizard.
There was much hanging with awesome authors! Ali Wilgus (aliwilgus) talked about writing a tie-in novel for an existing universe (Avatar: the Last Airbender) which was really interesting, and I wished to corner her and learn more, but sadly she escaped my clutches! Naomi Novik (naominovik) drew dragons doing shocking things on my copy of Tongues of Serpents.
And there was much hanging with awesome readers! Not only after my panel, in which I got to sign and chat and was even given gifts, among which was lovely fanart and a gorgeous steampunk talisman (Readers, your mere presence is enough, but thank you very much!) - but also at an excellent panel discussing diversity and prejudice in fiction. And I saw the Harry Potter World, and thought how strange it must be to be J.K. Rowling and have your imagination brought to life this way, and my night was made by a lovely lady telling me she loved Demon's Covenant in the sweet shop.
And then came the time for mine, Karen Healey and RJ Anderson's reading. It was a time of great nervousness, as 1) Would anyone show up? and 2) Would my Curse fall upon us all?
It has become clear, over the years, that I am cursed in some way. This curse is something along the lines of 'May you live in interesting times.'
Things just go wrong for me. It is nobody's fault. It is The Curse.
KAREN, RJ AND I: We can haz room?
PEOPLE: Ooops, room is taken. Er - follow us this way!
KAREN, RJ AND I: Are you guys coming to our reading?
PEOPLE (taken aback by our wild eyes): Um. Maybe?
KAREN, RJ AND I: YOU MUST FOLLOW US NOW.
So we sat on tables in our wee room. People who came to our reading, you are one and all heroes. (Also, awesome ladies all. Thank you very very much.) (Edited to Add: Also one of said ladies was Jaclyn Dolamore (fabulousfrock, author of Magic Under Glass, so that was very pleasing!)
Karen Healey (karenhealey) read aloud a certain super creepy section from Guardian of the Dead which made me relive the trauma of reading said super creepy section, and for the rest of the weekend I had traumatic flashbacks and cringed in fear away from tiny lizards. (Don't ask me to talk about the lizards!)
R.J. Anderson (rj_anderson) talked about reading Madeleine L'Engle's A Swiftly Tilting Planet, in which a lady is bffs and soulbonded with a paraplegic character - and is romantically with his able-bodied brother.
I haven't actually read that book, but it immediately reminded me of George Eliot's A Mill On the Floss. Which is a book I am fond of, because it focuses on a fierce young lady by the name of Maggie, and her love for her brother. However the romantic plot drives me crazy.
MAGGIE: If only my brother Tom would keep me company and let me enjoy lessons with him!
PHILIP: Uh, we could do lessons together. The other boys and I, not so much compadres. Given the fact I am hunchbacked. I am sullen, pale and have some issues!
SARAH: Wow. It's like Colin Craven and Richard III had an awesome baby.
PHILIP: But I love learning and I want to teach you Latin and revel in our love of books together and also I love you hopelessly and passionately and I want to give you EVERYTHING!
SARAH: Sounds good to me, dude.
MAGGIE: Well, you know, mayyybe, but there is something missing...
STEPHEN: Hello! I am handsome, manly, athletic, did I mention manly? Sooooo manly. Soooooooo manly, I'm engaged to your cousin Lucy.
STEPHEN: Whoops, we accidentally eloped in a boat.
MAGGIE: Oh my God, this is terrible! I was confused by your hotness!
STEPHEN: It's very distracting I know! And I have these magnificent arm and shoulder muscles! They only helped me row the boat faster - to our sexy doom.
MAGGIE: Oh my God, but Lucy!
STEPHEN: Sigh. I'm such a manly, manly heartbreaker.
MAGGIE: Oh my God, but Philip!
STEPHEN: Come on now, Maggie, I like Philip, but he couldn't seriously expect me to marry him...
MAGGIE: Let me off this boat! For honour's sake! But let me make this clear - you, Stephen, are the sexiest gentleman in all the land.
STEPHEN: Imma flee to Holland from the scandal, k?
MAGGIE: So manly. Just so manly.
LUCY: It's cool, Maggie, you're still my best cousin.
SARAH: So okay, if Maggie is deranged and doesn't fancy Philip, perhaps Lucy will observe Stephen's gross cheating ways and go for-
LUCY: Oh Stephen, I'll wait for you. You're so manly. Just so manly.
PHILIP: dies alone, after a lonely life. DESTINED to be alone. Epitaph reads: Should've been more manly.
So you could say I found Philip's fate a little irritating. But as writers are just as inspired by the things in books that they hate as the things in books that they love, seeing this sort of thing inspired RJ to write Paul of Knife (UK title)/Spell Hunter (US title), who sketches, weightlifts, helps out faeries, uses a wheelchair, is crazy hot, and gets the girl. RJ actually has a great essay about this phenomenon here.
One of the things I talked about the way we sometimes see girls, positioned from other girls' points of view, in books, movies and TV, as being dazzlingly beautiful or crazy talented at something. And we understand, just through seeing them that way, that the other girl doesn't like them, and we're not meant to like them either.
Which is just kind of baffling! So I talked about wanting my heroine, upon first seeing my other female MC being both dazzlingly beautiful and crazy talented, to react by going 'Whoa, who is that awesome person?'
We all basically agreed that we are inspired by being annoyed. And we forced everyone to stay an extra hour with us, talking about Alaya Johnson and Georgette Heyer and what we wanted to read and what we wanted to write, and it was just lovely.
My favourite thing, in a Harry Potter convention, a Twilight convention, or an Attolia convention (is there actually such a thing? Because that would be amazing, and I would go) is to see everyone excited about and talking about books. Because that is my favourite thing basically ever.
And it is always wonderful for me when people are excited about and talk to me about mine! So thank you, Florida. (I miss you already, sweet sunshine!)
Edited to Add: And I came home to this wonderful present of fanart. Sin in the middle is just right.