A Report Back on FanX

I got a bit quiet on the blog last week, since I was off gallivanting around Salt Lake at FanX. It’s been so long since I was at a con, I forgot a lot of what I needed to do. For example, I showed up without any copies of my books or any business cards or promos. The lack of book copies was the really egregious error, since I had no copies to put out in front of me when I spoke on my panels, and I had two people come by looking to buy older things. Thankfully, my cousin had bought a copy of my book and lent it to me for the weekend, so it wasn’t too bad. But next time, I have to remember to bring all that stuff. Gotta shake off the rust.

The con itself was much better attended than I anticipated. I thought a lot of people might hang back due to COVID hesitancy. Instead, it seemed like a lot of fans turned up because of COVID exhaustion. They haven’t announced official numbers yet, and I might have just felt like there were a ton of people because it’s been so long since I’ve been around that many people, but I’d guess attendance at least at 80,000, probably more. At one point there was a two hour line just to get in. In the past, the event has drawn over 120,000 people, and the show runners said they expected it to be about the same this year, so I’m likely being overly cautious in my estimate.

Masks were required at the convention, and most people had them on, though a ton had them under their nose or on their chin, making them largely worthless. There was no vaccination requirement. I kept my mask on the whole time, and I didn’t really feel unsafe at any point. I’m vaccinated and have no issues that would put me at greater risk, and I’m not really around anyone who would be at risk. But if I weren’t vaccinated? There’s no way I would have gone.

Other than COVID-related issues and me spacing it about things I was supposed to bring with me, the trip out to Utah couldn’t have gone any better. Highlights included:

  • I was on 5 panels over the course of the three days, and I had 2 signings as well. Overall, I’d guess I presented to 600 people or more. That’s pretty great for exposure, and most of the panels went very well, and none of them were train wrecks. A definite win.
  • I had a chance to catch up with many old friends, both writerly and non-writerly. It turns out publicly posting that you’re going to be at a well-attended event ends up having people who are at said event seek you out. Yay for that.
  • I got to spend time with family.
  • While I was attending the live recording of the podcast Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells run, I was invited up for a cameo appearance, which was fun to do.
  • I got to eat at multiple restaurants that just don’t exist out where I am. Siegfried’s (for delicious German food), Ruby River (a steak house), Costa Vida (TexMex), and a local bakery.
  • I had the chance to watch a movie on an incredible home theater set up. We’re talking a place that’s better equipped than any other real theater I’ve been to (other than the screen not being as huge, since it’s proportional to the size of the theater). I knew several days in advance that I’d be able to watch something there, and I had to somehow decide which movie I wanted to go with. How do you pick just one? I wanted something I never had a chance to see and appreciate on the big screen, but also something that’s been remastered for 4k and Dolby Atmos sound, since I wanted to see what the theater could really do. In the end I went with Back to the Future, and I’m so happy I did. The movie was incredible. The sound, the picture, the experience. It was perfect.
  • I went to a BYU game for the first time in about fifteen years. It was an awesome game to attend: the crowd played a big influence in the outcome, and BYU managed to pull in the win. It was thrilling.
  • For some reason, renting a minivan was about half as expensive as renting a compact. I don’t understand how that works out, but there it was. So when I’m driving around Maine with my family of five, I’m in a Prius, but when I went out to Utah and drove around alone. I was in a car that seats seven with tons of room to spare. (Also, I’m very used to have a gas pedal that has to go down pretty far to get your car to giddy-up. I peeled out in that minivan multiple times over the four days. Maybe I have a future in minivan drag racing.
  • On the way home, I actually made it to Bangor early. Maybe all my sacrificed emoji goats are finally having an effect.

In any case, it was a lot of fun to be back in the swing of things, and I hope to be able to do some more events in the future. Thanks to all of you who came by to say hello. It was great to catch up!

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