You look at a science fiction convention and think, I want to be there with my peeps. All those fans of the same sorts of things that I like. It’ll be great! Of course, I’ll be judged, especially as a newcomer, but so what? It’s time to step out with my own bad self and meet people. So I wrote to PulpFest’s program coordinator early and asked if I could do a reading. My email got to him the day BEFORE he started advertising. So I got one of the few spots available. Then I sat down with the coolest gals I know and said:
“Okay, I’m going. I think I can afford it. Well actually, I’m not sure that I can, but I want to go. I feel that I should go. After all, these are the people who understand the difference between Virgil Finlay and Earle Bergey. They get how much Galaxy changed science fiction magazines in the early 1950’s. I have to bring my book there. Okay, so I’m going. But what do I wear?”
One of my best gals said, “how about dressing rockabilly? I have some clothes you can borrow. Look we’re exactly the same size!”
Then another lucky break…I got a commission from helping to sell a friend’s vintage car. Suddenly, I had travel money. It was magical how it all came together. Thanks to YouTube, I figured out how to wet set and curl my hair. I researched makeup that didn’t set off my allergies. I found vintage hats, bags, and accessories in the antique stores downtown. Then, suddenly, I was off!
I should now tell you how well the reading went and how many books I sold. Well, the reading did go well (in fact the second impromptu reading I organized with two authors who didn’t get official spots went really well, too.) My main reading was recorded and you can listen to it at the link below.
I did sell books (and promptly spent the money on vintage pulp magazines.) But that wasn’t the best part. Not even close. The best part was that I met amazing people that I hope will remain friends for a very long time.
I saw inspiring original pulp artwork and, through examination, sussed out essentially lost pen & ink techniques that I can now use myself. (And did use one in a forthcoming book.)
I took an enormously long time getting ready in the mornings and used a great deal of hair spray and bobby pins. And you know what? It was awesome!
Science fiction fans have always (from the very first science fiction fan clubs and cons in the 1930’s) put forth the idea that these gatherings are all about making friends who love the same sorts of things that you do. I’ve been to many science fiction/comic/anime/steampunk conventions over the years but this one was different. Not because it was focused on the pulps, but because I finally embraced the idea of a “going to a con” for the first time. It was something that I’ll never forget.
I felt the miraculous at work as the synchronicities piled up to get me to Pittsburgh. Then, as I sashayed into the dealer’s room for the very first time, wearing red lipstick and white gloves. With my 1950’s vintage outfit and shiny black purse, I felt different. I felt wonderful. And while I thought I was cosplaying, everyone there assumed I dressed like this all the time. They told me so. And I thought…what if I do from now on? I started to do just that.
I’ll go back to Pittsburgh next year if at all possible. I’ll bring at least two of my own books and dress in new outfits. Maybe, I’ll even do another reading. So much has already changed for me since July…what will I be like in July of 2019? No idea, but it’s very exciting to think about.
ArtsReviews’s Podcast has posted a recording of my reading at PulpFest 2018. You can listen to it on his reviews website.
When you get to the page, scroll down until you see this entry and hit play. The recording quality isn’t great, but I think you can still make it all out. 🙂 Cheers!