Back in June of 2007, I started a serial story on Livejournal to see how that would go and the answer was, it went. Nine years later, it’s still frequently going strong even at times in my life when I am not.
I’ve always resisted the idea of doing “fan events” at cons and such because I didn’t see them as necessary. Like, I’m just a person, right? When I go to WisCon, I’m a registered member like everyone else, including the people who come up and tell me that they love Tales of MU, or who tell me later that they wanted to do so but were to shy… something that happens every year, and so every subsequent year I do more to try to make myself approachable so people don’t feel they can’t come up and squee with me.
This year, I apparently had a banner year for being approachable, because more people than ever came up… to tell me, frequently in so many words, that they still found me too cool to talk to. This is not a problem I ever anticipated growing up.
It was at one point when there was a thread mutual appreciation pinging around the room and I realized that we were all sort of standing there in awe of each other that it hit me that fan events really are necessary. It’s not about self-aggrandizement. It’s not about putting yourself above the people who like and appreciate your work. It’s about what I’ve been trying to do, which is making yourself accessible. An event creates a context in which people know that it’s okay to approach you. It gives them something of a script to follow, if they need one. It makes sure they won’t be the only one doing so.
So next year, at WisCon 41—held, as always, over Memorial Day Weekend in downtown Madison—I am going to be doing two things I have never done at the con. Chronologically second and less ambitiously, I am going to be participating in the Sign-Out, where authors and artists sit at a table in a big hall so that people who haven’t had the chance or the nerve to shake their hand or say a few words or get something signed can come up and do so. First and more boldly, I am going to throw a party: a 10th anniversary party for Tales of MU. (Hat tip to Jack for pointing out the upcoming milestone and suggesting it as a theme.)
Why not? There are a lot of people at WisCon who read or have read Tales of MU. It’s a seminal (tee hee) work in the area of web serials, its success directly inspiring such things as Cat Valente’s initial Fairyland fundraiser and Cecilia Tan’s still-extant Daron’s Guitar Chronicles. I think there’d be sufficient interest among regular congoers to justify a party, as even for people who don’t yet read it, I can’t really deny that my name and presence are becoming a draw for programming events. Then we throw into the mix any MU readers who haven’t yet come to WisCon but might for something like this.
Now, there are limited spaces and slots available for official parties. I’m going to make a pitch for one as soon as they’re open for requests. Apart from my ability to draw people to the party and the con, my party plans are being tailored to the evolving reality of the party/alcohol rules at WisCon. While some grouse that the new rules have destroyed the party atmosphere, I think a lot of people are looking for a different experience, and I’ve gotten really good at inventing drinks using flavor syrups. The MU party is going to have a “mock bar” serving flavored non-alcoholic drinks themed around MU characters and things. My boyfriend Jack will play the role of pretend bartender (or “pretender”, if you will). Our party’s fare will also be friendly for diabetics and people who are watching their carb intake or blood sugar levels for whatever reason.
WisCon parties are the responsibility of the hosts, and we’ve already sorted out most of the logistics re: catering this thing. It’s not pie in the sky. We have plans to make it happen. In the event that we are not awarded a space, though, the party will still happen. It might be a “room party” (a thing that also happens), it might be in borrowed space, we might crowdfund a party space offsite, though that would be less than ideal for accessibility reasons. I want everybody to be prepared for the fact that the actual details and level of officialness are likely to be up in the air until sometime early next year, but also to be aware that this thing is happening. I want to say now, a year out, that this is a thing that is happening, so that you all have a year to figure out how you can get to it.
If you’re a MU fan and WisConite, this is going to be your fan. If you’re a WisCon goer who has mainly known me through WisCon and not my most famous (non-meme) work, this is going to be your chance to get acquainted with my writing. If you’re a MU fan who has never been to WisCon, this post is a good place to start your planning: http://www.alexandraerin.com/2016/06/so-you-want-to-go-to-wiscon/.
See you next year!