A panel on the practice and popularity of supernatural fiction, which almost descended into chaos thanks to the manic, caffeinated energy of Joey Comeau, co-creator of A Softer World and author of the novel One Bloody Thing After Another. He was joined by Laura Whitcomb, author of A Certain Slant of Light, and Becca Fitzpatrick whose novel's include Hush, Hush and Crescendo. The creatures they wrote about were, respectively, weird mom zombies, fetches, and angels.
Like I said, Joey Comeau's wild presence dominated this conversation. It was totally welcome too. He cracked up the audience, his colleagues, and the moderator. By contrast Becca Fitzpatrick was very professional but still interesting. She mentioned her editor and audience several times. That kind of talk turns off a lot of wanna-be's but I always find it refreshing when writers acknowledge that there's a big business side of the craft (that Wordstock is actually a major symptom of) and that it actively affects their work. Laura Whitcomb was also in the young adult camp.
The odd thing was how much they all agreed on things. Why do people, especially teens, relate to the supernatural? Because we all feel isolated and monstrous and it's a dramatic representation of that. What's fun about writing supernatural stories? Making the rules of your reality, finding new ways of telling old stories. Why is it so enduring in its popularity? Why wouldn't it be? Fiction is largely escapism, and the supernatural takes that to the extreme by stretching the laws of the world. Becca Fitzpatrick noted a remark from Uglies writer Scott Westerfeld, that it would be more worthwhile to think about times when supernatural fiction wasn't popular, because those are the exceptions.
This is where Comeau really started to veer off topic. I noticed a father and son walk out when he started talking about the hotties on the TV show Supernatural. Then he told everyone about erotic fiction online where the Winchester brothers, the show's protagonists, get it on. And since they are brothers, it's called "Wincest." "Google it!" he told the mildly shocked moderator.
It was tangent after tangent from then on. On the show True Blood: "They're always talking about how the vampires are cold. And there's lots of sex. How come they never address the issue of cold genitals?" On Ayn Rand: "The Fountainhead is more of a fantasy than my book." On Doctor Who: "My favorite doctor is still David Tennant, but I feel that Matt Smith hasn't realized his full potential yet. He's great. Somehow he makes a bow tie hot." (All of the previous quotes are paraphrases.)
Some other tidbits, an upcoming anthology, Zombies vs. Unicorns, sounds pretty promising. Also Becca Fitzpatrick had a malapropism that I thought would make a good book, "Judo-Christian." Hells yeah.