FanX Salt Lake 2021

After a year of tumult and avoiding crowds, or to be honest, avoiding people in general, being back at FanX was a welcome step back to normalcy. That said, it was really weird to interact with so many friends and strangers in person after so long of not feeling safe to do so. I was pleased that the majority of attendees chose to respect the mask rule as I know it helped keep us all safer.

This year was a number of firsts for me, which made my FanX experience that much more exciting. I wasn’t until recently that I was able to join the panelist group, thanks to a dear friend who advocated for me. Before that, I’d always bought a ticket and spent my time attending panels in the audience, walking the vendor floor, and finding friends who were actually working the con. Throw in an occasional cosplay, and that was the extent of my experience.

The Booth

In previous years, I’ve never committed to selling my books at any particular booth, mainly because I didn’t really have that many books to sell. Way back in 2019, which feels like forever ago, I got to sign books with my favorite indie bookstore, The Printed Garden. And while it doesn’t hold a candle to the work of running a booth, it was the perfect way to stick my toe in the water.

This year I buddied up with two fabulous authors, Candace J Thomas and C. M. Adler, as well as one amazing artist, Julie Gallegos to make up the Local Fantasy Author Booth #1236. All I can say is, what a learning experience. I got a much greater appreciation for booth design, inventory management, and patron interaction than I ever expected.

Moderating my first panel

It’s one thing to be invited to talk about different topics, it’s quite another to guide the conversation. This year I participated in three fascinating panels, Spirited Away, Flash Gordon, and The Witcher.

2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the Japan release of Spirited Away, so I thought it would be a great year to celebrate. As the panel was my idea, they let me moderate which is something I’ve done a bunch in other smaller venues, but nothing as big as FanX. My fellow panelists were terrific and the discussion ranged from thematic elements of the show to how Miyazaki ties his creations to folklore and culture, to my favorite question – which character each of the panelists felt represented them the best.

The other panels were also great fun. For Flash Gordon the moderator brought some slides that compared the Sam J Jones movie to the original Buster Keaton series. We then talked about our favorite scenes – definitely the tree spider scene – and also brought up all sorts of interesting trivia, like how the role of Flash was originally offered to Kurt Russell.

As for the Witcher panel, I got to let my inner geek shine as only myself and one other panelist had read the novels and many of the questions had a lot to do with how the different medias compared with each other.

Selling out of my book!

As authors, nothing makes us happier than connecting with people who love the subjects and genres we write about. Selling my fantasy series at FanX was a dream come true. I’ve never been in a situation where people would walk by and see the books we offered and say, “I want that” and then buy it. Talk about feeling validated.

Again, this whole event was a learning experience. Part of that learning was all about how many of a title I should ideally bring. Had I brought more, I could have easily sold more. I don’t feel bad. As a first time, I consider the whole experience a raging success.

My one regret

Most years I spend far more time roaming around and seeing the other tables and booths. That said, most years I have my amazing hubby to keep me company as we look at all the cool cosplays and things for sale. While he came this year to visit, I was too overwhelmed at all the newness of working the booth to spend much time with him. When I did take a minute to wander around, it wasn’t the same.

Next year for sure I will make the time to roam the conference and see all the amazing stuff with hubby dearest and perhaps pick up a few more sparkly goodies along the way.

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