Gen Con 50 was an amazing experience. I had a thousand-thousand good things happen. I saw old friends, made new ones. Announced a three book deal, confirmed pending contracts, had old gigs in retirement re-ignite with the power of the sun, and agreed to work on a couple of new, exciting things.
With Apocalypse Ink Productions, I sold out of 7 of my 10 available titles, debuted 2 new omnibuses with both authors there at the convention, and met some people who were so glad to know me first as an author. I had someone come up and tell me I was the reason for their success. They’d taken my advice over the years and now they had the career they wanted. I was told I was someone’s most favorite author in the world. Out of all the fabulous authors out there, they loved my books best.
I got to meet and have a lovely, brief conversation with Charlaine Harris.
And yet, I had one unpleasant thing happen. Just one. Kind of a record, really. This one small micro-aggression keeps coming back to overshadow everything else. I’ve had this specific thing happen before. I’ll have it happen again.
When you come to my booth at a convention, I usually ask you something like “What do you like to read?” Even if this isn’t the first thing that comes up, I ask it pretty frequently. I don’t believe in trying to sell someone a book they don’t want to read. If you don’t read horror or urban fantasy, I won’t even try to sell it to you.
This older guy stops at my booth and we have a conversation. It’s a pretty good conversation from all cues. When I discover he only really likes sci-fi, I admit I only have one book on the table that fits the sci-fi genre. It’s NEVER LET ME, my Melissa Allen trilogy omnibus. I don’t get a chance to say more than, “It’s a YA sci-fi thriller that was nominated for the Bram Stoker award.”
He looks at the book cover.
Then he looks me up and down in an obvious, deliberate manner before he says, “Let me guess, female protagonist?”
I blink at him for a moment and nod. “The first book has a female protagonist, but—”
“I don’t read female protagonists.” He turns on his heel and stalks off like I’d insulted his mother.
All I could think to say was “I guess not.”
I’m not sure what this guy wanted to accomplish. Having a reading preference is one thing. Being deliberately mean is another. He knew he was insulting me when he said what he did then flounced off. Half the covers of my books have women on the front. (The others include dripping blood, a man with an ax, and ravens.) I introduced myself as the “author or editor of everything on the table.”
Part of me shakes my head at all the wonderful books this man will never read because of the assumptions he makes. Part of me wants to shake some sense into him. Part of me is feeling very uncharitable and thinking “Well, he’s old and will die soon. Good riddance.”
Just wish this one thing hadn’t happened to mar my convention experience. Just wish this one thing wouldn’t happen again, but I know it will. And I know I’m not the only author it will happen to.
Added note: The main reason I wrote about it is the fact that some people don't believe this sort of thing happens all...the...time... because people don't talk about it. This needs to be talked about. It needs to be pointed out when people behave badly with a purpose.