I Was a Fan Girl

Peter miraculously had some time off from booth duty on Thursday afternoon, so we strolled off to explore the convention hall. Just steps from our booth, we discovered a freaking long line of people. I asked the person on the end what was the line for: people will stand in line for anyone, and I’m sure I would have no clue who it was.

“Jim Butcher is signing,” the woman in line told me. I quickly got right in line behind her. I love the Dresden Files novels, and I’d just finished reading the latest one, Small Favor, which was the best one yet. I was about to step out just to look at one of the people in line in front of me who was dressed as the hero of the novels, wizard Harry Dresden. Peter advised me to stay in line, and then smiled as I’d become a crazed fan like everyone else at the con.

The signing hadn’t actually begun yet, but I think I was the 95th person in line. I know because the bookstore that was hosting the signing handed me a card with that number on it. I was nervous because I hadn’t brought anything for Jim Butcher to sign, but the people in line around me let me step out to buy myself a copy of Small Favor. As it turns out, the card I’d been given entitled me to another free book of his at the signing, whereupon he’d sign it as well as any other book of his handed to him. That blew my mind: a book signing where you get the author’s book for free. I’m happy when I go to a book signing where the bookstore isn’t a complete fascist and insists on $25+ purchases for the honor of having an audience with an author. But here, the bookstore was going to give me one of his books?!

I found it hard to believe. I happily clutched my copy of Small Favor, and spoke to the woman in front of me who was holding three short-story compilations with Jim Butcher stories in them. As people passed me by, they asked me who the signing was for, and like the fan girl I was I held up Small Favor and happily burbled “Jim Butcher! The Dresden Files author!” They all politely nodded, and said “oh, yeah…him.” They had no idea who he was which put me in that delicious exclusive category of Jim Butcher fan, together with the other 150 or so people who were waiting in line 45 minutes before the author appeared. Shiaw-Ling came by to laugh at me.

As it turns out, I really did get a Jim Butcher book (The Furies of Calderon, from another series of his, which I will now discover), as well as Small Favors signed. To my surprise, this practice of giving books away with a signing seemed to be typical for the con, and once I discovered it, I became a book ho. Before the con ended, I also snagged Mirrored Heavens, a futuristic action thriller by David J. Williams; 30 Days of Night: Eternal Damnation, a novelization based on a comic book series Peter really loves, by Jeff Mariotte and Steve Niles; and Exit Strategy, a hunting-for-a-serial-killer mystery by Kelley Armstrong, each book personally signed to me and Peter in person by the author, who more often than not had his/her editor at their side. I’ll probably still be in happy shock about it when I get around to reading the books.

But I digress. The next day, I went to see the Jim Butcher panel. I wasn’t sure I’d get into it, because most of the people at our booth had already been skunked out of getting a seat at any of the panels they wanted to see. But I figured I’d try, so about 30 or 45 minutes before the panel began I went to get in line for the appearance. The line for the huge room (I think 3000 seats, if not more) ran around the halls and then twisted back in on itself, but there was still room for me to get in line. I’d discovered the day before Jim Butcher fans are fun, probably because I’m one of them and I know what they’re talking about when they discuss the short-lived Sci-Fi channel TV series or other fantasy authors, like Laurel K. Hamilton. So even if I didn’t get in, it’d be interesting.

As it so happened, I did make it in, where I encountered the Avatar: The Last Airbender fans who were already in from several panels before and keeping their seats until their panel 4 hours hence. I don’t think they kept any Jim Butcher fans from making it in, and I was happy that both guys wearing Harry Dresden costumes made it in and got to ask questions. Jim Butcher simply opened the panel up directly to answers, and I have to say my fellow Jim Butcher fans asked good questions, though it helped greatly to be familiar with the novels already: What inspired the Codex Alera world? (The interesting answer: Pokemon and The Lost Roman Legion.) What happened to the demon Lasciel, and what was going to happen to Dresden’s shot-up friend Michael? What did Butcher think of the Sci-Fi series, and is there going to be another series or Dresden Files movie? (Answer: possibly, in about 4 years when the Sci-Fi contract expires.) What’s with the funky wizard hat in the Dresden Files comic book? At one point, Jim Butcher mocked the Avatar fans, who woke up to cheer at the mention of their series. When you’re going to sit in a room all day for your favorite cartoon, you’re beyond mockery. As far as they were concerned, it was our non-Avatar-fan loss that we were not one of them.

And then one of us, one of the Jim Butcher fans, asked Jim Butcher why he had a Disney allusion in every book of the Dresden series. Disney allusion? Butcher was as surprised as me. When you’re picking out things in the books that even the author doesn’t know about, maybe you are being a little too obsessive. Anyway, the panel ended with all the Jim Butcher fans happy, and most of them (not including me) heading over the autography area to get more Jim Butcher books signed.

But I discovered I am a Jim Butcher fangirl, and in that, I am not alone.

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