Last weekend I attended the Ultimate Comic Book Trade Show & Expo HV at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. The event was organized by iHeart Media with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Highland Public Library, who held a similar, smaller event last summer. Expectations were high for the Expo, and it didn’t disappoint. Though Saturday drew a smaller crowd, Sunday was a steady flow of eager gamers, collectors, readers, and cosplay participants. The fellow authors, illustrators, and vendors I met were a pleasure. My immediate neighbors made for great conversation and a lot of laughs. I was glad to reconnect with familiar faces from past local events, including the wonderful Paul Abrams, and make new acquaintances such as Sam J. Jones, Mr. Flash Gordon himself. (Yes, Flash, I promise to let you know when the movie version of Crown of Stones comes out. Just keep signing autograph with that pen I gave you!)
The atmosphere of excitement and fun was infectious. Whether it was squeeing over David Tennant and Billie Piper with a like-minded Dr. Who fan, snagging Darth Vader for a picture, getting book recommendations, or ogling the inventive costumes and incredible artwork; it was great interacting with a room full of sci-fi and fantasy fans like myself. But the highlight was having the opportunity speak with so many current and potential readers.
To have someone confess they hadn’t picked up a book in a long time and after a short conversation leave with one of mine—or admit they weren’t ‘into’ fantasy but decide to give The Crown of Stones a try—is an amazing feeling. I couldn’t ask for anything better than to be the reason someone might return to reading after a long absence or to possibly inspire someone to broaden their reading horizons.
I also met quite a few aspiring writers. One of my favorite moments was when a boy of about 15 came up to my table. He was nervous and shy and barely made eye contact. But he had the courage to ask if I could give him any advice on being a writer. He left with a smile on his face and my card in his hand. And he wasn’t the only one. While this certainly wasn’t my first encounter with aspiring writers, it was the most I’d spoken to at any one event. It was heartening to see such a large number of budding authors, and I hope to hear from many of them in the future.
I was recently asked by a fellow author if in-person events like this one were worth it. I can safely say a lot of preparation went into the event. I spent time and money. I was exhausted both days. My feet hurt. I ate way too much junk food. But my answer was a resounding yes. I would do it every weekend if I could. Even if my sales hadn’t met expectations, I would still consider the event a success in terms of the encounters I had and the people I met. Readers make my world go round. Being immersed in such a positive environment with them is worth more than a few blisters.