Sunday, January 12, 2020

My Five AnachroCon 2020 Panels

The weekend of Valentine's Day 2020 I'm going to be participating in--and even moderating--several panels at AnachroCon, Atlanta's annual steampunk and alternate history convention. Here they are, along with what I anticipate discussing:

How To Write Effective Villains-Friday (2/14) at 5 PM. I've gotten some kudos for developing my villains, be they cult leader Phil in The Thing in the Woods, the military dictator Grendel in Battle for the Wastelands, and (NAME REDACTED FOR SPOILERS) in Little People, Big Guns. I always take care to remember that everybody is the hero in their own story and few if anybody truly see themselves as evil. Hitler and the Nazis viewed themselves as heroically fighting an international Jewish-Communist conspiracy, the Soviets viewed themselves as fighting exploitative and aggressive international capitalism, Mao Zedong viewed himself as fighting to rebuild China after a "Century of Humiliation" at the hands of the European colonial powers and Japan, and Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi viewed themselves as agents of the will of God. Also appearing on the panel are Taylor S. Hoch, Lee Martindale, and Bill Ritch.

To Trope or Not To Trope, That Is The Question-Friday (2/14) at 8 PM. Given all the times I've referenced the almighty TVTropes in Myopia: Defend Your Childhood and my friend Jamie and I can actually carry on conversations in TVTropes, this seemed right up my alley. Although many of my stories use common tropes (no spoilers to say that in Battle for the Wastelands, the hero's home is the Doomed Hometown), some of my storytelling ideas do invert common tropes. I wrote a whole blog post about how Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker would have been more interesting if they'd avoided Redemption Equals Death for a certain character (and had to deal with all the awkward consequences), while I've got an as-yet-unpublished short story in which the villain, rather than destroying the hero's hometown, instead makes it a major military base. The hero's neighborhood gets eminent-domained and much of the town ends up gentrifying, creating sets of winners and losers and a much more complicated situation than just the usual hero-villain. Also appearing on the panel are William Joseph Roberts, Bill Ritch, R.A. "Rob" McCandless, and Dennis Medbury.

So You Want To Go Indie: Publishing in the 21st Century-Saturday (2/15) at 11 AM. We're living in a new world with e-readers and platforms like Amazon KDP and Createspace. To use economics teacher metaphors, publishing used to be an oligopoly (harder to get into and more money for those who do), but now it's monopolistic competition (low barriers to entry and less profit). This has led to an explosion in the number of books available to readers, but also drastically increased competition for writers even as it provides a lot more opportunities for them. Also appearing on the panel are William Joseph Roberts, Mandy Burkhead, and Cecilia Dominic.

Alternate Universe Creation-Saturday (2/15) at 1 PM. One area of my writing I've been given kudos for is my worldbuilding. My "idea files" for different projects typically involve well-developed worlds just needing people to put in them. From high school (around 2000 or so) until 2015 when my new day job required more time I was a regular member of the Internet's biggest alternate history forum, producing several alternate timelines on the site and commenting on many, many more. Even though I had site administration ban me to avoid distractions, I still blog about timelines I can read in the public section, so I'm not getting rusty. Also appearing on the panel are Taylor S. Hoch, Bill Ritch, and Cecilia Dominic. This is the first time I'm actually moderating a panel, so wish me luck. :)

How To Research Effectively-Saturday (2/15) at 3 PM. Given how I've got a history masters degree this is an area where I can put my talents to work. For those writing military fiction YouTube has demonstrations of the firing of various weapons and even footage from actual combat (like the time someone put GoPros on tanks in battle in Syria). Also it's possible to get an alumni library card for colleges you've graduated from to retain access to the library, like I have for Georgia State. Also appearing are Lee Martindale and Cecilia Dominic.