by Phil Geusz
©2011 Phil Geusz
One of the dangers of authoring a free-roving column is that its easy to let it degenerate into nothing more than a regularly-scheduled rant session. While I like to think that Ive avoided this pitfall so far, I cant say that I havent felt the temptation. Thus, its a genuine pleasure to have something like RainFurrest 2010 to write about, which was so perfect that I couldnt rant about it if I tried.
I was privileged to be RainFurrests (RFs) Writing Guest of Honor in 2007, something that touched me more deeply than almost anyone knows. I did my best that year to try and help the con get off on the right foot in regards to offering quality writing-related programming, and was pleased to note that several highly-placed figures on staff there shared my love of the written word and wanted to give it a prominent place at that and future conventions. While I was unable to return in either 2008 or 2009Seattle is a very long, expensive way from my Tennessee homewhen I finally came back in 2010 I was shocked to see how much of that dream had transformed itself into reality.
First of all, there was the programming. So very, very much programming! And of such high quality, to boot! Noted furry author Kyell Gold was there, and as usual he hosted many thoughtful, well-presented sessions on various topics of interest to us writer-folk. Yours truly also tried his hand at a couple-three panels himself. The publishers from the dealers room also offered high-quality presentations on topics related to their end of the industry. Overall Id hazard a guess that theres never been a furcon held anywhere, ever, that offered so much of interest to the furry writer. RF presented twenty-four hours of literary-centric panels, where few other cons present as many as eight.
But it didnt stop there! Graveyard Greg, a new friend I met for the first time at this con (he was this years RF Writing Guest of Honor) took advantage of the occasion to launch his new novella Deathless, published by Argyll. The Rainfurrest people not only made a very nice room available for the ceremony, but catered the event with large-quantities of most excellent food and drink. Greg was practically aglow at all the attentionso far as I know theres never been another con-hosted event even remotely like this one at any other furry convention anywhere. Ive heard that this is how things are often done in the world of science fiction, where authors tend be more notable celebrities than among furs, but cant speak from personal experience as Ive been to almost no SF conventions. All I can say is that seeing Greg have such a wonderful time and be made so much of certainly motivated me to crank out another book, so that maybe someday I can experience the same!
On a tangential note, Ive heard from several sources recently that the small-press publishing industry is looking up in recent months, that the onset of the Kindle and other e-readers has both created new markets for writers and also, perversely, stimulated dead-tree sales as well. All the publishers I spoke to on the subjectI didnt ask all of themreported a significant rise in sales this year. As an author, I can say that Ive had a record year for selling new titles to publishers as well. So perhaps RainFurrest is merely ahead of the curve? As a lover of furry fiction, I can only hope!
There are lots of other nice things for me to say about RainFurrest as well. The lobby of the con-hotel was the nicest and most beautiful Ive ever been in, period. The staff was courteous and professional, and if anything significant failed to come off perfectly I certainly never noticed it. Attendance at RF has risen steadily every year, and I dont see that trend ending any time soon. Seattle is a beautiful city located amidst a treasure-trove of natural wondersif it werent so wretchedly expensive Id seriously consider retiring there. The weather tends to be mild if a bit damp in September, when the con is held. And the furry fandom, always an extra-friendly group to begin with, seems even more so in the Pacific Northwest. If I were a fur whod saved up enough money to travel long-distance to a con, RainFurrest would be very much on my short list.
Thank you, RainFurrest, for being so good to us writers! And to everyone else too, for that matter!