Bright was the day and ungodly early was the hour when I raised myself for the second day of Shamrokon. The bus deposited me at the con with a little time to spare before the first panel, which is good, since I had to spend 10 minutes in the toilets putting on leather torso armour, leather bracers, a large Larp sword and a huge woollen cloak. While there were a lot of people dressed up at the Con, my garb served a purpose, but we’ll get back to that. I dropped in to Con Ops to make sure my sword was properly peace bonded, picked up a hot chocolate and headed to the first panel, which was YA Focus: YA Before The Boom.
On this panel, Ruth Francis Long, C.E. Murphy and Michael Carroll talked about the Hipster young adult books, that were written before it was cool. It was a lovely informal atmosphere, with many a laugh. It also introduced me to the term “New Adult”, my ignorance of this term would come back to haunt me later.
Next up was another YA Focus panel “Kids with jobs”. This panel was of special interest to me because it contained Amie Kaufman and Leigh Bardugo, who I was on a panel with later in the day. I’m not saying I was at the panel *just* to stalk them, but it was a contributing factor. The panellists explored both the difficulty of giving young adult protagonists jobs and the reasons for doing so. I found this particularly relevant since one of the possibilities for The Other Foe, book 2 of The Other Series, is Eoin getting a job.
The third panel was the first one where I was a panellist, and I was more than a little nervous. It was ‘Larping all over the world’ and I needn’t have been worried. My fellow panellists were wonderful, we had a great moderator and I think we gave a good impression of what Larping is about and how to get in to it. Obviously my armour sword and cloak were worn to demonstrate what you might see at a Larp. I had thought it would make me stand out, but I looked positively plain next to my fellow panellist Lars, who came in full Drow getup, with amazing leather armour, jet black make up and red contacts. This panel was the most fun for me over the weekend.
Straight after that I had another panel ‘YA Focus: YA Evolution’. I had a good time on this one as well, but I was a little intimidated sitting with experienced novelists Amie, Leigh and Kathryn Sullivan. The length and breadth of their knowledge was so impressive, and I felt like I was paddling like mad to keep up. I think this showed when Amie, as moderator, sprung a last question on us of what we would recommend people read if they want to start reading young adult books. My mind blanked for nearly a full minute, I knew I wanted to recommend a trilogy written by Andrew Fukuda, but I was messing up the titles. Luckily I had a secret weapon, when my turn came I called out to my wife, who was sitting in the audience and who’s love of young adult books knows no bounds, to confirm the titles (The Hunt, The Prey and The Trap), and also to confirm the author of the second book I wanted to recommend which was Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. My wife also called out a description of Only Ever Yours that was so good, Amie called it out over the microphone to make sure everyone heard it. She said the book is “Like the Handmaids tale mixed with the Stepford Wives mixed with Mean Girls… only meaner”. Without a doubt she saved my bacon.
After that we finally took a break (And I needed it). We had some amazing food at the hotel bar and my wife went to the cosplay photo shoot to get photos of her Victorian/Steampunk outfit.
From 4 – 7 I ran the Larp that Shamrokon had asked me to write for the Convention, and it was epic. The premise was that in 2050, the world had coalesced in to 5 factions. These factions had brought the world to the edge of annihilation, and were meeting today to try and make some kind of peace and save humanity. As with any Larp, myself and my Co-GM Feargal had no real idea what was going to happen until we let the players loose. As it turned out, The African Faction ignored rebel uprisings while focusing on getting as much money as possible. The South American faction based all of their strategy on ensuring the safety of the illegal drug industry which THEY had decided was the basis of their economy, the Asian faction were selling Fusion Power Plant plans like they were gong out of fashion, the USA faction attacked the EU with drone technology, then sent a spy to try and cover it up (Who got captured). When Aliens showed up in the skies over the earth, the USA faction blasted every single saucer with nuclear weapons, raining radioactive debris down on the factions below.
In the end I declared the EU faction the winners, since they played… well, the EU. They didn’t attack anyone, they did a lot of collaboration with the other factions, they defended themselves well, and when the nukes were launched, they used their captured American spy to disable the nukes above them, meaning the EU was the only faction not covered in radioactive debris.
It was exhausting, but entirely worth it, because it was amazing to see the story unfold and how creative players were getting.
We had to tidy up after the Larp pretty quick, because at 7:50pm was one of the most important events of the entire con… the airing of the new Doctor Who episode. I have to say, there is nothing quite like sitting in a hall with 300 other people watching Doctor Who on the big screen, all laughing and gasping together. Oh, and for the record, I loved it.
Most people took themselves home after Doctor Who, but I stayed around a little longer, because there was something I wanted to do. Across the hall, pushed back on the timetable so it wouldn’t clash with Doctor Who was a Filk jam session. I could only spend half an hour there, but I heard some amazing songs that made me laugh, I got to try out one I wrote called “You’ve got a fiend”, and, I got to sing Mal’s song. I have sung this song many times, around tables and camp fires, but there was something about singing it in that room, the moment where I hit the chorus, and everyone joined in, it washed over me and it was beautiful. I can think of no better way to end the day.