awp: when the internet sits in the same room

AWP is always one of the most fun things to happen every year. All these beautiful and insane people I know through the internet all arrive in the same place, drink too much, talk way too much, and don’t sleep enough. This year was no different, but it was also completely different.

I think this year was my favorite AWP yet, so hopefully this trend continues.

My first AWP was pretty intimidating. I didn’t really know very many people, didn’t really know what to do, and tried to do way too much, which resulted in me missing a lot of cool things and sort of wandering back and forth. I worked at the Lit Pub/MLP table where I got to hangout with JA Tyler, Molly Gaudry, Josh Denslow and a rotating cast of others. It was probably the best introduction to AWP for someone in my position. If you don’t know what to do, where to go, or who to talk to, just latch onto a table because people will think you’re important. It also gives you a break from the insanity that is the bookfair. I also got to finally meet a lot of the Velvet/Manarchy crew. I had known them for years and it was super awesome and fun to finally get to highfive and hug them in person, instead of just through the internet.

Last year was my second AWP and it was better than the first because I learnt to accept that you can’t see everything. You’re always going to miss out on most things, so just surround yourself with great people and let them guide you. Got to finally meet the CCM people, hangout with Phil Jourdan again, and hangout at the MLP/Dzanc table with JA Tyler and Matt Bell, which was awesome, of course. Though this year was better than the first, I still felt like I was running around, trying to see/meet/talk to as many people as possible.

That’s what made the difference this year. I felt much less of a need to explore and meet all the new faces and places and books and publishers. I feel like I met the group of people that I wanted to meet in 2013, and this year I got to spend more time with them, and get to know each of them better. In addition, the cast of characters grew. I got to meet Janice Lee and Peter Tieryas who are so so awesome. I wish I got to spend more time with both of them, but I’m really glad we had a few great talks. J David Osborne, too, was the bee’s knees and sort of completely different from who I expected him to be. JS Breukelaar was the big surprise for me, since I knew nothing about her, but then I spent hours just talking to her. She made me miss all my Aussie friends and reminded me how much I need to finally get there. Then there’s Rose O’Keefe and Patrick Wensink who are just so awesome and talked with me about ballet, because I guess we all really just needed to do that for a while. D Foy and Jeff Jackson are two of the coolest guys around and I’m excited to see D in Minneapolis in a few months. Oh, and then there’s Stephen Graham Jones. Coolest and nicest guy around. I’ve been reading his novels for almost a decade now and it made him seem intimidating at first, but he’s just a great person who also happens to write my favorite books.

And then there was the core crew from the previous year: Michael Seidlinger, Kyle Muntz, Cameron Pierce, Kirsten Pierce, and Alexander Allison. Michael, unfortunately, fell ill, which was a huge bummer, but I had an awesome time with Kyle [as always] and it was great to talk more with Kirsten and Cameron, who might be two of my favorite people in the world. They remind me of two of my best friends and they’ve convinced me that I need to be in Bizarrocon this year. And Alex was very english and very awesome and just always interesting.

And it seems like I’m falling into that bizarro crowd and I honestly think they might be the best people to know. To be honest, before I met Kirsten and Cameron last year, I thought bizarro was just a silly genre full of stupidity and weirdness. But you can’t talk to Cameron and Kirsten and ignore how intelligent they are, and if you pick up any of their books, you know there’s a lot more happening there than just strangeness. But most of the people I met this year are tied to bizarro in some way, and they’re all so awesome, so down to earth, and just so intelligent. They’re all normal people, and I think they’re actually quite a bit normaler than a lot of the literary genre folks. I really dig the people, their sense of community, and I’ve come to find that I really love their odd little books.

But, yeah, probably I’m forgetting people. Molly Gaudry and Jason Cook were great too! Seeing Molly always just sort of warms my heart, and Jason wears the dopest suits. Ah–Bud Smith and Sam Snoek-Brown too! Michael Kazepis and Nick Mamatas and and and-

Okay, I’ll just leave it there. If I forgot to mention you, just know I love you privately.