By Sarah J. Sover
Whenever a new member joins the online JordanCon community, there’s inevitably a slew of comments saying “Welcome home.” For those unfamiliar with the convention scene, it might seem odd or downright off-putting. How can a science fiction and fantasy convention be a home?
Fans, artists, and writers in the speculative realms are frequently misfits in society at large. We were the geeks and weirdos in school—the drama kids, the nerd herd, the trench coat clad boy who binged Anime, the quiet girl who scribbled poems and accidentally set a paper tablecloth on fire at that one school event. Through the years, I’ve worn dozens of hats and been involved with many communities—I promise, I never burned any of them down! I joined and even headed writer’s clubs, animal rescue groups, swing dance communities, and more. Sure, I made a couple friends in each of those spaces, but no matter how much time I spent and how much of myself I gave, I never felt like I truly fit in. When I spoke, people would look at me like I just disembarked my spacecraft.
I discovered JordanCon when my best friend, Sara Bond, and I met Jason Denzel at WorldCon 2016. As soon as he discovered that we were both SFF writers from Atlanta, he insisted we check it out. That first year, I was anxious and awkward, but that’s pretty standard for me. I built up my nerve enough to enter the slush event hosted by the writer’s track. Traffic was abysmal that morning, so I was late, and I sloshed my coffee all over the table and myself. Sara gave me a funny look when I sat down.
“Do I smell rum?” she whispered.
I think I told her to shut up, to which she laughed and responded with some calming words.
The moderator read the first pages of my work in progress, Fairy Godmurder, to a panel of editors, who were instructed to raise their hands at the point in which they would stop reading if they were truly evaluating a slush pile. The team Sanderson editors raised their hands at some point during my pages, but the indie press editors listened all the way through. Afterwards, they all discussed their rationale. I’ll never forget the moment John Hartness turned to an editor who hated my “black suit molasses” phrase and said “Haven’t you ever read any noir?” He went on to say that he would request more pages. It was the first time my writing had received validation from an industry professional. Years later, I signed a three-book contract with John for that series, but I’ll save that story for another time.
The following year, my debut novel, the weird and wacky Double-Crossing the Bridge, released, I was accepted into the inaugural JordanCon Anthology, and I appeared as a guest. I was so nervous, I posted on social media that in order to get a ribbon from me, you had to bleat like a goat. It worked like a charm! Every time I walked through the lobby, I was welcomed with goat calls. My anxiety gave way to laughter, and I felt truly accepted. I’ve been attending as a guest ever since.
I’m still nervous on panels. I spent so long being called weird, random, nerd, and a slew of other things, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully get used to people embracing that side of me, and it doesn’t help that adrenaline surges zap facts out of my brain. But at JordanCon, when I say things that would make the general population look at me like I’m wearing a human-skin suit, people nod along. They laugh at my stupid jokes. They seek me out after to continue the conversation, to peek at the doodles on my notes, or to compliment my take on a topic. My weirdness is not only accepted, it’s celebrated.
I hope, like me, you feel like you belong at JordanCon. Those things that bring you joy—your love of fantasy, gaming, geek culture, tiaras, the spacecraft you flew in on, that one esoteric topic you think nobody else cares about—we want to celebrate those things with you. By the time it’s all over, you’ll be back online asking if it’s April yet, and when you see the newbies posting about how they’re excited to attend their first JordanCon, you’ll be excited to post “Welcome home!”
Sarah J. Sover is the author of the Fractured Fae Series from Falstaff Books, which currently includes Fairy Godmurder and the forthcoming Faed to Black. Sarah also wrote the comedic fantasy Double-Crossing the Bridge, and she is a contributor to both Putting the Fact in Fantasy and Writer’s Digest Magazine. She’s had a love affair with JordanCon since 2017. Find her everywhere at linktr.ee/SarahJ.Sover.