Mark and I still haven’t fully recovered from FaerieCon. It’s taken me this long to fully reflect on the experience in order to properly write about it, and between the day job and life in general, catching up and getting myself more organized and on a schedule are some of the things I plan to do better in the new year. But more on that next time…
FaerieCon East was an amazing event—three days packed with magic, music, heart, story, and so much creativity! For those who don’t know anything about FaerieCon, it’s a convention that celebrates the enchanted and the imagination. People from all walks of life came donning horns and wings and pointy ears. Skin and hair ran the gamut from blue and green, to black and white, to purple and pink, and everything in between. No one had to wear t-shirts with messages about acceptance and diversity; they simply were accepting and diverse. I’ve never been to such a love-oriented convention.
FaerieCon East has been at Baltimore since 2009, so a lot of traditions have been created over the years. For example, there’s a massive, loud guy called The Fairy Smasher who stomps around bopping fairies and delighting children, and there’s a group called The Green Men who march around the convention playing flutes and singing, followed by dancing faeries and other curiosities banging drums and shaking bells. The Green Men are covered in leaves and other garnishes, some have green skin while others look a bit like tree bark. They sprinkle blessings as they go, gifting vendors with little acorns with wishes of good fortune. I was absolutely tickled.
The Green Men are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dressing up at FaerieCon. Faeries were completely aglow with their vibrant skin colors and pointy ears and assortment of horns. There were ram horns and devil horns and stag horns everywhere you looked. And wings! Oh, wings were in abundance—from iridescent, simple and cute, to elaborate feathered ones in black and white, feathers from peregrine falcons and peacocks and flamingoes.
Then, there were the faeries with more water sprite qualities as well as mermaids. There were gowns with scales, skin that resembled scales; creatures carrying nets and tridents, decked out with seaweed and seashell.
I felt like I was at a fashion show.
Speaking of fashion show…FaerieCon had one, and the concept is brilliant. The convention organized an event that allowed vendors to showcase their wares in an entertaining manner. There were so many vendors selling all assortment of attire from peasant wear to corsets and gowns, cloaks, moccasins, and jewelry. The styles were just as varied: fantasy, steampunk, medieval, and goth.
They even opened up the fashion show to vendors who sold things other than clothes, so yours truly decided that Uniting the Heavens needed a chance at the spotlight. I filled out the form, wrote up some copy for the emcee to read, and my book made its first appearance on stage.
All my life, I’ve wanted to go to a masquerade. I’ve always loved the idea of dressing up and wearing a fancy mask to a grand party. It’s probably because of Phantom of the Opera and Eyes Wide Shut and any other of the fantastical things I get obsessed with.
FaerieCon has—not one—but TWO masquerades. There was the Good Faerie Ball on Friday evening, and the Bad Faerie Ball on Saturday night. We went to both—because masquerades, you guys! I go my whole life dreaming about attending a masquerade, and then I attend two in one weekend. All in.
One of the opening acts on Friday night was a band called ThunderCrow. I loved their sound so much. It was like the Nordic gods came down to play with thunder while blowing on a resounding horn to warn of the giants’ march on Asgard. The duo is actually from the Netherlands, and the horn was actually a didgeridoo—the super massive long type (Australian?), and it was amazing to see and hear one live. Faeries were dancing with glowing whip-like things in the darkness of the ballroom. It was mesmerizing.
The main act was Abney Park, a steampunk band from Seattle. They were SO MUCH FUN. Their music felt like a mix of jazz/swing with some of that ska offbeat. Mark and I were dancing and head banging and just having an overall good time. I acquired two new favorite bands that night.
The Bad Faerie Ball on Saturday night was also fun. I found the music of Woodland a bit more subdued than the music of the previous night. Their sound was more atmospheric and folksy, deep and reminiscent of forgotten places and times. There were some songs that had a very Celtic feel, and Mark and I found ourselves in the corner of the ballroom, twirling and dancing our faces off, completely absorbed into the world of faerie.
Artists & Authors
I met so many amazing people at FaerieCon: computer programmers, a teacher, a medium and animal intuitive, a photographer, and a mermaid to mention a few. There were two authors (Patrick Thomas and John French) in the booth next to me who were really good at selling. Imagine Billy Mays at a convention. That’s the kind of energy these guys had. John (who is also a Baltimore CSI guy) and I thought it was hilarious that FRENCH and ENGLISH had neighboring booths. Tell me Faeries don’t have a sense of humor.
To be a vendor at FaerieCon, you have to submit an application and hope to be accepted. Screening the vendors ensures that everything from the decor, to the guest speakers and artists, to the music all fit into this world that they’ve created. It also makes it better for vendors because the audience is very targeted.
I submitted an application early in 2018—maybe around April. By the time August rolled around, I had given up on attending. There was no one I could contact to get a status, and there was nothing on the website that said you’d have to wait or that applications were closed. I told myself it wasn’t meant to be and that the tables for vendors were super costly anyway.
Then, in September, I got a call from Faerieworlds asking if I was still interested. In a heartbeat, all my hope rushed back in. The only caveat was that instead of a table, I would be getting a booth and sharing it with another vendor. Being the introvert that I am, I panicked inside, but I was being offered an expensive booth at FaerieCon for the same price as a table. Additionally, Faerieworlds had done their research and explained how the artist I was being paired with had work that would compliment my book and draw people in. Very clever!
I really could not have asked for a better booth mate. Autumn Rozario Hall and her husband Kyle were so easy to get a long with and talk to. They were more on the quiet side like Mark and me, and Faerieworlds was right—her gorgeous art brought a lot of people to our booth which meant more people inquiring about my book. I thought it was a great set-up for us. I loved her art so much, I did a lot of shopping. (Mark always jokes that we will never make money at conventions because I just want to walk around and buy what everyone else is selling. Teehee…)
Of all the art she had, there was one of a dark haired fairy with her leg in the water which really resonated with me. It was as if someone had spotted Kaila and painted her. So, yeah, obviously I bought it. Hahahaha! It has a special place in my living room now.
There were so many amazing authors and artists, such as J.M. Lee who is the author of the Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal series and Corey Godbey, illustrator of the series. It was really a Dark Crystal kind of weekend because Wendy Froud and Toby Froud (yes, the baby from The Labyrinth) were also in attendance.
One of my most favorite purchases was Faeries of the Faultlines by Iris Compiet, an artist from the Netherlands. This signed and numbered book has gold foil on a green linen hardcover, and each page is made of thick, luxurious paper. This book even smells amazing. It has an intro by Brian Froud, and contains such beautiful art (think Pan’s Labyrinth, which Iris said she is influenced by). She and I spoke about how characters and creatures live in our heads, and in her case, those characters need to come to life through her drawings. She listened as I shared my own writing experiences and how my characters bang around in my head, waiting for me to write out their stories. She’s such a lovely person, and so supportive of other artists.
Overall, FaerieCon was an amazing experience that I’ll cherish for a long time. I probably won’t attend another one as a vendor until I have my second and/or third books published, but if the faeries will have me again, I look forward to another enchanted experience.