Issue 34 Jun 11, 2023

Thoughts after returning from a convention table


I’m back from my first convention, Eurocon in Uppsala, Sweden, with my fantasy novel, Automatonen. It’s in Swedish, but if you want to read up on it, check out the website. There are some photos from Eurocon on my Instagram, too.

I’ve done conventions before, in 2002, when I had a pen-and-paper role-playing game out. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t for me. While I appreciated the community and being surrounded by people with the same, then fringe, interests, I found myself feeling uncomfortable. I only did select appearances after that, and didn’t get back to being on stage, doing lectures, and organizing events until after the Smashing WordPress books were out. These days, I rarely do things like that, and I debated long and hard if I should attend Eurocon with a table for my book. In the end, I’m glad I did, even if it left me exhausted.

Meeting other authors, sharing everything from marketing to writing tips, was valuable to me. I especially enjoyed speaking to other Swedish fantasy writers since we’re all in this together, competing with translated mega-series’ for eyeballs. Automatonen is my first novel in Swedish, and I was surprised to hear from other authors that some readers they’ve found didn’t even know there were fantasy novels written by Swedes, in Swedish. That left me stumped, I must confess. I’d expected more from readers of this popular genre, but there you go. Tidbits like that from people who’ve been doing this longer than I have was rewarding. I learned a lot about the scene during the single day I was at Eurocon.

That’s the thing with conventions: It’s the meetings and conversations that ensue that makes it worthwhile. I’m an introvert, which doesn’t mean I’m socially awkward or anything, but it takes a lot out of me to socialize with people. Networking like this, meeting hundreds of people in a day, is hard on me. It leaves me drained. My wife, who came along to help out, and I barely spoke during the hour or so drive back to Stockholm – we were exhausted. I dread how I’d felt had I done it alone, at least she was there to support me, and did a killer job at that.

But here’s the kicker: It was all worth it, and while my brain is mush today, I’m more motivated to write than I have been in a long time. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to get that extra burst.


🛑 Reddit is doing a Twitter and starting to charge (quite substantial sums) for its API. That means the death of third-party Reddit clients, as has been widely reported after the Apollo creator published what it’d cost to keep the app running. After a pretty disastrous AMA with Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, it’s clear that the company won’t budge, which means that there’ll be a community blackout. You can follow that on the Reddark site, where you’ll see that some of the communities protesting with a blackout are pretty substantial. First Twitter, now Reddit – it’s all breaking, isn’t it?

🤬 Think Instagram is better? Nope: Instagram’s recommendation algorithms are promoting pedophile networks.

💵 What’s it like to suddenly have money, and lots of it? I found this piece in The New Yorker, by Andre Dubus III, to be an interesting read.

🏚️ Rural town life in the US is hard, but it can be really hard on girls, as this excerpt from the book The Forgotten Girls: A Memoir of Friendship and Lost Promise in Rural America clearly shows. I find it fascinating, and horrifying, that life can be like that. Sweden certainly has its problems, but not like this.

Got something I should read? Send it to me, either by replying to this letter, or tweeting to @tdh. Thanks!


📚 I’m about to wrap up Summer Knight by Jim Butcher. It’s another one of those popcorn books I’ve talked about before, and it’s served me well. The Dresden Files is shaping up nicely thus far, I’m glad I’ve got so much ahead of me there.

🎵 It’s been a slow week for music, but I’ve been returning to Skunk Anansie’s albums. Wonderlustre is a favorite, I must say.

📺 I never saw the second season of True Detective (nor the third), so we did that. It was okay, campy at times, but not worth the bad reputation it has in some circles.

🎮 I tried several games this week, mostly on my iPad, but ended up deleting them all. I did return to Solitairica for a bit, it’s great fun, but I’ve got everything unlocked so in the end, it was mostly Slay the Spire. Yes, again.

Several of you have emailed me about Apple’s headset, the Vision Pro. I have thoughts, but I wasn’t at WWDC and haven’t tried the headset, nor seen it in person, so I’ll mull over it a bit more.

That’s it for this week. It’s late afternoon here, so I’m going to decompress with a book on the balcony, a cool drink by my side. Maybe you should too?

Until next week, take care.

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡

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