I spent the last weekend of my fall break in Minneapolis at the first ever NerdCon Stories conference. I’m exhausted, but I’m really glad I went. The conference was produced by Hank Green and his fabulous team who also produce VidCon, and things ran very smoothly. Hank started the conference by telling us that he didn’t know exactly what it was going to be – that he was waiting to see what we wanted it to be, which was refreshing. There were a number of brief (approximately 7 minutes) talks on “Why Stories Matter.” All of them were completely different, and all of them were brilliant.
To be honest, my favorite events will not surprise anyone who knows me – they were the ones involving Maureen Johnson. First, she moderated the Nerdfighter Q & A – with John and Hank. Second, she was on the ‘Is this a Kissing Book’ panel with Stephanie Perkins, et al. It was wonderful to see her in good health and at her normal amount of quirkiness. I was also able to observe her signing line from afar, as she graciously greeted each fan and interacted with them individually.
The Mainstage events were a conglomeration of musical performances, the aforementioned talks, puppet shows, gaming demonstrations, and talk-show style events. Some of them were more interesting than others. One noticeable event asked participants about their usual bed times and provided illumination as to why certain special guests were spectacularly incoherent during panels.
I think one of my favorite aspects of the conference was the openness and friendliness of the participants. I met a number of young people who were wither librarians or educators, or aspiring writers who were fascinating to speak with. They gave me hope for the future of the publishing industry.
Finally, the con had wonderful signing lines that were seated! I got to meet Paolo Bacigalupi and tell him how amazing I found Zombie Baseball Beatdown. To my great delight, he’s considering a sequel. I met Holly Black, who was a life achievement accomplished. She loves the Curseworkers books as much as I and my students, and is looking for a way back into that universe. And lastly, I was able to meet the infinitely charming M.T. Anderson, who greatly appreciated the enthusiasm of the young man in front of me in line – who had no experience with his books, but was charmed by his involvement in the ‘guacanati.’
It was generally an exceptional experience, which I highly recommend to those considering it for next year.