Over the last few days, Z.A. Maxfield has been filling you in on some of the things she’s been doing during her stay in San Francisco and at Yaoicon. Now, it’s my turn as a reader and first time visitor to the con. I didn’t stay at the hotel and so only managed to get to Friday evening and Saturday, but that was plenty of time for me to get to grips with Yaoicon and what it’s all about.
Friday: The opening ceremony
Amid much excitement the 10th Yaoicon began with the official opening ceremony on Friday evening. This was just an opportunity to unveil the fabulous Yaoicon banner and to introduce the invited VIPs to us plebs in the audience.
First up was guest of honour Ayano Yamane who looked fabulous in a gorgeous black dress. She produces the very popular Crimson Spell and Finders Yaoi manga series. She spoke about how pleased she was to be back at Yaoicon for another visit. The second guest was Hinako Takanaga who has produced the Little Butterfly Yaoi manga series amongst others, she was also pleased to be able to meet her fans and be part of the con. Other guests included two rather bewildered Japanese men, Ryoutarou Okiayu and Hidenoru Kiuchi who are responsible for the voice acting on several popular Yaoi anime and other Japanese series and seemed completely overwhelmed by the whole experience. As well as guests from Japan, there was also the lovely Lynn Flewelling who writes the fantasy series Nightrunner which follows a gay man who falls in love with his charge. I was lucky to spend some time with Lynn later in the evening where she proved to be a friendly and gracious lady.
My main focus of the day was to attend three of the panels and to spend some time soaking up the atmosphere, browsing in the dealer’s room and checking out the fan art.
During the day there are a number of panels, or talks, or question and answer sessions timetabled. These range from an opportunity to listen to your favourite authors talk about their work, to some fun sessions such as BDSM 101 (which I didn’t go to).
The first panel I went to was run by Clare London and Felicitas Ivey on the subject of going pro and bridging the gap between fan fic and original fic. This was a relaxed, informal talk chock full of great advice for would be authors and those who are just starting on the road to m/m writing.
The second panel I attended was called Japanese High school 101 and was designed to help those of us who are frankly quite bewildered by the differences between the cultures in the school settings often seen in Yaoi. During this session I found out all sorts of useful information, such as the fact that Japanese boys often sit in each other’s laps, that students don’t tend to venture onto the roof for romantic liaisons and other information such as when the Japanese school year runs.
My final panel of the day was a question and answer session on writing m/m and fantasy fiction run by Ginn Hale, Astrid Amara, Lynn Flewelling and Marie Sexton, where the topics ranged from world building vs character, how to structure your dialogue and whether it’s better to plan or to ‘pants’ your writing. Alongside this each of the authors gave us an insight as to how they became published authors and the differences in the way they approach writing. Fascinating.
Cosplay is a big thing at Yaoicon with many, many of the attendees dressing up as their favourite manga or Japanese fictional character. Here’s some pictures, taken by Tam (who was completely shameless at asking people for their photos taking) of some of the better costumes.
Even the m/m authors got in on the act with Clare London sporting either a bright blue or pink wig, Ginn Hale having a pair of funky steampunkerish goggles on her head and Ariel Tachna wearing a very flattering ‘arabian nights’ type costume.
Alongside the attendees were various nubile young men who were dressed as ‘Bishie Boys’ and spent the day strutting their stuff, looking sulky and posing for photos. Here’s one. Isn’t he delightful (and, yes, Tam took this photo too, and I really don’t think it matters that you can’t see his face, lol).
ZAM has already told you a bit about the dealer’s room which was a marketplace for books, featuring stalls by Torquere Books, Dreamspinner Press and Blind Eye Books as well as the smaller SL Publishing. The dealer’s room was just a wonderful place to browse, chat and max up your credit card!
I met a number of m/m authors in this room and had a fantastic time putting names to faces and chatting about m/m books. As well as the m/m stalls there was a whole host of other stalls selling Yaoi, other manga, Japanese sweets such as Pocky, accessories, jewellery and other souvenir stuff. I managed to avoid spending too much money on the Yaoi manga (mostly because I cleaned out Blind Eye Books, lol) but Kris just could not resist and picked up this haul.
There were lots of other things going on in the day too, such as autograph signing, a carnival and gaming room and a room full of fan art and crafts. I spent most of the spare time that I had wandering around looking at these rooms, as well as people watching.
There were also events planned for the evenings but as I wasn’t staying at the hotel, I didn’t see them. On the Saturday night all the ‘Bishie Boys’ are auctioned off for charity and the winner gets to take them to the Yaoi ball! I’m told that the price for a Bishie Boy can be as high as $2,000!
For me, my over-riding memory of Yaoicon this year will be amazement at all the cosplay stuff, plus how warm, friendly and welcoming all the m/m authors were. I had the opportunity to either have a chat, a drink, coffee or lunch with a number of different authors and all of them were lovely, lovely people. I managed to quell my inner squeeing for most of the time and only gushed once (at ZAM).
Overall, Yaoicon is well worth a visit – something I’m rather relieved about since I travelled 1000s of miles to get there :). However, it was well worth the jetlag and I would love to go again another time.