Capclave (Part Two – Being There)

Two weeks ago it was T-shirt weather. The sun was shining and it was 75°F. Today, winter has come to Normandy. The fields are white and it’s still snowing. So, let’s step into our favourite time machine and return to sunny Washington a fortnight ago.

Last week I wrote about how we got there. Now I’m going to talk about food, people and panels.

I like American hotels. It maybe the exchange rate, but the few I’ve stayed in have always seemed good value for money. Yes, con hotels are always a star or two higher than I’d choose and the rooms twice the size … but it’s a special occasion and you need a venue with sufficient conference space.

And this one had an ‘all you can eat’ breakfast. I think we’d have happily eaten that breakfast for lunch and dinner too. I noticed it wasn’t just an ‘all you can eat’ breakfast but an ‘all you can carry’ breakfast too, as people were filling doggy bags and taking coffee to go.

While on the subject of food, we also experienced another first – the ‘Pick Your Own’ Chinese restaurant. Now, I’ve been to hundreds of Chinese restaurants in the UK, but I’ve never seen one like the one that Brenda (Yes, that’s BVC’s own Brenda Clough) took us to for Sunday lunch. Instead of being given a menu, trolleys of food circulated the restaurant and, if you liked what you saw, you stopped the trolley and took a dish. The waiter then stamped your card and moved on. It was a really fast and novel way to eat. Food arrived within seconds of you sitting down and kept rolling past. It helped having Brenda identify the dishes, but what a great way to eat.

So, what was Capclave like? Well, it was a smallish (300+) con with a high proportion of pros. Everyone was friendly and the panels were excellent. I got to meet some people I’ve known for years – like Mindy Klasky and Brenda – but had never met in person. Mindy, in her Morgan Keyes persona, did an excellent reading from Darkbeast and if you’ve never seen Brenda on a panel then you need to.

I did three panels – two on ebooks and one on gaming – which went pretty well, though I failed completely at pimping my own stuff. It was only on Saturday afternoon as I watched a panellist promoting his latest work that I realised I hadn’t once mentioned the fact that I had a short story up for the WSFA award that night. I’d tailored my panel intro blurb to only mention stuff relevant to the forthcoming panel. Bad author!

I had hoped to include one of the many pictures taken of me with my WSFA Small Press Award certificate, but they’re not up yet. And, even bigger author fail, we forgot to take our camera with us. We were supposed to, but in the rush to get all the correct travel and entry documents together, we forgot. But there are pictures – of me in my What Ho! T-shirt, the finalists and one of me with the Capclave Dodo.

Finally, a word about room parties. For a small con, there were a lot. One had a really good chorizo – which is a win-win as far as I’m concerned. And we also went to a scotch tasting party. I’ve never seen – or tasted – so much scotch. I wasn’t sure if, like wine, you were supposed to spit out the contents but, wisely, I didn’t.

So, a good con to go to.


Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals. His novelette, What Ho, Automaton! was a finalist for the 2012 WSFA Small Press Award for short fiction. More information about his other work can be found on his BVC bookshelf .
An Unsafe Pair of Handsa quirky murder mystery set in rural England charting the descent and rise of a detective on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Which will break first? The case, or DCI Shand?
Medium Dead – a fun urban fantasy chronicling the crime fighting adventures of Brenda – a reluctant medium – and Brian – a Vigilante Demon with an impish sense of humour. Think Stephanie Plum with magic and a dash of Carl Hiaasen.
What Ho, Automaton! – Wodehouse Steampunk. Follow the adventures of Reggie Worcester, consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves. It’s set in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs. Humour, Mystery, Aunts and Zeppelins!
French Fried - true crime, animals behaving badly and other people’s misfortunes. Imagine A Year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell.
International Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth?

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2 Responses to Capclave (Part Two – Being There)

  1. Alix in MV says:

    Your “‘Pick Your Own’ Chinese restaurant” experience sounds very much like a dim sum restaurant. And I enjoy it muchly, too!

  2. It was indeed a dim sum restaurant. I have eaten dim sum all my life, and am amazed that there are people who have not tried it! It never fails to win enthusiastic converts, just like Chris and Sheila.
    There are not always whisky tastings at every con, but whenever there is one it ought to be patronized. I went to one at a Worldcon once where, mysteriously, there was only me and Joe Haldeman in attendance. We tasted single malts for a while and then I realized that I was doing a spectacularly foolish thing. I was drinking, glass for glass, with Joe Haldeman, an act of the utmost foolhardiness. I instantly quit and went to bed.