Was quite fun!
John Picacio emailed me -- way in advance -- that he was one of the guests of honour on Elf Fantasy Fair on the (long: starting on the Friday) weekend of 20 - 22 April. At first I wasn't going to make it, because I was planned to do a training in Hobart, Tasmania (Australia) at that time. However, this training got delayed, so I was able to seek out John and his wife Traci.
(Now the training will be late May, in the middle of the Interzone email reading period. It's not how I planned it, but how things worked out.)
Thing was, I couldn't go on the Friday, because I had to work, and my brother wanted to go to Pestpop on the Saturday -- and I don't go out that much with him since he's become a father -- meaning I had to do Elf Fantasy Fair on the Sunday.
So I sought out John during the costume judging -- John was one of the judges -- and had the plan to take him and his wife out for dinner that Sunday night (the fair closed at 19.00 hrs) in Utrecht. When walking through the fair, John introduced me to several of the other guests of honour: Chris Geere (actor in the movie Blood & Chocolate, which I now have to see), Professor Rotherham (Elf Fantasy Fair regular, specialised in all things Arthurian), and Brian Froud.
What happened was, that when John told the other guest of honour that he and Traci wanted to go out for dinner with me, they all wanted to join! And so it was done: David Anthony Durham -- who was invited for his knowledge of Hannibal's March of Rome (which was the theme of this year's EFF), as evidenced by his novel Pride of Carthage, and after talking to him in the pub after dinner I now have to get his fantasy novel Acacia -- Chris Geere -- so witty and cheerful that I have to see the movie -- Professor Rotherham -- who knew just to which local pub to go, among many other things -- and Brian Froud, together with the driver Martin and EFF PR guy Ronald went to downtown Utrecht to have dinner.
At the Greek restaurant on the canal a great time was had by all, after which we retreated to a pub -- Vooghel -- where we had such a good time that I made the very last train to Den Bosch with about 30 seconds to spare (if that).
If there is one thing I regret, it's that I didn't go to EFF earlier, because there was a rare kind of group dynamic going on: John Picacio (and Traci), David Anthony Durham ("big D" for some reason), Brian Froud ("little B" for another), and Professor Dr. Ronald Rotherham ("the prof"): a group of individuals who didn't know about each other before the fair, got along phenomenally well. If anything, that Sunday night was too short, but I had to work the next day, and everybody else had a flight to catch.
If there ever is a next time, I'll make sure to get there on the Saturday, or Friday!
(And John Picacio has some nice pictures on his blog!)