Realm Makers

With Realm Makers come and gone more than two weeks ago, the initial Internet buzz has begun to subside. Already most bloggers who want to throw in their two cents have done so.

So here am I, late to the party.

I first heard about the Realm Makers conference in May, through Speculative Faith. They said it would be a conference for writers and readers – mainly writers – of Christian speculative fiction. Also, it would be on a university campus in St. Louis – only a couple hundred miles from my town. I was sold.

Two of my sisters went with me – Meghan, who does a lot of script-writing over at Myristica Studios, and Keenan, who was up for an adventure in St. Louis.

Now, St. Louis is a bona fide big city; it has a card and everything. You start feeling it thirty miles out on the interstate. By the time you get near, the highway is fluxing between four and five and six lanes, to accommodate the multitude of drivers getting off and on the multitude of exits. It doesn’t necessarily help that the obvious natives flash across the lanes with great purpose and even greater speed. Meghan, who was driving, said it reminded her of Alice in Wonderland: “People come and go so quickly here.”

Getting off into St. Louis from the interstate required a handful of highway changes, all in fairly short order. We worried about getting lost in the city’s web of highways, but we didn’t.

We got lost on the campus. Later we got lost on the elevator. But we worked that out, and the next morning we went to the J. C. Penny conference center for Realm Makers’ opening.

Realm Makers is the first conference of any order I have attended, and I didn’t know that eighty people is really good for a Christian speculative fiction conference until Jeff Gerke said so. Jeff Gerke gave the opening and closing speeches of the conference – entertaining and informative, both of them. L.B. Graham delivered an interesting speech about worldview in fiction, and Bryan Davis taught a very good session about the hero’s journey. (He does these things a lot, and you can tell.)

Kathy Tyers was a premier highlight of the conference; it was fun to hear about her writing career, Star Wars and otherwise, and it was encouraging to hear how Jesus is a part of her story. Also, she seemed like such a nice, sweet person; it was enough to make you want to buy her books.

The audience was very appreciative of her. But the audience was appreciative generally. There was a lot of applause, a lot of laughing and joking, and a sense of camaraderie. (Particularly when the word weird came up. Make of that what you will.) The people at the conference – speakers and otherwise – reminded me of what Woody said when he was trying, in Toy Story 3, to convince the toys that being in the attic wasn’t so bad: “And those guys from the Christmas decorations box. They’re fun, right?”

The last event of the conference was a multi-author book signing, in which I obtained autographs from Bryan Davis, Kathy Tyers, Robert Treskilliard, and Jeff Gerke. That was fun.

I have no thoughts to offer here about where Realm Makers will go from here, or where it ought to go. I’ll content myself with the observation that it was good as far as it did go, and I’m glad I attended.

So are Meghan and Keenan, by the way.