What’s a Convention Without a Tall Tale or Two?

Cross-posted at Suvudu:

I can’t believe San Diego Comic-Con is only a week away. And Celebration VI in Orlando follows just six weeks later! Conventions are a great way to get up close and personal with your favorite Star Wars personalities. Del Rey will be hosting a booth at both conventions and they’ll have plenty of exciting surprises in store for fans. While the Del Rey staff and their authors are working at the conventions, they seem to have a lot of fun, too.

Convention stories are like fish stories – they get bigger and better over time. With the summer convention season about to kick into high gear, I thought it would be fun to ask some Star Wars VIPs about their biggest fish con tale. There have been some whisperings about tooth fairies sitting at the Del Rey booth a few years back, and by all accounts his name happened to be Ryder Windham. I had been told that Ryder’s version was the best, so I asked him about it:

Not to shirk autobiographical responsibility, but I’m really happy to let others tell the tooth-pulling story. Adds to the legend.

It’s all true. Any kid shows me a wiggly tooth is just asking for it.

During that same book-signing, I also met a nice fellow who told me how he’d named his son Ryder because he’d seen my name on a Star Wars book, and liked the name. He wrote about our meeting here (you’ll have to scroll down a bit to see me with the little Ryder’s dad, Ryan)…

But just so you know I’m not always the Tooth Fairy…

During the recent DK Star Wars: Attack of the Authors West Coast Tour, I was signing books with Jason Fry at Third Place Books at Lake Forest Park, Washington, when a couple asked me if I’d sign some books for their daughter. They handed me well-read copies of three or four Star Wars books that they’d brought from home, including Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader (Scholastic). They told me their daughter’s name was Emma, and that she was eleven or twelve years old (sorry, I forget). Curious, I asked, “Where’s Emma now? Why isn’t she here?” They told me that she was in the bookstore, but that she was extremely shy.

This surprised me. My own daughters were close to Emma’s age, and they know I’m an overgrown goof. I imagined they’d have a good laugh at the idea of anyone being too shy to meet me. I thought, Emma must really be a fan if she encouraged or begged her parents to come here. I also remembered that as a kid, I’d been very, very painfully shy.

As I signed the Darth Vader book, I started drawing a little doodle of Vader’s helmet. I said to Emma’s parents, “Are you sure she wouldn’t want to see me draw this?” The grinned, and one of them darted off to bring Emma over.

The way Emma looked at me, keeping a slight distance, I thought, That’s how kids look at Santa Claus! I felt so unworthy. I showed her my doodle of Vader, and told her that I was glad she liked my books so much, that it meant a lot to me that she and her family came to a bookstore—and on a rare sunny day in the Seattle area—to meet me. She responded with a big smile, the kind that makes the world a better place.

I didn’t notice any wiggly teeth.

Ryder will be signing or pulling teeth – whatever your preference – at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday, July 14, from 11:00am-12:00 at the Del Rey Star Wars booth, #2913D. Free copies of his book Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual will be given away to the first people in line while supplies last. Ryder will also sign at Celebration VI. That schedule is still to come.

Jason Fry was the one who suggested I go straight to Ryder for his convention tale, and apparently I didn’t quite get the real story. From Jason:

I can’t compete with my good friend Ryder in terms of con adventures. One of my more childish pursuits, in fact, is making up slightly less plausible stories to add to the Windham canon. Forget the tooth-pulling — you should have been there at DragonCon ’07, when Ryder removed a young fan’s dangerously swollen appendix using only a silver Sharpie, a Star Wars Missions bookmark, and his own ingenuity. I didn’t see it with my own eyes, but a friend of a friend of mine knows a guy who swears it’s true, so pass it on.

This is what you’re reduced to when you’re not handsome — Ryder looks like James Bond and I look like a lump of suet, so he has adventures and I make up stuff to torment him.

Signing books is pretty entertaining in its own right, though. I can last about two hours before I blank out halfway through each sentence, go glassy-eyed and start repeatedly asking readers to write “Ted” on a Post-It note so I can spell it. Two SDCCs ago, the nephew of DK’s Rachel Kempster turned to me while I was signing and asked, “Do you know you move your lips while you write?” At the time I nearly killed him — glad I didn’t, as I’d be in prison and he’s a nice kid — but I was grateful later. The fewer comical habits you exhibit in public the better. I also like drawing little pictures when I have time — a quick Darth Vader or a Millennium Falcon. Kids like it, and as a bonus it annoys artists if you’re signing with them. But I don’t do it if I open a book and see Dave Filoni’s already signed it, because Dave will inevitably have drawn a giant Plo Koon or a perfect full-page Captain Rex, and then you just feel inadequate.

Plus when you’re signing Star Wars books there are stormtroopers and R2-D2s around. Kids find meeting the author of a Star Wars book about 1/10,000th as interesting as gawking at stormtroopers or hugging R2-D2. This keeps any burgeoning authorial ego safely in check. It’s a safeguard I think some lit-crit darlings could benefit from.

More seriously, it’s really fun meeting Star Wars fans of all ages. It’s an unbelievable honor to hear that someone’s son or daughter really likes your book, and that has led him or her to a love of reading. It’s also a treat to hear kind words and good questions and fair-minded criticism of your books — or just to meet kind folks with whom you can geek out about the latest Clone Wars episode or wave of Hasbro figures or anything else. And sitting behind a table and a stack of books gives you an awesome view of the ever-changing river of fans and costumers and exhibitors and VIPs flowing by. I’ll be at SDCC in July, Celebration VI the next month, and I believe NYCC in the fall. So come by and let me deface your book with a Darth Vader head and what I swear is actually my signature.

After checking his signature in my Essential Guide to Warfare, I’m pretty sure Jason signs his books “Soy Sauce” despite his claims otherwise.

Jason Fry, along with artists Drew Baker, Stephan Martiniere, Jason Palmer, Dave Seeley, John VanFleet, and Bruno Werneck will be signing copies of their new book Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare at San Diego Comic-Con at the Del Rey Star Wars booth, #2913D, on Friday, July 13, from 11:00am-12:00. Free copies of the book to the first people in line, while supplies last.

Thanks to Ryder Windham and Jason Fry for sharing. As the conventions draw ever closer, Suvudu will be featuring more fun stories. Perhaps we’ll have a few new ones before the end of the summer too…

Coming soon, some fun from John Jackson Miller and a puppet, and Erich Schoeneweiss and Shelly Shapiro encounter an unlikely Star Wars Books customer.

Ryder Windham’s most recent entry to the Star Wars universe is The Wrath of Darth Maul; Jason Fry authored The Essential Guide to Warfare with Paul R. Urquhart. In October they join forces to conquer the world of Transformers with Classified Book 2: Battle Mountain. Tricia Barr’s first magazine article – an interview with X-Wing: Mercy Kill author Aaron Allston – can be found in the upcoming Star Wars Insider Issue # 135.



Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and the intersection of women within Star Wars fandom. She is co-author of Ultimate Star Wars and Star Wars Visual Encyclopedia from DK Publishing, a featured writer for Star Wars Insider magazine with numerous articles on the Hero's Journey. Her FANgirl opinions can be heard on the podcasts Hyperspace Theories and Fangirls Going Rogue. Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.