You may have noticed I’ve been MIA for a while, and that’s because I was attending this year’s Sirens Conference! What is Sirens, you ask? Sirens is a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature. From their website:
In fantasy literature, women are revolutionary.
They wield swords, courageous. They battle monsters and are, themselves, monsters. They conjure love and hate and glory. Their intrigues are legion; their military campaigns tactically brilliant; their rule incomparably powerful. These women inhabit worlds different from our own because women authors have given them extraordinary opportunities: to grow, to love, to fight, to fail, and, sometimes, to save the world.
Sirens is a conference dedicated to the diverse, remarkable women of fantasy literature: readers and authors, certainly, but just as importantly, scholars, librarians, educators, publishing professionals, and even characters. Sirens is a place where a woman can, without shame or irony, declare herself a queen, a dragonmaster, a general. A place where women aren’t constrained by what our real-world society demands. A light in a world that frequently expects too much and offers too little.
The 2017 theme of the conference was women who work magic, with guests of honor N.K. Jemisin, Victoria/V.E. Schwab, and Zoraida Cordova, who each gave a keynote speech. In addition to that were multiple author-attended panels and presentations given by members of the Sirens community. As a brief snapshot of the types of presentations given: I attended a paper presentation on the history of fantasy literature, a presentation on the witch trials in 15th century England, a re-writing workshop, and a roundtable discussion of f/f works in fantasy. In one short weekend I learned so much!
The Sirens experience is unique for a fantasy conference because it is a woman-majority space. I think there were maybe like ten dudes there? And they were either gay or attached to their wives, which made for a very welcoming and low-stress environment. I never had to worry about being “on” or being hyper aware. For the entire weekend I was the most relaxed I’ve ever been; I felt like myself. The women there were progressive, open-minded, friendly readers, writers, librarians, and introverts. I felt like I was with my tribe. And my book haul? SPECTACULAR.
The one downside, in my opinion, was the location. The conference was held in Beaver Creek, Colorado, a resort town with a staggering altitude of 8100 feet! Coming from sea-level NYC, this was a difficult adjustment for me. For the whole weekend I was either physically ill or physically exhausted. I was constantly out of breath, I had trouble sleeping, and I just felt very out of it the whole time. Plus the town itself, as a resort town, felt artificial. Though pretty, it was enclosed and somewhat claustrophobic.
But that’s only a tiny downside! Being among so many kind and accomplished women was so inspiring. Victoria Schwab’s keynote speech nearly made the audience burst into sobs. N.K. Jemisin’s presentation on world-building was so useful I can’t wait for her to open up her own school of writing. I had such an excellent time! (As soon as they hold it in a location that isn’t at a death-defying altitude, I’ll go again, LOL.)
Has anyone here ever been to Sirens?