“Paul Dale Anders…son,” the women sang. They broke my name up into two stanzas of two syllables each, placing the emphasis on the second syllable.
“Paul Dale,” they sang. “Anders Son. Paul Dale. Anders son. Paul Dale. Anders son.”
It became a magical chant. So rhythmic. So hypnotic. So simple.
Louisa and Virginia were my two partners in crime on the Faking it in Fandom panel at Windycon, the Chicago-area science fiction and fantasy convention November 10-12 in Lombard, Illinois.
It turns out they were also heads of the programming committee who made panel assignments. When they came across my name, they didn’t know what to do with it.
It was much too long to fit on name placards.
So they shortened it to Paul Anderson.
And it became simply P. Anderson in places on the printed program.
Anyway, they sang my name. They claimed my name was musical, and they really made it sound like music.
Paul Dale. Anders Son. Paul Dale. Anders Son.
One of the reasons I used to use pen names was the unwieldy length of my full name. I also needed to include Dale to differentiate myself from authors like Poul Anderson and Paul Michael Anderson. That made my name too long to fit easily on book covers or spines and on convention badges and placards.
And one of the reasons I’m not better known in the sf community is because my name often gets truncated on programs, name badges and placards.
“You’re who?” people ask.
“Paul Dale Anderson.”
“Never heard of you.”
“Try singing it. Break it down into syllables so you’ll remember.”
Paul Dale. Anders Son.
My father was Paul Anders Anderson, and I really am Paul Anders’ son.
I lived the first twelve years of my life as Dale Anderson. My parents, relatives, and friends all called me Dale to differentiate me from my dad. Some of my friends still call me Dale.
Because editors found it difficult to include my full name on book and magazine covers, you can find some of my novels with only Paul Anderson on the spine. I used Dale Anders as a pen name for a while. It proved useful for contemporary romances and erotica. My first story in The Horror Show bore the Dale Anderson by-line.
But I prefer to use my full birth name for fantasy and horror.
Maybe Paul Dale Anderson doesn’t sound as scary as Stephen King or Dean Koontz. Try punctuating it. Paul Dale. Anders Son. Yeah.
I had the pleasure of appearing on panels and at book signings at Windycon, the ISFIC Science Fiction and Fantasy annual convention in or near Chicago, Illinois, held this year from Friday, the 13th of November, through Sunday, November 15, in Lombard, Illinois. Windycon is a place where I always connect with old friends, make new friends, and buy a lot of books to get autographed. Regional cons like Windycon and Wiscon and Capricon and Odyssey Con are easier to attend and navigate than Worldcons like Sasquon, MidwesternconII, Bouchercon, Stokercon, World Horror Con, or World Fantasy Con.
As many of you know from previous blog posts here and elsewhere, I attended science fiction and fantasy conventions regularly between the North American SF Convention held at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY in 1979 and the 1993 World Fantasy Con in Chicago. Gretta and I did attend Chicon, the world Science Fiction Conventions, in Chicago in 1982, 1992, and 2002 (and I attended by myself in 2012). We also attended the Nebula Awards in 2005. But from 1996 through 2011, Gretta and I stopped attending sf and fantasy conventions to primarily attend American Psychological Association, American Psychological Society (now called the Association for Psychological Science), Illinois Counseling Association, American Society of Clinical Pathologists, Mid-American Hypnosis, and National Guild of Hypnotists annual conferences instead. As a degreed Educational Psychologist, Board Certified Hypnotist, and NGH Certified Hypnotism Instructor, I presented papers, appeared as a panelist, and earned CMEs. I wore a suit and tie instead of Jeans and T-shirt. I learned a lot and met lots of fascinating people, but I did absolutely nothing to advance my career as a novelist and short story writer.
After Gretta died in January of 2012, I began writing new fiction and I gradually began making the sf convention circuits to promote my novels. I continued my successful hypnosis practice until the lease ran out on my office, and I fulfilled my commitment to teach and mentor cohorts of hypnosis students through 2013. Then I closed my practice, and turned my clients over to my newly graduated students. I did attend the NGH and Mid-American hypnosis conferences in 2012, but I also attended Wiscon. Like Doctor Who, I invited a companion to join me on out-of-this-world fascinating fantasy adventures. Elizabeth Aisling (Lizza) Flygare has been my companion at SF and Fantasy conventions since Wiscon in 2012.
Lizza is a mainstream writer and retired Librarian Assistant and not into sf and fantasy. She does appreciate psychological horror and police procedurals, and I’m introducing her to noir. She loves to dress up and she loves to peruse books in the hucksters’ room, but sf and Lovecraftian fantasy isn’t her thing.
This was my schedule at Windycon this year:
Saturday 10:00 Autographing: Hallway: Paul Dale Anderson, Bob Garcia, M. Oshiro, Katherine Wynter
Saturday Noon: Beyond Adams and Pratchett: Junior A: What Humorous Science Fiction/Fantasy Do You Love? Paul Dale Anderson, Alice Bentley (Moderator), R. Garfinkle, C. Johns, Jody Lynn Nye
Saturday 2:00 Is World Building Necessary? Lilac C: Fritz Leiber, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and others created their worlds as their works evolved. Can that technique be used by modern authors whose readers have modern sensibilities? Tim Akers, Paul Dale Anderson, Rebecca Frencl, Tom Trumpinski, Gary Wolfe (M)
Saturday 9:00-9:25 Reading: Cypress A: Paul Dale Anderson
It was wonderful to reconnect with old friends like Bob Garcia, Steven Silver, Richard Chwedyk, Jody Lynn Nye, Bill Fawcett, Jim Frenkel, Eric Flint, Mike Resnick, Gary K. Wolfe, Glen Cook, Alex and Phyllis Eisenstein, and Blake Hausladen. I was sorry that Gene Wolfe didn’t make Windy this year. Gene was a guest of honor at WFC in Saratoga Springs last week. People of my age find it difficult to attend cons the way we used to. I had to cancel my appearance at WFC in order to make Windycon. There is never enough time and energy to do everything.
I am rethinking my scheduled attendance at cons next year. So far I am committed to the following:
April 28-May 1 2016, World Horror Conention, Provo, UT
May 12-15, 2016, Stokercon, Las Vegas, NV
May 27-30, 2016, Wiscon, Madison, WI
August 17-21, 2016, MidamericonII (World SF Con), Kansas City, KS
September 15-18, 2016, Bouchercon, New Orleans, LA
October 27-30, 2016, World Fantasy Convention, Columbus, OH
I do plan to attend Windycon 43 in November, but I don’t know the dates.
To be honest, that’s more than I can handle at my age. Add signings at bookstores and libraries throughout the year, and I feel overwhelmed.
But the thrill of seeing my own novels on display in the dealers’ room, the joy of having strangers come up to me at the autographing table to buy my books and get my scribble, the desire to stay in touch with old friends and make new friends of like-minded people, the pure pleasure of reading my tales to people who listen and ask questions, and the love of discovering new authors and new books drives me to overcome my introversion and participate in even more conventions. I have already signed up for Bouchercon in 2017, and I’m seriously thinking of going to Helsinki Finland for the 2017 World SF Con.
Here are a few photographs of Windycon and some of the more memorable conventions I have attended.
My motto has always been: “So many books, so little time.” I own two sweatshirts displaying that motto. You often see me in those sweatshirts at conventions. As fall approaches and it becomes sweatshirt weather, I become increasingly aware of the truth of that motto. As usual, I am far behind reading reading forthcoming titles I want to review before fall releases. I do my best to keep up with new titles, but there are so many new titles I feel overwhelmed. Do you feel that way, too?
I have new book titles of my own coming out this fall, plus multiple short stories in magazines and anthologies. I am doing final edits on two contracted novel manuscripts, and I have begun two new novels. I’m also working on a dozen short stories. Worldcon (Sasquon) is coming up later this month and I’m a registered participant. I have signings scheduled for September and October, and then I travel to New York state for the World Fantasy Con and return to Chicago in time for Windycon. Is it any wonder I feel overwhelmed?
When I was a therapist, I advised clients who felt overwhelmed to categorize into manageable chunks and prioritize each of those chunks. Chunking reduces the total number of things you have to tackle so you don’t feel so overwhelmed. My set priorities are to write fiction first, non-fiction and reviews second, read concurrently with writing, and do public appearances and everything else last. If I chunk to less than seven—plus or minus two—pressing tasks, my mind doesn’t automatically go into fight or flight mode. We juggle eight tasks in working memory and relegate everything else to the “get around to it later” category. If later is too late, so be it. Man wasn’t meant to accomplish everything in a single lifetime.
As Robert Browning so poetically put it: “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”