It all started with a tea party.
Well, not just any tea party–a party with Sherlock-themed teas being served by costumed characters to mostly costumed attendees. One of the first things I noticed, that night, was the prevalence of female faces. The ratio was something like 95%/5% female, and as the convention got underway, it changed to maybe 90%/10%. It’s not at all original of me to observe that this is where the Sherlock Holmes subculture is heading. Leaving aside unfortunate people in back rooms wailing about change, this is a fantastically encouraging sign. These women ranged from young teenagers to past middle age, and their interests in Holmes ranged from film and TV to incredibly technical knowledge about the original stories. Their love of Sherlock Holmes is sincere, diverse, often humorous, and in many cases, vastly intellectual.
The morning after the party signaled the official opening of the convention, complete with alphabetical registration and deerstalkers for sale. Since this was my first fan convention experience, I have nothing to compare it to, but everything was almost alarmingly organized, and the official panel schedule got underway without a hitch.
My duties for the first few hours involved the enjoyable task of meeting scores of Sherlockians from my vantage point at the Baker Street Babes table in the middle of the action. I saw some of the most incredible cosplay I’ve ever witnessed, and that afternoon featured an impromptu rendition of half an hour of Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein, performed very capably by fully-costumed young women who clearly possessed more confidence than I could hope to aspire to.
In the early afternoon, I attended the panel of Tracy Revels, college professor and fellow MX Publishing author of acclaimed pastiches. Tracy spoke about her ongoing love affair with Holmes and her way of sharing him with class after class of freshmen at Wofford College. A highlight was meeting both her and another MX author, Kieran McMullin.
Late in the afternoon, I joined my fellow Babes and some lovely volunteers in blowing up 200 balloons and preparing them to be part of a balloon trivia game. One of the most surreal sights of my life was a hotel room entirely filled with black, white, and yellow balloons.
After a hasty dinner, we brought aforementioned balloons to the ballroom allotted for S. Moran’s Invisible Tigress Speakeasy, the party the Babes had been asked to host. My job was harassing attendees at the door for the password, which had been posted all over the convention hotel using Dancing Men code. Impressively, most of the party attendees had either figured out the code themselves or found someone who had. After the pleasant chaos of balloon trivia, which was diabolically difficult for most, the party extended into the lobby for Sherlock-themed pictionary. A good time was apparently had by all, and I returned to my hotel.
The following morning, I returned in time to record a live Baker Street Babes podcast. We interviewed tea princess Cara McGee and took audience questions, which were thoughtful, funny, and generally great. This last of my official duties complete, I did some last-minute shopping in the dealer’s room, which featured some truly remarkable artwork and products.
As a first fan convention experience, I couldn’t have asked for anything better than 221b Con. I met hundreds of interesting people and enjoyed the special thrill of sharing like-minded interests. I also got to meet many actual, real-life listeners of the Baker Street Babes podcast, which helped me to see that what we do over Skype, sometimes into the night, really means something to people. Without a doubt, the greatest highlight of all was finally meeting four of my fellow Babes in person. They truly are as intelligent, beautiful, and hilarious as I’d always supposed.
For a long time now, I’ve been a fan of Vincent Starrett’s poem 221B, which contains the lines, “Here, though the world explode, these two survive,/And it is always eighteen ninety-five.” I’ve never understood the true impact of those lines as well as I do after attending 221b Con. In the presence of hundreds of Sherlock Holmes fans, it really is always 1895, in the best possible way.
The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.
The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.