» Chilling in Chicago: The Midwestria 2012 Con Report

Maybe We Can Get an Arranging Interviews Cutie Mark! (Friday)

From this point, we were free to go about our business. Looking over the schedule, there were quite a few differences from other cons we had been to. One big difference was there were no times for signatures from the guests, though this did happen at one point, and at no cost to the people getting signatures I might add. After looking at what there was to do and a brief photo opportunity with the previously mentioned Vinyl Scratch cosplayer, we decided to take a look at what was happening in the Dealers’ Den which lay right next store to the main panel hall. There was a variety of pony items to be bought though I did note that there were a lot more plushes and hand-made items over artwork compared to other conventions. We browsed the aisles and bought some items but didn’t stay too long. The reason being was that it was time to start discussing another goal of why I had come to the con. Considering I was a last-minute addition to the convention and the only known member of The Round Stable going at the time, it was arranged for me to get a press badge for the event. And since I had a press badge, I was expected to play a reporter role for the website, not only for making this write-up, but also in trying to get interviews with the guests of the con. Specifically the three writers from the show who were attending, Amy Keating Rogers, M.A. Larson, and Charlotte Fullerton. For someone who had never tried to ask anyone for an interview before, nevermind it being someone who wrote for a very popular TV show, this was a completely new (and nerve-wracking) experience for me. I had briefly seen Larson having lunch with fellow press member Final Draft from Everfree Radio but I felt that it was not the time to intrude on them. Instead we sat in a lounge area trying to map out questions and figure out just how to approach any one of the three writers, for interviews that I was not fully prepared to do.

We had to stop for what was a once in a lifetime photo opportunity.

Opportunity soon knocked as Larson entered the lounge area along with an entourage of people. All Adelor said was “Go!” and I stood up and approached him. Thankfully, he was very willing to stop and talk, and after explaining I was from The Round Stable, he instantly remarked about how he had tweeted from the website several times. This did make it easier to ask him if he’d like to sit down for an interview at some point during the weekend, but it still didn’t change a lingering doubt I had that something would get in the way. Fully expecting him to reject the offer, citing being busy, or having to authorize it with an agent or some other figure, he instead asked “Would noon on Sunday work?” Hearing those words, I felt like I could breathe for the first time all day. From that point, it was a simple matter of setting a scheduled event in our phones and we went our separate ways. I think I can easily say that when I returned to Adelor and Nirvash, I was probably wearing the biggest smile I would have all through the entire weekend.

Something I wanted to note, was that this was my first interaction with any of the guest writers and it was the beginning of me understanding that they are just as approachable as any other person you would see anywhere. Previous con experiences had me seeing guests from the show and, in some cases, fandom guests being guarded tightly and treated like celebrities to the point that there’s this feeling of them being unapproachable outside of their scheduled appearance times and so perhaps that’s where the thought that it would be the same way with the writers came from. But over the course of the weekend, I found it to be the complete opposite and it was such a breath of fresh air to have it feel that way. They were walking around the con area constantly, and didn’t limit themselves to talking and hanging out with just other guests. The only potential negative consequence of this is that there were a few fans who did appear to become somewhat clingy to the writers during the weekend, but the feeling I caught from each writer, was that they were so genuinely happy to be at the con and have their work celebrated to this degree, that any negativity was drowned out.

With the major task of getting at least one writer to do an interview during the weekend done, I relaxed a great deal and started to truly enjoy the events. Before long, we were joined by two other friends who were staying with us who go by Lex and Lucky Chance online. We settled everyone in the room, exchanged some gifts, and then were off to finally see what the con had to offer. There were a variety of panels the first day with discussion ranging from fan fiction to making your own custom pony figurine , to panels discussing a certain theme or portion of the show. And these were in addition to musicians holding a concert in the afternoon and an open gaming room. We sampled a little bit of everything but ultimately ended up at M.A. Larson’s solo panel in the evening. Adelor sat next to me furiously typing notes as Larson recounted stories of his first experiences of seeing what the show looked like, going over the process of how episodes were written and working with Lauren for the first two seasons. During the interview, who should try to sneak into the room (unsuccessfully) but Amy Keating Rogers who also chimed into some of the questions asked. After the panel was over, I met one of the most helpful staff members of the con, who I promised I would make a mention of. His name was Trevor, and he was the staff member who was assigned to be the handler of Amy Keating Rogers and Charlotte Fullerton through the weekend to make sure they were at scheduled events and also make sure nobody got out of line with them. Right after the panel, Rogers went up to talk with Larson, and since I didn’t wish to interrupt them, I approached Trevor and asked if it would be ok to get an interview with her. I have seen some handlers of con guests completely turn people away in this situation, but Trevor simply said, “We should be able to work something out. Maybe after Mrs. Rogers’ solo panel tomorrow.”

The prospect of having two interviews was definitely light heartening, but this was also replaced with the realization that I was not fully prepared with the questions for these interviews. The last-minute confirmation of attending the con had left me in a poor organizational state and I had to work quickly to fix that. Luckily, I had a lot of great people help me out. Lex and Lucky Chance both bounced ideas on things they wanted to know about the show. While some of the questions didn’t have a relation to what I wanted to ask, there were a decent amount of others that did, and we were able to come up with a fair amount of them. I also had the help of several folks on the Round Stable IRC to come up questions, not only for Larson and Rogers, but also for Fullerton, who I had not yet seen. After several hours, we had come up with a fair amount of questions for each writer and I felt much more relieved that I at least had a better idea of what kinds of questions I would have for each different guest.

It was a few hours later and we still weren’t finished, but it was decided that we should get out of the room and see what was going on with the con. My three roommates decided to go to a game panel called Equestrian Squares while I ventured off alone and found my way to a karaoke room where lo and behold, I found M.A. Larson and Amy Keating Rogers again watching the guests belt out songs of both the pony and non pony variety. At one point, Rogers went up on stage with a large group of people and sang Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, and took me by surprise with how well she good she sounded. Afterwards, Larson also attempted to sing one of the songs he wrote for the show, “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000″ with press member FoalPapers. He then proceeded to stand there and barely sing any of it. It was a mystery to me if he just couldn’t see the lyrics on the TV or if something else was going on, but needless to say it made for an entertaining sight as he put his hands up in a manner saying “I don’t know what to tell you.” Also attending was Final Draft who I decided to introduce myself to while I at least actually did represent something of a press member at this con. I told him that I was a little intimidated at the prospect of talking to him. Not because he himself was an intimidating figure, but because he always seemed to be talking to someone notable from the show or fandom. He waved it off saying it wasn’t a big deal. We chit chatted for a small time but eventually broke off, and I went over to a wall to observe more people singing. I noticed that I had actually walked over the same wall where Rogers was at as well, and seeing as I already had one interview down, I decided to ask her directly if she would be willing to do another interview later in the weekend. This time seemed to be much easier, due to a combination of having success with Larson earlier and knowing that she had done an interview with The Round Stable already. I went through the same spiel as I did with Larson and she agreed to do an interview at some point, though no time was scheduled right then.

Karaoke Night Was Definitely One of the Crowd Favorite Events

Feeling very satisfied with the progress I made, I walked back to the hotel room and found Lex, Lucky Chance, and Nirvash already there. I told them of my success, and we then had another brainstorming session on questions. By the time it was 3 in the morning, I decided that I had worn out my welcome with being awake and went to bed for the night. By this point, I had such a great day, not only because of getting the two interviews, but also because there had been no significant problems with the convention as well. Looking back, it’s surprising to me how much of a change of mood I had about the convention during the span of that day.

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