It's a VERY different experience attending a convention as a fan vs. as a published author. Even though I moderated panels for years, being up there and in the public view vastly changes how I act and what I do. Although, like most authors, on any given day, if I'm walking down the street, shopping at CVS or whatever, I'm less likely to get recognized than the Obama's new pup, at a convention, I'm in the spotlight. Not so much as the Guest of Honor and other VIP guests, but nevertheless, I'm wearing that name badge around my neck and people recognize me.
People I've never met walk up to me and tell me how they've enjoyed my books. Yes, a VERY cool thing indeed. But you know, there's a bit of a flip side, especially for those of us that, at heart, are introverts. The first few times this happened to me, my initial reaction was "you talking to me? and if so, why?" - more of a gut-based fear/discomfort reaction followed by a "no way he/she means *me*". It's really strange, in a good way, yet still, disconcerting...and I totally love hearing from fans. There's a part of me that still doesn't believe people I don't know read my work and like it.
I'm often exhausted after a con, even short ones. Unlike my days as a fan, where I was only "on" when I moderated a panel (usually only one), now, I'm on all the time. I can never forget that I'm there for the fans that attend. I'm there because of the fans--they buy my books, so my publisher keeps me and I can keep writing. Like I said, a whole different experience--but I wouldn't give it up for the world.
Hope to see some of you all at Malice Domestic! My panel is Saturday morning at 8:30. One of the best parts of the con: I get to see longtime friends again, plus the absolutely wonderful Nancy Pickard, who is a friend, a mentor and a fan, and this year's Malice Guest of Honor.