We recently went to live with the fae. Fae as in fairies. “We” being myself and my daughter and niece (teenagers!), and a polar-bear sized dog. We arrived at the fairy doorstep on Friday (after a two-day drive, because you usually have to travel far to find fairies). We stayed with the fae from Friday through Monday morning. The fairies in question came in all shapes and sizes. There were baby fairies, old fairies, thin fairies, fat fairies, male and female fairies, cool fairies, nerd fairies…you name it, they exist! Sometimes fairies have friends. Like strange two-legged wolves, Ent-like trees, and things you can’t quite identify, or may not want to, like men wearing Speedos on stilts and light-up umbrella jellyfish. Where did all of these fairies convene? At the annual convention called FaerieWorlds. And WHY did I go to FaerieWorlds? To market my book The Fairies of Feyllan, of course! I found out where my people were, and I went to them.
At first I planned to give away free copies of The Fairies of Feyllan, but the expense at about $10 per book was too prohibitive. So my publisher’s art department designed the cutest ever little 4 x 6 sample chapter booklets with fairy pictures sprinkled like pixie dust throughout. When I got the shipment from the printer, I opened it and fell in the love with the diminutive booklets. I bought as many as my $300 budget would allow. They were miniature perfection. I brought a few paperback versions of The Fairies of Feyllan as well, and a couple of hundred Fairies of Feyllan bookmarks. I was armed and ready to face the fae.
Our drive to Eugene had been long and tenuous, and it was 105 degrees out when we arrived, but we made it safely. We pulled into the parking lot (read: open mowed field) after dropping the dog off at his “doggie hotel” and went to the Inner Circle campground. We unpacked our sad tent (a long story, but suffice it to say, the nylon dome was missing and the zipper broke, so we clipped ourselves in each night and had to cover the top with batiked bedspreads…the word “ratchety” was our definition for our unique look). We cleaned up and decorated ourselves as best we could in the hot ratchety tent, and then we entered the realm of the fae under the huge sign that read in fancy letters: “FaerieWorlds”.
I have been to many interesting “events” in my lifetime. As a long-time follower of the Grateful Dead, I’ve seen the funky parking lot vending scene before shows, during shows, after shows, (rinse and repeat). I am a Ren faire junkie. (Why I swordfight, horseback ride, and know how to use a bow and arrow, and believe that using a gun as a weapon is cheating). I have been to women’s festivals, Comi-Cons, freaky little carnivals, and Vegas shows with fancy French names. I’ve seen a lot. FaerieWorlds was like seeing all the fascinating things I had seen in my entire lifetime, depositing it on one wooded piece of land, adding thousands of people dressed as fairies, and in the background, amazing live Celtic music played. Yeah, it’s like that.
On Day One we walked around, awed, handing out booklets and admiring the wares of the vendors who sold wings, wands, fairy dresses, masks, jewelry, and trinkets. Later we handed a sample chapter booklet to one of the fae manning the ticket booth. “Oooh!” she said, her wings quivering in delight as she passed it around to show her cohorts. Everyone selling tickets seemed entranced. “Can WE hand them out?”
Um, okay! We gave over our stash for the day of booklets and our bookmarks, and when we checked back a couple hours later, the stack was gone. “People loved them!” we were told. We had been free to roam FaerieWorlds and take in the sights because of the Ticket Booth Fairy’s kind offer to hand out my goods, but I felt like I had missed an opportunity to see the recipients’ expressions when they saw the booklets, so the next day we sauntered through the magickal realm passing them out. And the fairy people were charmed. I was hopeful that The Fairies of Feyllan would be a hit with this crowd.
Day Two: We woke up cold and miserable and decided to rejoin the real world to visit the polar bear dog and go to town. We drove directly to Big 5 to buy a blow up mattress after I made a Scarlett O’Hara speech about how “I will never go camping again!” (It was that inflatable mattress that saved me for the rest of FaerieWorlds). When my attempts to shove my Tempur-Pedic mattress in the small overly-packed car before leaving Los Angeles had failed, I was forced to learn the hard way I will NEVER sleep on a tent floor again. I spent the next 48 hours trying to keep the teenage girls off my bed so they wouldn’t know how much more comfortable I was, since they were still sleeping directly on the ground, no padding.
By the time we returned to FaerieWorlds on Day Two from our Important Shopping Trip, the “freak flags” were flying high. We dressed crazy and wore sequins and wings, henna tattoos and fairy makeup and glittered ourselves, our sleeping bags, our clothes, our food, and our tent. We gave away a few books as well as the booklets and bookmarks. Later that night I had a moment to shine. There was a band I couldn’t wait to see, Omnia, with a waifish singer/drummer/harpist, Jennifer Evans van der Harten, who I felt must read my book. I just had to get it to her. I stood by the stage during the band’s sound check and then my opportunity came: A photographer/security guy walked by looking flustered because he had nothing to do. I called him over. “Can you give this book to Jenny?” I asked. He nodded and took it and tried to hand it to her right in the middle of her sound check, but she asked him to put it with her belongings offstage, which he did. She came to America from Europe, which meant she had a long plane ride home. Now she had something to read. Check!
The band Omnia that night was beyond awesome, and afterward we had a fun time experiencing the “jellyfish”…an umbrella set up with fiber optic strands that someone twirls above you while you lie on the ground looking up into the middle of it. Cheap thrills for sure, but way better than some of those aforementioned carnival attractions. We also checked out the “cuddle puddle” in the pyramid tent, where colored lights filled the dome and people lay side-by-side beneath it. Our experience was at its height and we were one with the fae. But we still had yet another cold night in a dirty little tent to face. Bravely we went to bed late, listening to sounds of the happy, cavorting fae all around us as we drifted off to sleep.
Day Three came on strong and the distance between our tent and a cup of coffee was hitting hard. It was also Day Three of no showers, Porta-Potties, and yes, fairies. But not real fairies, human fairies. Human fairies who caper loudly in the night and run amok and…did I mention the Porta-Potties and no showers? Luckily there was a nearby lake and no amount of shyness with any of the fae about skinny dipping. But still. Somewhere in between the Grateful Dead days and FaerieWorlds I had become a swanky-resort-sit-by-the-pool-where’s-the-waiter? kind of girl. Not really sure WHEN that happened, but I admit, it did. (Before you assume I’m a wimp, you should know I once lived for two years without running water and electricity, and I lived seven years in the country and had to start my own fires in the morning. I am proud of how I reacclimated just fine into civilization after mastering that rough and tumble lifestyle).
By Day Three we had mellowed our look by degrees and dressed in casual-Sunday-hippie-fairy mode; loose skirts, a little makeup, some flowers in our hair, no wings. We met a few people, handed out the rest of the booklets and free books, and began packing up for our exit the next day. We took the dog on a hike and enjoyed the Oregon trees and clean air. We shopped a little and listened to music, and then, it happened. My daughter bumped into someone she had met at the Omnia concert the night before and they chatted. It came up that we were there to hand out free sample chapter booklets. “What’s the name of the book?” the girl asked. “The Fairies of Feyllan,” my daughter replied. “Oh!” said the girl. “I’ve heard people talking about that book.”
And that was it. All she wrote. All we got. The ONLY indication after driving nearly 900 miles, staying in the ratchety tent, using Porta-Potties, no showers, the hard cold ground, and yes, enjoying the music and beautiful fairy folk who undoubtedly had their own stories to tell of the kinship and connection that everyone felt…that one off-handed remark was our reward: “I’ve heard people talking about that book.” Will it translate to sales when the fairy folk return to the human realm, unpack their bags, and find in their suitcases a tiny little sample chapter sprinkled with pictures of fairies like pixie dust? Time will tell. And as we all know, time works differently in the fairy realm. We will have to wait and see. For now, it is the lesson of gratitude for the adventure of a lifetime that will be the bigger reward.