The pandemic has rendered in-person conferences and conventions a no-go but science fiction romance authors have taken the challenge to be creative and devise a new style of event to connect authors and readers. The ‘Abduct Me Con’ is an online free event occurring from February 5 through 7, with panels and virtual signings. I interviewed Erin Raegan, one of the primary organizers of the event, about the conference.
Veronica Scott for Amazing Stories Magazine: What was the inspiration for the Abduct Me SFR Con?
ER: It was around May or June I’d say that I got the idea. I was talking to my husband about the year’s book events I’d been attending that were slowly, one by one being cancelled due to the pandemic. A lot of time and money can go into preparing for those events and suddenly I had inventory sitting at my house with no event. I felt bummed about the cancellations, not because of the pandemic, I fully support the coordinators’ decisions to cancel this year’s events, but just about the missed opportunity to meet with readers and other authors. I’d seen a few events going for the online option. So I thought why couldn’t we still have some fun virtually? And thus the idea of the event was born. SFR has a pretty awesome community, both authors and readers. We are all very supportive of each other and so I brought the idea to my author group to gauge interest and it was overwhelming. It was really a group effort. A lot of us felt the same and wanted to do something special for SFR and its readers. A huge shout out to my reader group who helped me talk out a few of my ideas and threw in some of their own!
ASM.: What can a reader expect at this event?
ER: The event is a virtual book signing in celebration of Science Fiction Romance! You can expect over twenty-eight SFR authors posting and going live to interact with attendees. That can include talking with your favorite author as they sign a book you can purchase from them—their order forms are accessible on our website—, Q&A’s, live book readings, or just a chat! We’ll also have giveaways, new book release teasers, games, and more! For the last several weeks I’ve been video interviewing some of the attending authors and it’s been so much fun! Those videos will release in the event group starting in the weeks leading up to the event!
ASM.: Is this con only for readers who love the alien abduction trope or do you have a wider scope?
ER: This event is for all Science Fiction Romance. Not only the abduction trope. It’s a funny story how we got our name though. I’d been struggling coming up with something and had pulled in a lot of people to brainstorm but it was actually my husband that came up with the name. He’s always teasing me about my die-hard love for SFR, claiming if aliens were to invade, I’d beg them to abduct me…he is not wrong! (So long as they are sweet and hunky 😉 But ultimately this event is a celebration of the SFR genre and every single trope that involves!
ASM.: Can you talk a bit about the authors who will be participating?
ER: We have over twenty-eight authors attending. Well-known authors, Michelle Mills and Tiffany Roberts. A few that seem to have exploded on the scene the last few years, such as SJ Sanders, Alana Khan, Honey Phillips, and Bex McLynn. Award winning author Stacy Jones, as well as USA Today Best Sellers Celia Kyle, Ella Maven, and Margo Bond Collins. We also have our up and coming authors like Harpie Alexa, Annalise Alexis, and L. P. Peace. Really, the line up this year is spectacular and I could not say enough good things about the authors attending. And I’ve yet to mention powerhouses like Nancey Cummings, Stephanie West, and Jade Waltz. I could go on. Every author in attendance is worth a mention but the list is extensive. Check them all out on our website! If you love science fiction and romance, particularly the two mashed together, this event is for you. So many tropes and sub-genres, there’s something for everyone.
ASM.: How does the book signing work at a virtual con?
ER: Our event dates are February fifth, sixth, and seventh. This event is taking place entirely in the Abduct Me SFRCon event group. Log on those days and tune in to watch our authors go live to interact with their readers. Maybe you’ll catch them just in time to see them signing your very own copy of a favorite SFR paperback. Though authors are stopping live event book orders by end of December to make sure they can receive inventory in time. You can still purchase each day leading up to and during the event but you may not see your book signed during the event.
ASM.: What do you think is the attraction SFR has for readers?
ER: This question can have so many fantastic answers and I could go on forever about it, but for me personally, I love how SFR can take me away from my current reality. I was a huge astronomy fan as a child and that has only grown to astronomical proportions. When you combine an author’s wonderous imaginations of space and then mix in a little—or a lot— of romance, it can be a powerful blend that draws a reader into a story and keeps them there. At least it does for me.
ASM.: What’s been your biggest challenge in putting this together?
ER: An event like this, that is only virtual, can be a lot simpler to organize than say an in-person event. However, there is a lot of moving parts. Interest is overwhelmingly positive both from authors and readers, it makes me excited for what we can accomplish in the future. I’ve never organized anything like this before, and I’d say my biggest challenge was corralling all of my expectations and wishes for this event into something tangible and possible. I’d shoot for the stars when it comes to SFR if I could, and when I write, I do, but for our first year, I’ve had to internalize a lot to keep the event manageable. Look out for 2022, though, we’re just getting started!
ASM.: Will you make it an annual event? Would it ever become a physical conference?
ER: When the event was just an idea back at the end of the summer…I hadn’t been thinking of the future. I was overwhelmed with excitement for the now. But with an author interest list that is growing by the day and my hopes and ideas piling up, I couldn’t imagine not hosting every year we are able. As for a physical place where all SFR authors and readers can get together and share their love and excitement for these stories? It is a dream. I would absolutely love that. As it stands now, there are no plans in place, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be as the virtual event continues to grow!
ASM.: How does a reader join or participate in this event?
ER: Join our event group. The event is free to attend and is entirely hosted in that group this upcoming February. Here is the link for the group: www.facebook.com/groups/abductmesfrcon You can find that link as well as a list of our attending authors on our webpage.
ASM.: What was your best experience at a conference?
ER: About five years ago, when writing was just a dream for me and I spent every bit of my free time devouring books, I went to a small bookstore in Seattle WA to meet an author. I’m a military wife and my husband was deployed, all our family and friends over three-thousand miles away so I got a babysitter and went alone. I was an excited mess. That selfie with the author and my goofy grin, is framed on my wall. The very best thing about book signings and conferences is interacting with the authors that have written the stories you’ve fallen in love with. Though our event is virtual, I still hope to reach readers all over the world and give them a little bit of that excitement while we’re all stuck inside in quarantine and social distancing.
ASM.: What’s next for you as an author?
ER: I’m always scheming. My brain always in overdrive. I have so many stories I want to tell and so very little fingers to write them all! I’ve been away from my Galactic Order series and in 2021, I really want to revisit a few much loved secondary characters from that series and see them have their own happily ever after. I also plan to expand my SFR universe in my Space Warrior Adventures series. I want to dip my toes in a few new genres as well. My plans for 2021 are vast and exciting and I can’t wait to share new stories with my readers!
ASM.: What’s on your To Be Read list?
ER: An author’s TBR is a deep dark hole of lost dreams. It is extensive. There are so many fabulous authors and stories I am dying to get my hands on. Time is my problem. If I had to choose a few, I’d say I’m looking forward to reading Sandra R Neeley’s Variant, Tracy Lauren’s Alien Attraction, and getting my hands on Tamsin Ley’s Taken By The Cyborg when it releases next year…All three fabulous authors are also attending our upcoming Abduct Me SFRCon!