Remembering #NashCon Over The Years – Sunday Panels!

Kim and I and quite a few of my other friends have had a bit of a tough time this weekend, since we’re all very aware that we had planned to be at the Creation Supernatural convention in Nashville right now. We’re missing our favorite show, and we’re missing our favorite cast, and we’re missing each other – so we thought it would be therapeutic to take a walk down memory lane and remember all the fun times we’ve had in Nashville in the past. So here are a few memories from me, and alot of pretty pictures and more memories from Kim. Enjoy this walk down memory lane with us!

2011 and 2012

[Lynn]  I went to the very first Nashcon, as it was then called, way back in 2011. It was before I did convention recaps here, back at the time Kathy and I were working on our very first book about Supernatural and fandom. We hadn’t planned on going, but impulsively decided to take a road trip down to Nashville, with Kathy’s ever-patient husband Dave as our driver. We stopped for hushpuppies along the way. Yum. I remember being awestruck by the Gaylord Opryland hotel complex, and getting lost every time I tried to make my way from our hotel room to the convention area. I had no decent camera and no decent seat in the back of the GA section, but Dave did manage to grab a giant cardboard poster of the Impala advertising the convention from a stand in the hallway on the last day of the con because I didn’t have the guts to – it still hangs in my office at the university to this day. Thanks, Dave.

Nashcon 2011 was also an incredible experience because it was the first time I got to witness Jensen Ackles and Steve Carlson play together. They did a jam session for a small group of people, and it was amazing – even though Jensen was clearly anxious. I caught up with him in the green room later and he asked with trepidation if it had been “okay”. OKAY?? It was fangirl heaven – and it seems even more special now, almost a decade later, as Jensen and Steve have released their amazing Radio Co collaboration. Here’s a small excerpt from my write up of what we were treated to that day (alas, no photos were allowed):

The last song they saved until last for a reason – it was the first song they ever played together. Steve was working on it one day and Jensen came over and started singing harmony. So Steve threw him in the woodshed (aka studio) and that’s how they recorded “Come Around More Alabama”.

Steve: He thought he was coming over for a beer, and I threw him in the woodshed and put him to work! And now that’s one of the most requested songs on itunes, because of Mr Ackles’ popularity.

Jensen (interrupts): And your genius writing skills.

Fans: Awwwww.

Their rendition of the song was incredible, the harmonies spot on, everyone in the room pretty much riveted. Afterwards, Jensen gave a heartfelt thank you to the fans for their donations (proceeds in part going to charity).

Jensen: It’s humbling and gratifying to be around people who are so supportive. You guys are awesome.

As he and Steve got up to head out, Jensen stopped once again, and sounding a little choked up, shook his head and said, “Best fans in the world.”

We couldn’t agree more, but it goes both ways. Right back at ya, guys.

2011 was also the year we spent a lot of time in the green room doing interviews for our first two books, Fandom At The Crossroads and Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls. We were chatting with talented singer and great guy Brian Buckley while Jared was also in the room, so we got to witness him starting his Twitter account and hear the conversation that led up to making it @jarpad! We were privileged to be there as he watched his follower account slowly start to take off. Hard to believe that now, in 2020, he has 3 Million followers!

This seems to be the one blurry photo I managed to take in 2012 at Nashcon, but I remember it being a special convention for it being the first con after one of our books had been published, and how gracious and supportive the entire cast was about wanting a copy.

Read more

The Last Con While Supernatural Is Still Filming (Maybe) – Vegas 2020!

This is a tough time for everyone. For fans of Supernatural, it’s also the countdown to the ending of the show that has gotten us through our toughest times for the past fifteen years. I’ve seen the fandom and the cast come together online to try and offer ways to help each other get through this, from posting adorable family home videos to organizing rewatch parties to Stage It shows to virtual cons. For our part, we’re really hoping that our new book, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, that celebrates the legacy of Supernatural will also be a help to this SPNFamily we love.

We planned the book because we knew this would be a hard time for Supernatural fans and cast – hoping that a book to hang onto that celebrates the legacy of the show and its importance would be a help getting through. But we had no idea just how hard this time would truly be. Our hope is that getting There’ll Be Peace When  You Are Done out in early May will be a bright spot for the SPNFamily both for the show’s ending and the painful position all of humanity is in right now. Preorder link is at the end – and you get some freebies right now to amuse you until the release date.

We’ll try to do our part here on the blog too, with more features from the new book and its authors – both cast and fans – in the coming weeks. Here’s our first offering of ‘bright spots’ to give Supernatural fans something positive to hang onto – our adventures at the last Supernatural convention for who knows how long, SPNVegas. And some pretty pictures.

Happy reading!

Everyone knew that this year’s Vegas Supernatural con was going to be an emotional one. For one thing, there hadn’t been a con since November, so cast and fans and vendors were all missing each other a great deal. Even more impactful, this was the last convention during which Jared, Jensen and Misha were still filming Supernatural. The last con at which they still *were* Sam, Dean and Cas. (Or at least that was the plan – who knows what’s going to happen now!)

As I boarded my flight on Wednesday morning – more than two weeks ago as I write this – (clutching my hand sanitizer and incredibly thankful that there was no one sitting next to me), I kept thinking that this was the last convention that would be the same as all the ones before it. I’ve been going to these cons for 13 years, since 2007, and all this time, Jared and Jensen have been Sam and Dean. If you know me at all, you know that my questions are always show questions. I am always dying to know what they thought about their character’s emotional reaction to whatever was happening on the show, or what their head canon is about the latest episode. This would be the last convention where I could ask those sort of questions and still have ongoing canon to spool out before us. The last one in which the Winchesters’ and Castiel’s stories are not yet over; not yet fully told. At this point as I post this, we don’t know when they will actually be able to film the last two episodes, but it will certainly be different, and not something that happened organically, with the crew that has been family for fifteen years, in a continuous season of filming. There will never be a convention quite like this one ever again.

Like so many things I’m emotional about that have to do with my favorite show ending, it sounds silly to be so worked up about this kind of ‘never again’ – but it’s not. This show, these conventions, these actors, have been a big part of my life and the lives of most Supernatural fans – whether you’re there in person or not, everyone enjoys the panels and getting to know the cast of our favorite show better. And while some things won’t entirely change going forward, some most definitely will. There are cons planned throughout 2020 (assuming COVID19 allows any), but they will still be different. And now that the entire world is on the brink of apocalypse, I need the healthy escape and inspiration of my favorite fictional characters more than ever!

So let’s just say I arrived in Vegas already a bit teary eyed. It seems weird to write this now, only two weeks later, but at the time we didn’t know just how serious and widespread COVID19 would be. Nevertheless, I followed an air hugs only rule at the con, washed my hands constantly, and kept a bottle of hand sanitizer at my vendor table throughout the con. I’m now very glad I did!

Luckily my good friend Laurena met me at the airport so we could share this entire experience, and ensure that neither of us totally decompensated from being emotionally overwhelmed at some point. We caught an Uber and consoled each other with a plan of an afternoon lounging in the sun beneath the palm trees at the Rio’s beautiful pool. Ahhh, just what two people escaping from Philly and Chicago needed in early March!

I have a love/hate relationship with the Rio. It’s always where the Vegas con is, and that makes me fond of it in that nostalgic way I have of being fond of everything that’s familiar in my life and can anchor me to the good stuff. On the other hand, there was that year the entire bathroom overflowed with sewage in the middle of the night – literally bubbling up out of our sink and tub and toilet – that sent me and my roommates out onto the casino floor in our PJ’s with a luggage cart of all our hurriedly stacked up belongings to move rooms at 3 am. Not one of my best memories.

So when Laurena and I arrived and were informed that the pool was CLOSED, it was like a flashback to that earlier trauma. Closed??? For the entire time we’d be here? What’s worse, it wasn’t just the pool – it was the entire outside area. There was literally nowhere to sit outside and enjoy the Vegas warmth. We ended up sitting at the shuttle stop on a metal bench, feeling pretty forlorn, just to get some fresh air for a little while.

First it was the announcement that this would be a “no-touch” con, thanks to COVID19, which was upsetting to many fans who were looking forward to hugging their faves in a photo op, even if everyone was starting to understand that it was probably very necessary. Then no pool??

Late lunch at Hash House, which is always a treat, made us feel a bit better. Then it was time to open our table in the vendor room, and to reunite with all the awesome vendor squad people I hadn’t seen in way too long. I was so exhausted from the time change and travel that I almost crashed right after, but luckily I decided to join my friend Lisa and a bunch of her friends – all of them writers – for a late dinner. Well, really for some delicious milkshakes. YUM! And writing talk, which I always enjoy.

 

Thursday the convention itself kicked off. Vegas is four days long (five if you count Wednesday evening vending and events), so it’s really more like an endurance marathon. The walk to the convention area of the Rio is approximately ten miles long, so endurance really is the right word. My knees have still not recovered.

There were SO many friends at this con, and I’m so grateful I had the chance to catch up with so many people since I have no clue when we’ll all be together again. HR was there with his newest awesome sculptures – I’m always blown away by the talent in this fandom!

Can’t you just hear Jack saying “Hello…”?

Thursday kicked off the con itself. After an intro by Rob and the band, first up was a panel by DJ Qualls, who hasn’t been to a con in a while. It was wonderful to see him, and heartwarming to hear the SPNFamily’s enthusiastic support of DJ, who had recently come out as gay.

DJ: Everyone knows I came out, right? I really was never in to anyone who knew me. But I learned at the time I started in this business that Hollywood wanted you to be quiet about it.

He shared the whole story to lots of cheers.

Read more

Changing Lives With Stroke Awareness – Rob Benedict on Writing in Family Don’t End With Blood

 

Last month was both Stroke Awareness Month and the one year anniversary of the publication of Family Don’t End With Blood, the book written by the cast and fans of Supernatural. So this is a perfect time to chat with Supernatural actor and Louden Swain frontman Rob Benedict (Chuck/God) about the powerful chapter he wrote in the book. In his chapter, Rob takes us through every tension-filled moment of the stroke he had while at a Supernatural convention in Toronto several years ago and how the SPNFamily got him through it.  I knew when Rob sent me the story to include that it was going to make readers cry (in a good way) and that it was going to inspire people – but I didn’t know that it was going to literally save lives.

That’s exactly what happened though.

At a Supernatural convention this spring, a fan approached the vendor table for Family Don’t End With Blood and said she had something to tell me. I’ve heard so many wonderful stories about how the stories shared in the book have inspired someone to keep going, or given them the courage to make changes in their lives, or helped them feel okay being who they are for the first time. When the fan standing at my table got emotional, I expected to hear a similar story.

“The Supernatural fandom and this book,” she said, “saved my life.”

Not in the way I expected, however. Patty Barbera had read Family Don’t End With Blood, and Rob’s chapter, in which he shares his experience having a serious stroke at the Toronto convention, had really stood out for her. Shortly before the convention, she was getting ready for bed when her hand started to go numb. The numbness slowly moved up her arm, and then there was a pain in the back of her head and her whole right side went numb. The right side of her face began to droop. She began having trouble speaking. Because she had just read Rob’s chapter, which details what happened during his stroke, Patty immediately realized she was having a stroke. She screamed for her husband, and they drove to the hospital – where a CT Scan showed that she was indeed having a stroke – the type referred to as a “TIA” or mini stroke. Even more alarmingly, her scans showed that it was not the first one.

As she told me her story, she began to cry – but they were good tears. She was healthy enough now to attend the convention and thank Rob herself (and has since made remarkable progress and is almost fully recovered)

“If I hadn’t read this book, I probably would have ignored everything and went to bed, most likely damaging my brain. But because of this book and Rob’s story, I’m back to my old self with minimal damage,” Patty said.

I felt my own eyes well up, and we shared a few tissues together.

Patty’s powerful story was a reminder of why we all wrote Family Don’t End With Blood – we wanted to make a difference. The actors who wrote chapters and the fans who wrote chapters all wanted to share their very personal stories in the hopes that others would be inspired and impacted by what they wrote.

That was certainly the case for Patty with Rob’s chapter. Shortly after I met Patty, I sat down with Rob to ask about why he wanted to contribute to the book and what the response has been to his story. In keeping with the important messages of Rob and Patty, we’ve included a summary of the warning signs of stroke at the end of this article – you can read the entire account of Rob’s very emotional experience in his chapter of Family Don’t End With Blood.

Lynn: You wrote a really personal chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood, taking readers through every moment of your experience when you had a stroke at a convention several years ago. What made you want to share your story?

Rob:  It’s almost easier for me to express myself through writing.  And I felt the need to re-visit the experience and take all of it back into my consciousness, and to try to account for what happened.  In my recovery I read an amazing memoir called Brain On Fire, in which the author Susannah Calahan tracks her own journey through a debilitating virus that attacked her brain.  I was inspired by that.  I am inspired to put all of this in a book someday, but this chapter was a place to start.  It was incredibly therapeutic.

Rob reads from his chapter at the book release party in LA

Lynn: Was it challenging to be that personal and share your own vulnerability?

Rob: Not really – I mean the fear of getting too personal is always a road block, but it’s one I like to push out of the way.  I do it a lot with my song lyrics.  At times, singing my songs is like reading my diary out loud.  It’s terrifying!  BUT I am motivated by that fear.  I dare myself to speak the truth.  I think there’s something incredibly confident, or robust, about expressing one’s own insecurities and fear.  I’ve said it before on stage when I sing songs like She Waits, but there is something about this fandom that makes me feel safe to express myself.  I feel like there’s an unspoken connection, especially by the end of a convention weekend. So I did also feel that when I wrote this – that it wouldn’t fall on judgmental ears.

Read more

Behind the Scenes of Supernatural with Robbie Thompson

One of the absolute highlights of this year’s Comic Con for me was sitting down to chat with Robbie Thompson, gifted comic writer and screenwriter who wrote some of my very favorite episodes of my very favorite show. That would be Supernatural, in case you didn’t know. Which is pretty much impossible unless you’ve just stumbled over this blog for the first time.

I attended Robbie’s panel on Intersectional Feminism in Comics, which was awesome and entirely inspiring, so we were all in a good mood afterwards. We decided to try to find a room where there weren’t a million people around, and took a bunch of friends with us – Laurena, Candice, Anne and Kamila – who were down with listening in to our epic interview. They will henceforth be referred to as the Peanut Gallery (‘PG’). For the most part, they were PG. The most part. Just sayin.

After several false starts traversing the ginormous convention center, including being barred from using the press room for our interview, we found an empty room with lots of empty round tables. Robbie, ever the intrepid one, shrugged and said, ‘how about this one?’

Occasionally a Comic Con staffer would come in, take a look at our oh-so-professional interview in progress, and quietly back out. Score!

I start the interview by tossing my handwritten notes about what I’m dying to ask and my little vintage audio recorder on the table.

R: (points to Lois Lane like tape recorder) Look at this, so professional..

L: Hey, it’s ancient, it’s done a million Supernatural interviews.

R: Uh oh, look at this, guys…(points to what appears to be a big stack of questions, a la Inside the Actor’s Studio)  There’s going to be some Bernard Pivot in there. There may be some things I say off the record…

L: Of course, you know I’m good with that. (but honestly? There weren’t many!)

R: Okay let’s do this!

Read more

Hometown Supernatural Con – Burbank Friday and Saturday 2016

img_1045

img_1056

Returning to Burbank for what is, for now at least, the last Supernatural con that Creation has planned there, was both festive and emotional. Many of the actors live there, so that means their families can come see what they do for a dozen or more weekends out of the year, and even actors who aren’t making paid appearances sometimes show up to join in the fun. That means a con in Burbank is usually a very good party.

Even as an East Coaster, I love Burbank too. It’s such a nice little airport and a lovely hotel with a convenient little convention ballroom attached. There’s a handy bar to meet up with fellow fans, and there’s all of Burbank a few minutes away with its great restaurants too. I hated not being there last year, instead stuck at the giant Pasadena convention center, so I was thrilled to be back.

It was the weekend after the election, and emotions were running high for both guests and fans. Somehow the con felt like the best place to be, surrounded by a lot of love and support. There were fliers throughout the hotel letting fans know that this was a safe space, and that they were accepted here. It made me proud to be a fan and a member of this SPN Family – and to sort of want to stay there in that fandom bubble for as long as possible!

Read more