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Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Boy's Best Day Ever (Imagined)

When I was in France doing French fantasy things I had this bit of paper with me that I kept looking at. It was mixed in with my travel details and conference information and various telephone numbers and stuff. It was a short essay written in my son's unsteady handwriting, called "My Perfect Day". Herewith, I offer it to you, typed, of course, but otherwise unaltered...

Morning

I would get up and take a morning stroll through the woods (1) with my beardy (2) and my dog (3), my cats.

When I get back I would build some Star Wars Legos.

Then I would go and ride a black stallion called Orca (4).

When I get back it is time for lunch.

Afternoon

I would have burritos for lunch and then we would play a game of Carcassonne.

When we were done with our game I would play Star Wars Legos (5).

When I was done on the computer we would go down to Lake Wyola (6) to swim.

Evening

When we get back we some sushi and fish pie and then I would go to sleep (7).


Footnotes

1). By 'woods' he doesn't mean Fresno, because... ah... I don't think we have anything called woods here. Sure, when you come through the airport they have big murals of giant sequoias, but don't be fooled. Those are wee drive away, at an altitude gain of 7,000 feet or so. Local? Yes, but a little context doesn't hurt. No, by "woods" Sage means one of the two places he's most familiar with walking in the woods, Western Massachusetts or rural Scotland.

2). "Beardy" refers to a bearded dragon. Sage decided a while back that he wanted to get one, and he's been saving his money ever since. So, perhaps once we're back in Massachusetts...

3). We don't have a dog, but...

4). I'm not familiar with this creature.

5). Hey, it's his perfect day. Star Wars Legos have a big part in it. In this case, though, he actually means a Lego computer game...

6). This would be the lake near us in Massachusetts, about a five minute walk away from the house.

7). Sage has thoughtfully included both my culinary specialty - sushi - and his mother's - fish pie. I assure you they're both marvelous, but we don't usually have them on the same day. This, however, is a perfect day, so all bets are off.

And thats it.

You know what I like about this perfect day? That I could make it happen. That it's not so different than a normal day. The black stallion named Orca might be a bit tricky, but the rest of it...

Well, he's kinda described our life. (Or, the life we'll have back again in about three weeks, when we arrive back in Massachusetts.)

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Video Interviews!

I guess I'm not entirely finished with talking about Imaginales. Thanks to Cheryl Morgan, I'll be doing so for a while on YouTube! Here's me talking...



And here's Hal Duncan...



And here's Patricia Briggs...



And here's Bruce Holland Rogers...

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Legacy Award Nominees 2009

The Hurston/Wright Foundation has announced the finalists for this year's Legacy Awards.

The fiction category includes works by Uwem Akpan, Jeffery Renard Allen, Breena Clarke, Tananarive Due, James McBride and Jesmyn Ward. There are also poetry and nonfiction categories.

If you're at interested in what's being published in America by writers of African descent these days go take a look. You might discover a gem you'd otherwise have missed entirely!

The only one of these that I've read was James McBride's Song Yet Sung. I reviewed it for The Washington Post. Good book. I'm sure the others are too.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Why I Loved My Trip To France So Much - Part Two (The Last)

I got to tell you, I'm still floating around with French music in my head. I think Gudrun's getting tired of hearing me talk about it. I really should move on. And I will. It's just that I had such a good time over there. (Not TOO GOOD a time, if you're worried about it. Just the perfect amount of good.)

Anyway, in an effort to move on, this will have to suffice as my concluding Imaginales/Paris post. (Until next year, hopefully.) I'll just give you a collage of high points, interspersed with photos of some of the people I spent time with. I'm not even going to try to mention everybody, cause I did meet a lot of people. But here's a few of them...

Other authors! Some of the foreign guests included Patricia Briggs (see photo), Bruce Holland Rogers and Hal Duncan. I had great fun meeting all of them. Patricia and her husband, Mike, made for great company. I think Patty is probably the nicest New York Times Bestselling author that I know. (And I do know a few.) Bruce impressed me with his European ways. Dude read a story of his... in French! (He's from Eugene, OR.) Hal is... always great fun. He may be embarrassed by my mentioning that he and I couldn't hang with the French contingent of revelers one evening. We got as far as 2am. Our hosts apparently kept it going until 8am. Slept for an hour, and then all of them were up about for another day by 10am. I was impressed. And if you happened to have read Vellum and were a bit confused, you may be comforted to hear that Hal doesn't have any idea what it's about either. Oh, and I briefly met Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams, the Tunnels authors.

Some of the many French authors I met included Pierre Bordage, Sire Cedric (That's the guy pictured to the right here. He wears only black and lives a life much like David Dochovny in Californication. He's terribly cool, in a band, and darn near perfect, in a goth way. About all I can say against him is that he's from Toulouse and has the region's accent. For some reason the Parisians found this very amusing. Here's a video of him fondling a stuffed sheep.), Johan Heliot, Jean-Philippe Jaworski (His debut novel, Gagner la guerre - To Win the War - sounds incredible. It won the main Prix Imaginales this year. I'd love to read it, but it's not translated into English and it might be awhile before my French is up to the task. Alas, such in the case with most French authors. So few of them get translated, and almost none have been able to move on the English), Carina Rozenfield, Meneas Marphil, Edouard Brasey (Wonderful guy that knows an awful lot about an awful lot), Sophie Audouin-Mamikonian, Bernhard Hennen (Actually a German writer that's sold tons of books about elves), Jean-Louis Trudel, Pierre Bottero, Thomas Day (Whose name is not really Thomas Day. Mysterious.)...

So that's the authors done. They were fun and all, but the trip wouldn't have been the trip without all that spectacular people that made it happen. Surely this starts with everyone at Le Pre aux clercs. My editor, Carola Strang, fed me snails. Aurelie Streiff dragged me around Paris at Jungle Speed, yelling "Bon!" often. Isabelle Lerein got me to rethink a major plot feature of the third book (!). Benedicte Lombardo... well, she's the one that first read Acacia and proposed Le Pre aux clercs publish it. Lots of great people there, and, honestly, it's quite humbling to see the work they do getting my work to readers. Thank you all.

Oh, time for a photo. Here's Aurelie to the left...


...and to the right is Annaig Houesnard. She's also in this image. (Might as well get them from both angles.)

Annaig was one of the translators (along with Sylvie Miller, Lionel Davoust... oh, and Heloise and Katrina... and most everyone else at some point) that allowed me to communicate. Kinda cool. Imagine... I'm in a panel with several distinguished French authors. I get asked a question in French, and one of these lovely people (Lionel included) leans in and whispers the translation in my ear in accented English. I respond, and then they instantly make me sound more sophisticated by transforming my thoughts to French. I could get used to that. For that matter, I should have a translator for speaking in English, somebody that can both make sense of what the moderator asked and then make sense of what I said in answer. I should look into this...

It was also nice meeting Thierry Arson, the book translator who is working on The Other Lands right now. I got to meet Didier Graffet, the artist that did the French Acacia cover, and got an early sketch of the next one. Very nice. Go check his site out. He does good work.

I also did a couple of book store visits and met a couple of Xavier's - Dollo and Vernet. Thanks for having me out. And thanks also to Christine and Damien for being good company in Rennes as we did an interview for Elbakin.net. I'll let you know when that's up.

And, of course, Stephanie Nicot gets a big mention for coordinating so much of the Conference - and for reading and like Acacia so much! Thank you.

Okay, so at this point you may be wondering a couple things. Like what's up with that yellow cat? And, hey, David, did you win that award? These are linked questions. The yellow cat is the award. That's right, no fancy gold plaques or shiny towers for the folks in Epinal. They opted for a colorful collection of plastic cats as the award. Frankly, that's cool by me. I rather wanted one of those cats.

Alas, it was not to be. Ian McDonald won. Congrats to him. He wasn't at the conference, and this lead to considerable temptation as I schemed up ways to make away with the trophy. But I play fair. I'll just have to write more books! Good things come from writing books, as I'm sure is obvious by now. And, yes, this is what it looks like. I've been caught on film publicly caressing the plastic cat. It just felt right at the time...

There were other highlights as well. I had dinner one night in Paris in this private club that you had to whisper the password to get into. Nice. Plush inside. All old books and rich crimson colors. I half-expected to find a coven of vampires ran the place, but nobody bit.

I rode a high speed train.

I drank all sorts of things and ate such good food! I had these mouth watering scallops for lunch one day, and then about an hour later the chef showed up at the convention, sporting his Harley Davidson gear. He actually bought a book for his daughter. She is like eight years old. When I pointed out that it might not be ideal for younger readers, he said she'd grow into it. Which I'm sure she will.

I met up with Pat Rothfuss and Sarah and had a drink at a sidewalk bar. Not the type of thing that happens every day. Pat took a picture. If I can get it from him I'll post it.

I ate sushi in an underground grotto in Paris...

I could go on, but I've been too lengthy already. If you've read this far thank you. I trust you've no doubt that I really did enjoy this trip. I want back. And soon. With the family, too. My kids would look too cool speaking French...

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

More Synergy!

I've been Synergized again over at BSC.

Take a look, if not because of me than because you're curious about what authors were important to the likes of Charles Stross, Jackie Kessler, Peter V. Brett, Ken Scholes, Robert V.S. Redick, Colleen Doran and others...

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Ursula Gets Respect

I first saw this at Cheryl's Mewsings, where she also has up a full Imaginales Con report. It's an article in the UK's Guardian newspaper (that would be the one my father in law reads) about Ursula K LeGuin's influence on a generation of writers.

I like it, especially as it points lucidly to the fact that many of the best "literary" writers working these days have been nourished by fantasy.

I'm just forty now, but proud to say I'm one of that generation that has been influenced for the better by LeGuin's work.

Where would I have been without Ged?

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why I Loved My Trip To France So Much - Part One

So yesterday when I arrived home, hugged and kissed the wife and kids, and am sitting in the car driving home, Gudrun remarked that I seem unusually happy. "You don't usually say how great it was when you come back from a trip," she observed.

And right she is. Because usually I'm tired and cranky and have had enough of people and just want to get on with other things. This time, however, it was different.

Why? Lots of reasons. It's hard to know where to begin, so I'll do it in parts.

This morning I'm grabbing a few pics from Cheryl Morgan's site: Cheryl's Mewsings. She was over in Epinal as well, and did a great job of documenting the entirety of the experience. (As opposed to myself and my focus on... well, my experience.)

So what was cool about Imaginales? Well, it helped that there were weird people around... Granted, there weren't a ton of costumed people around, but the ones that were there really helped to create a vibe.

And not just FoxGirl here. There were a pair (pun not intended or even much appreciated) of bare breasted vixens in full body paint patrolling the grounds. Good fun, that, although a bit unnerving. Alas, I have no picture of them to offer. I do know that cameras were clicking away, so perhaps someone else can direct us to photos of these vixens?

But I'm getting distracted. Truth is there were lots and lots of panels, lots and lots of authors (mostly European), and lots of time spent signing books and chatting in broken English and flowing French. A little German every now and then as well. Crowds were good, and people seemed quite interested in all manner of mysterious topics.

Personally, most of the time I had no idea what I was getting ready to talk about. It was stuff like...

Propheties, Predictions, Divinations... Quand la fantasy scrute nos destinees...

and..

Tous le Sorciers ne s'appellent pas Harry! Magie et magiciens d'aujourd'hui...

That sort of thing. And, yes, I did have a translator (more on that later), but the titles of the panels were as much riddles to me in English as they were in French. But hey, that was part of the fun.

And look at the crowds! I'm tempted to say that these young people were gathered to meet me, but that would be... a... lie. Still, they were gathered for some fantasy-loving event. That's the truth.

And it's also true that Imaginales is really well-run. There were difficulties. Like a day of rain, drunk or hungover authors (no names), etc, but overall things ran smoothly. Part of why this happens is that the town itself choose to host the festival. They make it work, and they seem quite proud and engaged to have the event in Epinal. If they ever invite me back I'll most certainly go! (Blatant hint, that.)

More on this cat and his multi-hued compatriots later...

And, okay, courtesy of whoever posted the photos on flickr, "those" women...

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Un dejeuner breton avec David Anthony Durham !

Hi. I'm back from France tonight. What a trip. It was really, really nice. Loved it. No kidding. Really.

I need to catch up with family and catch my breath a bit, so tonight I just offer this link to the wonderful folks at Elbakin.net. I met up with them in Rennes for an afternoon of loveliness.

And crepes!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Few Photos of Epinal

I know I've been lame about posting the last few days. I guess it hasn't really been that long, but I've done so much each day that I feels like much more time has passed and I've been seriously slacking. I'm not actually going to make up for that today. Instead, I'll just post a few pics from the town of Epinal, the one that hosted Imaginales. I'm in Paris now, but tomorrow morning I head for home. And then, at some point, I'll say more about the lovely people and the great time I had in France. And I'll explain how I happened to meet up with Patrick Rothfuss at a sidewalk cafe. Pretty good fun...

But anyway, below is Epinal...




Oh, and here's me in Epinal...

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Further Documentation That I'm In France

This wee photo shows me with the Didier Graffet, the artist that did the cover for Acacia 1 and will be doing the same for Acacia 2 in France. I'm holding a sketch of the cover image, which you can't see much of from this pic. If you click over and take a look at the piece at Fantasy.fr you can see it in better detail.

Okay. Gotta go do stuff. Getting tired...

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

In Search Of The Successor...

Hey, here's a link to a very kind piece by Mary Robinette Kowal at SciFi Scanner. It's about the books that might make the next round of epic fantasy films. Can you guess why I'm chuffed about it?

("Chuffed" is a good thing to be, by the way.)

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Paris From A Moving Car

I said I'd post some non-blurry photos, if I had any. Here are a few that almost meet that definition.

You know what this tall thing on the left is, right? And what the triangle thing down below is? And that thing in the far distance of the bottom photo...

They don't actually prove anything since I'm not really in them myself, and most were just taken out the window of a car skillfully navigating Paris traffic.

This driving stuff had me worried briefly, as it seemed complete chaos, but then Carola explained a basic principle or driving in France, and now it all makes sense.

I'll withhold the information, though, just so not to ruin the experience for any heading to Paris for the first time.

It's kinda fun being terrified, yes?

But as I write this I'm not actually in Paris anymore. I'll try to have something on the actual conference soon...

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Paris and Jokertown

I'm in Paris. Yep. The miserable flight is over. I'm on the ground. I'm just catching a breather before heading to Epinal by train in about an hour. So, other than a warm welcome here by my editor, Carola Strang, I don't have too much to report. Well... I have already seen the Eiffel Tower, l'Arc de Triomphe, the Seine, the Louvre and a statue of George Washington. I have pictures to prove it, but they may all be blurry, taken as they were from a moving car. I'll take a look at them later.

I did want to mention some Stateside news. I'd just heard confirmation of this from GRRM a couple days ago, but he's gone public with it now on his Not A Blog - Back to Jokertown. He's announced the title and subject of the new Wild Cards book, and announced the main authors writing for it this time. Go take a look. (And, yes, I'm one of them!)

Okay, gotta catch a train...

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Leaving...

Heading out the door now. First to fly from Fresno to LA, and then for the big flight across to Paris. I think I have everything I need. See ya!


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Monday, May 11, 2009

Packing...

Hi. I'm going to France tomorrow for Imaginales! I'm running around today, packing, remembering things, forgetting things, remembering that I forgot and forgetting that I remembered. That sort of thing.

I'll be taking my camera and computer with me to Paris and Epinal, of course, but I'm not sure how much I'll manage to blog. I'll try, since it's not everyday you get to head off to a foreign country, attend a con, meet all sorts of folks, promote books and generally have a great time. I may be pretty busy, though. That's the only thing.

Although, if this is really what Epinal looks like it's hard to imagine feeling to pressurized...
Oh, my passport! Let me go grab that now, while I'm thinking about it...

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Editorial Anonymous Has Good News

Came across this post last month and rather liked it. Here's good news and good news about reviews.

Thing is, I actually believe it. Not only do I believe it, but I also think that the more people read any book the more people are going to not like it. That's just reality. So would you rather have a handful of raves from a few folks, or bushels of mixed reviews from the masses?

I remember a few times when someone at a reading has said they got interested in a book of mine because of such and such review, and that's why they bought it and brought themselves out to meet me... Sounds normal enough, right? Funny thing is that the times I'm recalling are times that the review in question wasn't a good one.

I was like, "Really? You read that review and... I mean, did you notice that the reviewer hated me and thought my children were ugly and wrote that concluding paragraph about how my feet stink?"

And they were like, "Huh?"

I could only conclude that what most people take away from a review of a book is that they... well... read a review of that book. If they read it they're more likely to remember it - the book, that is, not the specifics of the review. If they remember it they're more likely to assume the attention was good.

So, win/win? I think so. Most of the time, at least.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Felix Gilman

I just received my voting packet for the Hugos. The deadline isn't until July, but I should get things tied up with my pieces on each of the John W. Campbell Award Finalists. So...

There's only one left: Felix Gilman, who happens to be the other novelist on the ballot! He's the author of Thunderer and Gears of the City. Thunderer got a lot of praise, including stuff like this...

"This masterly first novel is as stunning and unexpected as a thunderclap out of a clear blue sky." --Paul Witcover.

"That thunderous, earth-shattering sound vibrating through the pavement and up-ending your coffee is the harbinger of approaching giants: first-time novelist Felix Gilman's incredibly imaginative New Weirdish urban fantasy Thunderer ... a brilliant new author." --Jeff VanderMeer.

Great recommendations by two great guys. It also garnered him a nominated for a Locus Award for Best First Novel.

So Mr. Gilman is a contender. I'm pretty sure he agreed to have a beer with me in Montreal, as well, so it's all good.

Other info? Well, there's more info on his website, of course, but Felix was born in London in 1974. That sounds fairly straightforward. I'll put quotes around this next bit, though: "He holds two degrees in history from Oxford, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a doctorate in Ludology from the Waldzell School of the Order of Castalia, and certain advanced but curiously non-specific qualifications in modern American poetry from the National University of Zembla."

Also he went to Hogwarts. Why not?

Here's Mary Robinette Kowal's Interview with him.

Here's one with Jeff VanDermeer.

And that concludes my wee collection of posts about my fellow noms. I think that together we're an interesting bunch, happily diverse and stylistically varied. Of course, I'm sure we all want to win the thing, but - regardless - it still means a lot to me to be included in lists like this. So best of luck to Aliette, Gord, Tony and Felix. I'll hold a bit of that back for myself, and then I'll hope to see you all in Montreal - to celebrate. No matter what, it'll be a good time!

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Prix Imaginales

My trip to France just got a boost. You may know I'm heading to Imaginales in Epinal, France, next week. To that information I'd add that they give their own awards at the conference, the Prix Imaginales. I'd further mention that they have a category for translated novels. And... (you can tell this is leading somewhere, right?) ...I just found out I'm one of the five finalists in that category! Oh my.

And make no mistake, I'm in there with some grown ups...

ROMAN ETRANGER TRADUIT
Steve Cockayne, Legendes du pays, Tome 1 : Vagabonds et insulaires, trad. Michele Charrier, Pygmalion
David Anthony Durham, Acacia, Tome 1 : La guerre du Mein, trad. Thierry Arson, Le Pre au Clerc
Swordspoint, A la pointe de l'epee : un melodrame d'honneur, trad. Patrick Marcel, Calmann-Levy
Ian McDonald, Roi du matin, reine du jour, trad. Jean-Pierre Pugi, Denoel

Terry Pratchett, Les annales du disque monde, Tome 30 : Timbre, trad. Patrick Couton, L'Atalante

Are you kidding me? I'm on a shortlist for anything with Terry Pratchett? With Ian McDonald and Ellen Kushner? Okay, I don't know Steve Cockayne's work yet, but I'll take a look now. Wow... Have I mentioned that I really like France?

Here's the full announcement at ActuSF.

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Paolo Bacigalupi

At Readercon last year I had the pleasure of being on a panel with Paolo Bacigalupi. A little later I had a signing session, which basically means I sat at a table with a pen in my hand, smiling awkwardly as people walked by. Paolo was good enough to sit down and hang out, and I've remembered that conversation since.

It was terrific in that he's a lot of fun to talk to, humorous and smart and easy going. What's strange about this is that he pretty much spent the entire time explaining the horrible state of the environment, the futility of the measures we're taking (or not) at the moment, and generally making me very scared of all things plastic. This guy knows way too much about way too much. Odd that he smiles so often... I do take a measure of hope from the fact that he's a father, so he hasn't completely given up.

He's a hell of a writer, too. His collection, Pump Six and Other Stories is terrific, even if it's not exactly light reading. Here's what Publishers Weekly said in a starred review:

Bacigalupi's stellar first collection of 10 stories displays the astute social commentary and consciousness-altering power of the very best short form science fiction. The Hugo-nominated The Calorie Man explores a post–fossil fuel future where genetically modified crops both feed and power the world, and greedy megacorporations hold the fates of millions in their hands. The People of Sand and Slag envisions a future Earth as a contaminated wasteland inhabited by virtually indestructible post-humans who consume stone and swim in petroleum oceans. The Tamarisk Hunter deals with the effects of global warming on water rights in the Southwest, while the title story, original to this volume, follows a New York sewage treatment worker who struggles to repair his antiquated equipment as the city's inhabitants succumb to the brain-damaging effects of industrial pollutants. Deeply thought provoking, Bacigalupi's collected visions of the future are equal parts cautionary tale, social and political commentary and poignantly poetic, revelatory prose.

Nice. I mention him now because he's back in the award game again. His story, "The Gambler" is nominated for a Hugo in the Novelette category. You can read it over at the Pyr Website. He's up against some folks I really like, so it's darn hard to say who I want to win. But still, today I'm a Paolo mood, hence this post.

I also "enjoyed" reading a recent Interview he did with EcoGeek. Go take a look. (Oh, and I should note, as Paolo did on his blog, that the interview got reposted at io9. Quite a few people went ballistic there.)

Here's another one from last year, at Omnivoracious.

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