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Monday, January 25, 2010

My Boskone Schedule

February 12-14, 2010 at the Westin Waterfront Hotel.

My schedule is: Friday 6:30pm A Reading! (0.5 hrs) by David Anthony Durham

Friday 7pm Seriously, Where *Do* Your Ideas Come From?

Lois McMaster Bujold
David Anthony Durham (M)
Darlene Marshall
Paul G. Tremblay
Mary A. Turzillo

We know ideas don't come from a mailbox in upstate New York. So, seriously, where do they come from? Do you muse on "what if's"? Are there personal inspirations for your tales? Do you find a particular setting evocative, and just waiting to be detailed in a story?

Saturday 2pm Autographing - David Anthony Durham

Sunday 11am One More Time - If You Liked That, Read This...

Debra Doyle (M)
David Anthony Durham
Faye Ringel
Edie Stern
Christopher Weuve

Continued (again!) from last year… Your favorite stories or authors can lead you to others, alike in interesting or unexpected ways. Tell the experts on the panel your likes (and dislikes) and they'll give you recommendations on what to read next!

Sunday 12noon When The Magic Goes Away

David Anthony Durham
Rosemary Kirstein
Tom Shippey (M)
Jo Walton
Jane Yolen

There is magic and mystery and great beauty. And then the Old Magic slips away from the forests, the gates to Faerie close, and the last ships sail to the west. There is a bittersweet memory, perhaps, of what it was to be more than merely mortal. Explore this theme, and why it is so potent.

Sunday 2pm Are Good and Evil Gone from Epic Fantasy?

Beth Bernobich
David Anthony Durham (M)
Greer Gilman
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Michael Swanwick

The world we live in has always been defined by shades of gray, however fantastic fiction has a long tradition of black and white politics, usually complete with a Dark Lord on his sufficiently dark throne. Recent series that have garnered praise such as Martins 'A Song of Ice and Fire,' Lynch's 'The Gentlemen Bastards,' Bakker's 'The Prince of Nothing,' and Rothfuss's 'Kingkiller Chronicle' all feature fallible characters without perfect moral compasses and by extent are more compelling. Are the days of the Dark Lords done in adult fiction?

That's me.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Boskone 47 Participants

I'll be attending my first Boskone this year. This is a Boston-based regional SF convention, sponsored by the New England Science Fiction Association. I'm looking forward to.

The Guest of Honor is Alastair Reynolds. Official Artist is my friend John Picacio. The Special Guest is Tom Shippey. And the Featured Filker is Mary Crowell. Beyond that, NEFSA will also be bringing Lois McMaster Bujold, Michael Whelan, and Vernor Vinge.

The general list of participants looks quite good, too. The list is HERE if you'd like to take a look!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Boskone

I just got my first invite to Boskone, the regional sci-fi conference based in Boston. I've never been, but I'd been thinking I was going to go, especially since I'm now based in Massachusetts. So the invitation is very welcome. I'm thinking I'll be there. It's on February 12-14th, at the Westin Waterfront.

My friend John Picacio, artist extraordinaire, will be on hand as one of the guests of honor. Alastair Reynolds will be there as the writer guest of honor. Looks like Lois Mcmaster Bujold will also be in attendance. I'll just be there as me, but I'm cool with that. If you happen to be in the Boston area consider stopping in. I'll post here when I know what panels and/or activities I'll be involved in.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Blair Witch Panel

Kathryn Cramer has aptly named my last Worldcon panel "The Blair Witch Panel". It was so weird, friends. So weird. She actually didn't stay for most of it, but what she did she she captured on film.

Go take a look.

I'm not sure I can explain what happened. I mean, I was there, yes. I saw and heard what happened, but it was just all so weird right from the start. Admittedly, I didn't arrive knowing exactly what to make of the topic (something about Cultural Memory) or with much prepared to say. I knew I wasn't moderating, so hoped that however was would give some shape to it. Alas, there was no moderator.

Okay, perhaps we could still pull it together, though, right? Blind Lemming Chiffon picks a guy out of the audience (I don't know who he was) and he jumps up to moderate. We start to define the topic and terms and realize that none of us really have them defined. We're just making it up. Patrick Nielsen Hayden points this fact out. Good point, but already he's getting grumpy. Audience starts trying to help. Blind Lemming Chiffon has a grand idea that the topic can be summed up by a song that a friend of his wrote. He asks her to sing and she jumps up to do so. As the guitar comes out Patrick bolts for the door, muttering curses. The woman... sings a song about... oh, I don't know. Who could listen? At this point I'm just watching the exodus of audience members, wishing I was one of them.

Geoff Ryman, to his credit, tries to get some shape to the discussion. Perhaps unfortunately, though, he mentions race... Oh boy, suddenly we have a race panel! One woman in the audience in particular stands up talking about how she doesn't "see" color, and then follows this with all sorts of offensive, prejudiced comments, complete with some body jive and the mention that though she grew up in LA she's since escaped to Alaska...

And so passed the session. I don't know that we made a bit of sense. I have to say, I really, really wanted to leave. I only didn't because it struck me as disrespectful to the people that came to see the panel and were still sitting there. If there's an upside it's that those people were still there at the end, and they seemed to feel a sense of camaraderie with us for having survived it.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Two Days Down, Now the Crunch

Hello. Up early on Saturday morning. Today is the crunch day in terms of panels and events at Worldcon. I'm booked up the entire day. I wish I found this stuff more relaxing. Instead, I tend to worry about each panel that I'm on, trying to figure out what words of wisdom I'll have, wondering the whole time why they picked me for it. It's silly, I know. Truth is, I'm usually pleasantly surprised at how disorganized and casual most panels are, how off topic, how rambling... Guess that's what I should aim for!

I did have my Neil Gaiman panel yesterday. Done. Anyone that attended now knows how much of a Gaiman fan I am. Proudly. Met Nalo Hopkinson for the first time in person - although I felt like I already knew her. Lots of short conversations with great people, all of whom are being pulled this way and that in this crazy web of events and obligations. Also had the Wild Cards dinner with George and the gang yesterday. Very nice. Fun group of people. Lots of laughs.

About the only thing I haven't done too much this time is party. I've got the family with me, and the late night scene has yet to feel quite right when I know my wife and kids are here but I haven't seen them all day. Maybe tonight. GRRM's fan club is throwing a party tonight. I've been to one of these before, and I know they host with enthusiasm...

Off con... Randolph Carter at Grinding To Valhalla has put up an interview I did with them. They're a gaming-focused website, but they also do author interviews and have many aspiring authors among their ranks. I was glad to take part. You can see it Here.

Okay. Gotta run. Long day ahead, though I'm sure it will also pass in a blur.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Looking Northward

So I'm about to head off to Montreal for Anticipation, this year's Worldcon. I've got the entire family with me this time. Should be good. I mentioned my schedule in a previous post, so I won't go through it again here. I'll just say that I'm doing a bunch of stuff and that I want to see a bunch more stuff. There. That's it. I will be gratified and disappointed in equal measure, I'm sure, and it will all be worth it.

Oh… And the Durham's will be having sushi with Mary Robinette Kowal tomorrow night. Lovely. And on Friday I'm dining with... oh, George RR Martin and some of the Wild Cards crew. Saturday? Who knows? Maybe I'll get my hooks into Neil. One can dream, yeah? (Actually, on that... Gudrun has been stalking Neil - along with many others - on Twitter. She even got a response from him once, something about Gnomes and adjectives.) Truth be told, I have Neil on the brain just now, especially as I'm on that panel about his fiction and he is the guest of honor and all that...

Just finished The Graveyard Book, by the way. One day, I'll write something with an ending that's as life affirming and touching. Someday. Hopefully soon.

But not tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll start by driving through Vermont and into Canada. Oh... also, you know I'm up for an award? The John W Campbell Award. Won't find out what's happened with that until Sunday night. Please, though, think positive for me. It would mean a lot to win this one.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Anticipation Schedule!

I know I never really did a post on Readercon. That's because right after it I was off an away to Maine for the Stonecoast MFA residency, and that's rather intensive. It's all a bit of a blur, really. I just got back yesterday and I'm trying to normalize now, catching up on lots of stuff. One thing that happened over the weekend pertains to the next conference on my schedule, so I'll just slide right into that...

So I now know what I'll officially be doing at Worldcon next month in Montreal (aka Anticipation). It's a fair bit of programming, actually, and includes some cool nuggets that make perfect sense and some other slots that make me look at the screen cross-eyed. So be it. I'm happy to play. My Anticipation Schedule (as of 7/18/09):

Title: Elizabeth Bear and David Anthony Durham: First Novels
When: Thu 16:30
Location: P-513B
Session ID: 773
Participants: David Anthony Durham, Elizabeth Bear
Description: Elizabeth Bear and David Anthony Durham interview each
other about how they work and how they got their first book(s)
published.
Title: The Fiction of Neil Gaiman
When: Fri 14:00
Location: P-516AB
Session ID: 533
Participants: Bruce Lindsley Rockwood, David Anthony Durham, kyle
cassidy, Paul Kincaid, Lily Faure
Description: A look at our Guest of Honour's work in novels and short
stories.

Title: Author Reading
When: Fri 17:00
Location: P-521A
Session ID: 220
Participants: David Anthony Durham, Janice Cullum Hodghead,
Shariann Lewitt
Description: Janice Callum Hodghead; David Anthony Durham; Nina
Harper

Title: David Anthony Durham Signing
When: Sat 10:00
Location: P-Autographs
Session ID: 1310
Participants: Ellen Datlow, Cory Doctorow, Jean-Claude Dunyach, Felix Gilman and Robert Silverberg

Title: We are the Knights Who Say f***!
When: Sat 12:30
Location: P-518A
Session ID: 627
Participants: David Anthony Durham, Guy Gavriel Kay (Moderator), Marc
Gascoigne
, Pat Rothfuss
Description: Diction in fantasy used to be pretty formal, and,
indeed, this can be a problem for the contemporary reader in getting
on with The Lord of the Rings. But more recent epic fantasies have had
their characters speaking more demotic language (and with a fair bit
of Anglo-Saxon thrown in). What are the costs of doing this? Does it
really make things easier for readers?
Duration: 1:30 hrs:min

Title: Writing the Other and Other Assumptions
When: Sat 14:00
Location: P-511A
Session ID: 554
Participants: David Anthony Durham, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Kate
Nepveu, Wendy Gay Pearson, Jamie Nesbitt Golden
Description: Do discussions of Writing the Other reinforce the power
dynamics of a genre structured by racial hierarchies? Is the
assumption that the Other is "of colour" coded into all our
discussions?

Title: David Anthony Durham Kaffeeklatsch
When: Sat 15:30
Location: P-521B
Session ID: 1085
Participants: David Anthony Durham
Description: A chance to ask one of your favourite authors those
burning questions.

Title: Getting It Right: Warfare and History
When: Sat 19:00
Location: P-512CG
Session ID: 718
Participants: David Anthony Durham, Dawn Hewitt, L. E. Modesitt,
Jr., Mike Resnick (Moderator)
Description: Panelists discuss military history around the world and
how to get it right in your work, whether you're writing fantasy,
science fiction or alternate history.

Title: Hugo Awards Reception
When: Sun 18:00
Location: P-710A
Session ID: 10
Participants: Neil Gaiman, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Taral Wayne, Tom
Doherty, Julie E. Czerneda, Alan F. Beck, Aliette de Bodard, Ann
VanderMeer, Beth Meacham, Bill Willingham, Cheryl Morgan, Christopher
J. Garcia, Cory Doctorow, Darlene Marshall, Dave Howell, David Anthony
Durham, David Hartwell, Elizabeth Bear, Ellen Datlow, Emma Hawkes,
Farah Mendlesohn, Gord Sellar, Gordon Van Gelder, Guy H. Lillian III,
Jay Lake, John Helfers, John Kessel, Jonathan Strahan, Karl Schroeder,
Kathryn Cramer, Kevin J. Maroney, Kij Johnson, Lillian Stewart Carl,
Lou Anders, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Neil
Clarke, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Paul Cornell, Paul Kincaid, Rev. Randy
Smith, Sean Wallace, Stephen H. Segal, Yves Meynard, Steve Green,
Steven H Silver, Sue Mason, Tony Pi, Claude Lalumière, Mike Glyer,
John Hertz, John Scalzi, Stanley Schmidt, Charles Stross, John
Picacio, Frank Wu, Sheila Williams, Felix Gilman, Ginjer Buchanan,
LeAmber Kinsley, Paolo Bacigalupi, Pia Guerra, Tobias Buckell

Title: Cultural Memory, Societal Resilience and Change
When: Mon 12:30
Location: P-512BF
Session ID: 910
Participants: Blind Lemming Chiffon, David Anthony Durham, Geoff
Ryman
(Moderator), Lancer Kind
Description: How important is cultural memory? Does it support or
hinder social change? Does it matter whether it is given up
voluntarily or taken away by force?

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

About to Readercon!

Yep, it's that time of the year again. Readercon starts for me this Friday. I had a terrific time at this very book/author/reader oriented con last year, enough so that I'm very pleased to be attending again this year!

My panels are titled: Off Color (which of course relates to issues of race in sf and fantasy) and History and Fictional History.

I'll also be doing a signing, a reading and a kaffeeklatsch.

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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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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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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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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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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!


View Larger Map

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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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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Got My Plane Ticket

Yes, I just got my plane ticket for the Imaginales conference in Epinal, France. I know I mentioned that I was going a few weeks back, but now I know I'm going. If only I knew who was really going to be there with me...

But I guess they'll update the website soon, and, hey, what's it matter? I'm going to France! As an author!

This blue guy is gonna be there too, apparently.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

In Praise of French Friends and IMAGINALES 2009!

I'm really enthusiastic about the way Le Pre auc Clercs has published Acacia: La guerre du Mein. It feels like they've gotten behind it with a level of overseas support I haven't quite felt before. It's one thing when you know your publisher likes your book; it's another when you know they're going the extra mile, staking their reputation on it, investing in it, making a website for it... So, thanks to Carola Strang and everyone at Le Pre auc Clercs!

Also, a big thank you to Thierry Arson. He's the wonderful translator that worked on the book. I knew that Le Pre auc Clercs gave it to him because they wanted a finely crafted version of my text. Sounds like they got that. I'm very pleased to learn he'll likely be translating The Other Lands also!

Didier Graffet's cover image is one of the first things that introduces people to the book. I like what he's done very much, especially when actually holding it in my hand. You can see covers he did for Bragelonne and Editions Mnemos, and here's a Bibliographie of all his works. It takes a lot of people to produce a book; I'm only mentioning a few here.

What prompts me to give these shout outs? Well... it looks like I'm going to France. To Paris, to Epinal - in May, no less! Are you kidding me? France in the spring? To promote my novel and hang out at what appears to be an awesome con - Imaginales... As you can tell I'm thrilled. Imaginales was kind enough to invite me as one of their international guests, and Le pre auc Clercs has me doing all sorts of cool stuff during my short stay. It will be grand!

So if you happen to be in Epinal this May come and say bonjour (or bonsoir), or anything you'd like to say!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jim C. Hines and the Stepsisters

A couple years back now I had the pleasure of meeting Jim C Hines at the Fantasy Matters Conference in Minnesota. He's a great guy, very funny and a pleasure to be around.

At that point in time he had a series of Jig the Goblin novels out, but he read from a then forthcoming novel that twists some traditional fairy tales into quirky, decidedly modern sounding creations. It was clever, sharp and a good laugh.

I recently realized that book, The Stepsister Scheme, is actually out now, the first of a new series. Thought I'd mention it. By description, it's not an obvious book for me, but that's what's nice about cons. You meet folks and get exposed to things you wouldn't otherwise.

Here's his LiveJournal.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

LosCon, in Very Brief

Hi folks. I'm actually not going to do a full-on post con post for this one. I'm just tired. I was tired at the con, too, and that fatigue is going to remain part of my life for the next few weeks. I will say that I enjoyed hanging out with John Scalzi, the writer Guest of Honor. He's always fun to be around. Was great spending time with Doselle Young again, too. Also, I particularly enjoyed being on panels with Tim Powers, Barbara Hambly, Sherwood Smith and Will Shetterly.

But that's it. That's my post. If you want something slightly less brief you could check out Scalzi's report on Whatever. (And yes, he does mention me - always a very good thing!)

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

LosCon 35

Just so you know, I'm presently in LA for LosCon. It's been strange so far in that I'm not seeing all the usual suspects. At World Fantasy and WisCon and Readercon etc I pretty much know I can walk into the bar or even just through the lobby and see someone I know. Not so much here. It's a new crowd (for me), so I really should get off this computer and go mingle. And I have to find John Scalzi. He's the one that prompted me to come down for this.

I'm on a panel called "Why is Science Fiction so White?" at 3pm. Directly afterwards I'll skip over to Scalzi's Guest of Honor talk. Apparently Will Wheaton has something to do with it.

Oh, on another note. Pat Rothfuss has a post up about offering those free books in exchange for Heifer International donations. I'm there along with many others.

Okay, gotta go...

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

World Fantasy 2008

Nice photo, huh? Calgary looks lovely. Thing is, I spent five days there and I didn't see anything like those mountains. Not from ground level. Not from the sixteenth floor. What's that about? Were the mountains really there hanging behind some haze like here in Fresno, or was this thing photoshopped, or did I managed to just always be facing the wrong way? I may never know. Anyway...

This time last week I was still at the World Fantasy Conference in Calgary. I should probably say a word or two about it before too much time passes. It was, as ever, a wonderful con. World Fantasy was my favorite last year, and I think it will be so again. Some other cons have great panels (Readercon and WisCon come to mind), but it's hard to beat the combination of panels with so many professional writers, agents, editors in the mix. There are great numbers of fans, too, but there's definitely a professional feel to it. I didn't do any business there myself, but I know some that did. (I won't say anything specific, but some careers were advanced over those few days...)

I arrived aware that a lot of the folks I'd hung out with most last year weren't going to be at this one (think Pat Rothfuss, James Patrick Kelly, Kelly Link and the Angry Black Woman, for example), but I figured I'd still connect with some old friends and make some new ones. That, fortunately, is just what happened. Now, I didn't take a camera, so I don't have photos to verify the accuracy of all the namedropping I'm about to do. You'll have to trust me, and I'll just have to pinch images from elsewhere...

The first night I was happy to reconnect with Mary Robinette Kowal, Lou Anders, Jetse De Vries, John Picacio (these last two guys I first met at the Elf Fantasy Fair in the Netherlands) and to meet Paul Cornell (of Dr. Who fame), Marjorie Liu and Diana Rowland.

Day Two I went to plenty panels and readings, and by the end of it I was hanging out with George RR Martin (he'd read Pride of Carthage since last we met!), Steven Erikson (and lovely wife, who kept saying things to intentionally embarrass me), Daniel Abraham (I went to his reading; he came to mine in return; kinda nicely reciprocal), Dave Keck and my British editor, Simon Taylor. Did I say "hanging out"? I did, didn't I? And I mean it. Strange but true, these folks seem like... well, like friends. I guess that's part of the con magic.

By Day Three I was starting to get fuzzy on some things. At some point in here I got chatting with Todd Lockwood. He was the artist guest of honor, and I'd enjoyed watching his slide show of his work. Didn't really expect to talk to him, but then he ended up joining me at a table with others, and next thing you know we're talking about raising kids and art and politics. (Yeah, he's an Obama man.) Great time. Actually, it seems weird that I ended up talking as much as I did with one of the GOH, but so it was...

My conversation with Garth Nix was pretty short, but it was awesome. I'm a fan of his. His The Abhorsen Trilogy is wonderful, and I've enjoyed the several Keys to the Kingdom books that I've read. I'd accosted him last year in Saratoga Springs, and been very pleased that he'd already heard of Acacia. This year, though, it got better. He'd actually read and enjoyed Acacia! He even invited me to go surfing in Australia! (Okay, pause... that last bit might be a... lie. Getting carried away. He did read Acacia, though - I swear.) Needless to say, I was very pleased.

And then there were lots of people I saw in various settings: Nathalie Mallet (who was kind enough to come to my reading), Alaya Dawn Johnson and Doselle Young (with whom I commiserated about being black at a fantasy con - oh, we got hard, ya'll, you don't even know!), Kay Kenyon (who is very refined, and a lovely person to banquet with, and has lovely looking books that I want to read), Daryl Gregory (who was on my other elbow at the banquet, very good to talk to. I'll be checking out his book), Jay Lake (ah, Jay Lake... the first time we met one of us was drunk, while the other was only mildly inebriated and the combination wasn't always good... I won't say which was which, but in any event we've become more and more friendly since), Carrie Vaughn (who I wish I'd talked to more as she was very friendly and fun) and Derryl Murphy (a Canadian in his element). I know there were other folks too, but my brain gets a bit like swiss cheese at cons, full of holes.

On a number of occasions I was approached by people that seemed to be resuming some earlier conversation with me. I had no idea who they were or what they were talking about. Figured it must have been my fault, though, so I managed to bluff. Then came the time after a panel that Minister Faust was on... An older white gentleman approached me, complimenting me on the panel. I graciously pointed out that I had not, in fact, been on the panel. It was the other black guy in the room that had been. Not sure he believed me. Later that night, speaking with Docel and Alaya we realized (or re-realized, since this is a known phenomena) that the same thing had been happening to all of us. We'd each been approached by people that were sure we were somebody else - one of the small number of black people attending such events. We didn't have to look anything like our doppelgangers, by the way. Not body type or complexion or hair or clothing style or facial features. Nope. Just being recognizably black seemed to be enough.

My point: just cause you think you spoke to any one particular black person at a con doesn't mean you really did. Might want to check the name tag. Something to consider...

People I should have talked to but didn't... Two obvious ones come to mind. I went out of my way to hear Minister Faust talk on several occasions, but I never stuck around long enough to actually say hello. I should have. He's a wonderful reader, very amusing writer, and generally an insightful, completely engaging person. Silly me.

Second on the list is Tad Williams. I was elbow to elbow with him on several occasions. He always seemed happy, full of humor and openness, but somehow I didn't break the barrier. Should have. Confession: there's only one reason I didn't, and that's that I haven't actually read him. I'd like to. I plan to. But I haven't yet. Considering that he's sold so many books and was at the con in a prominent roll I just... oh, had a high school moment when a silly bit of trepidation got in the way. Oh, well, next time.

I'm thinking that's about all I have to offer at the moment. There were great panels, yes. A lovely art show. Readings galore. But I guess what I always remember most is spending time with other people that write for a living, people whose work I admire or want to learn more about. At a con I get to be a writer and a fan both. That's nice.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

French Dilemma & A Lonely Man

Two things to mention this morning...

One is that my French Con dilemma has been resolved. Phew! Le Pre Aux Clercs, my French publisher, wished it could happen, but had to admit it was too near at hand to plan and organize all the things they would like to have me do if I was going that far. Makes sense to me. We'll try for the next book instead! Really, it is a bit of a relief. I would have went, but I'd also have been disappointed not to go to World Fantasy. Now I can just look forward to that without reservation.

Two, I've just become a very lonely man... Yep. Wanted you to know. You see, my wife and kids have just touched down in Scotland. I won't see them again for... (gulp) three months, when I go over for Christmas and New Year. Last night, I dropped them at the airport and came home to a silent, terribly empty house. Yeah, the cats are here, but they're just reminders of the kids, really. It's gonna be a tough few months...

It'll be worth it, though. Without going into much detail on it, they've had a tough time getting settled in Fresno. Gudrun, in particular, has really been longing for home. (She's Scottish, you know, born in the Shetland Isles.) And the kids, although always happy, have clearly been hungry for some things that were hard to find here. So, they all got really excited about this trip idea. The details are this...

They'll be up in Shetland for most of that time, staying with my father in law in this cottage. The kids will be enrolling is school up until Christmas. They're so excited about that. It's a small school, only five kids at the moment. Did I mention that not only will they be in Shetland, but they'll be in the very rural West Shetland area? I'm talking sheep and peat and wind and seabirds, crofters and small white cottages perched beside craggy cliffs... That sort of thing. It'll be an awesome adventure, no doubt about it, and a wonderful way for my wife to reconnect with the place she was born and with the family she's really been missing.

Me, though? Well, I'm home alone. Waiting. Working. Having my own private pity-party.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

John W Campbell Award Goes To...

Mary Robinette Kowal.

Hey. Truth is, if it wasn't going to be me I'd have wanted it to be her.

Congrats, Mary.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Readercon 2008

I'm back home now. Rather tired and a day late. Yep, I had the pleasure of missing a connection and spending the night in Tempe, AZ. Fun. But, anyway, such things happen...

So Readercon was a good time. When I get back from these things I almost feel too full of thoughts and memories to know where to start. In major briefetude, I'll mention that I enjoyed the subdued, intellectual, book-focused feel of this con. It really is quite different, and I was mostly pleased by that. Granted, I wouldn't have minded a bit more free booze, but I know that's hardly a noble thing...

Highlights, of course, include the fact that James Patrick Kelly and Jonathan Lethem were the guests of honor. I hung out with Jim a lot. It's always great to see him, but it's an added pleasure for me since he knew me before I stepped into SF&F. He's introduced me to lots of folks. He's... sort of a mentor, you know. (Many people would say that, by the way. Part of his legacy.)

And Jonathan I've followed since my first editor at Doubleday, Debbie Cowell, gave me a copy of Motherless Brooklyn. I'm a fan, and it's been interesting to travel backwards to discover his roots in SF. That genre switch was something that came up a lot over the conference. Frankly, I'm not that sure why his mainstream movement with his work is a problem. I've heard people say that he has completely disavowed his genre roots. If that happened I missed the moment. It's a bit hard to believe that somebody who has just penned a super hero graphic novel called Omega the Unknown and who agreed to be a guest of honor at a SF convention (with panels like The Career of Jonathan Lethem, as documented by the SF writers that have known and loved him for years) is actually, umm... hiding from his sordid past... but I don't know. I'm tainted myself, in some eyes, so maybe I lack the properly limited perspective to understand the issues here.

There was a large Stonecoast contingent. You may know that I taught in their Low Residency MFA Program for a couple of years. I took some time off, but I've actually reconnected with them and I'll be having a couple of mentees through the fall. The folks at Readercon are all good company, and it made for an amusing time because some of them knew me (like Jim) before I'd written spec-fiction. Actually, Sandra McDonald was on a panel about my moving into the genre, and she admitted that when she heard I was going to write a fantasy she thought it was a bad (career-ruining) idea. I think she admits things have turned out pretty good, though. Michaela Roessner was on that panel, too, which again felt organically circular. When I first worked with her - as her teacher - she already had a career as a writer in her past and was re-gearing to go forward. It's rather nice to have had her advice as I entered her territory, while at the same time seeming to have had a positive effect on her work and aspirations. All good stuff.

And there were lots of new connections made and expanded upon. Too many to name, really. Was great to meet Robert Redick (The Red Wolf Conspiracy) and Paolo Bacigalupi (Pump Six and Other Stories) and... wait. I shouldn't try to list everybody. There are too many, and I'll end up amending this list for weeks as I remember others. Instead of trying, I'll mention that hanging out with one other person, Mary Robinette Kowal, was a particular highlight. We'd met briefly at WisCon, but this time around we talked and talked. Good stuff. I've also read some of her stories now, and I've heard all about the novels her agent is shopping... Makes me think the Campbell voters were on to something when they nominated her for the award. If you ever bump into her, ask to see her steampunk laptop and keyboard thingy. Very cool.

Anyway, I'm not the only one that's putting up these day after posts. For example....

Mary Robinette Kowal

Ezekiel's Daughter

io9

Scott Edelman

The Mumpsimus

Sandra McDonald

Monstrous Musings

Pushing a Snake Up a Hill

Elephant House

Erin Underwood

One More Draft

The Trouble With Teri

Thoughts on 1386

They'll be more coming, too, since lots of folks have just posted saying they're exhausted and will soon post...

(That post wasn't actually that brief, was it?)

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Readercon!

I've been remiss in mentioning this, but part of why I've been remiss is that I've actually been on the road already for a while. My posts may seem normal, but in truth they've been slipped in at brief moments in motels and hotels, trying to look normal. I'm writing you from a motel in MA right now, taking a little breather between a teaching gig and Readercon (that's what I've been remiss in mentioning.) Yes, I'm going to Readercon, and it all starts tomorrow!

I've been looking forward to this for a while. I've heard time and again that the focus of this con is very much writers and readers, stripped of all the many other components that are so much a part of other cons. I enjoy other cons, but this set-up sounds good to me. I'm thrilled that my friend James Patrick Kelly is one of the guests of honor, along with fellow Doubleday author Jonathon Lethem.

The program looks great, featuring tons of interesting panels and authors I look forward to meeting or reconnecting with. And my little bit of the show is pretty good too. Here's what I'll be up to:

Readercon 19 Participant Schedule: David Anthony Durham

Friday 3:00 PM, RI: Talk / Discussion (60 min.) Breaking Into the Ghetto. David Anthony Durham with discussion by Carolyn Ives Gilman, Liz Gorinsky, Louise Marley, Sandra McDonald, Michaela Roessner, _et al_ (By the way, part of what's cool about this is that Sandra and Micahaela were both students of mine at the Stonecoast MFA program, which means they were first hand witnesses as I made the transformation to the Dark Side.)

Durham's decision to move into fantasy after three successful historical novels shocked his editor, who saw a whole host of problems, concerns, hurtles, and uncertainty in the decision. But why is such a career move considered so risky? Is fantasy still somehow disreputable despite the huge commercial and reasonable critical success of Tolkien, Rowling, and others? And aren't readers smart enough to accept different things from writers? Durham takes a personal look at the topic and discusses the issues with other authors that have tried to (or would like to) cross genres.

Friday 4:00 PM, VT: Reading (30 min.), Reads from Acacia: The Other Lands (That's right, folks, looks like I'll be reading from the new book - which remains a work in progress, by the way.)

Friday 7:00 PM, Salon F: Panel, Waking Up Sober Next to a Story Idea. Paolo Bacigalupi, Jeffrey A. Carver (L), David Anthony Durham, Kay Kenyon, Barry B. Longyear, Jennifer Pelland

Really, it seemed absolutely beautiful once upon a time. Now that you've had intimate knowledge of it (say, midway through the novel), you can see all the less-than-flattering sides. You may even wonder, _What the hell was I thinking?_ How do you recover enthusiasm for the work? Now that you see the flaws, how do you begin the process of fixing them?

Saturday 12:00 Noon, Vinyard: Kaffeeklatsch

Jeffrey A. Carver; David Anthony Durham

Saturday 2:00 PM, Salon E: Autographing

David Anthony Durham; Gregory Frost.

I'm thinking this will be a good time.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Groove, and BEA (Day Two)

You know what's happened to me the last week or so?

I've gotten my groove back.

Seriously. It's a while, a painful while. I just wrapped up my introductory year of teaching at Cal State. Kinda crimped my writing production when I was teaching. Not saying it's not a worthy profession and that my job isn't a rather primo one; but still - it turns me into a part-time writer. That's just the truth. Before that I had to deal with a move from Colorado to California, and before that I taught a demanding year at Colorado College.

Throughout all this, I kept chipping away at Acacia: The Other Lands, but chipping away isn't the way I prefer to write. I like to be up to my ears in my material. I want ideas bobbing against me all day. I want to be composing scenes in the dentist's chair, rearranging chapters at SaveMart. I want to be stunned by plot points revealed as I'm flipping eggs. When writing is going well for me it's a pretty all-encompassing thing that becomes a part of everything I do. It has not been that for the last two years. I still got work done, but...

Not like I have the last week! I'm free, with nothing to do for a little while but write. (Well, and be a husband and father, with all that entails - but you know what I mean.) I know my window of time is short before other commitments start interfering, but it's so, so wonderful to realize that I can get that full-time writer buzz back! It's here. I'm in it. I'm a writer again, and the words they are lining up.

And to some degree that's why I've neglected my Day Two BEA post. It's no big deal. Not that much happened, but I've been distracted. I will now take a few moments out and tell you what happened, should you be interested to know... (Oh, and I know! I don't have any original photos. That's cause I'm lame and don't want to carry a camera around - or feel silly asking to take photos. Instead, I cull from the internet...)

Day Two was Scalzi day. Yep. I'll admit it. My day was shaped around arranging to hang out with John Scalzi. (Didn't have that much else to do anyway, but this would still have been a highlight even if I did.) We met up for coffee and had a good long chat. (Some of you may be wondering who picked up the tab. Answer: man of class... uh, Scalzi. Waved away my pathetic attempt at bill shuffling and took charge. Impressively done. Now, do bear in mind that I have my own internal calculator for such things. I know now, and will not forget, that I owe John a drink of some sort. I can reciprocate, see? I'll settle up at Denvention, I hope.)

Paranoyd said he was curious about my "take" on Scalzi. I'd say it's this: He's a great guy. He's personable and funny, seems generous with his time and gracious in dealing with fans. He speaks his mind in the same engaging way he does on Whatever. (By the way, today is his thirteenth wedding anniversary. If you haven't already, go over to Whatever and say, "Ahh...") He claims that he can dance, although I did not witness this and can't confirm it. But another thing you notice about him is a sense of confidence. He knows who he is, what he does well, what people think of him, and he seems to rather like the way things have played out for him. (Tell me if I'm wrong, John.) I mean that in a completely positive sense, by the way. It's a good way to be, and I wish it on more people.

I'd also mention how nice it is to feel a sense of camaraderie with fellow writers. It's not quite the same vibe in the Big L "literary" world. Things are pricklier. But I've just had a great time recently connecting with writers like John, and like Tobias Buckell, Mary Robinette Kowal, Patrick Rothfuss and plenty more. I may be wrong, but so far it feels like this is a group of young writers that wants to encourage, support and just hang out with other writers. That may seem like nothing other than what you'd expect, but believe me writers in general can be a strange bunch. Who would've thought the world of fantasy and sci-fi would introduce me to so many people that actually seem... like pretty decent and (ironically) down to earth human beings (with quirks, admittedly).

While still with John I had a celeb author sighting: Neal Stephenson. Only from the back, though. I was sitting with Scalzi and he said, looking beyond me, "Oh, there's Neal Stephenson." Then he qualified that spotting by saying Mr. Stephenson appeared to have no interest in being approached by random people. He had a serious face on - as well as a rather sharp suit and, if I remember correctly, a completely shaved head. He'd been somewhere and was now going somewhere else and deserved to be left alone. Honestly, I get that completely. (I, on the other hand, walked through the same area with a smiley, open face that said, "Come on. Approach me. I know somebody here recognizes me. Just admit it..." But Neal is clearly past that.) I'm a fan of his, and I love it that he has a new book coming out.

So, does the fact that I saw Neal Stephenson but didn't even speak to him merit reporting? Not in and of itself. But I don't mind mentioning it as part of the over all vibe of the entire BEA scene. The place was just chock full of authors and celebs. They were all around, and knowing that tends to make ones eyes a little manic, jumping around, wondering who is who. Wondering if you'll recognize your favorite famous author when you see them in person (bearing in mind that some author photos are Biblically old or wonderfully flattering - which makes author ID potentially tricky).

After coffee Scalzi and me went over to the Tor booth to hang out a bit more. Cool sitting behind the Tor lines, watching passerby wondering who I was and how I managed to be on the other side of the barrier. Who I was (if they'd asked me) was kind of a goof. I must of been tired from the day before, because I didn't actually make the best use of my Tor booth time, see the following examples...

Cory Doctorow. I have to admit that I got a little weird with Cory. He's exploding just now, has a wonderful new book (according to the likes of Neil Gaiman), Little Brother, and is very much in demand and successful on tons of fronts. Scalzi introduced me to him at the booth. Thing is we were sitting there talking for a while and he asked me what my book was about. I said... "Oh, I don't know." He said, "No, tell me. It's been out a year, right? You must know how to pitch it by now." I shrugged and smiled and... didn't answer. He said, "You really don't want to tell me, do you?" I then directed him to John, saying, "Ask him. He's read it." But John was being devoured by some fan or another and couldn't really be consulted. So, end of story is that Cory left with no idea of who I am as a writer, probably convinced that I'm an amateur that never really lived in Scotland for five years, or anything else that I claimed...

In which case, you might ask me, "Why didn't you just tell him what Acacia was about?"

My answer... I was kinda hungover.

Uh... Other than that, I have - and still do - think it hard to explain 600 page books in sound bites. It's not really possible. When it's done it's marketing palaver. I'm not at all suggesting that Cory was asking for my pitch. I am saying that I'd seen/heard so much pitch madness that I hated the notion of pitching him. Anyway, I was in a mood.

I was still in this strange mood when Brandon Sanderson came by. I saw him standing there. I could read his badge... but I didn't say hi. Weirdness. I wish I had. I wish I'd said, "Brandon, dude... What's up? How you doing? You've got tons of cool things happening all at once! Okay, tell me true, is it a good thing to be finishing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series? I'm just saying - lots of folks think that's a dream job, but... it could also be a burden of unusual size." But I didn't speak, and then the moment passed...

When I left the booth I did the thing I said I wasn't gonna do. (Well, no, not the thing. Just one of the things...) I grabbed several of the Christopher Paolini Brisingr tote bags and began the harvest! Oh, there were books to be grabbed. There were lines to stand in. There were authors I'd never heard of to shake hands with. I circled and circled, and - despite the apparent physical activity - I got heavier with every lap. It was book weight, though. That doesn't count. By the time I was near to leaving I made sure to turn my name badge around and hobbled out covert-like. Good thing I'd packed light on the way there.

Oh, and on a random note... It needs to be said that Tim Holman, the Publishing Director for Orbit Books, is a good bloke. I just want that on the record.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

BEA (Day 1)

Been there. Now I'm back. That's the important thing. (Yeah, I know. I got back a week ago, but here's my effort at a timely post anyway...)

The first day was really just travel and then heading out to the Random House Dinner. Ever gone out to function and realized you might be... um... under dressed? That's not exactly how I felt at the dinner, but it did feel like I was doing catch-up all night, only figuring out how things worked as the evening progressed...

Does this sound strange to you? The "Dinner" is really all about charmingly doing business. Each author has their own table in this super cool posh restaurant that we pretty much own for the night. Each author sits at said table with a hand selected group of editors, reviewers, publicists, book buyers and sellers, etc. You're supposed to hold court, field questions, convince these folks that you're awesome so that they'll do awesome stuff with your books. I guess that makes sense. It's just that nobody had told me ahead of time that that was in store for me!

I can't say if I achieved said goals completely, but I did blather away right through dinner, which seemed to be the right thing to do. The food was fabulous. Really, really good. I've got this thing where I don't usually eat much in situations like that, mostly for fear of ending up with bits of food prominently displayed across my front teeth. But, man, I had to have a feed this time. Stunningly good food.

So what about all these famous people I was supposed to hang out with? Well, it kinda happened. Thing is, once we were all situated at our tables I was caught up in that tight circle. So, while I was in paper airplane throwing distance of Barbara Walters, we didn't exactly have a sit down. I did smile at Mia Kirshner and sort of gawk at Ariana Huffington. (I mean that in the most favorable terms, of course.) Somehow, I managed not to even see Anne Rice or Jim Crace... I did actually shake hands and talk a bit with David Guterson. That was cool. It was some of the folks I didn't know as much of before that made the evening, though. For example...

Amada Boyden. Lovely. Used to be a contortionist and trapeze artist, you know. I don't know what she thinks of me, but I enjoyed our brief interaction. I hung on to the ARC of her new novel, Babylon Rolling, on my plane ride. She's a good writer, and brave. She writes about a very multicultural New Orleans and is willing to cross boundaries (and express an interest in) topics that few white American authors do.

Nick Harkaway – author of the forthcoming (and massively promoted) debut, The Gone-Away World – was great fun to hang out with. He emailed a few days after all this with a story that kept me smiling all day. Just before he left Britain for LA he’d bought a new fantasy novel. He read a few chapters and was enjoying it. When he flew, though, he packed light and decided to leave the book at home – especially considering the heft of the thing. I think he had a good, very busy time at BEA. It must have been quite overwhelming really, being dropped right into the book-pushing whirl of it all, suddenly a vip with the Random House machine behind you. Anyway, we got to spend time together on the Friday night. I liked him straightaway and we had some laughs. Talked all about our books, life in Britain and America, the weirdness of many things. On his return trip to the UK there was a glitch with the plane’s video system. He ended up with hours and hours of flight without anything to watch or much of anything to read. (I would have thought he’d have some free arcs with him, but who knows?) He got to thinking about that fantasy novel he’d left on his bed stand. It taunted him. Made fun of him, etc. He got home, eventually, and picked up the book, read a few more chapters. But only on closing the book and reading the cover did the title and the author’s name ring a bell. Yes, friends, he was reading Acacia by yours truly. Somehow, though, in the swirl of flights and LA and BEA he’d never connected me with the book! I actually understand exactly how this can happen.

You know who was a hoot to hang out with? Julia Glass, author of Three Junes (National Book Award Winner and Today Show Pick), The Whole World Over and the forthcoming I See You Everywhere. We were crossing the street from one bar to another restaurant when she introduced herself to me. I reverently said (yes, goofy things come out of my mouth when confronted with celebrities), "Oh, you're famous..." She forgave me that inauspicious beginning and we had some crack. (Don't gasp! I mean "crack" in the Irish sense of the word - craic - as in good, amusing conversation, a laugh, an easy social interaction. I could have said that in the first place, but good "crack" is what came to mind and describes the exchange. Anyway, don't say I didn't warn you about this word for the next time you head over Ireland...) She's got the coolest green glasses I've ever seen, and as others were dropping from fatigue she seemed content to chat away into the wee hours. (I'm clearly having a British moment, for some reason.)

There were some other great meetings that night. As I said, Nick Harkaway is getting a stellar launch in the UK and likely here as well, but Andrew Davidson, author of The Gargoyle, is one of those guys that's already "an international sensation" before his book has even pubbed. Hey, he was big even before his book was accepted for publication! Check out this article in the NY Magazine, with the title Agent Turns Down $1 Million Offer for First Novel. Geeze... And one of the editors mentioned there, Gerry Howard, in my editor. Apparently, Gerry did buy the book, for a whopping sum. (In case you're wondering - no, I've yet to have to struggle with whether to accept the Million $ book offer. Yet...)

I was reading through his arc, and noted that he'd sold the rights in twenty countries. I said, "Twenty countries, blimey." Andrew shrugged and said, "Actually, it's twenty-seven now." (Or some number higher than twenty. You get the point.) Yep, he's one of the "those guys" that arrives in a flurry of attention and makes jaws drop. I'm curious how this plays out. I liked him, so I'd like his book to do well. And I wish Gerry and Doubleday the best of course - they're my people. But these big deals are notoriously risky. Well see...

Also enjoyed a brief conversation with Nam Le, whose novel The Boat marks his debut. I enjoyed talking to him. I can't say much more than that, though, as my recollection of the evening starts to blur right around here...

I do know that I finished the evening by ordering late night room service and watching Fox News. (I know, I know... It's just this weird thing I do when staying in hotels by myself. Don't ask.) And that's about it, except that before I called it quits I checked my email and found a greeting from none other than John Scalzi, who wanted to meet up on the morrow out on the floor of the conference! Nice.

More on that soon...

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