I'm sure you're aware of the launch of Catherynne Valente's magnificent new project, a YA-in-progress called The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which is mentioned and quoted from in her most recent novel for adults, Palimpsest. When I say in progress, I mean that it's being posted as she writes it, with a new chapter up each Monday. If you've been under a dark cloud and haven't heard the reasons why, here's the back story. The story story began today, and I'm very much excited to follow it.(There's even audio of her reading it.)
If you feel likewise, donate what you can, and do spread the word.
Charlie Jane has a fun piece at i09 called "4 Writers We Wish Would Return to Science Fiction," including two of my favorite writers of all time, Nicola Griffith and Karen Joy Fowler. (I cop to not having read nearly enough Mary Doria Russell or Samuel Delany, though I enjoyed what I have read by each of them a great deal.) You should really go read the whole piece, but here's a snippet from Karen:
For the record, I'll read anything either of these ladies write. Also, I got to read the new story K references at the workshop in the mountains last week, and it is fabulous.
The results of the 2008 Tiptree Award are out. Another big representation for YA this year, including one of the co-winners. Big round of applause for the hard-working jurors, and I'll stash the full press release behind the cut. And the winners are:
Winners of the Nebulas and the Andre Norton Award gacked from Locus:
Forgot to mention that I got my contributor's copy of the Nebula Awards Showcase 2009, edited by the one and only Ellen Datlow. My contribution is an essay about the incredibly excellent work being produced under the umbrella of YA science fiction and fantasy*. And, aside from the essays, the selection of stories is truly exceptional. Ellen talks about what's included here.
Or is there?
Stumped for a topic to post on today, I consulted my twitter buds who helpfully suggested blogging about chocolate (Nicola) and science fiction/writing (Charlie Jane).* Long, long ago--2006!--I wrote about my annoyance with futuristic showers:
Stay with me here, because I'm going to attempt linking these two things.
Where is the chocolate of the future? I'm trying to think of books where desserts figure in and not coming up with much, though I do have a vague sense of cube-shaped desserts that taste like deliciousness. Of course, even this concept ignores the part of eating good food that uses the senses besides taste. I'm thinking a gelatinous cube still has the texture of a gelatinous cube even if it tastes like cheesecake. Er, chocolate cheesecake.
And I know there must be thousands of banquet scenes of the future where there is food, but I can't think of any that are particularly memorable off the top of my head. Of course, there are vast holes in my knowledge of SF, which is where y'all come in. Point out good examples of food in SF (bonus points for dessert) in the comments, if you think of any.
Because it seems like the future of chocolate could make for some really interesting world-building opportunities. Does it still exist? If not, is there a synthetic version? What if in the future there is ONLY Hershey's syrup? What if cocoa becomes a fuel source instead of a joy source? What if the parts of the world where cacao trees grow no longer exist in a way that can produce the good stuff?
Maybe this is more tied to the sense of discomfort science fiction has embraced. Yes, the vistas are vast and the stories all over the place, but when I think of characters in SFF stories, I don't think of hedonists. I don't think of foodies. I have trouble thinking of protagonists who especially enjoy that necessary part of life. Certainly, they aren't enjoying it as often as they step into the futuristic shower.
So, I guess that's what I'm saying: We need some foodies in science fiction. (And be careful not to be lame when you try to reinvent the chocolate of the future.)
*Yes, I think it's obvious I have no real point here. But my daily quota has been fulfilled. Thank you for playing along!
Please tell me this Sci Fi becoming "Syfy" stuff is a joke? Not that I'm surprised, or that we ever watch it*, but, seriously, this has got to be a sign of the end times. Nothing else makes sense. Take this quote:
Human-friendly brand? As opposed to the pet-friendly brand? Are geeks not human now?
I bet someone in the marketing department even got a bonus. Sigh.
*Because most of the programming sucks, not because it's "geeky." Sigh, dieux.
The Nebula Award and Norton Award noms are out. Go, Dave Schwartz and Superpowers! Go Ysabeau! And Kelley! And Doc Kessel! And Kij! And Jeff! And Rick Bowes and Jim Kelly! And pretty much everyone, really! Good list, is what I'm saying, and particularly kudos to the Norton jury for excellent selections.
And, ahem, we have two YA novels--Powers and Little Brother--in the novel category, which has to be first, right?
Full list behind the cut.
We are in Madison at Wiscon, having lots of fun. Flickr set updated more or less daily, and currently featuring last night's karaoke hijincks.
That would be me and C and Richard and Barb at the FABULOUS new tapas place right up the block from the Concourse. I think we'll eat there all weekend. Yum.
Now I has to go come up with something to say about villains in YA.
David J. Schwartz -- henceforth known as "Dave" -- is a most excellent human being. Trust me. In addition to that, Dave's great at karaoke. I know, what more can someone be good at? That's all you need, right? You want to befriend this man and fix him up with Neko Case, stat. Who doesn't? AND he's an amazing writer. For years, he's been publishing short stories that can't all be described with the same words, but you'd like them. And now, his first novel, Superpowers, is on the brink of publication. It's good--really good. About a handful of tenants in the same building who drink some strong home brew one night and wake up with, well, super powers. The sale note billed it as "Kavalier and Clay meets The Incredibles." But I'll let him tell you about it before it's all over the airwaves. Suffice to say: Plan on reading this one.
GB: You know the process porn drill. Tell me about the actual
writing of the book -- how long it took, what you learned writing it, all that good
DS: Most of the book -- the first three-quarters or so -- was written in early 2002. I was bartending at the time (some people prefer to call it "tending bar"), and I'd get home at 2 in the morning, grab something to eat, and write until 5 or 6. I was probably the most disciplined I've ever been about my writing. (It helps not to have a social life!) But when it came to writing the last part, which deals with 9/11, I wasn't ready to face that yet. It was a little too fresh. I'd had this idea for a novel about superheroes a long time before this, and I was getting ready to start it on my birthday that year, September 22nd. Once the attacks happened, though, it seemed dishonest to write about heroism and power and not engage with what had just happened. But I was too sad and too angry to tackle it right away.
It wasn't until a couple of years later, after I had signed with my agent, that I finished the book, polished it off, and sent it out. It's funny, though, that I didn't remember it had happened that way until I started getting asked questions like this. Perhaps because I always knew how the ending had to happen, I always forget about the gap. The ending was already written in my head, it was just a matter of putting down the words.
What I learned is a tricky question. This was the third novel I've written (the first to sell), so it wasn't that first-novel sort of experience, where the biggest thing you're learning is that you can actually do it. I'm a very instinctive writer. I rarely use outlines, and most of the time I don't know what the ending is going to be. Once I do know the ending, I rapidly lose interest, and I have trouble finishing things! This is even more true with novels, because I find it impossible to hold a story that big in my head all at once. What I usually end up doing is taking a couple of steps, writing a couple of scenes, and then figuring out where I've taken myself and what has to happen next. I only plan a chapter or two ahead. With Superpowers that more or less worked; the revisions and the editing were relatively painless. With the book I'm revising right now, it didn't work quite as well, and the work I'm having to do is more of breaking and re-setting bones than it is cosmetic surgery.
Part of what I did learn was what I could get away with. There was a narrative experiment that I tried in the book, but the editors didn't feel it was working and my first readers agreed. Luckily it pulled right out without changing much of the main story. There was a ghost in the book (I'll let folks guess where) that was a point of contention because the editors felt it was one step too far into weirdness. The one thing that hasn't come up, at least so far, was the humor. I was really worried about having a book that shifts in tone the way this one does, starting out light and sarcastic and then taking some really dark turns later. I ended up thinking of it like certain Hong Kong kung fu flicks, like "Fong Sai-Yuk" or "Swordsman II," where it starts out very funny and you're just enjoying getting to see what everyone can do, and then, BAM, someone dies and all of a sudden it's a tragedy. But at this point I've wandered far afield of your question, so on to the next.
GB: So your superheroes discover quickly that real life
superhero-dom has some issues. But if you had to slot your superheroes into a
universe full of supervillains and easy justice, would it be DC or Marvel and
DS: It has to be Marvel, just because that's where I came from as far as formative materials. Not to bust on DC or anything, because they've published some great stuff, and the differences between the two are less pronounced than they once were. But I do think there is, even today, a bit more cynicism about the whole hero thing on the Marvel side. The fact that Batman -- who on a bad day is as scary as the Joker -- has the police and the populace more or less on his side, whereas the NYPD is always trying to arrest wisecracking, colorful Spider-Man, is just one example of the difference in worldview. The X-Men books took that sort of "fear-what-you-don't-understand" idea to such extremes that they've almost become parodies of themselves, but it's not an untrue observation on human nature. I'm not going to claim that Marvel's books are more realistic than DC's, because that would make me ridiculous. But the problems of balancing life as a human being with life as a superhero seem more present in those stories, and that's what interests me. eter Parker has trouble holding a job or making his relationships work, and it's all Spider-Man's fault. And for me, I don't care about Spider-Man unless I care about Peter Parker. I enjoy Batman stories, and sometimes (well, rarely) Superman stories, but I don't give a crap about Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent. They don't have problems I can relate to. Stan Lee couldn't write dialog to save his life, but he was a genius at bringing superheroes down to earth and keeping them human.
Here's my Wiscon schedule. It seems early to post it, but everybody else is, so who am I to resist? I decided to forgo reading this year, since the schedule's been so packed and other sillier reasons I won't go into.
Title: Curses! YA Villains Unite
"Evil stepmothers, mean fairies, jealous sisters, wicked enchanters and greedy kings, the fairy tale itself -- YA fantasy protagonists have more enemies than they can shake a spindle at. Let's talk about what defines a worthy opponent, which characters deserve to be defeated, and which are simply the misunderstood heroes of their own stories. "
Saturday, 2:30-3:45 P.M.
Title: Judging the Tiptree
Sunday, 10:00-11:15 A.M.
M: Debbie Notkin
An excellent crop of Nebula winners:
Novel: The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
Novella: "Fountain of Age" by Nancy Kress
Novelette: "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" by Ted Chiang
Short Story: "Always" by Karen Joy Fowler
Script: Pan's Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro
Andre Norton Award: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
AND the election results are likewise promising.
The thing that really strikes me about Open Source Boob Gate* is its echoes with the previous discussions about the SF community's groping problem. What a tin-eared approach to any kind of empowerment, given the history (and ignoring the fact that the whole thing was fraught with idiocy from the get go).
The LAST thing we need in science fiction is more groping. PERIOD.
(Sorry to have been MIA, but there's a lot going on and I didn't even realize this was happening until a day or so ago. And I think that's pretty much all I have to say.)
*Good list of links at the end of this post.
In all the crazy of last week, I missed publication day for John Kessel's new collection, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories.
John is one of my very favorite writers--his novel Corrupting Dr. Nice (first chapter here) is on my all-time top five. He's also one of my very favorite people in the world; he was part of the small coterie that attended my and C's nuptials, and I keep a polaroid of me, Karen, Kelly, and Barb posing next to a toga-clad John* at Wiscon 2004 on the filing cabinet next to my desk. In fact, something that still makes me insanely happy is this little snippet of "It's All True," which you can read in the collection:
The wall of my apartment faded into a vision of Gwenda, my PDA. I had Gwenda programmed to look like Louise Brooks. "You've got a call from Vannicom, Ltd.," she said. "Rosethrush Vannice wants to speak with you."
My Mac is named Lulu.
Anyway, all this by way of saying that you need a copy of John's book. Stat. And Small Beer is even offering it for free download. I guarantee you'll end up wanting to own your own copy**.
*It's not every writer who would wear a toga to promote someone else's book launch!
**Some of the content has even been the center of a bona fide censorship controversy!
Needless to say, I am VERY happy with the work we jurors did this year. Go us!
PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE
PUBLICATION – 2008.04.14
JAMES TIPTREE JR. AWARD WINNER ANNOUNCED
A gender-exploring science fiction award is presented to Sarah Hall for The Carhullan Army (Daughters of the North)
The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2007 Tiptree Award is The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall (published in the United States as Daughters of the North). The British edition was published in 2007 by Faber & Faber; the American edition in 2008 by HarperCollins.
The Tiptree Award will be celebrated on May 25, 2008 at WisCon (www.wiscon.info) in Madison, Wisconsin. The winner of the Tiptree Award receives $1000 in prize money, an original artwork created specifically for the winning novel or story, and (as always) chocolate.
Each year, a panel of five jurors selects the Tiptree Award winners and compiles an Honor List of other works that they find interesting, relevant to the award, and worthy of note. The 2007 jurors were Charlie Anders, Gwenda Bond (chair), Meghan McCarron, Geoff Ryman, and Sheree Renee Thomas.
The Carhullan Army elicited strong praise from the jurors. Gwenda Bond said, “Hall does so many things well in this book – writing female aggression in a believable way, dealing with real bodies in a way that makes sense, and getting right to the heart of the contradictions that violence brings out in people, but particularly in women in ways we still don't see explored that often. I found the writing entrancing and exactly what it needed to be for the story; lean, but well-turned.” Geoff Ryman said, “It faces up to our current grim future (something too few SF novels have done) and seems to go harder and darker into war, violence, and revolution.” Meghan McCarron said, “I found the book to be subtle and ambiguous in terms of its portrayal of the Army, and its utopia….The book became, ultimately, an examination of what it means to attain physical, violent power as defined by a male-dominated world. And it asserted that it could be claimed by anyone, regardless of physical sex, provided they were willing to pay the price.”
The book, which is Hall’s third novel, also won the 2007 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for the best work of literature (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama) from Britain or the Commonwealth written by an author of 35 or under.
The Tiptree Award Honor List is a strong part of the award’s identity and is used by many readers as a recommended reading list for the rest of the year. The 2007 Honor List is:
The James Tiptree Jr. Award is
presented annually to a work or works that explore and expand gender roles
in science fiction and fantasy. The award seeks out work that is
thought-provoking, imaginative, and perhaps even infuriating. The Tiptree
Award is intended to reward those women and men who are bold enough to
contemplate shifts and changes in gender roles, a fundamental aspect of any
The James Tiptree Jr. Award was created in 1991 to honor Alice Sheldon, who wrote under the pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr. By her choice of a masculine pen name, Sheldon helped break down the imaginary barrier between “women’s writing” and “men’s writing.” Her insightful short stories were notable for their thoughtful examination of the roles of men and women in our society.
Since its inception, the Tiptree Award has been an award with an attitude. As a political statement, as a means of involving people at the grassroots level, as an excuse to eat cookies, and as an attempt to strike the proper ironic note, the award has been financed through bake sales held at science fiction conventions across the United States, as well as in England and Australia. Fundraising efforts have included auctions conducted by stand-up comic and award-winning writer Ellen Klages, the sale of t-shirts and aprons created by collage artist and silk screener Freddie Baer, and the publication of four anthologies of award winners and honor-listed stories. Three of the anthologies are in print and available from Tachyon Publications (www.tachyonpublications.com). The award has also published two cookbooks featuring recipes and anecdotes by science fiction writers and fans, available through www.tiptree.org.
In addition to presenting the Tiptree Award annually, the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council occasionally presents the Fairy Godmother Award, a special award in honor of Angela Carter. Described as a “mini, mini, mini, mini MacArthur award,” the Fairy Godmother Award strikes without warning, providing a financial boost to a deserving writer in need of assistance to continue creating material that matches the goals of the Tiptree Award.
Reading for the 2008 Tiptree Award will soon begin, with jurors K. Tempest Bradford, Gavin Grant (chair), Leslie Howle, Roz Kaveney, and Catherynne M. Valente. As always, the Tiptree Award invites all to recommend works for the award. Please submit recommendations via the Tiptree Award website at www.tiptree.org.
For more information, visit the Tiptree Award website at www.tiptree.org.
Paul Witcover over at the inferior 4+1 (inferior to no one!) pointed to this Reuters story about a survey looking at Americans favorite books. The findings:
"While the Bible is number one among each of the different demographic groups, there is a large difference in the number two favorite book," Harris said in a statement announcing the results.
Men chose J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and women selected Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind" as their second-favorite book, according to the online poll.
But the second choice for 18- to 31-year-olds was J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, while 32- to 43-year-olds named Stephen King's "The Stand" and Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons".
Picks for second-favorite book also varied according to region. "Gone With the Wind" was number two in the southern and midwestern United States while easterners chose "The Lord of the Rings" and westerners opted for "The Stand".
In the comments, a clever commenter named Kit suggests the following diabolical scheme for authors:
You know that you can use the bible to make your amazon #s zoom, right? Make all your friends order your book and the cheapest possible edition of the bible simultaneously. Pretty soon people who click on the most-clicked-on amazon title will see:
readers who bought this also liked YOUR TITLE HERE
So obvious, it just might work...
...than anything else I'd post here today. Go read Alice Kim's "We Love Deena" at Strange Horizons. Brava!
Someone in the household who is not me is working on a paper and is trying to remember the term John Clute (or possibly Roz Kaveney) included in the Encyclopedia of Fantasy that is identical to the term used in Holland for when dikes are constructed and water is pumped out that describes the land that's left behind. Help!
Nevermind -- found it: Polder!
From John Clute's review of Greg Frost's Shadowbridge* (which I absolutely can't wait to read; I adored Fitcher's Brides):
The second section of Shadowbridge is a thoroughly routine Young Adult novella, a hugely distended tale within the network of tales that makes up the book, 90 pages long, as benumbing for an adult to read as almost any story written for the Young Adult market, whose products are about as close to genuine fiction as megachurches are to monasteries where silence is observed.
Wha, huh? You cannot imagine how funny this is after spending nine days attending about 16 lectures discussing the complexities of writing children's and YA literature...
*See some excerpts from the generally glowing reviews it's getting at his site.
Just popping in to say that I'm really liking io9, the new science fiction concern of the Gawker empire. The contributions of the extremely smart Charlie Anders--who's also on this year's Tiptree jury--and editor Annalee Newitz are particularly fun. And the site's top ten most anticipated SF titles of 2008 included several of the books my own hot little hands can't wait for (especially Karen Joy Fowler's Wit's End, which will be fabulous).
Thus far the contributors seem to be playing nice with others, something that could never be said about many of the Gawker tentacles*... and I hope it stays like that or at least doesn't get mean in an uninteresting way. But, hey, Scalzi's watching that so I don't have to.
*Y'all know how I love the Fine Lines at Jezebel.
I have a cold. It comes and goes. For Christopher, it just stays, so I'm not complaining (too loudly). And we haven't even begun to Xmas shop yet. But a post on recent writing stuff, anyway...
Turkey City 2007.
For those of you who don't know, the Turkey City Writer's Workshop is, to quote the home page, "a long-running Texas science fiction institution," held in Austin. It is, of course, the genesis of the infamous Turkey City Lexicon. When Chris Nakashima-Brown graciously invited Christopher and me to attend this year's incarnation as guest workshoppers, we immediately said yes. (Or it would have been immediate, were I better at keeping up with the e-mail.) Plus, any excuse to impose on Maureen's hospitality is thoroughly welcome.
The thing that makes Turkey City a bit different than the usual workshop is that it takes place over one day. The format involves spending the hours up to lunch reading everyone's stories (we had 12, I believe, a few of which came a day or two in advance via e-mail), grabbing lunch, then indulging in the standard Milford-style critique circle until every last story's been given the royal treatment. It's kind of like Survivor: Workshop. Sounds brutal and hellish, I know, and, well, it is brutal, but thankfully not so much with the fiery torture. We didn't see a whole lot of TC's legendary acid and scrappy critique stylings, for which I'm grateful. Instead, we read a bunch of really good stories and had very cogenial discussions about how to make them better. I got some excellent feedback on my novel's opening. Afterward, there's a party, which was fun (if sort of a blur due to the complete and utter exhaustingness of the day). (C-Nak's house, btw, is basically the coolest pad in the world.)
The next day we slept in, then went for a delicious lunch at local staple Las Manitas Avenue Cafe. After that, we paid a visit to the extremely excellent Harry Ransom Center to see the current exhibits; one was about the trend for costumes and staging in Victorian photography (including a whole bunch of Lewis Carroll's stuff that I've loved for ages), the other about Arthur Miller's theater and featuring some amazing letters written during the McCarthy era about his refusal to name names. Christopher and I both had our pictures snapped in the interactive part of the Victorian exhibit and they can be seen at those links--we'd have done something more interesting if we hadn't been so wiped. Then on to Book People, where I overindulged in the stupendously wonderful children's and teen section. (Seriously, best staff recommendations and selection EVER. What a great bookstore.) Airport, ice cream, hellish flying experience that at least involved free booze from the flight attendant, and home home home. Needless to say after this report, Maureen and Chris are the best hosts around.
Revision. & Again.
Yes, we all love Scrivener. I'm finding it's really and truly worth its weight in gold (or more, actually, because it probably doesn't have a weight in gold) as I go into revision mode. Not that it's not wonderful during composition, but it seems there are so many functions I'm only discovering now.
Which is a short way of saying that things will probably continue to be sporadic around these parts until next year. My intention is to turn around the major revision of Monster Nation in the next month or so (I leave for my next MFA residency January 13, and more on the First Year of the MFA soon), which will be lots of work. I'm working on my revision outline the rest of this week and then will dive into it. Luckily, as I said, Scrivener makes rearranging and tweaking your story spine and managing the overall task of stuff so much more intuitive. This is a very good thing. Then, I'll circulate it to some people and see what they think. (And start something else.)
Oh, revision, my favorite favorite part of the writing process. The part when you get to make stuff good.
A report on the lovely (& exhausting) time at Turkey City to come tomorrow, but for now I want to remind and ask you all to pleeease nominate works you feel might be worthy for this year's Tiptree award* in the next couple of weeks. It's very easy; just go here and/or send an e-mail to:
Nominate now, nominate as much as you want. (And if you work for a publisher or magazine, please don't forget to send us your books by the end of the year.) My fellow jurors and I thank you.
*If you don't know the drill that's "a science fiction or fantasy story or novel that expands or explores our understanding of gender."
Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple published their first collaborative novel, Pay the Piper: A Rock 'N' Roll Fairy Tale, a couple of years ago and followed that up with a sequel, Troll Bridge: A Rock 'N' Roll Fairy Tale, which released in paperback over the summer. Jane is known far and wide and probably even in outer space as the "American Hans Christian Anderson," having written nearly 300 books and won pretty much every award you can win. Adam is a well-known musician (aka rock and roll star), poker player, and all around good guy; his debut novel Singer of Souls came out in 2005 and a sequel is in the pipeline from Tor as we speak. Oh, and in case you didn't know already, Jane is Adam's mother. They were nice enough to take the time to answer some questions about their collaborative efforts, so let's get to the good part.
GB: First question is always process porn for the writers out there, so tell me about how you write solo. You can start at whatever part of the process you want--when an idea occurs to you, when you actually start writing, when the deadline's looming, outlining/not outlining, etcetera. Does this change depending on the project or are your work habits fairly consistent?
JY: Every project is different for me. Let me tell you a story.
I once heard Norton Juster tell a group of third graders--my daughter among them--that he got his ideas from a postbox in Poughkeepsie. Some of the students thought he meant it. One boy even raised his hand and asked how far away Poughkeepsie was.
My daughter knew better. She knew from having lived with me all of her eight years. She knew that I got my ideas from everywhere: newspaper articles, other people's books, magazines, rock lyrics, folk songs, overheard conversations, dreams, her life, her brothers' lives, her father's life, her great grandparents...oh, and gossip. Gossip is often the beginning of stories.
There is nothing a writer will refuse in the making of story. Here are a few of the places I have gotten ideas.
*Reading the local newspaper, I was riveted by a photo of a boy with his prize-winning frog named “Star Warts”. The boy's smile was enormous, his frog-well--even more enormous. But I knew that it wasn't frogs that were supposed to give you warts, it was toads. (Well, they don't actually. It's just a superstition.) But suddenly Commander Toad in Space was born, the idea of a ship called the Star Warts carrying a crew of amphibians was too funny to resist. I eventually did seven Commander Toad books and loads of reluctant readers began their reading with the Commander, Mr. Hop, Lieutenant Lily, and the rest.
*An editor friend called me up and said, “My son is three and hates to go to bed and he loves dinosaurs. Can you do anything for him?” Now Adam and his brother Jason had been the same at that age, so much so, that even though I'm a lousy seamstress and can't sew a straight hem, I actually embroidered dino pillows for each of them. So for my editor's son, instead of an embroidered pillow, I wrote How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? The opening rhymes simply tumbled out and the book practically wrote itself.
*Because my husband took all our children birding, and
staying out late at night owling was a particular pleasure they shared, I
smooshed together (that's a technical writing term!) all of their night
journeys into the woods and wrote Owl Moon.
*I dreamed the actual first page of Wizard's Hall (some 9 years before Harry Potter was published) and the strange opening of The Wild Hunt some years after that. The house in The Wild Hunt is the house we have in
So you see, no post box in
And also remember that ideas are the LEAST important part of a book. They get you started, sure, but what comes after is much more interesting.
AS: The biggest thing I had to learn about writing, was figuring out early
what form the idea I have is going to take. Is it a short story idea? A novel idea? A poem idea? It can be annoying if you start on a short
story only to discover it's a novel; it's disastrous to get to the
middle of a novel and realize your idea was only strong enough to
support something shorter.
My work habits are not nearly as consistent as I'd like. I have traumatic brain injury, which presents like pretty severe ADD, so it's difficult for me to get started. But if I can force myself to sit at the computer and stare at a page for ten minutes, I usually don't get back up until I've written 1,000-2,000 words.
Usually, when I write, I have a scene in my head toward the end of the book/story that I aim for. In Singer of Souls, it was Douglas striding into Faery, in one story, A Piece of Flesh, it was young Victoria cooking soup in a boot, in another, The Three Truths it was Master Shichiro, a troubled samurai, commiting seppuku to protect his lord. These scenes kept me writing, gave me a direction to travel in whenever I was stuck. Now, what's funny is that in only one of these tales did I actually get to that scene. Stories change and grow as you write them--at least they always have for me. No matter how hard I try to control them, the characters eventually take over, sometimes refusing to go down that dark alley you present them--Master Shichiro does not end up killing himself--sometimes getting so beaten down by events that they fail when presented with heroic opportunities--Douglas doesn't stride manfully into Faery, but rolls in beaten and bloody, and the decisions he makes once there are questionable at best.
GB: Now I'd like to know how you've worked together collaboratively, including all the nitty gritty like how you avoided killing each other in revision. And Jane, I know you have collaborated with lots of people, so was there anything different about working with your son? Adam, likewise for you, you're a musician and very used to collaboration--do you think that made it easier to work with someone else?
JY: Well, this is from a speech we are just working on now:
All stories are collaborations--between author and editor, between author and reader. However we two have collaborated even more, by being mother and son, as well as co-writers. That means we share a history, have attitudes toward each other and toward work that are...complicated and rich, and we know which buttons to push.
And yet, we come to our writing from different places and different spaces. When we work, we may argue about characters, about word choices, about titles. Sometimes Adam gives in and sometimes I do. But it is always done with respect--for one another, and for the work.
Writing with a relative means walking a fine line. In the end, my relationship with Adam is more important to me than the work, and I will back off if we hit some immovable spot. But so far we have agreed more often than disagreed, and I love the way he writes.
AS: Being a working musician for twenty years has made everything about writing easier. A literary agent I knew who was also in a punk band, once said, "Why do authors complain about bad reviews? When I get a bad review it's in the form of a beer bottle thrown at my head." Writers complain about contracts; the only thing sure in the music business is that if you have a contract you MIGHT get paid. Collaborations among musicians are shaky at best, with egos always at the forefront. Additionally, education and work habits are at a premium in the land of musicians; we didn't join a band to work hard and do a lot of thinking. And if there are musicians reading this who are insulted by this, please remember that I count myself in your number--when I say I don't like working with musicians...
Oh, and congratulations on reading!
All kidding aside, I learned how to write by working with my mother. She is a wonderful writer/teacher/editor/mom. We rarely argue over what we're working on because we largely share the same sensibilities. Makes sense, I am her son after all.
GB: What would your advice be to people working on collaborative projects? There seems to be a lot of this going on in the children's/YA field at the moment.
JY: Talk about stuff before you begin--like whose name goes first, who has the final pass on the book, how to resolve arguments. Know what your strengths are (mine are dialogue, scene, theme. He is Mr. action, Mr. Funny, and Mr. Plot. Also anything really dark in our books and stories--blame Adam!)
AS: Respect your partner and their ideas, and be respectful to them. Make sure you are writing the same book. Talk often and listen more. Meet in person to plot the book, talk about characters, polish a theme. And in person is important. We communicate more than we know with body language, and when discussing--flighty things that can be tough to get hold of--it is important to get as much across as possible.
GB: Switching gears a bit, what artform or genre do each of you find it most enjoyable to work in and why? Or if enjoyable's not of interest, how about what's most challenging?
JY: I love writing picture books, fantasy, historical, poetry, and graphic novels. You won't find me doing hard science, blood and intestine spills, or Gossip Girls.
AS: I do most of my writing in fantasy, so I must like working it. But truth be told, I like writing everything. I read a lot of fantasy, and love it, so I am familiar with the tropes and it is easy for me to move around in that kind of world. But I loved writing my historical samurai mystery stories as well. Research intensive as they were, they presented an opportunity to learn and a set of challenges unique to their genre (are you saying you haven't heard of the thriving Historical/Samurai/Mystery genre?) that made me enjoy writing them as well. I just like writing.
GB: What are each of your next projects (any more collabs on the horizon)?
JY: We have a book called Bug which stands for Big
Ugly Guy and is a novel about a Jewish kid who is picked on at school. So he
makes a golem for protection that becomes the drummer in his klezmer garage
On my own--I have just finished a 92,000 fantasy novel, Dragon's Heart, fourth book in my Pit Dragon trilogy (don't laugh.) Did a nonfiction book called Bad Girls with daughter Heidi and we are in the revision process. And starting a picture book called Shortstop about Honus Wagner.
AS: I'm currently working on what my writer's group calls a "Big Epic Fantasy." My mother and I seem to have an offer upcoming on another rock 'n' roll fairy tale, this one about a Jewish garage band that create a golem mostly to play the drums.
GB: What are some things you've read or listened to or watched recently that you'd recommend to others?
JY: Adam's sequel to his first book is called Steward of Song and will be out in March. Brilliant. Patricia MacLachlan's Edward's Eyes is incredibly moving. I was fascinated by Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret though not entirely in love with it. And then I just read the latest Ian Rankin's Rebus mystery novel because I am a big fan.
AS: Been very delinquent on my reading lately, though I can highly recommend Bobby Clark's The Baffled Parent's Guide to Coaching Youth Soccer, though probably only if you're going to start coaching youth soccer. Saw Michael Clayton last night and recommend it highly.
Visit today's other WBBT stops:
Loree Griffin Burns at Chasing Ray
Lily Archer at The Ya Ya Yas
Rick Riordan at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Gabrielle Zevin at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Dia Calhoun at lectitans
Shannon Hale at Miss Erin
Alan Gratz at Interactive Reader
Lisa Yee at Hip Writer Mama
Christopher Barzak's debut novel One for Sorrow was released in late August to a flurry of praise in the Village Voice, Washington Post, and San Francisco Chronicle, and cries of joy throughout the blogosphere. But, for years now, discerning readers of short fiction have kept a watch for new Barzak stories. His next novel--The Love We Share Without Knowing--recently sold to Bantam, and more on that in a moment. And I'm not even going to get into how he's one of the hands-down best people you'll ever encounter (not to mention a fine master of ceremonies). It's probably best if I let you get charmed by him yourself, so...
GB: I can't ask you the process question because you already answered it for me. So... where do you get your ideas? Kidding, kidding. You and I have talked a lot about how place and where you're from impact your work. Can you speak a bit about that? One of the things I love about One for Sorrow is that it has that element of a kid coming to terms with where he grew up, in all its complexity.
CB: Place has always been one of the elements of fiction that I've enjoyed as a reader, so it's no surprise to me that it's one of the things I tend to gravitate toward as a writer. In the case of One for Sorrow, I set the book in a fictional small town in rural Ohio which bears a lot of similarities to the one in which I grew up. I didn't name it for a couple of reasons. I wanted to be able to use place names and local anecdotes from a variety of neighboring villages and townships as well, so it became its own town in the novel, one part imagined, one part experienced, and one part observed. Growing up in a rural town was really a great experience in a lot of ways, to be honest. Being able to know just about everyone and some part of their story gives the world a sense of coherence and meaningfulness, I suppose. You're able to be more certain of people and things, or at least you're able to hold the illusion of certainty more easily. When I left home to go to college, I quickly discovered that I had been brought up to live a very particular kind of life, though, and that much of what I'd been taught about "how things are in the world" really only held true for where I'd come from. And on top of this, where I went for college was to a university in a dead steel town, Youngstown, Ohio. As I tell friends who sometimes ask why on earth I ever went there, it was where I could afford to go, it was the nearest "city" to where I'd grown up, and frankly it looked like a city to someone who grew up on a farm. It had a downtown with buildings over five stories tall, and a bus system, and a college, and parks. I think for a lot of people "city" conjures up Manhattan and Chicago and LA, but for me a limping along ghost town seemed pretty big. Again, when I left college and traveled a bit outside of Ohio and lived in other places, I got a better sense of how others lived. I mean, I'd of course seen the general standard of suburban America on television, but it never really felt real to me. When I started writing seriously, I decided I wanted to write about the places where I'd grown up and lived long enough to call home, to have lived there long enough to know them well. I wanted the region I came from to have books and stories they could read and say, "Hey! I know where that bridge is!" Or, "That's that old church on Elm that's falling down, isn't it?" I wanted people from where I'm from to be able to pick up a book and find the place where they live in a story, because story is a powerful thing, and if you can't find yourself in them you start to feel like maybe where you come from makes you unimportant. Literature has this validating effect on people. Certain places are often used as settings over and over. So I wanted to bring a voice from this abandoned corner of working class Ohio to the pages of books. In some ways, I think it may feel anachronistic to some readers, and it is anachronistic in a way, because this area is a place that was left behind. We're still trying to catch the boat to the twenty first century. Hopefully someone will wait till we can get on board.
GB: One for Sorrow is being published as an adult book (as it should be), but it's definitely a title with cross-over appeal for YA readers. It's particularly refreshing to see a book that portrays teen sexuality in a realistic way. How did you approach that?
CB: Honestly, my approach to portraying teen sexuality was basically just trying to capture that whole awkwardness and scariness that fumbling toward figuring out this very adult thing that, let's face it, we all know exists from a very early age. I knew that some people would be put off by fifteen-year-olds having sex of any kind in a book, but I think that kind of reader sees the novel as a strictly moral device, and anything in them is somehow condoned by the author. But the novel isn't always about "instructing". It can be about portraying, and above all else I want my books to be honest in their portrayal of anything, sex included. For teenagers, they've been hearing about and seeing sex in a variety of forms--older siblings, school friends, media, church youth group leaders, etc--for a long time by the time they even get to the point of experimenting, so there's this whole buildup to the thing that makes it extremely fraught. And also a lot of what they've heard or been told is just wrong (because so many parents fail to talk about the reality of sex with their kids at all, and think that is a much better way to prepare their children for the adult world--thanks Mom and Dad!) so there's a bit of a pleasant surprise to finding out what it is, too, I think. Pleasant surprises, anxieties, fear--I wanted to try to gauge all of those things, especially in the one scene I think most readers are referring to when they talk about the portrayal of teen sexuality in One for Sorrow. It's a really innocent scene in a lot of ways, I think, actually. And I don't think it ends with a loss of that innocence, as so many narratives in which teens have sex will have us think happens as a matter of course.
GB: You recently sold your second novel, The Love We Share Without Knowing, and it sounds thoroughly different from One for Sorrow. Can you give us a little preview of what to expect?
CB: The Love We Share Without Knowing is definitely different than One for Sorrow, but I do think at its core it shares something in common. At its heart, it's a ghost story, too. It's told from multiple points of view though: an American teenager whose family has moved to Japan for his father's job, the members of a Japanese suicide club, an American teacher of English who lost her lover in 9/11, a Japanese man who is mysteriously blinded after witnessing a blind man recover his sight on a train, a group of American ex-patriots all clinging to each other for comfort and familiarity in a foreign culture, and a young Japanese woman who may be a ghost or something more than human--she's the crux of the narrative, I think, around which all the others and their lives spin. It's about love, and loss, and how we're all connected, even if we don't realize it. Because of the multiple narrators, it ranges through a variety of genres of storytelling and voices. In recent years I really enjoyed novels that used this mosaic structure--David Mitchell's Ghostwritten, Kevin Brockmeier's The Truth About Celia, Dan Chaon's You Remind Me of Me, and Michael Cunningham's The Hours and Specimen Days--so when I began work on this second novel while I was living in Japan, I decided to try my hand at using a structure like the ones they created. It was a lot of fun, and delivers a completely different narrative pleasure than the one you get from writing a novel in one point of view for the entire trip, like I did with Adam in One for Sorrow.
GB: What are you working on right now? Any short stories due out soon?
CB: Right now I've just finished a long short story called "The Ghost Hunter's Beautiful Daughter" and I'm working on a third novel, which I'm tentatively calling Yesterday's Child. I have a story due out in the Solaris Book of New Fantasy this December, and another coming up next Fall in Sharyn November's anthology Firebirds Soaring. There are other stories forthcoming, but they're far enough down the road that I'm not even sure when the books in which they'll appear will be released.
GB: And now, the most important question of all. What's your favorite karaoke number Right This Second?
CB: Oh wow, just one?!? I need three and am going to ruthlessly take the space to list them. "Big Girl's Don't Cry" by Fergie. "The Origin of Love" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. And always, always "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers!
Visit today's other WBBT sites:
Lisa Ann Sandell at Chasing Ray
Perry Moore at Interactive Reader
Autumn Cornwell at The Ya Ya Yas
Jon Scieszka at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Gabrielle Zevin at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Judy Blume at Not Your Mother's Book Club
Erik P. Kraft at Bookshelves of Doom
Clare Dunkle at Miss Erin
Midori kindly posts the World Fantasy Award results; we were particularly happy to see the triumphs of Mary Rickert, Jeff Ford, and Ellen and Terri (for another wonderful anthology, Salon Fantastique). That said, a hearty congratulations to all the winners and a glass raised to all the rest.
Have fun in Saratoga Springs, y'all -- wish we were there, but it just wasn't possible. (Don't worry, we're indulging in a pretty good consolation prize in the nearish future.)
So, there's all this talk -- some it really useful -- about short fiction and etc. And I could talk about that, but I'd rather recommend something great instead. Luckily, I tend to read the last story of anthologies first, and I just started Ellen and Terri's trickster anthology, Coyote Road. You need this book, because Kij Johnson's "The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change" is AMAZING. A knockout. One of the best stories I've read in ages. How does Kij manage that devastating yet hopeful ending? No one does it better.
I'm more than looking forward to reading all the rest too.
So over at SF Site, Paul Kincaid reviewed Pat Murphy's The Wild Girls, and wasn't all that impressed. But the fabulous Literaticat has responded to the review ably, point by point, and reached the conclusion that this is actually the best middle grade book of the year.
How had I not heard about this one? Making note to get a copy, stat.
But if you have time to kill (and I do mean kill) there's some vaguely-slapfighty convos about the state of short SF and F going on (and, more interestingly actually, at the second link some discussion of political work).
My two cents: Sure, there's a lot of crap out there, but there's also an amazing crop of writers working at the short length today in genre -- Kelly Link, M. Rickert, Chris Barzak, Alan DeNiro, my own Christopher, Jeff Ford, Margo Lanagan, Ben Rosenbaum, and tons metric TONS more. This makes me very happy.
The Washington Post has a big package on efforts -- rumored by some to already be successful -- to develop next-generation flying "bugs" modeled on insects:
"I'd never seen anything like it in my life," the Washington lawyer said. "They were large for dragonflies. I thought, 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?' "
That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington and New York. Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security.
Others think they are, well, dragonflies -- an ancient order of insects that even biologists concede look about as robotic as a living creature can look.
No agency admits to having deployed insect-size spy drones. But a number of U.S. government and private entities acknowledge they are trying. Some federally funded teams are even growing live insects with computer chips in them, with the goal of mounting spyware on their bodies and controlling their flight muscles remotely.
Yes, it's all a bit Scary Creepy OMG Our Government Is Evil, but it's impossible to pretend there's not some geek squee as well.
From the wealth of experimental and magical realist writing on the Man Booker shortlist and winners’ podium over the years, the judges would seem to agree. So it won’t be the decision to write outside of our own reality that causes Animal’s People to win or lose this year, it will be the quality of the writing. It’s just a shame the same can’t be said of all the great eligible science fiction, horror and high fantasy that has been published.
There is interesting work in this area coming from the left-field, mostly from America, with magazines like Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Electric Velocipede tending a stable of successful mid-list authors working across the gamut of genre. Some have attempted to present a manifesto, define it as a movement, or at least seek a common thread running through the work of these authors. In my opinion, though, the only common thread is that these authors are writing outside of realism, whether in science fiction, fantasy, horror and steampunk, absurdism, surrealism, or magical realism.
With Man Booker’s ongoing recognition of the quality of the talent writing in magical realism today, perhaps the future is looking up for well-written, original speculative fiction of all kinds.
We can only hope. And, anyway, it's worth reading this whole essay. (Via.)
Christopher won third last night in the latest Alleycat bike race, a superhero-themed scavenger hunt. His costume was Corvus Rex, Lord of All Crows, and involved a bike helmet impressively festooned with feathers and a beak, among other elements (the camera wasn't working! but there might be pictures from somebody else later!). And now comes the news that his story "Another Word for Map is Faith" is up for a World Fantasy Award -- yay! I say again: yay!
This is a fantastic ballot through and through. So many yays -- for Mary, Susan, Susan (again!) and David, Jeff, Ben, Geoff, Ysa, Klima, and, well, seriously congratulations to everybody. It's a great ballot. (Behind the cut, gacked from Locus.)
Oh and, yeah, now we're strongly considering going to WFC. Although I've been told there are no hotel rooms to be had in Saratoga Springs? True? Untrue?
The Wall Street Journal has chosen to turn its attention to the legacy of Heinlein:
Robert A. Heinlein, who died in 1988, lived a life inspired by two great loves. One was America and its promise of freedom. As one of his characters put it: "Your country has a system free enough to let heroes work at their trade. It should last a long time -- unless its looseness is destroyed from the inside." And he loved and admired women -- not just his wife, Virginia, who provided the model for the many strong-minded and highly competent females who populate his stories, but all of womankind. "Some people disparage the female form divine, sex is too good for them; they should have been oysters."
Layers upon layers of meaning... (Thanks, Shana!)
Much belatedly, there's finally an ordering and information page for Say... What's the Combination? (It's also linked over to the right under the Appendices heading.) It's a fabulous issue, if I do say so myself.
(We have been lame and bad DIYers and haven't gotten the last of the contributors their copies, not to mention subscribers and reviewers. BUT they're going out tomorrow and should show up within the week. Mea culpa, etcetera.)
From JJA comes news that SciFiction will be removed from the Web forever on Friday, June 15. So, go read those stories you missed now. Here's my own personal list of favorites, with links. (Or you can apparently copy it and keep it archived forever for your own personal use using this.)
I must say that the weekend was so lovely it killed any lingering sadness over missing BEA; also, I'd be dead if I had to tromp around the floor of the Javits Center, so there. (I will not, however, refuse kind mailings of free books from those of you on the ground -- especially YA stuff. Hint. Hint.) Too lazy to provide links, but y'all know where to find most of these folks anyway, I suspect.
1. I only made it to a few programming items and barely visited the party floor this year -- which meant I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with a bunch of you (I'm looking at you Barzak and Alan and Kristin and Steph and Patrick and Lawrence and Ysabeau, and, well, LOTS more of you -- but at least some of you I should get more time with later on). It was ever thus and ever will be. On the other hand, I managed chats with Jenn Reese and Sarah Prineas as opposed to just passing you in elevators, and had much more satisfying chunks of time with Karen Meisner and Susan Groppi and Terri Windling and Midori Snyder. I also feel like I met slightly more new people this time, so that's always good (hi Kameron and Chris). For whatever reason, I ended up hiding out in rooms a lot (could it be because Wiscon is so big now and I get cranky in crowds? not sure), but that meant decent quantities of quality time with Karen Fowler and Kelly Link and Ted Chiang, among others, so yay. And we had a lovely dinner with Meghan McCarron and the amazing Liz Gorinsky, which was, well, lovely and fun. Holly Black spent her usual most of the weekend convalescing in her room with a cold, but emerged to hang out Sunday night and Monday for hours at a stretch. There may be a few more names that slip into the rest of this, but I'm really unable to do the whole Name Everyone Thing, because there are too too many fine people I adore seeing at Wiscon now. This is a good thing, if somewhat overwhelming.
2. Oh, the happiness of finally convincing the Melissas to come to Wiscon and having it turn out well! I love it when we're right and it results in the joy of others.
3. Thanks to everyone who came to our reading. I was, of course, way out of my league with Christopher and Richard and new friend Chris Nakashima-Brown (he of the controversial quip).
4. Apparently the penguins in Antarctica lay on the ice with their tongues hanging out because it's so warm now. Also, I hear Molly Gloss's new book is fabulous.
5. Panels attended, three. One on feminism in YA, where smart people said smart things. Mely's write-up tells you all you need to know. I also went to the judging the Tiptree panel, where I mostly tried to suck Midori's wisdom in through osmosis -- they read 100 books last year; eep. The third was the one I was on, about trends and YA. Someone asked that we post the list of books we recommended at the end (I should mention we also talked about middle grade and even some about picture books, so broad net), so here are the ones I mentioned: Cecil's books but especially Beige, MT Anderson's books but especially Octavian Nothing, Holly's books but especially Valiant and Ironside, Ysabeau's Flora Segunda (which had to be the most recommended book of the weekend), Elizabeth Knox's Dreamhunter duet (also recommended by Kelly in the feminism panel), Laura Amy Schlitz's A Drowned Maiden's Hair, China's Un Lun Dun, and Margaret Mahy (aka my new obsession). I think that was pretty much it. Sarah Prineas had a lengthy list that was wonderful and if she posts it, I'll link it, along with Patrick Samphire's ditto.
6. Readings attended, three-ish. I ducked in for the very end of Kat, Sarah and Jenn's reading, only catching the final reader (whose name escapes me) -- this is what happens when you don't check your watch on the way to lunch. We also saw Meghan, Alice Kim, Rick Bowes and Barzak's reading, which was fab, and Alan, Kristin, Lena, Dave and Haddayr's, which was ditto fab. I missed a bunch of other readings I wanted to attend, including one with Holly and Ysabeau and Ellen Kushner and Greg Frost (much gnashing of teeth), but I sent Christopher with the video camera and he got snippets that may appear here later on in June as part of the Blog Blast Tour.
7. Madison is wonderful. Resolve to get out of hotel more next year.
8. I bet you didn't know that Ted Chiang is constantly fighting to keep more towns from being named after fictional characters. It's true.
9. Maureen McHugh is the best. And she has a total yoga glow.
10. I managed yoga only one morning and no real cardio. Someday, I really will figure out how to move at conventions. I have a feeling then I wouldn't get half so exhausted and overstimulated all at once.
11. I actually did some revision though, so I'm cutting the slack on the work-out stuff. But my last packet of semester one is due at the end of next week and that means I should go do more. Like now. See you next year!
Why yes, that is Ellen Kushner and Haddayr Copley-Woods shaking their booties in the background. And who could have their hands in the air but karaoke master of ceremonies Chris Barzak?
That's right. No one.
Dear cell phone-wielding business man: You are not important. STOP TALKING.
This is my message to all the people in airports everywhere.
But we made it, lalala, and although we missed the Room of One's Own Reading yet again, we got in some quality Governor's Club time with the likes of the one and only Karen Fowler, Ellen Klages, Kelley Eskridge and Nicola Griffith, Doselle and Janine Young, Jeremy Lassen, Susan Groppi and Matt Withers... The latter of whom whisked us off to a party across town, where we saw tons of other peeps like Ted Chiang and the wondrous Marcia Glover, Dave Schwartz, Karen Meisner, Haddayr Copley-Wood, Steph Burgis and Patrick Samphire, the late-breaking Meghan McCarron and Liz Gorinsky -- geez, I'm starting to feel like a jerk. EVERYONE IS HERE.* Why aren't you?
Then our cab driver totally backed into a car, got out and eyeballed the dent and drove off.
Ah, Madison in spring.
p.s. Topics discussed included: feeling betrayed by the turn of a character in fiction, publicists, the history of bananas, filking, present tense, making cosmopolitans for one's parents, the last season of Gilmore Girls, crying, infiltration of certain subcultures, cannons and canons
*And we haven't even seen Chris Barzak yet! Or Kelly and Gavin, for that matter!
Since everyone else is doing it, and we're only a week away (!), here's my programming schedule at Wiscon:
GWENDA BOND, RICHARD BUTNER, CHRISTOPHER ROWE, CHRIS NAKASHIMA-BROWN LLC (Reading) Sunday, 10:00-11:15 a.m. in Conference Room 2
Yep, I'm reading with the boys this year.
These Kids Tomorrow (The Craft And Business of Writing SF&F) Sunday, 2:30-3:45 p.m.
With YA so popular in its many incarnations, just what are some of the youth trends going on today? What will be the trends for tomorrow? For fantasy settings? Come and speculate. Patrick Samphire, Sarah Prineas, M: Hilary Moon Murphy, Gwenda Bond
This one should be fun.
Otherwise, I'll mostly be in the GC bar and environs.
So, no. The work was written long before I ever heard of Harry Potter. Through no design of my own, Branshead is the opposite of Hogwarts: a school where magical beings learn how to be muggles. The students want to break out of school and return to lives and families at home.
Nor is this book anywhere nearly gross enough to qualify for YA status. To win awards in YA fiction, one needs to describe rapist elfs sodomizing boys with thorn bushes, or a father having sex with the ghost of his little son he murdered. Incestohomopedonecrophilia, we might call that: One needs special names to describe the new perversions. I wish I were making those examples up.
Wow, I'm going to have to add some thorn bushes, AT LEAST.
Dave Itzkoff visits MidSouth Con and the result is actually not all that awful. Too bad he didn't go to one of the regional conventions where books are a more prominent feature, but so it goes -- the characterization of fiction as an increasingly marginalized aspect of the SF scene is undeniably true, as anyone who's been to a WorldCon or looked at the Hugo voting stats can attest.