Summer Vacation: Asheville

I spent a week in Asheville, and it was far too short a time. The next time I go there, I’m going with a car, hiking gear, and a friend who likes a bit of adventure, especially when it comes to the outdoors.

I still managed to pack in a lot. I met up with Jeff VanderMeer and Nathan Ballingrud for tapas and wine (mmm, so good), and then visited Asheville’s champagne bookstore. It is as it says, a bookstore that serves champagne and provides comfortable seating in cosy niches so that both champagne and literature can be properly appreciated.

I caught up on sleep and reading at a B&B which provided glorious three-course breakfasts. I met cool people and had interesting conversations and learned proper cartwheel technique from a pre-teen who had taken gymnastics (she, her sister and her mother are avid readers and we had a great time bonding).

I visited the River Arts District with Ann and Jeff VanderMeer near the end of my stay. It was like Albuquerque all over again, with all kinds of temptations from painters, potters and pastry cooks.

On the final day, we walked through downtown streets filled with people for the Bele Chere festival, and joined Nathan, Jeremy Jones, Robert Redick and Will Hindmarch at Malaprops for a multi-author event. Jeremy (director of Shared Worlds) did the intros and everyone else did a reading.

Special mention must go to Nathan, who read from his recently-published collection North American Lake Monsters, and that small excerpt from ‘The Good Husband’ left us speechless, chilled, and utterly in awe. Robert and I, who were scheduled to read after him, looked at each other in horror. How the hell do you follow that? Robert rose to the occasion with some brief and sincere words of appreciation for Nathan’s reading, and then held his own with a fascinating pair of excerpts from The Chathrand Voyage Quartet. Needless to say, I ended up buying both Nathan’s book and the first book of Robert’s quartet.

After the reading, we left for Spartanburg, and that, of course, is another post!

What I did on my summer ‘vacation’

Rather a lot, as it turns out!

I joined Samuel Montgomery-Blinn for a radio interview with the folks at WUNC 91.5, North Carolina Public Radio.

About a week later, I had another interview/discussion with Sam and the hosts of Carolina Book Beat.

I posted in advance about the readings at various libraries and bookstores and my week as Amazon Writer-in-Residence at Shared Worlds, but I have yet to post about how they went. Short version – brilliantly! Long version … that will take time and separate posts. I’m still winding down from all the travel, and I have to ransack my overstuffed memory to come up with a coherent and chronological account.

And it was a vacation, at least partly. I got to hang out with old friends and newer friends, and I also made new friends, some of them in unexpected places. I encountered children who love to read (and I owe two of them a list of recommendations!) and discovered new books and new authors in a wide range of age levels. I saw four states and several cities/towns and a whole lotta interstate. I ate a lot of good food, and drank good wine, beer and smoothies (yes, smoothies. Karen Burnham makes the best breakfast smoothies). I encountered a ridiculous amount of chocolate but kept in control (sharing is key). I packed, unpacked and lifted so much luggage that my right arm is now noticeably more muscular than my left. I learned to do a proper cartwheel. I listened to authors – they made me laugh, they made me cry, they gave me chills.

In time, in time. There is much to do here, but I will post again soon.

SF Crossing the Gulf, Episode 13

Our first full podcast of the second half of season two is up and available!

Episode 13: Shadow of the Torturer, by Gene Wolfe

We discuss the first book of a series, a book that has a lot happening, only some of which is resolved. However this approach allowed us to assess Wolfe’s worldbuilding and the structure and style of the story rather than focusing on plot and character arcs which would be better examined over the entire quartet (The Book of the New Sun). It is easy to see why this complex and enjoyable book is considered one of the classics of the genre.

Adelaide Writers’ Week: my second panel

My second panel at the Adelaide Writers’ Week is now available:

ABC Big Ideas: All Stories are Love Stories

Are all stories love stories?

There’s a fairly general agreement in answer to this question among this panel. All stories are pretty much love stories, no matter how dark, vengeful, bitter and thwarted or romantic and deluded.

There’s just a huge variation in the variety and the telling.

This is a sunlit panel featuring Charlotte WoodKaren Lord and Emily St John Mandel at theAdelaide Writers’ WeekCath Keneally moderates the session.

Fond memories of that panel. I think I was just starting to shake off the jet lag!

SF Crossing the Gulf, Episode 12a

It so happened that Karen Burnham and I felt that our podcast on Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis was lacking a little expert knowledge. We know that Lewis, as one of the Inklings, has been widely studied – his life, fiction and non-fiction. It seemed only sensible that one of his most mature and challenging works would have been analysed by persons far more qualified than us.

With the help of our designated expert and special guest, Beth Potterveld, we revisited the novel and illuminated some previously murky areas. The podcast is a supplemental, short and sweet, and a proper conclusion to the first half of our 2013 season.

Episode 12a: Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis. The Academic’s Cut

Adelaide Writers’ Week panel and other updates

Remember I mentioned that our panels at the Adelaide Writers’ Week were being televised? Well here is the first of mine where I discuss Redemption in Indigo with Dr Amy Matthews:

ABC Big Ideas Karen Lord: Redemption in Indigo

(Correction – Oxford was after teaching physics, not before.)

We also have a mini review of The Best of All Possible Worlds from Eric Brown at the Guardian (UK).

Finally, I now have a Wikipedia page thanks to participants in the Global Women Wikipedia Write-in!