Old news recap

I’ve been working hard on some projects and thus only updated where I could be brief – twitter, Facebook and a couple of times even tumblr. But now I have a little time, so I’d like to recap some of the old good news.

I didn’t make a final post for my Carolinas trip, but there was not much more to tell. I had a fantastic time at Orange County Library and Chapel Hill Library with audiences that were far more mainstream/literary than SF, but very attentive and appreciative of my work. I also did a reading at Flyleaf Books. Very enjoyable – smaller audience, but the questions were still of a high calibre.

People who follow me on twitter would have seen that I came home and quickly went into AnimeKon Expo, our Bajan SF convention. Tobias Buckell was back, Robert Edison Sandiford had a new book out, and we had a bit of a Three Musketeers thing going where we had a panel together, kept our book tables side by side, and even managed a field trip for some story research. This was so soon after the Carolinas trip that it was hard for me to be at 100 per cent. I wish I’d had more energy and preparation time to get full benefit from the event, but I’m fairly happy with what I was able to do, and it’s always hugely inspiring to hang out with Tobias and Robert and talk Caribbean SF.

I’ve been invited to be Guest of Honour for the 2014 Åcon SF convention in Finland (SO EXCITED YOU HAVE NO IDEA). Details to follow in due course!

I celebrated the release of Jeff VanderMeer’s amazing writing guide Wonderbook on twitter, tumblr and Facebook. I’m extremely proud to be one of the contributors; you can find my essay on page 27 (here’s a teaser). There’s so much beauty and inspiration in that book that you’ll never get bored.

I was surprised and very pleased to find that The Best of All Possible Worlds made it to the semifinal round of the Goodreads Choice Awards Best Sci-fi category as a write-in-vote with reader support. Thank you so much to all those who voted!

Finally, I was absolutely thrilled that RT Reviews nominated The Best of All Possible Worlds for both Best Science Fiction and Book of the Year. The awards ceremony takes place at their annual convention, which is being held in New Orleans next year! Tempting! Very tempting!

Summer Vacation: Spartanburg and Shared Worlds

Pardon the large gap between posts. I was occupied with AnimeKon Expo last weekend and spent a fair bit of time away from the computer. Tobias Buckell was with us again, and I had a great time hanging out with him and Robert Sandiford. I’ll cover that in another post which will appear after the summer-vacation series.

This post is about Spartanburg, the central point of my summer travels. I was Amazon Writer-in-Residence for the second week of the Shared Worlds teen writing camp at Wofford College. I can’t even begin to express how packed, intense, thrilling and completely worthwhile that week was. I am quite sure that a few years from now I will see some familiar names as new-minted authors on professional publications. I enjoyed my time with the students, discussing the different ways to tell and experience story, and finding their strengths in longer form or poetic expression, filmic approach or literary subtlety. If there’s one thing I took away from the range of work I saw, and one thing that I hope I conveyed to the students, it’s that SF is a very very large tent indeed, with all kinds of room for a variety of topics and styles.

Outside of the classroom, I set my switch to ‘extrovert’ and immersed myself in the excellent company of writers and thinkers. ‘I’ll sleep later,’ I kept saying as I mainlined conversation after conversation about the industry and the craft.

A couple of highlights. Ann VanderMeer asked me to help her demonstrate what it can feel like when an editor comments on your work.

WriterEditor

(Note how I am braced and unbroken!)

Early in the week, we read at Hub City, an independent bookstore in Spartanburg. Will Hindmarch enchanted me with his haiku. Kathe Koja devastated me with her short story. Jeff has a photo album of the event on his Facebook.

On Saturday, we said farewell to the students, and a group of us went to Raleigh NC for our last event together, a reading at Quail Ridge Books .

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!

Readings, Shared Worlds and more readings

I should have done this a long time ago, but I’m travelling and I’m distracted. Here is a schedule of what I’ll be doing over the next two weeks, starting tomorrow.

Malaprops Bookstore, Asheville, North Carolina

SCI-FI/FANTASY SHARED WORLDS Reading & Signing

28 Jul, 3 pm

Karen Lord, Robert V. S. Redick, Will Hindmarch, Nathan Ballingrud and Hugo Award winner Ann VanderMeer and World Fantasy Award winner Jeff VanderMeer.

Shared Worlds, Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina

Amazon Writer-in-Residence, 29 Jul-3 Aug

Various locations, North Carolina

AUGUST 2013

3 (Saturday) 7 to 9 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts the annual Bull Spec summer speculative fiction event. This year it is an absolutely fantastic lineup with Karen Lord, Nathan Ballingrud, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Robert V.S. Redick, and Will Hindmarch all coming up from the Shared Worlds Teen Writing Camp at Wofford College, being joined locally by Durham author Mur Lafferty. We had a blast hosting Ann and Jeff back in 2011 and it’s sure to be another great evening. And! From 9 pm to late,The Raleigh Review is hosting an after-reading “meet the authors” reception (also free and open to the public) at their Writers’ Loft. And! See below for more info on additional events with Karen Lord while she is in the Triangle area. More info: http://bullspec.com/2013/03/29/announcement-the-third-annual-bull-spec-summer-speculative-fiction-event/

NEW: 4 (Sunday) 3 pm — The Orange County Library hosts Karen Lord for a meet the author event at its main branch in downtown Hillsborough. More info:
http://engagedpatrons.org/EventsExtended.cfm?SiteID=6923&EventID=177489

NEW: 5 (Monday) 4 pm — The newly renovated Chapel Hill Library hosts Karen Lord for a “meet the author tea” event. Refreshments served at 3:30 pm ahead of the event. More info: http://chapelhillpubliclibrary.org/txp/?s=News&id=896

NEW: 5 (Monday) 7 pm — Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books hosts Karen Lord for a reading and signing of her deep future anthropological sf novel, The Best of All Possible Worlds. More info: http://www.flyleafbooks.com/event/karen-lord-caribbean-speculative-fiction-bull-spec

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World Fantasy Convention 2012

I haven’t the time to tell you everything, so here are the highlights:

The Truly Marvellous VanderMeers

Heartiest congratulations to Ann and Jeff for winning the Best Anthology World Fantasy Award with The Weird. I cannot recommend this book too highly. It is a gift to both genre and mainstream readers. A lot of hard work and love went into this anthology, and it shows.

It was my great pleasure to meet Karin Tidbeck and attend the book release party for her excellent short story collection Jagannath. I remember watching in delight as Jeff VanderMeer tossed a stuffed toy bunny (a stand-in for giveaways that were too fragile to be airborne) into the squealing crowd rather like a bride throwing a bouquet to desperate bridesmaids. Also launching were Ann VanderMeer’s anthology Steampunk Revolution (contributors enthralled the room with one-sentence readings from their stories) and At the Edge of Waking by Holly Phillips. The cakes were gorgeous … iced with the covers of the books. I had some of the Jagannath. Delicious.

Why Is the Rum Gone?

It went to a better place. Two better places in fact. I brought with me two bottles of Mount Gay Extra Old. One went to the gentlemen of the Coode Street Podcast, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan. The other was handed over to the Cooke Agency, specifically my brilliant and hardworking agents Sally Harding and Ron Eckel. I have reason to believe that the rum was thoroughly enjoyed by those who were invited to partake. They shared generously; I saw a lot of bright eyes and dreamy smiles as people approached me later to thank me for rumrunning!

The Toastmaster’s Hashtag

Gary K. Wolfe delivered a top-quality speech at the awards, full of humour and edge and insight into the genre. When discussing the issue of spoilers in reviews, he demonstrated the skill of the ‘three syllable synopsis’. The Whale Wins. The Ring Melts. George Shoots Jay. Such sweet brevity should easily find a place on twitter under #3syllablesynopsis. Make it trend!

The Cool Kids

I know I’m inviting trouble by naming some names and not others, but I have to say that I was especially revved up and inspired by the conversations I had with E. Lily Yu, Ellen Klages, Daryl Gregory and Ted Chiang. Ted thinks I’m a little insane because I remarked that the WFC bookbag was so heavy I could drown someone with it. Ellen and Daryl know I’m insane and pretty much encourage me to ever greater heights of functional literary insanity. Lily is, I think, relieved to learn just how insane I am because together we can plot to take over the world. (I’m Pinky, she’s The Brain. Narf to you too.)

Talking to Derryl Murphy made me rush out and buy Napier’s Bones and bring it back the next day for signing. Hearing Amal El-Mohtar read from The Honey Month had the same effect, but when I ambushed Amal in the hotel corridor in hopes of getting a copy and a signature I learned that I was too late; they were all gone. Never mind. It goes to the top of my acquisitions list. Nene Ormes (compatriot and friend of Karin Tidbeck) was another person I wanted to read after only a few minutes of conversation, but I will have to wait on a translation or learn Swedish for that.

In conclusion, let me say congratulations again to all the nominees and winners. My sympathies to those who were unable to get to Toronto because of storm-related difficulties. Thank you to all who told me how much they enjoyed Redemption in Indigo or mentioned listening to SF Crossing the Gulf.

This post could be three pages long, but I can’t permit it. There are other things afoot, as those who follow my twitter will know. Stay tuned (by the end of this week perhaps, but definitely before the end of the next) for a post about me and the Adelaide Writers’ Week 2013, and a wrap-up and commentary on the first complete series of SF Crossing the Gulf.

Catching up

I’m seizing this moment, a brief lull between projects, to pull together various bits of news that I’ve been mentioning quickly on facebook and twitter. First of all, I don’t think I posted about the lovely cover for the UK edition of Redemption in Indigo:

Cover for UK edition of Redemption in Indigo

Publication date is 1 March, which is two weeks from now!

Next, I wanted to talk about the extremely weird and wonderful Shared Worlds 2012 critter map. Hover, click, explore. It’s filled with little descriptions and entries on various fantastical beasties written by the likes of Tobias Buckell, Neil Gaiman, N.K. Jemisin, Lavie Tidhar, the incomparable Ann and Jeff VanderMeer and many more . I greedily snagged two entries, but if you read them you’ll see why. If you like what you read, take the time to donate to the Shared Worlds SF/F teen writing camp.

Finally, I’m attending a number of conventions this year. I’m confirmed to be at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando USA from 21-15 March, the Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad from 26-29 April, the Bim Lit Fest in Barbados from 16 -20 May, and the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto Canada from 1-4 November.

That’s it for now. I’ll update soonish as more happens!

Podcast with Charles Tan

So here‘s the first of the podcasts I promised you. Charles Tan, blogger, nominee for the World Fantasy Special Award (Non-Professional) 2011, intelligent critic and reviewer of speculative fiction, allowed me to babble on. And I warn you, I do babble. But there may be a few gems amid the dross. Go check it out.