RT Book Reviews is giving readers a chance to win all twelve of their Seal of Excellence books for 2013. The Best of All Possible Worlds is February’s Seal of Excellence winner, and so when they asked me to say a few words about my favourite book of 2013, I decided to be different. I talked about my favourite album instead – that marvellous blend of sci-fi, romance and afrofuturism that is The Electric Lady by Janelle Monáe. Go read about it and enter for the book giveaway.
Del Rey has submitted The Best of All Possible Worlds to the literary subcommittee of the NAACP Image Awards for consideration in their literary awards category. Now this is not quite a situation like the Oscars where I can hope for a full-page FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION ad in the major newspapers, but it feels very exciting and awe-inspiring and important to me. In fact, it’s so important that I have a request.
I understand that many reviewers like the fact that The Best of All Possible Worlds sites people of colour firmly in the future, in space, on colonies, in a way that is unfortunately unusual for much of the SF we encounter in books and movies. It’s okay for people to be happy about that, but I come from a region whose people and educational system have always had a firm grasp of global demographics, so for me it doesn’t feel like a particular virtue to have written the future the way it’s most likely to be.
What I am wondering is whether certain parts of my book are being overlooked by readers and reviewers who are not well-versed in postcolonial and Caribbean literature. I’m referring to two chapters: ‘Bacchanal’ and ‘The Master’s House’.
I’d be so grateful if an academic or reviewer in Caribbean and postcolonial literature could examine, assess and critique the book in general and those two chapters in particular from a position of expert knowledge. My job is to write the stuff, not explain it, and my policy is to rarely react to reviews, so I can’t guarantee any kind of ‘you’ve got it’ endorsement. I simply want to see a discussion started in an area that I feel is significant but has been barely mentioned as yet.
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!
This post will not be long. It’s hardly even a summary … more of a précis … but I’m not going to give you every detail of my trip, because I am selfish and secretive with my sweetest memories.
My main reason for visiting Albuquerque was the chance to meet Dvorah Simon face to face after years of virtual interaction. If you’ve read my second book, you know Dvorah. She wrote the poem that the Faerie Queen recites to Dllenahkh and Delarua, and she’s also on the dedication page. In addition to being a poet, she’s a full-time psychologist and part-time muse, an excellent hostess and a great friend. She has exquisite taste in art, music and food, and as she took me to her favourite haunts I was amazed to discover that Albuquerque is very much a city of artists and artisans. Such artistry does indeed include food, and food includes chocolate! I was confronted with massive amounts of really really good chocolate!
Albuquerque felt like blessed earth, and I hope to return there very soon.
Houston was fabulous. Karen Burnham is pretty much one of my favourite people ever, and her family (husband, toddler-son and dog) is lovely. She took me to her workplace. She works at NASA. NASA! I tried to play it cool, but by the end when I’d finished the tour and seen the films and touched the moon rock and all, I was moved beyond all possibility of playing it cool. There may have been tears.
I also had a highly enjoyable meetup with Gretchen (who is also on the dedication page of The Best of All Possible Worlds), visited Galveston, found even more chocolate, and met John DeNardo of SF Signal (the site that hosts SF Crossing the Gulf and does other amazing things, like win Hugos). John is cool! He’s down-to-earth and funny and makes you feel like you’ve known him for a long time.
None of this is in precise order. Don’t expect pictures. I did snap a few with my phone, but in general I find that the pressure to document and verify gets in the way of enjoyment. I don’t want the writer brain on when I’m having fun. I don’t want a camera between my eyes and the view.
I left Houston happy and tired and ready to crash, and fortunately I had scheduled a break in Asheville, NC for that very purpose. More on that in my next post!
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.
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.
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.
Amazon Writer-in-Residence, 29 Jul-3 Aug
Various locations, North Carolina
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:
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
My second panel at the Adelaide Writers’ Week is now available:
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 Wood, Karen Lord and Emily St John Mandel at theAdelaide Writers’ Week. Cath Keneally moderates the session.
Fond memories of that panel. I think I was just starting to shake off the jet lag!
Recently, I caught up with Ron Buckmire, an old friend I hadn’t seen in ages. He’s a day older than me and one of that marvellous group of SF-reading-lending-and-borrowing friends from my secondary school days. He came ‘home’ to the West Indies for his birthday (born in Grenada, educated in Barbados) with his husband Dean Elzinga (more about Dean in a bit).
Frankly I was a little nervous about whether or not Ron would like my books. I played it cool, but really, he’s a maths professor, he knows and loves sci-fi and he’s an old friend, so of course I wanted him to like my books. Fortunately he did, and so did Dean. Now Dean is particularly cool because he is a bass-baritone opera singer. I’m talking professional soloist with glowing reviews, here. Check out his audio clips and reviews at http://www.deanelzinga.com. But he also loves writing and SF and we had a grand time talking about both when we met.
I was really pleased when Dean emailed me about The Best of All Possible Worlds and how much he enjoyed it, but this was the icing on the cake. Ladies and gentlemen, for your enjoyment and education, Dean Elzinga pronounces ‘Dllenahkh’!
Link to tumblr post with video clip (can’t do vid on my wordpress yet, sorry!)
Dllenahkh’s voice has always sounded bass-baritone in my head, so this is perfection.
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:
(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).