Days Four and Five: The Last Lap

My second panel was scheduled for Monday morning. I got to share the stage with two other authors: Emily St John Mandel and Charlotte Wood. We had not read each other’s works, but our chair Cath Kenneally had, and she wove it all together under the theme ‘All Stories are Love Stories’. We all used the term ‘love story’ broadly, and spent as much time talking about friends and family as we did about romantic relationships. I was the only speculative fiction writer, but Emily’s work sounds like an interesting crossover, literary but with a touch of noir that at times gets her categorised as a genre writer as well.

And speaking of reading other people’s works – so many books, so many cool authors, so little time! I began to feel a bit less smug about my minimalist luggage arrangements. There were books available to buy, authors present to sign them, and I had no space. Eventually, I made arrangements with Sean Williams to ship some books home (thank you Sean!) and happily went on a splurge.

I missed Justine’s second panel, but we both caught Scott’s reading, an excerpt about an alternate WWI which confirmed my desire to acquaint myself with the world of Leviathan. Then a group of us went off to have more good food (Japanese this time) and fun. That was my final day of Adelaide Writers’ Week events.

On Tuesday morning, I had a half-hour live interview with Richard Fidler, the last of the interviews set up by Tracey. I have to say, I was very impressed with the preparations for this interview. The pre-interview for this took place the previous Friday so that there was already a sense of what themes and topics would be interesting and relevant. We also had a brief chat before the actual interview and he put me completely at ease.

And that was Adelaide! I must say how grateful I am to the Writers’ Week staff for their excellent organisation and care. Laura Kroetsch, the Director, and Anna Hughes, the Coordinator, were present and accessible and amazing. Pan Macmillan publicist Tracey Cheetham and the Adelaide Festival National Publicist Prue Bassett were tireless, efficient and charming. There were many others, from staff to volunteers to friends, who were just lovely and made sure I had a great time in Adelaide. I hesitate to list names because I know I will forget someone, but some have been mentioned in previous posts.

My next grand journey will happen in summer, but that deserves a post of its own!

Days Two and Three: The Weekend

Good music, good food, good company, a black swan and some black ants, and other etceteras.

On Saturday, I again breakfasted with Justine and Scott, and had some laugh-out-loud moments because they’ve both got great comic timing. I was starting to feel better. Jet lag, especially jet lag after three flights, is no joke. It’s a fatigue so deep it feels like the marrow is draining out of your bones. Fortunately, Saturday was a relatively light day with two purely enjoyable items. The first was a coffee meeting with Dr Amy Matthews, who was to moderate my Sunday panel on Redemption in Indigo. She suggested we meet in advance and chat a bit about what to discuss. We ended up sitting on the grass down by the river in marvellous conversation for about three hours. There was a brief encounter with an oddly friendly, yet shy, black swan who approached us but when we merely stared warily and declined to offer it food, it sidled away with its head tucked into its back as if it was napping, or maybe just embarrassed. Swans are sizable birds. I do not mess with swans. Nor geese.

The Writers’ Week reception took place that evening. A group of us gathered in the hotel lobby to walk over to the venue. A cheerful, charming gentleman introduced himself to me as Tom Keneally. I was still insufficiently alert, so it was much later when I clued in to who he was and got him to sign my just-purchased copy of The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith.

The reception was most enjoyable in a way that can only be managed when a room full of writers and other literary types get together and have conversations. Several of us got hauled aside by the Guardian (UK) for some photos. After the reception, because the night was still young, I followed Tracey (the publicist) and a few others to the Barrio where there was a live band playing some excellent music. Eventually it dawned on me … wait a minute! That’s Soul II Soul! Pure nostalgia, great music – which alas, I could not fully enjoy because before they finished playing their set I realised that there was not much keeping me upright but sheer willpower. I chose to be sensible and went to bed.

There are things I can’t quite recall. For example, there was a stunning fireworks display down by the river which we (Justine, Scott and I) witnessed up close (very close!) from the terrace at the back of the hotel. Was that Friday night or Sunday night? I can’t remember! And I forgot that I did in fact go out to dinner Friday after the opening night performance with Sean Williams and his wife, Scott and Justine, and Isobelle Carmody (one of those delightful people who only have to speak twice to make you want to rush out and buy their books).

One of the reasons it became so hard to keep track of the days was that I was taking (whenever I could) a long nap during the day and having a short sleep at night. There’s a 14.5 hour difference between Barbados and Adelaide, almost a direct day-to-night flip.

On Sunday, I went down to the Writers’ Week venue in the morning well in advance of my afternoon panel so I could do a radio interview on-site. It was Kids’ Day, and there were little ones running about in costume. It was a great family atmosphere, everything outdoors and the weather hot, dry and clear. And ants. I was sitting under the trees listening to a panel when I looked to my right and saw that the gentleman sitting next to me was covered in black ants. They were crawling up the plastic chairs from a broad trail on a nearby tree. I alerted him and helped brush him off; he changed chairs and moved away from the tree. I was twitchily viewing my own chair for ants for a while and just when I managed to calm my paranoia I looked to the row ahead and there was a woman crawling with ants.

The panel before mine featured Justine Larbalestier, and Isobelle Carmody. It was enjoyable and relaxing  (no, I did not nod off) and put all thought of black ants out of my mind. Most if not all of the panels were being recorded for television, which meant that later during my panel when I actually was stung by an ant, I had to make it look very casual, as if I was merely brushing my shoulder rather than slapping the life out of the little miscreant.

Sean Williams fortified me with a chocolate freckle before my panel, and rewarded me with a dark chocolate covered macadamia afterwards. Walking around with chocolate treats is apparently his ‘thing’. I’m not complaining.

The panel went really well, thanks in no small part to our preparation the previous day. I got an absolutely brilliant question, weighty with knowledge and perception, from a woman in the audience who, when I queried her, admitted to having been in Barbados just the year before. I’m happy the panel was televised, but especially for that question which gave me a new insight into the approach I chose for Paama’s brand of heroism.

Here I am, looking like I know what I’m talking about:

Karen Lord discusses her book Redemption in Indigo on stage


After the panel, I had a fun time at the signing table, then went back to catch the second half of Sean interviewing Scott about Leviathan. That was fascinating, and I wish I could have heard the entire session, but it was enough to tempt me to buy the book (and Behemoth and Goliath). Well played, Mr Westerfeld.

Before I forget, I should mention that I also found out from Amy that Redemption in Indigo is on the reading list of an undergrad course at the University of Adelaide, so there were students at my panel and in my signing line – yay!

At the end of the day, we went and had dinner at a restaurant with a secret room hidden behind a cunning sliding bookcase. (Oh dear, I’ve said too much. Well, I won’t tell you the name of the restaurant at least.)

That’s what I can remember of the weekend! Strictly speaking, that was Day One and Day Two of the Writers’ Week but Days Two and Three of the Adelaide Festival … but nevermind. I’m numbering these Days according to the time I was spending there, not by their calendar.

Next, Day Four!

SF Crossing the Gulf, Season 2, Episode 9

We’re back!

Welcome to Episode 9 of  SF Crossing the Gulf, a podcast where I discuss selected SF novels and short fiction with Karen Burnham. Thanks to SF Signal for hosting the podcast and doing up our spiffy new icon!

We briefly tell you what to expect for this season, then we dive into Children of God by Mary Doria Russell.

Podcast with Nalo Hopkinson and Karen Burnham

This is the second promised podcast! I chatted with Nalo Hopkinson and Karen Burnham while in San Diego, and it was fantastic. I caught myself listening to it all over again in the wee hours of the night. Do go check it out. Nalo’s brilliant, in case you didn’t know.

Nalo Hopkinson and Karen Lord in Conversation

Redemption in Indigo nominated for World Fantasy Award

Locus Online has posted the World Fantasy nominees and the Lifetime Achievement winners.  Thanks to Jeff VanderMeer, the first person to point me to the Locus post, and congrats to him as well for the nomination of his collection The Third Bear.  Jeff’s feeling particularly happy right now, as well he should, because he called most of the Best Novel ballot in advance:

Best Novel

  • Zoo City, Lauren Beukes (Jacana South Africa; Angry Robot)
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
  • The Silent Land, Graham Joyce (Gollancz; Doubleday)
  • Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada; Roc; Harper Voyager UK)
  • Redemption In Indigo, Karen Lord (Small Beer)
  • Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)

Congrats to all the nominees! It’s amazing to see Redemption in Indigo in such excellent company!


The audiobook of Redemption in Indigo is now available from Recorded Books!

I am absolutely terrible at listening to audiobooks. My mind wanders and I lose the thread of the plot, and of course hitting rewind is never as simple and quick as flipping back a few pages. So I hope that someone who loves audiobooks and has listened to a great many of them will listen to and review this version of Redemption in Indigo. I am particularly excited to see that the narrator is Robin Miles, whose work includes novels by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Austin Clarke and Edwidge Danticat.

Redemption in Indigo is written as if narrated by a storyteller. With such a talented and experienced narrator handling the audiobook, I think it’ll be very enjoyable.

The Mythopoeic Awards

A while back when I was researching awards (which is not as bad as it sounds – publishers want to know what awards your book might be eligible for), I came across this award, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, which is given to the novel that ‘best exemplifies “the spirit of the Inklings”‘.

(Do not ask me to explain who the Inklings were! Google it! Hint: a favourite author of mine features prominently.)

So imagine my absolute delight this afternoon when I read an email from my publisher containing this link:

and this list:

Fantasy Awards

Adult Literature

  • Guy Gavriel Kay, Under Heaven (Roc)
  • Karen Lord, Redemption in Indigo (Small Beer Press)
  • Patricia A. McKillip, The Bards of Bone Plain (Ace)
  • Devon Monk, A Cup of Normal (Fairwood Press)
  • Sharon Shinn, Troubled Waters (Ace)

Children’s Literature

  • Catherine Fisher, Incarceron and Sapphique (Dial)
  • Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight (HarperCollins)
  • Polly Shulman, The Grimm Legacy (Putnam Juvenile)
  • Heather Tomlinson, Toads and Diamonds (Henry Holt)
  • Megan Whalen Turner, The Queen’s Thief series, consisting of The ThiefThe Queen of AttoliaThe King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings (Greenwillow Books)

Thank you, Mythopoeic Society!

Congrats also to Farah Mendlesohn (well-met at ICFA), who features on the scholarship portion of the list:

Scholarship Awards

Inklings Studies

  • Bradford Lee Eden, ed., Middle-earth Minstrel: Essays on Music in Tolkien (McFarland, 2010)
  • Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson, eds., Tolkien on Fairy-stories: Expanded Edition, with Commentary and Notes (HarperCollins, 2008)
  • Douglas Charles Kane, Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion (Lehigh Univ. Press, 2009)
  • Steve Walker, The Power of Tolkien’s Prose: Middle-earth’s Magical Style (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)
  • Michael Ward, Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis (Oxford Univ. Press, 2008)

Myth and Fantasy Studies

  • Don W. King, ed., Out of my Bone: The Letters of Joy Davidman (Eerdmans Pub., 2009)
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, Cheek by Jowl (Aqueduct Press, 2009)
  • Farah Mendlesohn, Rhetorics of Fantasy (Wesleyan Univ. Press, 2008)
  • Leslie A. Sconduto, Metamorphoses of the Werewolf: A Literary Study from Antiquity through the Renaissance (McFarland, 2008)
  • Caroline Sumpter, The Victorian Press and the Fairy Tale (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts

When I’m late, I’m late. The conference ended last Sunday, but I came back home and ran smack into an assault course of deadlines. Now there’s a little lull, I’m seizing the moment to write my mini-report.

I had a great time. I arrived for the tail end of the conference, so I missed a lot, but what I managed to fit in was marvellous. I felt like a bit of a literary-luvvie, constantly using superlatives and beaming recklessly at people, but that’s the kind of atmosphere it was – the kind of punch-drunk, adrenaline-hyped buzz you get when there’s a sudden release of tension after a stage production. Over four hundred people were there – academics, students, writers, editors and reviewers. Many people would have been presenting papers or doing readings or interviews, all things that require the extra energy of showmanship, all things that have the fear of failure lurking in the background.

I’ve never been to a convention, but conferences are very familiar to me. I enjoyed talking to students and academics about their work. I love that combination of terror and delight that a junior academic has when discussing their thesis. I didn’t go to any papers or readings (long story, mostly involving my misbehaving MacBook, two Genius Bar appointments and not being able to get the iPad I wanted), but there were many informal conversations about the study and experience of writing. It was like food – good, nourishing, tasty brain-food!

I don’t actually do that well in crowds. I am not good at names (unless they are written down) and I am not good at faces. I tried my best to do a little research with the programme and figure out who was who in advance, but in the end if I was introduced to you and did little more than shake hands, smile and stare like a stunned lemur, forgive me! It was because I was desperately flipping through the mixed-up files of my memory, chanting ‘I know that name, I know that name’.

So many good conversations! I especially look forward to chatting again with Nalo Hopkinson (face to face meeting at last!) Ellen Klages, Liza Groen Trombi, Gary K Wolfe, Nisi Shawl (another person I was hoping to meet), Peter Straub, Jay Lake, Karen Burnham, Brian Evanson, Gwenda Bond, Farah Mendlesohn and so many more. At the awards banquet, I sat with a group of frighteningly talented writer-academics: Siobhan Carroll, Theodora Goss, Marie Brennan, Veronica Schanoes, Helen Pilinovsky and her husband Jonas, and Nisi. And yes, at times I did feel like a fraud in all that stellar company, but I’ve been assured this is a normal state of affairs for a writer!

Next year’s ICFA theme will be ‘The Monstrous Fantastic‘. Guest of honour is China Miéville. God willing, my aim is to come back, actually take in some papers this time around, and maybe even remember some names and faces.

Thank you IAFA for the Crawford Award, the experience of ICFA, and the opportunity to connect with an amazing network of SF folk.