Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Some WisCon Connections

This is the post when I mention the fellow writers that I got to schmooze with. (I know, the conference is more than a week in the past, but I've been on the road and/or moving house since then. I'm behind. Here's an attempt to be a little less so.) I don’t mind admitting that this is a pretty big part/benefit to going to cons – making connections. I can't possibly manage to recall and mention everyone I spoke to at WisCon. As ever with these things, one does meet a lot of people. So, with no desire to slight anyone, I'll just mention a few folks that I had some in depth time with, especially those to whom I can point you in the direction of their work.

Let me begin with the Bearded One... Yes, once again I got spend time with Patrick Rothfuss! We’ve hung out of several occasions. Always a pleasure. I’d said in a previous post that I’d try to get Pat to pay for a drink. Considering that he’s a NY Times bestselling author now, one assumes he can afford it. But, yet again, he seemed completely oblivious to the process of paying the bill. I – perhaps being too aware of such things – jumped on it and, once again, the credit card flashed and swooped and that was that. Next time, though. Next time I’m gonna hold out…

On that note, I owe one to Ekaterina Sedia. I haven’t forgotten that, Kathy, and I’ll make it up next time.

Knowing that I was going to be on a panel recommending writers of color, I got my butt in gear (mostly) and read a few of the titles I’d had on my shelves. One of them that I really liked was The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-mbachu. I’ve mentioned Nnedi before, but I hadn’t dove in completely until recently. She’s really good. What she does, in some ways, is simple. She wrote a futuristic coming of age story in a world where national boundaries have collapsed, where many technologies have been lost and others developed, where environmental degradations and years of global war have reshaped nation states… Sound familiar? Okay, but The Shadow Speaker is set in West Africa. It’s about Africans! Amazingly, Africans are a part of the future too! And I don’t mean as computer geeks or medical officers in a future still predominantly white. In this case the novel is just about Africans, in Africa, infused with African folklore and religion and customs. It’s a novel of a brown segment of the earth’s future. Oh, and it’s well written, smart, fast paced and thoughtful on a variety of levels. Nnedi rocks, and I was happy to be able to tell her so in person. I also understand she has an adult themed novel completed. Perhaps we’ll see that before too long.

Meeting Tobias Buckell was a great treat, too. It was especially cool because just hours before meeting him I'd been ripping through his first novel, Crystal Rain, loving it. What do I like about it? Well, it's fast, smart, slick and well-written. You're dropped into the action straight away, and he manages to develop a rather complicated world while still keeping his foot on the gas. And... it's about a future on a planet settled by descendants of Caribbean and Aztec cultures. Cool. He followed it with Ragamuffin and a third, Sly Mongoose, is coming out soon. Check him out if you haven't already. I knew he had good taste - since he liked Acacia - but now I also know he's a skilled writer himself. Tells a good yarn, too. I mean a sitting over coffee type of yarn.

Mary Robinette Kowal is very cool also. She’s in the running for a Campbell Award – so we’re competitors of sorts – but I ended up feeling that was a point of camaraderie instead of competition. Wish we’d talked longer, and I plan to at Denvention! Not only is she a first rate writer, she's a puppeteer...

It was great talking with Alaya Dawn Johnson again. It was a treat when Elizabeth Bear made a point of introducing herself, and it was good catching up with Debbie Smith also (yeah Stonecoast!). Ah… it was fun in lots of ways. If you were there or have heard other folks write about it, you probably know there was a major stomach flu going around. It was ugly. I didn't want to mention it before because I was fully focussed on beating it back so that it wouldn't spoil my BEA trip. I'm glad to finally say that I managed that. Phew.

Soon I'll write up something about BEA. For the moment, though, I'm off to shift books and boxes and various other things... And then jump in the pool...

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Blogger Mark Lavallee said...


Very cool, thanks for telling us about your, ahem, "adventures with Pat"? ;)

Rothfuss is hysterical on his blog, I can only imagine what being conned into buying him a drink would be like.

In my mind's eye, I keep seeing this scene from a movie called "Free Enterprise". You'd have to be a total geek to have seen it, but it's about these two Trekkies who "run into" Bill Shatner in a book store (he's perusing the porn). He "takes them out for a drink", downs five to their one, and then skips on the bill.


Ahem. Anyway.

I've been meaning to pick up Tobias Buckell for a while, but my Pile o' Shame has been taunting me lately. I've got a Joe Abercrombie, a Troy Denning, 2 Lian Hearn's, a Takashi Matsuoka, I think I stupidly promised a friend I would re-read Eye of the World (Robert Jordan), oh and, I'm pretty sure I told you I was gonna re-read Acacia.

So, yeah.

However, I have to admit I'm totally interested in Nnedi Okorafor-mbachu. I've never hard about her book before, but it sounds like something I could really dig. Thanks for the recommendation.

Have fun in your pool. It's raining here so if I stand still long enough and close my eyes, I can sort of pretend. ;)


12:54 AM  
Blogger Corby Kennard said...

Hi, David.

I've already mentioned how cool it was to finally meet you, so I'll go all meta and say I won't mention that again, even though I just did.

I just finished the first book from WisCon - Alex Bledsoe's The Sword-Edged Blonde. I really enjoyed it, and will be dropping him a note about it later. But now I get to read Crystal Rain, which has been taunting me from The Pile for over a year now.

And when I am done with it, I will either move on to Ragamuffin or **gasp** Acacia. Yes, I will be finally reading your book. OK, sure, I'm a little late to the party, but at least I showed up.

I picked up The Shadow Speaker and my wife grabbed Nnedi's first book independent of me, so we got them both signed to Charlotte. Nnedi was very nice and I am glad you recommended her book. Thanks!

Your tales of Rothfuss are powering my writing. Now I have new focus. Forget getting published for my family, for the fame, or even for my own vanity. NOW I want to get published so I can be a guest at WisCon, hang out with other writers, and eventually get Pat Rothfuss to pay for a drink.

I finally have a goal.

3:09 AM  
Blogger Mary Robinette Kowal said...

It was such a pleasure meeting you, too! At WorldCon, we have to make time to hang out in the bar. I'll even by you a drink.

8:33 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

You all know, of course, that this thing about getting Pat to buy me a drink is really only in my head. In fact, one could say that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy because I'm too quick to pay the bill myself - not really allowing him the chance. And we're only really talking a cup of coffee and bottled water - as Pat's not much of a drinker... But, anyway, if it helps me to con good people (Hi Mary!) into buying ME a drink in future I'll stick with it!

Glad the recommendations sound interesting and/or reinforce purchases already made.

Paranoyd, it's scary that you haven't read Acacia yet. If you suddenly stop posting comments here I'll understand that you hated it and can no longer bare to be associated with me. Stranger things have happened.

Mary, WorldCon it is, then! I suspect it's going to be tons of fun.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Mary Robinette Kowal said...

You need to invent some better self-fulfilling prophecies, my friend. Actually... in general, why is it that all prophecies end badly? I'm trying to think of a single one that doesn't.

11:46 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


You just got me to spend five minutes on Wikipedia reading through the list of self-fulfilling prophecies. No, they don't look good...

I'd like to think that this is just a matter of our usage of the term. "Self-fulfilling", despite its specific definition, is used in relation to behaviors that result in negative consequences of one's own making. I'd like to think that the mechanism of certain behaviors and actions could just as easily result in positive outcomes. We just don't think of that as "self-fulfilling"?...

If we did, though, I'd admit to having a whole host of self-fulfilling wonderfulness planned. But I can't tell anyone about those because that would ruin the magic and/or reveal that I'm a grandiose dreamer with a tenuous grip on reality. That may be true, but I don't necessarily want people to know it - not with specific examples, at least.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Mary Robinette Kowal said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head with the grandiose thing. I almost never announce that I want some amazing thing for fear that people will think that I'm over-reaching myself and also from a superstitious belief that I will jinx it.

At the same time, the narrative that one feeds other people can greatly influence their views. There's an author who puts up giant full color banners at ComicCon. It makes it look like her publisher thinks that she's a star and best selling author, except she pays for it all herself. Lo! She is now a star and best-selling author.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Tobias Buckell said...

It was totally awesome getting to meet you at Wiscon! I had a great time hanging out with you and Pat at the Mongolian restaurant.

I need to write up my own Wiscon report, but I've been busy since getting back as well LOL.

1:26 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Hmmm... Big banners, huh? You know, last weekend at BEA I saw plenty of banners, including the one for James Patterson that hung draped down the side of building - massive. There were plenty more inside as well. (There was no way of missing Paolini's Brisingr, for example.) But there was another prominent set of banners that seemed kinda strange to me. I'd never heard of the author and was a bit surprised at the level of attention the author seemed to be receiving. I did wonder who was paying for it...

Tobias! Thanks for stopping in. Hanging out with you and Pat was a great way to spend a few hours. I hope it's not too long before it happens again. Remember the hovering, staring policeman?...

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was great to see you David. I was the envy of all the Stonecoasters, though they'll be seeing you next month. Look forward to seeing you at Denvention.

I finished Nalo Hopkinson's "The New Moons Arms" and just loved it. "Shadow Speaker" is next on my list.


5:44 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Debbie! Funny that you mention Nalo and Stonecoast. I just got the updated scheduling information for the next residency. Yep, she's there! But she's there for the first half and I'm there for the second, so unless she hangs around for some reason I'll not be making a connection with her. Here's hoping, though...

6:11 PM  
Blogger Tobias Buckell said...

"the hovering/staring policeman"

Yeah, well, would that I was as famous as Pat and had random strangers on the street going "OMG, it's you!" :-)

Actually, it happened at a B&N once when I was stealth signing stock with Charles Coleman Finlay: the barista at their coffee joint took my order and was like 'are you Tobias Buckell, the *writer*?' I was like 'why yes I am,' and apparently she'd been to a reading of mine at a con once.

Hasn't happened since though...

8:13 PM  
Blogger Constance Brewer said...

There you go, David! You can get your fans to follow you around and loudly proclaim at intervals - "OMG! It's David Anthony Durham! OMG! Can I buy you a drink?" It will have a cascade effect, as more and more people follow you around. You may never have to pick up the tab again. *g*

Hmm, I think I know where I can get my hands on a bullhorn.
or other random bull parts...

10:21 PM  
Blogger Corby Kennard said...

Well, to be fair, my goal is to have everyone else pay for everything else instead of me. That's how rich people do it, right?

You know, I have read the first chapter of Acacia online, and found it very rich and fascinating. If the rest of the book is like that I will love it. And if somehow I don't particularly enjoy it, I'll find SOMEthing good to say - maybe about the beautiful dust jacket? ;)

11:55 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Tobias, I've never had an entirely random moment of recognition that I can rememeber. It'll be weird when it happens. Hell, it's weird when I'm in a situation that I'm a known commodity and an apparent stranger approaches me. It happened in the elevator at BEA, actually. One doesn't think that the person standing next to you just might work for your publisher and know everything about you. So when she turns and says, "Hi, David. So, are you going to be riding the bus to dinner?" it's freaky for a moment.

Constance, if said fans did shout that I'd likely flush with embarrassment and run, which would only increase the pandemonium, I guess...

OK, I'm not against it.

Paranoyd, You could point out that the author photo isn't bad either. Not exactly current, but... um... classic. That's what it is!

12:30 PM  

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