I just returned from a whirlwind four days meeting and greeting some of the greatest authors and publishers in the industry. These are the people I aspire to be. The guests of honour included David Morrell (the creator of Rambo was Canadian – go figure), Barbara Hambly and Tom Doherty (the big kahuna at Tor Publications). They were all gracious, friendly and warm. I was fortunate enough to meet these and other extraordinary authors and publishers and get to know them as people. Some, like David Morrell, have inspiring life stories that are more fascinating than the stories they tell, and knowing their life stories helps you understand their work in meaningful ways. It makes me wonder how someone like me, who came into this avocation so late in the day, is going to fare with such luminaries gazing down.
IFWA was well represented too. There were two book launches by Calgary ’s own EDGE publications that featured IFWA writers: Gaslight Grimoires (with Jeff Campbell) and Tesseracts 12 (with Randy McCharles). Many IFWits talked up their latest projects to the powers that be and might even miss the Slush Pile when they send out their work.
To give me hope, publishers all seemed to be saying the same thing: they are looking for anything that is different – including fantasy fiction with an Asian edge. They’re looking for what I’m writing and that gives me hope that I will stand out of the slush pile.
- David Morrell’s two hour workshop on the Author’s Voice – the golden orbs of wisdom he gave everyone who showed up were priceless. I found my dominant emotion that night and noticed it throughout my work. It isn’t pretty, but it’s the truth. Now I have to re-read his writing book, The Successful Writer.
- I met new friends and got re-acquainted with many others (John Mansfield – my how your beard has grown).
- “When all else fails, if you can’t make the reader turn the page, at least make sure you don’t end a sentence at the bottom of the page.”
- Kij Johnson’s tattoos. She does rock climbing too. The next novel in her Heian series (The Fox Woman and Fudoki are the first two) is still in the works.
- Canadian Fantasy is not much different than other genres of Canadian literature – they are all stories told with an outsider’s point of view and none of that nasty racism and sexism.
- Gayleen Froese was at a panel. Alas, Ryan States did not attend as well and Gayleen was there for only a few hours. Still, it was great seeing her again.
- Jeremy Lassen of Nightshade Books (publishers of the Inspector Chen series and 9-Tail Fox). It would be very cool to be associated with such an eclectic group.
- There was a lot of Adria spotting and some catch and release, but no definite captures.
- Tad Williams’ speech about “American Fantasy under the glorious regime of President-for-Life Bush” at the Closing Banquet was hilarious. I hope someone got it on film and puts it on You Tube.
- I almost caught the cute and fuzzy Black Death, but did not succumb. I thought about getting the Common Cold, HIV or perhaps the Flu but decided to wait to get them after the Con. Apparently, the Clap was very popular. A couple of IFWits got a Brain Cell to prove to their friends and family that they have one.
Props: My congratulations and thanks go out to everyone at the Con Committee who spent countless hours and countless dollars over the past few years to make such an event possible in Calgary – Randy McCharles (how many more cons next year?), Kim “Running on Adrenalin” Greyson (get some sleep, okay), Cliff Samuels, Danita Maslankowski, Kim Nagata (oh my gosh, the food, the food) and Eileen Capes and all the tireless Con Committee Members and volunteers who contributed to the smooth running of the Con. My hat is off to you all. You have earned a much needed rest.
And now, I’ve got a massive bag of books to sort through. Where to begin … ?
This weeks reason to read: Along with all the luminaries I met at the conference, I also found (or heard about) a lot of Asian fiction that I had not been acquainted with. You can bet that I picked up as much of it as I could. I’ll have more of my findings in the weeks to come. In the meantime, here is one I never expected to find: Yume no Hon (The Book of Dreams) by Catherynne M. Valente. It is the story of a woman, Ayako, who wanders through dreams and myths, receiving lessons from the mountain and the river. Yume No Hon is an internal landscape painted with thoroughly poetic turns of phrase and a slim volume that packs a great deal of punch.
Note: the list of authors writing about a Fantastic Asia keeps getting longer. Thus, I have adjusted the list to your right with updated links to all those authors and what they write. I try and include everybody, but there is a lot of YA that would also fit into these categories as well and I just don’t have the space.