Eating Authors: Sofia Samatar (Campbell Award nominee)

No Comments » Written on June 9th, 2014 by
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Sofia Samatar

Welcome to another special edition of EATING AUTHORS as we continue our sacred mission of introducing you to this year’s Campbell Award nominees. Max Gladstone was featured last year during his first term of eligibility, and Wesley Chu landed here a few months back in the regular course of the blog. Over the last two weeks you’ve met Ramez Naam and Benjanun Sriduangkaew, which leaves this week’s participant, Sofia Samatar.

She’s been having a year that few authors get to experience. In addition to her Campbell nomination, Sofia’s debut novel, A Stranger in Olondria, was a finalist for the Nebula Award, and her short story, “Selkie Stories Are for Losers,” was nominated for both the Nebula and the Hugo. All of that aside, she won me over when I learned she has a PhD in African Languages and Literature. Seriously, how cool is that?

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Eating Authors: Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Campbell Award nominee)

1 Comment » Written on June 2nd, 2014 by
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I’ve had a busy weekend, day-tripping to downtown Philadelphia Thursday through Saturday for a Writers’ Retreat that was wonderful but exhausting. My Sunday plans to recuperate took a hit with the news of the passing of Jay Lake, but in some ways that makes today’s EATING AUTHOR post, the next of this year’s Campbell Award Nominees meals, all the more appropriate. Jay was a staunch supporter of the Award, having commissioned the design of the five-pointed star (made of pen nibs) pin which is now presented to all nominees, as well as the fabled Campbell Tiara.

Which brings us to Benjanun Sriduangkaew, a short story writer whose work has appeared in such magazines as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and anthologies like Solaris Rising 3, The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Eight, The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures, and Space Opera. Regardless of how things go with the Campbell, you’re going to want to keep an eye on this author. She’s clearly at home in many sub-genres, and if you’re not a fan of one or the other, she’s likely to pull you in anyway!

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Farewell, Jay

1 Comment » Written on June 1st, 2014 by
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Jay Lake and Harry and Lawrence M. Schoen and Barry

Word has at last arrived, as we all knew it would, of the passing of Jay Lake.

There’s no shortage of words out there about his battle with cancer — the vast majority of them written by Jay himself — and I have no doubt that today and in the days ahead the community of SFF authors and fans will be awash with remembrances and tributes to his humor, his generosity, his spirit, and the way he chose not just to live his life, but to these last few years in particular.

Jay was my friend. I’ve noted in the past that Jay and I both came up through the ranks of new authors on The Rumor Mill boards, that he did a stint as my editor and publisher, and that I returned the favor. I had the privilege of being his confidant on a few occasions, both before his illness and during it. I sent the man a spoon from Philadelphia. I stood alongside him at the Nebulas last year and though neither of us left with a pretty award, I took the opportunity to give him his own plush buffalito.

And last summer, in the midst of the Worldcon, I had my last face-to-face conversation with him on the floor of the Dealers’ space, somehow surrounded in our own bubble of privacy amidst the throng of people there. We brought each other up to date on events in our lives and our respective plans moving forward. He asked after my wife, Valerie, and I inquired about his daughter. And then, in a roundabout way that I imagine he’d had far too much practice with, we said our final goodbyes.

I began preparing for his passing that day, acknowledging the inevitability of it in part and trying to deny it in another. Some emails continued to go back and forth, some of it personal, some of it business, always with both spoken and unspoken pain. Looking back on it today, I know that any sense of preparation was really just pretense.

My friend is gone and I shall never know the joy of his company again. But I will conjure him up many, many times in the time to come, sharing anecdotes with other authors who knew him and others who did not. As I type this, my thoughts are brimming over with stories that begin something like “and then there was the time when Jay…” and I know there will always be an audience for those tales, and always a willing storyteller to share them.

Jay made it known that he did not believe in religion, nor any afterlife once his time here ended. My own thoughts on the matter are much less clear, and my writing is full of ideas about the continuation of the essence of people long after their passing. Not soul, per se, as I don’t know what that word even means, but a piece of who they were, the best of what defined them, lingers. Surely I have that with me now, as I think of Jay.

The weary struggle of these past months has come to a close, for Jay, for his family, for others whom he loved and who loved in as well. I’m sad, but I’m also smiling as I think of him, and I realize my one regret is that we’ll never get to share momos together.

Goodbye, Jay.

Eating Authors: Ramez Naam (Campbell Award nominee)

1 Comment » Written on May 26th, 2014 by
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Ramez Naam

Coming in August, the Worldcon will descend upon the city of London, England, and amidst other acts of frenzy there will be an awards ceremony at which the Hugo Awards get handed out. Somewhere during the course of that evening one lucky and talented author will receive the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. I’ve had the pleasure of being short-listed for that prize, and as a consequence when I started the EATING AUTHORS blog series I made it a point to invite the nominees for this award and do my part to give them a bit more exposure, preferably with enough lead time for voters to get to know them and their work before sending in their ballots.

This year’s nominees are Wesley Chu, Max Gladstone, Ramez Naam, Sofia Samatar, and Benjanun Sriduangkaew. Wesley and Max have already been featured on the blog, but do click those links and re-familiarize yourself with who they are and what they do. Meanwhile over the next three Mondays, I’ll be bringing you the other Campbell nominees, beginning this week with Ramez Naam.

The first thing you should know about Ramez is that in 2005 he was the recipient of one of the coolest-sounding awards ever (the HG Wells Award for Contributions to Transhumanism). In addition to being an author, he’s also a computer scientist and a futurist. His specialties include collaboration, communication, and information retrieval; it would not surprise me to find that his site has the best optimization on the web (which makes me a little scared what effect this post will have on my own quiet domain).

Take some time to read about his most memorable meal, and then follow one or more of the links to read up on this nominee for the Campbell Award!

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My (theoretical) Balticon 2014 Schedule

No Comments » Written on May 21st, 2014 by
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No sooner am I back and recovered from my time at the Nebula Awards Weekend than it is time to get ready for the big Memorial Day weekend convention rush, which for me this year means a trip down to Balticon, a convention I’ve not been to for several years.

I’ve had a few email exchanges with the folks running programming, and I’m fairly sure this is what I’ll be doing and where you can find me.

Friday, May 23rd

4:00 – 4:50 p.m. | Belmont Why Good Writing Still Matters
A discussion of the role of craft in modern writing when so many books are available that do not attempt to push the literary envelope.
Jon Sprunk, Charlie Brown, Joy Ward, Lee C. Hillman, and me.

Saturday, May 24th

12:30 – 1:20 p.m. | Pimlico Professionalism and the Young Writer
Age may be just a number, but what do you do when most people have been working in the industry longer than you’ve been alive? How do you balance edits and essays? How can young writers best present themselves to their readers and colleagues?
Sarah Pinsker, CJ Henderson, John Zaharick, TJ Perkins, and me (as moderator).

2:00 – 3:00p.m. | Maryland Foyer Autographing
Tom Doyle, Hugh O’Donnell, and me. Also Barry.

5:00 – 5:50p.m. | Belmont In the Hot Seat
Professionals (from any field) are there to answer questions. Getting agents, self-publishing, tracking disease vectors, motivation… whatever. The panel answers everything. That’s the deal.
Joshua Bilmes, Jon Sprunk, Myke Cole, John Cmar, and me.

Sunday, May 25th

9:00 – 9:50 a.m. | Salon B Editors Q&A
For the writers in the audience, or aspiring editors, here’s your chance to pick the brains of our panel of seasoned editors on topics like submissions, the editing process, publication and after — whatever you want to know about how to get your work accepted and what happens once you do.
Ian Strock, Sue Baiman, Joshua Bilmes, Walt Boyes, and me.

11:00 – 11:50 a.m. | Derby Dealing with Problematic Authors
Every editor has had unfortunate experiences with authors who are difficult to work with. How do you deal with the situation when they fight you on revisions or get combative over contract terms? How do you decide when enough is enough and how does that impact your process moving forward? Panelists share their war stories and how to deal tactfully with difficult situations.
I know I’m the moderator, but the rest of the panel is a secret to me.

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. | Pimlico Reading
Grig Larson and I battle it out for a reading slot. Not sure who is going first, so come for both!

Things got a bit over zealous at Balticon, and they appear to have scheduled me for times when I’d already told them I wouldn’t be available. So, don’t trust the pocket program (at least with respect to me). I will not be on following items:

Friday, May 23rd
9:00 – 9:50 p.m. | Salon B Where did you get the idea?

10:00 – 10:50 p.m. | Salon B When to Stop Revising and Move on to the next project

Saturday, May 24th
12:00 – 12:50 p.m. | Salon B Writing Sequels, Prequels, and Spin-Offs

Sunday, May 25th
8:00 – 8:50 a.m. | Salon A Use of Social Science in Speculative Fiction

10:00 – 10:50 a.m. | Salon A How NOT to Break into Print

Doubtless other adventures await me at Balticon. I hope to see you there!

Eating Authors: Jaye Wells

No Comments » Written on May 19th, 2014 by
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Jaye Wells

My guest this week here at EATING AUTHORS is Jaye Wells. She has what must surely be the best possible pedigree any writer could ask for. Which is to say, she was raised by booksellers. And while all such children might not grow up to become authors, there’s a certain sense of predestination, a feeling of “coming home” that I imagine both she and her parents must have felt as she set out on her career.

Jaye is the author of the Sabina Kine series of novels and short fiction, as well as the Prospero’s War trilogy (book three due out next March), both published by the fine folks at Orbit. Her bio insists she likes to travel and drink good bourbon. As you’re about to find out, she also likes good food.

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Eating Authors: Alethea Kontis

4 comments Written on May 12th, 2014 by
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Alethea Kontis

Yesterday was Mother’s Day (and also my own mother’s birthday — a two-fer!), so by some small stretch of the imagination I think I can declare today to be Princess Day. This is especially convenient as today’s EATING AUTHOR guest is none other than the self-identifying princess Alethea Kontis.

I can honestly say I’ve known Alethea since before either of us had published a book (and yes, she was still both a princess and a force of nature, even back then). Her children’s books are a thing of wonder, literally and figuratively. There’s just something magical about anthropomorphizing the letters of the alphabet that must surely leave a young reader forever changed. Switching gears to non-fiction, she’s also the co-author (with Sherrilyn Kenyon) of the hugely popular The Dark-Hunter Companion, which just goes to show what can happen when you attend a convention, meet a best selling author and just start talking. She also has several collections of essays, and I encourage you to take a look at them because, seriously, how often do you get to see the world through a princess’s eyes?

But best of all (at least to me) are the books in her Woodcutter Sisters series. Reading them is like falling into the world of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, all mixed together into one enormous tale, with the consistent logic and worldbuilding you never get in fairy tales. In other worlds, sheer brilliance! The first two, Enchanted and Hero, have received Norton Award nominations (and we’ll find out the results for that second book in less than a week!), and the third volume, Dearest, will be out in February. Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to wait that long.

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Eating Authors: Tom Doyle

No Comments » Written on May 5th, 2014 by
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Tom Doyle

It’s May, and as often happens when I prepare one of my first blog posts in May, I have Julie Andrews and Vanessa Redgrave dancing and singing in my head. You know, the number from Camelot. Or maybe you don’t. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there as they say. I’m just glad it’s May and I can have a greater expectation of reasonable weather patterns.

None of which has anything to do with this week’s EATING AUTHOR guest, Tom Doyle, unless of course you want to make a stretch and conflate seasonal rebirth with tomorrow’s release of American Craftsmen, Tom’s first novel. Sure, that will work.

I have to tell you up front that I’m especially happy to see Tom’s novel coming out because I had the privilege to publish his first collection a couple years ago. And I had no choice. I had to publish him. I’d attended a reading he’d done at Capclave (a D.C. area convention that I heartily endorse) and the sheer intensity of his reading demanded that I do all within my meager powers to get his stories out into the world in a book. Tom packs more raw stuff into a short story than any other author I know, and I’m eager to see what he does with the greater elbow room a novel affords.

What more can I tell you about him? He’s won the WSFA Small Press Award, as well as the Writers of the Future Award. He can tell you anything you want to know about premillennialist apocalyptic fiction. And as you’ll garner from his remarks below, he’s been a lawyer. Best of all, I get to call him my friend.

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