My Worldcon Schedule–Now With Reading!

Here are some fixed space-time coordinates where you can find me during Worldcon:

I. Reading with Fran Wilde, Thurs. 8/20 10AM
II: Book Signing and Staffing the SFWA Table
I’ll be autographing at the SFWA Table on Sat. 8/22 from 4-5PM
I’ll be volunteering at the SFWA Table on Thurs. 8/20 and Fri.  8/21, from 2-3PM both days.
I’ll also be volunteering at the SFWA Table on Sat. 5-6PM (right after my signing, so I won’t be going anywhere).
III: SFWA Business Meeting.
I’ll be attending the SFWA business meeting on Sat. 8/22 from 1-3PM (though I may need a break in there somewhere–Saturday is a busy day).
IV. Worldcon Business Meeting
I’ll be attending the Worldcon business meeting on Thurs., Fri., Sat., from 10AM to 1PM (with a carve-out for my reading on Thurs.). My Sunday attendance is tentative.

Scheduled Appearances: August-October

Lots of appearances coming up for the release of The Left-Hand Way (Aug. 11):

Aug. 8 (Sat.): I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble at the Riverside Square Mall (Hackensack, NJ) to talk at a meeting of the Science Fiction Association of Bergen County. Copies of LHW will be available.

Aug. 12 (Wed.): a virtual appearance–I’ll be the “Ask Me Anything” author for Reddit Fantasy.

Aug. 20-22 (Thurs. to Sat.): I’ll be at Worldcon, volunteering and signing books at the SFWA table in the dealers room.

Aug. 26 (Wed.) : I’ll be speaking at the Petworth Branch of the DC Library system (start time either 7 or 7:30), and I’ll have copies of LHW for sale. Drinks after at a location to be determined.

Sept. 25-27 (Fri. to Sun.): I’ll be at the SFWA tent of the Baltimore Book Festival.

Oct. 9-10 (Fri. & Sat.): I’ll be at Capclave, the DC-area SF convention. I expect to have a launch party there.

Oct. 24 (Sat.): DC Author Festival at MLK Branch of DC Public Library system.

One year after the diagnosis

About one year ago, I was in New York for an NY Review of SF series reading and an Hour of the Wolf radio interview. I was also waiting for the results of a biopsy that I was pretty sure would show that I had cancer in the lymph nodes of my neck. My biggest uncertainty was the type of cancer. Still, there’s some difference between pretty sure and certain.

The day after the reading and before the interview, I was in a meeting with my agent when the call came in from my doctor. I got the diagnosis: a somewhat aggressive squamous cell cancer that had spread into my lymph nodes. I finished up the meeting as calmly but as rapidly as I could.

The internet is a wonderful tool, but in this instance the data was older and broader than my actual situation, and it convinced me that I’d received a sentence of imminent death.

That night, I did the radio interview. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a recording of it. During the interview, I acted happy about the recent release of my first book and life generally. I think my performance deserved an Oscar.

I took the early morning Amtrak home, and that day I began the series of doctor’s visits that resulted in my treatment.

Fortunately, the internet data prophesying my demise was exaggerated. I completed my treatment last fall, and my prognosis is excellent. I’m feeling good. But it’s been a very long year.

Book Group Questions Re: American Craftsmen Part 5 (SPOILERS)

Q) Do you have a bibliography that you can share (stories alluded to, books used for information or inspiration, etc.)?  Many club members find bibliographies or playlists of songs authors listened to while writing to be really fun ways to connect with the author a bit, or to get a sense of what was influencing them while they worked.

A) Here’s a link to a blog in which I discuss the use I made of the American literary canon: (it’s particularly detailed on what uses I made in the Hawthorne and Poe sections at the end). I looked at a lot of nonfiction sources. Among the many histories and courses I read or listened to on early America, The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, American Jezebel by Eve LaPlante, and the lighter The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell remain memorable. For Puritan folklore, I made particular use of Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer. For some of my military family characterizations, I was inspired by the life and writing of Lucian Truscott IV, who was a grandson and son of military officers.

[Song list is in an earlier blog entry.]

Q) OR, rather than trying to make a bibliography, could you just say a bit about your influences (people, ideas, life experiences, etc.), whether for American Craftsmen specifically or for your work overall?

A) Another important influence was my friend Dave “Boobie” Dutch, a veteran of the First Gulf War who gave me invaluable background on special operations.

Originally, American Craftsmen was going to be a sweeping epic of American magic generally. My fellow Clarion Workshop alum Stephanie Dray saw an early version of the military opening, and she said in no uncertain terms that that was the story I should focus on. I’m very grateful for her advice.

Q) What were the most enjoyable and difficult aspects of writing American Craftsmen (and its sequels, though we can’t quite relate, yet)?  For instance, did you have particular fun writing a certain scene or character?  Any notable trouble with the same?

A) Endicott ended up being a fun character to write, once I decided that the modern-day Endicotts weren’t Dale’s true enemies. But he did start as a problem: a stereotype of the stick-in-the-mud Puritan that goes back to Shakespeare. This didn’t please me or my initial readers.

I dealt with this by giving Endicott a healthy dose of self-awareness. He has some idea of how he appears to others, and he even plays off of that image at one point to try to rattle Dale. He has a churchy sense of humor about his relationship with God, and he’s the first to realize the absurdities of the various situations he gets himself into. He’s vulnerable to being fooled once, but not twice.

It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise then that Endicott is the first person point of view protagonist for The Left-Hand Way. His character has the most room for further interesting changes and events.

Because of all the necessary worldbuilding, American Craftsmen was more difficult to write than The Left-Hand Way, which is relatively streamlined in terms of exposition and holds a faster pace.

Q) We completely understand if you can’t answer this, but is Roman really going to turn out to be a villain in the next installment?!  The man’s so likable and entertaining, which made it very easy to forgive his “sketchiness” (hiding his powers and all that)!  And it makes me inclined to think that his stealing Roderick’s spirit isn’t necessarily an evil act in itself, just an ill-advised one that might be under orders from some unknown person(s).  I’m excited to find out for sure!

A) If The Left-Hand Way is my Empire Strikes Back, then Roman is somewhat parallel to Lando Calrissian–a rogue who has made a deal with someone far more evil, a deal whose cost he doesn’t yet understand. But there the similarities end, so you’ll have to read book 2 to see how he turns out.