I found myself posting a one-line review on Goodreads today. Making a face, possibly embarrassed, I wrote “I had too much fun reading this despite my better judgement… must give it four stars.” What was the book? Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Look, I pride myself on my reader skills, on my ability to assess a good book, a fine book, a book that will have impact even a hundred years from the writing. I have my vanity. But I also can read a book for fun, and when it has a fine flavor of grit between the teeth and the stench of rot, the vicious surge of adrenaline and a satisfying spending of all the author’s treasure of pent up anxiety and deceit, I will go along for the ride, and I know how to say thank you afterwards.
I may as well admit it. I also like reading westerns. What writers would I like to emulate? Let me be a combination of Charles Dickens, Max Brand and T. E. Lawrence. It will suffice.
At LitFest Pasadena I represented my science fiction book Future Past out of Eternal Press. The panel discussion centered on ‘crossing genres’, between science fiction, fantasy, on-line games, literary fiction and screenwriting. I was prompted, however, to discuss literary fiction and briefly plug my October novel Night Must Wait and speak about my ambitions to continue in both literary fiction and the science fiction genre. Future Past isn’t available in paper yet, but I sold a number of copies of Night even though it wasn’t in the genre we discussed. Given that I was the least well-known person on the panel that made me feel just fine.
So who was on the panel? Amber Benson, the actress who played a favorite character ‘Tara’ in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, now also a director and novelist, John Joseph Adams, who publishes some of the finest anthologies on the market, Micky Neilson of the bestselling Ashbringer from World of Warcraft, Tim Beedle– graphic novelist, who did a fantastic job of bridging the interests of this wide ranging group, and myself. Such a kind, brilliant and supportive group. I’m profoundly honored to have been a part of this!
If any of you fellow writers out there have the chance to be on a panel, take it–but I have a caution. I made the error in the beginning of our performance of answering the questions posed to me. I now think from the crowd feedback, that the best ploy is don’t answer, or at least not simply. Use every question as a prompt to do a riff on something you feel passionate about. Keep it reasonably short, but think sound bites and snark and passion — funny if you can, earnest if you can’t. Turns out that I made an impression in the two extensive statements where I let my feelings take over and spoke to deeper longer-term concerns of mine. Keep it personal, try to keep it short but not too short, and don’t just answer the question!
Better next time, more fun next time. In the world of publishing and promotion, I’m still such a newbie– but I’m learning!