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Neuroscientist Simon LeVay has served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and is well-known for a 1991 study in which he reported on a difference in brain structure between gay and straight men. His forthcoming book Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation examines the evidence that suggests sexual orientation results primarily from an interaction between genes, sex hormones, and the cells of the developing body and brain. In this original post, LeVay explains how he initially reacts to new reported findings in this field.
I often lecture on the topic of sexual orientation. When I do, I sometimes mention research on finger lengths: according to several studies, the index fingers of lesbians are slightly shorter than those of straight women, when measured with respect to the other fingers. As I describe this research, I invariably see audience members examining their own fingers, as if doing so might reveal something unexpected about their sexuality. I hasten to make clear that the findings on finger lengths are based on statistical analysis of data from hundreds or thousands of subjects—they can’t be used to assess the sexual orientation of any particular individual.
Yet I myself use the “me test” as a gut reaction to any reported findings in the field. Not to figure out whether I’m really gay—I’ve been confident on that score since puberty—but as a quick, involuntary assessment of whether I believe that particular finding or not. As a teenager, for example, I read Freud’s theory of how close-binding mothers and distant or hostile fathers drive their sons toward homosexuality. This seemed to correspond to my own childhood experience: I was my mother’s favorite son, whereas I got on badly with my father. So I thought Freud must have been right. Now I believe that the direction of causation is the reverse of what Freud imagined: “pre-gay” boys tend to elicit adoration or protectiveness from their mothers, but rejection from their fathers.
Recent research has focused on gender-related traits in gay people. There have been over ninety such findings in the last couple of decades, covering personality, cognitive traits, behavior, anatomy (including the finger-length studies), physiology, and brain organization. Most have reported that gay men are shifted in the feminine direction in some traits, whereas lesbians and bisexual women are shifted in the masculine direction. As each study appears, I can’t help asking: is it true for me? Gay men (like straight women) have higher verbal fluency than straight men—check! Gay men have lower visuospatial abilities that straight men—check! Gay men have slightly shorter arms—check! I seem to be a pretty stereotypical gay man in many of these traits. Most researchers interpret these findings in terms of a biological predisposition to become gay or straight—a predisposition that results from an interaction between sex hormones and the developing brain and body. I certainly buy into that.
Other evidence has po
By: Justine Larbalestier
Blog: Justine Larbalestier
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Thanks for all the deeply smart and thoughtful comments to yesterday’s question. You lot are awesome.
Youse lot have gotten me thinking muchly on the topic. On the one hand, I am a fan of many writers I’ve never met, like, Denise Mina, Meg Cabot, Geraldine McCaughrean, Walter Mosley, Megan Whalen Turner, Peter Temple and would probably embarrass myself by breathless gushing all over them if we were ever to meet. On the other hand, I’m a working writer who knows a lot of working writers and knows that we’re not particularly different from everyone else. (Well, except for Maureen Johnson . . . )
I put it like this to Holly Black:
It does not surprise me in the slightest that Karen Joy Fowler and Ursula Le Guin are friends. But it surprises me HUGELY that I am making a living as a writer and therefore I have many writer friends. I constantly have to pinch myself. How on Earth did I get here? Please don’t let anyone take it away!
That fear is real: many writers don’t make a living at it for their whole lives. It takes a long time for most of us to get published (took me close to twenty years) and then once you are published there’s no guarantee that your books will keep selling. Styles of writing go out of fashion. So do genres.
Your comments were all so useful, I thought I’d respond in more detail:
Danica’s point is a really good one: “I guess we (meaning non-writers) don’t always think of publishing as an industry and don’t realize that most writers must be connected somehow.”
That’s so true. I remember the first science fiction convention I went to back in 1993. I was astonished to see all these writers and editors I’d heard of in the one place. All of them clearly knew each other and were, in fact, a community. A pretty big community that consisted not only of those whose living was directly tied to the publishing industry (writers, editors, publishers, publicists etc) but also readers and fans and a handful of students and scholars. Long before I sold a single short story I was becoming friends with the likes of Ellen Datlow, Samuel R. Delany, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, and Terri Windling. It was astonishing.
That community—of science fiction people— is the oldest genre community I know of and has roots that go back to the late 1920s. There are also romance communities, crime fiction communities, YA communities etc., and to a lesser extent mainstream lit fic communities (though I suspect that the easy access of fans to pros is not so strong in the lit fic world).
Tole said: “Perhaps it’s not so much that we are surprised that you know each other, as much as amazed at how lucky you are to not only have the talent and perseverance to write a novel, but that you have an amazing set of friends as well.”
I am also amazed by that. I mean, yes, I said above that we’re not that different from everyone else, but my writer friends understand the ins and outs of this weird job we have better than anyone else. No matter what questions I have there’s someone I know who’s been through it before and can help me out. “My book’s been remaindered! Does that mean my career is over?” “Barnes & Noble aren’t stocking my book! Does that mean my career is over?” “How do you write action scenes?” “What’s the best writing software?” and so on and so forth. When I have a success that’s hard to explain to people outside the industry (my book is on the BBYA) my YA writer friends get it and can celebrate with me and vice versa.
Having peers is a wonderful, wonderful thing. And when your peers are as talented and amazing as mine. Well, it’s pinching yourself time.
JS Bangs made two excellent points:
1) People think of authors as solitary geniuses scribbling away and living on water and crusts of bread, without any contact with others of their kind.
2) It feeds people’s fear that the publishing industry is all about who you know.
1) There are writers like that. There are definitely working writers who live a long way from their peers and don’t ever meet them at conferences and convention and so on. But I think they’re getting rarer. The internet has allowed more and more people in the same industry to be in contact with each other and break down that isolation. Is very good thing!
2) Oh, yes, that old bugbear. Pretty much every industry from medicine to the building industry to agriculture has a certain amount of who-you-know going on. The world runs on personal relationships. What most people who are paranoid about the publishing industry don’t get is that an unpublished writer knowing some editors may get them read but guarantees nothing beyond that. I’ve had editor friends since 1993. A decade later I sold my first novel.
I know plenty of writers who started selling before they’d met a single person in the industry.1 Knowing people in the industry means that it’s easier to figure out how it works—you have friends you can ask—but it doesn’t mean anything if you have no talent.
Camille expanded on the solitary point: “I think, too, it’s because you can write from anywhere. With lawyers and professors and the like, generally you have to congregate in a place to get anything done. (Less now, with the Internet, but still, predominantly people go TO work.) You HAVE to physically associate with your colleagues. Writers can live anywhere and yeah, somebody above said we think of writing as being a solitary exercise.”
That’s true. Part of my knowing so many writers has to do with my living in two very big cities: Sydney and NYC. And in both cities the writers in my genre have made an effort to make contact. Because so many of us write alone, I think the need for community is much stronger than those who work with people in their profession every day.
Of course, there are still writers out there who don’t know other writers and aren’t part of any writing communities.
Herenya: “I think it’s because we know who these other writers are. If I started talking about who my friends are, people would look at me blankly because none of my friends have done anything to warrant that sort of recognition (yet!) But you talk about your friends, and I think ‘oh, yes, I know who they are, I was reading one of their books yesterday.’ It’s a bit like the same sense of surprise you get when you find you and a friend / acquaintance ‘know’ someone in common, but with the awe factor involved, because we only know them through their writing and not personally.”
That makes a lot of sense to me and jibes with my own experience. The awe factor is nicely summed up by Bill: “Myself, I’m still so amazed that certain books exist at all (say, Stranger in a Strange Land) I can’t rationally believe that it was typed by hand by a human being named Robert Heinlein. Books, especially books that change your life, are inherently mystical objects to those of us on the receiving end.”
Even though I write books myself, I still feel that way about the books that move me. There is something fundamentally mysterious about the process of creating (no matter what you create). I think that’s why so many writers struggle to explain where they get their ideas.
On that note, I should probably get back to doing some creating of my own.
By: Justine Larbalestier
Blog: Justine Larbalestier
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I will confess that I was nervous about going to High Voltage ConFusion. There were several reasons for this:
- I’m afraid of cold places. And Detroit in winter is COLD.1
- I’d never been a guest of honour before and was worried I’d be crappy at it.
- I was aware that most of the people at the con would not have heard of me or Scott and was worried that they would feel dudded of a proper author guest of honour what wrote adult sf and fantasy.
I need not have had any concerns at all. I was right that most of the people there didn’t know us or our work (unless they were a teen librarian or had teen children—there were precious few actual teens in attendance). But it turned out to be a really good thing. No pressure and no expectations. It was really relaxing. One of the most relaxing weekends I’ve had in ages.
Mostly because of Anne Murphy, our liaison. I had no idea that guests of honour get someone to take care of them. It was fabulous. Anne made sure we were fed and happy. She is the best liaison of all time. Thank you, Anne! Why can’t she take care of us all the time? We’re lost without you, Anne!
There was much fun. The Opening Ceremonies were hilarious. A picture of which below. Scalzi interviewing us was very silly and totally enjoyable. Though I was bummed he didn’t bring up
unicorns or quokkas.
We got to design our own panels. Thank you so much con organisers for indulging us! And thus were able to vent about stuff that’s been bugging us for ages. Why is there so little sport in fantasy and sf? Why did our audience turn on us during that panel back in Boston in 2004? Do they really just love wheat?
Thus the wheat panel which was FABULOUS therapy for me and Scott, though audience members expecting us to follow the panel description might have been disappointed. Sorry about that! But thank you for not turning on us. You were the best audience ever. Actually, all the panel audiences were smart and engaged and awesome. Me and Scott were dead chuffed that as the weekend went on more and more folks were showing up to hear us gasbag and pontificate. Yay!
The sport panel was also wonderful. Though we had way too much to say and not enough time to say it in. I especially loved that the audience was almost entirely women. Hah! There was also a sports writer, Dave Hogg, in the audience (he really should have been on the panel) who turned out—along with his partner—to be a huge Detroit Shock fan. Go, WNBA! We had an excellently geeky women’s hoops gossip.
I’ll admit that my last few cons had left me with panel fatigue. But now I love them all over again. I wish I’d gotten to see some of the panels I wasn’t on. I heard that all of Kevin Dunn’s (the science guest of honour) were brilliant. He explained soap and and all sorts of other Caveman Chemistry. I can’t wait to read his book.
You’ll be shocked to hear, however, that the best fun was not had during the panels, but at the parties and in the bar, and just generally hanging out. The ConFusion organisers and regulars are the best people on the planet. Seriously I got into so many great conversations and arguments and teasing contests. I can’t wait to go back!2
May I share with you the three best words in the world?
Roaming Pirate Party
Thanks again, Hugh, for the photo.
I haz met the Roaming Pirate Party. They haz rum3 and pirate hats and jollity by the galleon load. Best pirates ever! I shall treasure my pirate hat and t-shirt for ever!
We got to catch up with old friends like Karen Meisner, John & Krissy Scalzi, and Doselle Young. Why don’t they all live MUCH closer to me? I miss you all already. Waahh!! Not to mention making stacks of new friends. You know who you are! Yanni! Brian! Aaron! And SO MANY OTHERS! You all made it the best weekend ever.
Hell, we even got to see a movie: Cloverfield and it were good. Very good indeed.
If anyone needs a guest of honour me and Scott are so up for it!
I have returned home to oceanic amounts of work. It is crazed!
But I must tell you briefly about the Juvenilia panel before it all fades from my memory.
Short version: Best. Panel. Ever.
Longer version: It were me, Scott and Merrie Haskell. I cheated and read cute stuff from when I was 7 or 8. And some pretentious 10 year old stuff. They were brave and read teenage monstrosities so bad that we wept on account of laughing so hard. WEPT!
John Scalzi moderated and he was so appalled by the pretentious badness of Scott’s writing that he couldn’t look at Scott directly. It was AWESOME.
The best lines were:
Merrie Haskell: “Keeper of
Earth Gaia,” the Light One said arrogantly, “I honor you with my manhood.”
Scott Westerfeld: Recognition of the House of Eleven took no long time, and the lady midst the compliment was none other than wench Mary, a liaress whom I had met before in the rank combats of her style, and who had left more than one of the Clan Demonus with garrote between chin and breathless breast.
Oh no, I starts to laugh all over again . . .
Heh hem. In addition to being really really really funny. Sharing our crappy writing from when we were beginning writers has the salutary effect of making it clear to those what aspire to be published writers but aren’t there yet that we published folk didn’t step fully formed from Zeus’s head. There was lots and lots and lots of bad words and phrases and sentences and stories and novels written before we were good enough to be read by anyone other than our doting parents.
Every con should have a juvenilia panel. I’ve been on two. The other one was in Brisbane in 2006 with Kim Wilkins and Sean Williams. It was just as fabulous and funny as the ConFusion one. Better in a way because the audience was much bigger thus more people got to laugh at our stumbling first writing steps.
The reason for which are posted most indiscreetly on Scott’s blog.
I’d just like to share with you my favourite photo so far:
Kevin Dunn (science guest of honour) plus me and me old man at High Voltage Confusion in Detroit.
Why pirate hats you ask? If I told you I’d have to kill you.
And, yes, if you have any other photos of us we’d love to see ‘em.
Thank you so much everyone for all the photos you’ve pointed us to. We REALLY appreciate it!
I will have more to say about the fabulous High Voltage ConFusion when my brain and body are in the same place.1
In the meantime what song is stuck in your brain right now? I have Suzanne Vega’s “Blood Makes Noise” on high rotation.
Because we’re on a juvenilia panel at ConFusion, Scott is in the next room making strange noises. Some of it is laughter, most of it is groans. He’s reading through stuff he wrote when he was a teenager.
Because all my juvenilia is back in Sydney, my wonderful mother transcribed some of the earliest stuff to send me. Bless you, Jan. I just read through it.
Sad to say, but there is not an inkling of genius in either of our earliest writings. Wow. We must have worked pretty hard in the intervening years learning how to, you know, construct a sentence or two that don’t completely suck.
I might put some of it up on our sites to demonstrate that even the most talentless kid can grow up to be a writer.
In the meantime, we’re off to snowy Detroit, for the fun and laughter of ConFusion. Hope to see some of you there. We’re not bringing our computers so blogging is unlikely.
Here’s my favourite sentence from my juvenilia written when I was about 7 or 8:
A long time ago there lived a group of dragons that were called the toughies.
Don’t have too much fun while I’m away!
Some are saying that the poll is rigged because I’m only showing pictures of dresses. So in the interests of fairness here are what the other High Voltage ConFusion clothing options look like:
The mighty zoot suit
Who can not love it’s exaggerated shoulders? The lurid colours? The delicious saxophone wail that you are sure to hear everywhere you go?
I will admit that this is not the best example of the zoot, but I am trying to get books written, you know! I have a vivid memory of Kid Creole (of Kid Creole & the Coconuts fame) attired in a lime green and black one. Exquisite!
The purple jump suit
Because what other colour could a jump suit possibly be? Plus can double as pyjamas. Who would not look adorable wearing it?
Elvis’s gold lame suit
Do I even need to explain why this is the best suit of all time? A billion Elvis fans cannot be wrong.
I do have a sneaking suspicion, however, that it only truly looks good on Elvis himself and that anyone else wearing it will be a bit trag. But then I don’t think anyone but Elvis is allowed to sing “Suspicious Minds”. Mmmm . . . Elvis.
Skirt and top
In theory, far less exciting than a ball gown, and, yet, look what Vivienne Westwood does with it! Splendificerly wondrous fabulosity! Imagine the grand entrance you’d make swishing into a con dressed in this ensemble? Those boots! Those colours! That fabric! Does anything beat silk taffeta? Westwood doesn’t think so. She says you can wear it straight from your suitcase. No need to hang it. I just question how big the suitcase would need to be . . .
How to choose between them all?
Don’t forget the dress piccies here and here.
Mmm . . . clothes.
It’s heartening that you are all so solidly behind my going out and being a conspicuous consumer. Fortunately most of these outfits are not available new and must be purchased from vintage clothing providores, or, you know, stolen from museums . . . (Not that I would do that, because stealing is wrong.) So, it’s really recycling and very environmentally sound and not conspicuous consumption at all!
What a good world citizen I am. Oh, hush!
The voting says I should definitely get a new dress. Take that, Scott!
The first dress is here. But how about this one:
Marc Audibet for Vionnet
Or maybe this (look! black gloves!):
John Galliano for Christian Dior
Thinking about dresses is something else that’s much much easier than writing . . .
By: Justine Larbalestier
Blog: Justine Larbalestier
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Next weekend Scott Westerfeld and yours truly will be guests of honour at the 2008 High Voltage ConFusion science fiction convention. It’s our very first time being guests of honour and we are stoked. TOTALLY stoked. In fact I’m so very stoked I’m thinking of celebrating with the purchase of a new dress. Surely, being guest of honour requires new clothes, right? I gotta look pretty, don’t I? If you have an opinion on this Very Important Matter please to express it in the poll to your right.
I’m thinking this one, though with black gloves not white:
Vivienne Westwood’s Watteau ball gown
Here’s Scott and mine’s schedule. Because we are joint guests of honour we are doing everything together:
FRIDAY 18 JANUARY:
1900 Den 1 Interview: Author GoHs by John Scalzi
Tee hee! Mr Scalzi will ask us questions and we will plead the fifth and get away with it because we know where he buried the bodies. I suspect zombies will be mentioned.
2000 Salon FGH Opening Ceremonies
We will say a few words but there won’t be an actual speech speech. Some of my words will be “quokka”, “zombie”, and “oscillate”, or maybe not. Depends.
2100 Salon FGH Dessert Reception
Where we eat dessert and natter with folks what want to natter.
2200 Den 1 Originality is Overrated
There’s this idea that writers work entirely alone and create their work out of whole cloth. That’s rubbish. If a work were wholly original no one would be able to read it. All writers are influenced by those who came before them. Most writers talk to other writers. Many are in writers’ groups and even those that aren’t frequently read and comment on each other’s work. Let’s talk about the influence and community that writers share. Even when they don’t know each other. Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld (M), Patrick Nielsen Hayden, John Scalzi, Patrick Rothfuss and Doselle Young.
I confess that I wrote this description on account of it’s something that drives me crazy and I’m looking forward to talking about it with such esteemed and smart companions. Especially Doselle. Everything is better if Doselle is involved.
SATURDAY 19 JANUARY:
1100 Den 1 Fantastic Sports
Organized sports are a vital part almost every culture on the globe. But sf and fantasy novels tend to overlook this key aspect of world-building. We examine what sports are and what they tell us about a culture, and dig up some good examples in sf and fantasy. Justine Larbalestier (M), Scott Westerfeld, Steve Ainsworth, Dave Klecha and Catherine Shaffer.
Mmmm . . . sport. If I weren’t moderator I would just spend the session teaching USians cricket.
1300 Salon G Juvenilia
Writers dust off the storage trunks, turn off the shame meter, and read from their 5th- through 12th-grade works of unalloyed proto-genius. A great way for young writers in the audience to feel much better about their own efforts. Justine Larbalestier (M), Scott Westerfeld, Merrie Haskell, K. Tempest Bradford and Marcy Italiano.
I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that Scalzi is not on this panel. Laughing at his early writing efforts was the whole reason I agreed to go to ConFusion!
1400 Den 1 SF Is Not Dead
More sf is written and consumed these days than every before, in the form of manga, video games, rpgs, and YA lit. Yet our beloved field constantly bemoans its own demise, while ignoring those 100,000 crazy kids down the road at Comicon. How do we connect these two worlds of sf? Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld (M), Anne Harris, Jim Frenkel and Peter Halasz.
Because me and Scott are sick to death of hearing the folks in the old sf people’s home whingeing about the death of sf. It ain’t dead! It’s doing just fine, thanks.
1500 Den 1 Golden Age of Young Adult Lit
Some argue that the YA books being published now are some of the best the field has ever seen. There are more of them, the quality is better, and the authors are being paid more. Is now the Golden Age of Young Adult Literature? And if so what does that mean for the next generation of readers? Justine Larbalestier (M), Scott Westerfeld, Steve Climer, Suzanne Church and Peter Halasz.
I think it is. I also think it’s just going to get better and better and better.
1700 All-Author Autographing Session
If you have books you want strange author types to scribble on here’s your chance.
2100 Concierge Literary Beer
The only thing we’re doing that you have to sign up for. It’ll be me and Scott sitting around with a smallish group of interested folks and answering their questions while we all drink beer (or water or whatever you wish to drink. I wish to drink Krug—I hope the ConCom is on top of that!).
SUNDAY 20 JANUARY:
1100 Salon H Gluten-Free Fantasy
Most medieval cultures didn’t have chainmail, swords, horses, or wheat. Yet the overwhelming majority of medieval cultures in fantasy do. What do we stand to gain by breaking the bonds of Europe on our collective imagination? And what’s so scary about bolas, sled-dogs, and rice? Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, John Scalzi, Karl Schroeder, Jim Frenkel.
This panel is also something me and Scott came up with. It has a backstory. Way back in the dark ages we were on a panel together about fantasy where we panelists suggested that there were other settings for high fantasy other than mediaeval Europe. Scott went as far as to say that wheat is not essential to high fantasy.
The audience turned on him. “We LOVE wheat!” they proclaimed. “We hate fantasy that isn’t set in mediaevel Europe. We hate wanky literary fantasy. In fact, we hate you writers on the panel who are trying to take away our wheat!”
Scalzi was in the audience along with the wonderful Karen Meisner and they both say it was one of the most extraordinary things they have ever seen. Karen even sent Scott a Canadian license plate wth a beautiful picture of wheat on it. Scott still contends that we were caught in the wave of an Atkin’s diet backlash.
Here’s the con’s full schedule.
Hope to see some of you there! I mean if this wussy Aussie girl can brave the dead of winter in Detroit. Surely some of you can?
Scott Westerfeld and David Levithan at the National Book Awards looking way too pleased with themselves!
Not my tour but Scott’s tour for his latest book Extras. It pubs on the 2nd of October and is deeply awesome. In fact, it’s my favouritest of the Uglies series. Aya is my new hero.
I’ll be along at most of the public events. If you’re around come and say hello.
I plan to keep blogging everyday. You know, on account of I’m addicted. I managed it every day we were away at Dragoncon so I don’t see how a little tour will stop me.
Hey, does anyone who’s been on a book tour before have any survival tips? (Other than bring lots of shoes?)
Update: I’d be delighted to sign books. I may have to skip a few of the events to get some work done but I plan to be at most of them.
I am a jacket monkey which totally works for me as those are two of my favourite things. I love beautiful jackets and I love monkeys. What could be better than putting them together? (If I weren’t pressed for time there would a picture of a monkey wearing a jacket here. You’ll just have to imagine it.)
Today me and Nicola from Nicola’s books in Ann Arbor opened many many copies of Extras to the signing page for Scott to scribble all over. We were his jacket monkeys. I want a Jacket Monkey t-shirt. I’ve already earned it. So many copies! So many jackets! So many pages!
In other news I am regretting that I learned on an earlier trip never to travel with manga because just before we left I read the first two volumes of Naruto and Hana-Kimi and R.O.D. and I am desperate to read more. Sadly it only takes half an hour to read one manga. To meet my reading needs on this trip I would need a truckload. They’re heavy. No more manga for almost three weeks. Waaaah!!!
Turns out that two of our writer friends are here: John Scalzi and Elizabeth Gilbert. Yay! The first we learned when Scalzi tackled Scott in the middle of a cocktail party. We authors are so well behaved . . .
It’s 12:20AM in Chicago. But that’s really 1:20AM in NYC. And past my bedtime on account of waking up before the sun rose. Erk!
I sleep now.
i love my iphone. I hug it to my chest but it is not great to blog from. (or answer email from either.)
We are in Ann Arbor. It is pretty.
Internet access at last! And, sadly, I have to use it to work. While Scott is off entertaining littlies in schools all over Chicago to celebrate the official publication day of Extras I’m stuck in our hotel room slaving away. Le sigh.
The tour has been brilliant thus far. I’ve met many fabulous booksellers, authors, and sales reps—hey, Michelle & Anne!—and generally had a grand time. Running into John Scalzi & Liz Gilbert was a definite highlight. Liz is in Chicago too. Right now she’s at Oprah’s studios. That’s right, she’ll be on Oprah on Friday! Liz is one of my favourite people in the universe so if you get a chance do watch her on Friday’s Oprah. The whole hour is devoted to Liz. How incredible is that?
In addition to hanging out with book people and gossiping I’ve also snaffled up some pretty awesome freebie books, including the latest Easy Rawlins by Walter Mosley, Blonde Faith. So far I loves it:
“What are you reading?” I asked.
“Catcher in the Rye,” she said, a little frown on the corner of her pillow lips.
“You don’t like it?”
“It’s okay. I mean it’s good. But I just think about a little black child or Mexican kid readin’ this in school. They look at Caufield’s life an’ think, ‘Damn, this kid got it good. What’s he so upset about?’”
“Yeah,” I said. “So much we know that they ever even think about and so much they think about without a thought about us.”
I didn’t have to tell Gara who they and us were. We lived in a they-and-us world while they lived, for all appearances, alone.
And now I have some writing of my own to do. Here’s hoping it will be half as good as what Mosley writes.
Last night we went to Anderson’s books in Naperville, Illinois. Much fun was had. Scott explained the origins of the Uglies series and of Extras. The first is all about our society’s beauty obsession; the second deals with the fame thing. There was lots of Q & A. The questions were ridiculously smart and interesting and there didn’t seem to be a single person who hadn’t read at least three or four of Scott’s books so he didn’t have to worry too much about spoilers.
During the hours and hours that he was signing for the smart and very appreciative crowd I got to hang out with some fabulous folk who were readers of my books and/or blog. At least three librarians came up to tell me how much they and their patrons enjoy my books. Yes!
I had a blast gossiping about favourite books, which is, naturally, my favourite topic of conversation ever. I was totally stoked to discover that my raving about the genius of Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia trilogy had influenced some people to pick the books up and read them. Yay!1 Also I found someone who loved Meredith Anne Pierce as much as I do!2 Double yay!
The photo is of Jez and her friends (whose names I’ve forgotten—sorry!) Thanks so much for all the manga recommendations. You guys are fabulous.
I wish I could remember everyone’s name. The folks I talked to were all so wonderful, but the only people I got a chance to say goodbye to were Jez and her friends. Sorry about that! Was wonderful meeting you all.
Guess what? The entire Magic or Madness trilogy just sold to the Japanese publisher, Hayakawa Shobo. That’s right! I’m going to be in Japanese! I can’t tell you how over the moon I am. Woo hooo!!!
Ever since I first heard about the whole foreign-rights thing there were two languages I’ve been desperate to be translated into: Spanish (cause I speak it un poco) and Japanese on account of my Japan obsession (oh, okay, mostly Kurosawa movies, Kimba, and now manga).
I screamed when I got the email. And started entertaining fantasies of a manga adaption following on from the straight translation. How cool would that be?
Now we just need to get a Spanish-language publisher to pick up the books and my life will be complete. For the record this is the ninth country that has bought the trilogy and the seventh language other than English.
I love being a writer. Especially when cool stuff happens without my lifting a finger. Bliss! Thank you, Whitney Lee, for all your hard work. You are the very best!
If this is Sunday it must be Oakland. What do you mean it isn’t Sunday?! But this is Oakland, right?
Today has not been one of my better efforts. Let’s see:
I almost broke one of Scott’s toes,
Put the “signed by” sticker on several of his books upside down (worst jacket monkey ever),
Left my bag with our passports in it behind at a restaurant and then managed not to hear the poor waiter sprinting after me and shouting with said bag in hands (but we got the bag back! yay most excellent waiter!),
Fell asleep in the middle of Scott reading me this thingie he’s working on. (He is a most excellent reader. I have never fallen asleep while he was reading before. I plead exhaustion.)
Where is the rewind button? I would like to start over please.
Here’s hoping the actual Sunday goes much better especially as there’s a chance I might get to meet Alice Walker. I loved The Color Purple so much when I first read it that I immediately read it a second time. I can’t remember how many times I’ve read it since then. She is a genius. I love her essays every bit as much as her fiction.
Oh, and if you’re in the San Francisco area Scott is doing a whole bunch of appearances. I’ll be at all of them, most especially the one we’re doing together:
Tuesday, Oct 9
601 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102
In-store reading & signing with Scott.
A Not Your Mother’s Book Club event
I’m very happy to sign my books for you even at one of Scott’s events. I promise that I will try my best not to break any of your toes.
Everything on the book tour has very short margins. The driver taking you places in traffic-laden cities has to calculate the odds of getting you to your next gig on time and allow for potential disasters so you often arrive with tonnes of dead time or with barely seconds to get up and start charming.
You have a one-day turn around on getting your clothes laundered. If you drop it off in the morning it has to be ready in the evening or you’re wearing dirties to a gig. One hotel forgot to return the dry cleaning. And we stupidly didn’t check till it was too late leaving Scott struggling to put a clean ensemble together. Aaargh!! (Fortunately the dry cleaning was returned before we left that hotel.)
There’s such a narrow margin of error for clothes because we’re travelling with only carry-ons to eliminate the risk of checked luggage going missing. (It’s happened to us three times in the last two years.) Two carry-on bags and two computer bags cannot fit all the clothes you need for three weeks.
Or enough books either. (Our huge swag of books from the trade show has long been posted home.) So the horror of running out of reading before you get to the next book shop is always around the corner. I have many podcasts and vid on standby should it come to that.
Not that there’s much time for reading or catching up with people’s blogs or the news or anything. Scott’s usually on the road to his next gig by 7AM and back in time for a short nap before the evening book signing. Nights off are a blessing spent catching up on everything that has piled up. We have no idea what’s going on in the real world. But we know TONNES of publishing gossip.
We keep meeting the most wonderful people. The escorts have been charming and fun, the booksellers and fans ditto. Yet, we’re meeting so many people that the names of all these folks we’ve just bonded with have left our heads by the next gig. I hear there are new drugs on the market that help with memory. I am SO. VERY. TEMPTED.
Meeting the fans is the very best part. I knew there were a lot of people who were enthusiastic about Scott’s books but I had no idea there were this many. And they’re all so smart and funny and keep giving him the most fabulous home-made pressies. It makes me all teary and so very happy.
Thanks for coming out and saying hi!
One of the fabulous things about this tour is seeing how popular so many of my friends are.
At a book shop on the outskirts of Chicago I saw this:
I pointed it out to Scott. “Look! Someone here loves Cassie’s book. And they have a tonne of copies!” (They was more in piles above and below this book shelf.)
The bookseller who wrote that shelf talker overheard me:
“You know Cassie Clare?! Oh. My. God. I LOVED that book so much!!! She is a genius! I have loved her ever since I read her Secret Diaries!”
At a school in Walnut Creek, California lots of the kids had painted posters of their favourite books. The room was full of them:
I checked each one, looking for a book by one of my friends, and lo and behold what did I find?
Maureen Johnson’s Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes.
During tonight’s fabulous event at Copperfield books in Petaluma praise was heaped on Holly Black, Libba Bray, Cecil Castellucci, Cassie, Maureen, and Garth Nix. It was joyous to hear. And, yes, I was bad, I boasted about knowing them all!
Book tours are fun!
There are two golden rules of the book tour:
- Eat whenever you can
- Pee whenever you can.
That is all.
To all of those who wrote asking for my insomnia cure: I promise I’ll write about it as soon as I have time. Last week was insane. And next week looks like more of the same with all the Aussie events and deadlines and blah blah blah1. Don’t forget to come see me and Margo Lanagan and Garth Nix and Scott and Jonathan Strahan at Books of Wonder.
Yesterday I did an appearance with Scott out at the Bronx Library Centre. It was fabulous! The ninth graders are part of the Gear Up program and if they’re an example—that program totally works. They were one of the smartest, funniest, and most engaged group I’ve had the good luck to hang out with.
I’ve been trying for some time to figure out a way to write about how incredibly moving some of these events we do with teenagers can be but I just don’t seem to be able to express how I feel about them without coming across all saccharine and cloying. When someone tells you that they feel like they are one of your characters or that before they read your book they’d hated reading . . . well, words really do fail.
Let’s just say yesterday was incredible. I wish I had remembered to let them know that Jay-Tee (the character a few of them identified with so strongly) is from the Bronx! I am such a der brain.
Thanks so much, Jack and Carole, for inviting us.
And thanks, too, for all the fascinating responses about sleep and dreams. You make me want to go back to bed perchance to dream of the best novel or manga idea of all time.
Okay, now back to work!
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There are many Australian writers in town at the moment and there has been much socialising to celebrate.1 I can’t tell you how much fun it is to be in NYC and not be the only Aussie in the room.2 Especially when the other Aussies are fabulous folks like Deb Biancotti, Rob Hood, Margo Lanagan, Garth Nix, Cat Sparks, Trevor Stafford, and Jonathan Strahan. Much fun has been had.3
And much teasing has been teased. Aussies are a much more teasing people than most of my USian friends. It’s been such a relief to have several sessions of full-bore teasification. The Aussies were excellently mean to me. Such bliss.
In the course of this teasefest I realised that I have a friend who is unteasable.
Now I have friends I don’t tease cause I know they’ll get upset. Making people cry is not fun. Many USians fall into this category. But I have a dear friend I have never teased simply because it has never occurred to me to do so. I know she would not cry. She is not an easily offended person. I mentioned her unteasability to her. She says no one has ever teased her, or mocked, or been mean to her. Not at school, not at university, not ever.
Isn’t that bizarre?
I have been trying to figure out why this is so and if I’ve ever met anyone else who was so unteasable.
I can’t think of a single person.
My first theory is that it’s because she’s so unflappable. But I have other unflappable friends I tease and mock. So I’m not sure that’s why. Then I thought maybe it was because she does not tease. But that’s not true she teases her husband all the time.
I am at a loss and must study the problem further.
How about you lot? Are you unteasable? Have you ever known anyone who could not be teased?