Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Fabulous Weekend, and More

If you follow such things, you may have heard that The Big Crunch won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature.

Friday night I was at the awards ceremony on the USC campus, sitting in an auditorium with about 700 book people, waiting for the category winners to be announced. All of the finalists in the Young Adult category were sitting in the same row. To my left was Libba Bray (Beauty Queens) and her husband Barry Goldblatt. To my right sat David Levithan (who edited three of the finalists), Maggie Stiefvater (The Scorpio Races), Mal Peet (LIfe: An Exploded Diagram), and Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls). Libba, Maggie, Mal, and Patrick are four of the best writers I have ever had the pleasure to meet, and David is, needless to say, a remarkable editor.

The program was entertaining and well-organized, but of course I was sunk deep in my own hopes and fears, wondering if the things that were happening in my chest were signs of an incipient cardiac event.

When The Big Crunch was announced as the winner, all the tension drained out of me, to be replaced with a shaky, hallucinogenic calm that was equally weird but much more pleasant. I don't remember exactly what I said in my acceptance speech, but it came off okay. If the L.A. Times Book Prize people put up a video of the ceremony, I'll post a link.

The next two days at the L.A. Times Festival of Books was fabulous! I did a panel with Libba Bray, moderated by Angelina Benedetti. Angie proved to be an expert moderator, and Libba is smart, funny, and altogether good company. The panel was a blast. Afterward, Libba's husband, Barry, came up to me and said, "I'm glad to see there wasn't any chemistry between you and my wife!" Barry is almost as funny as Libba.

I arrived home at 1 am Sunday night. On Monday, Mary and I were having a quiet, relaxing dinner at home when the doorbell rang. It was our good friends Ilene and Zoran, who said they were in the neighborhood and decided to pop in. Great! Ilene and Zoran are welcome anytime. A few minutes later, the doorbell rang again. Another pop-in! My brother Jim and his wife Dorothy. What a coincidence, I thought. Then the doorbell rang a third time I began to get suspicious (duh!).

It was my first surprise party, organized by the amazing (and sneaky) Mary Logue. Needless to say, it was a very fun evening. Here's a pic of my mom. Ain't she cute?

And look at what my friend Mary Altman gave me!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stalkers Welcome

I'm leaving Thursday for the Los Angeles Times Book Festival—four days of BOOKS, WRITERS, and BOOK PEOPLE. This should be fun!

For those of you in the LA area, here is my schedule of events:

Thursday, April 19
 7:00 PM — "this is teen" LIVE event with Libba Bray, Pete Hautman, and Siobhan Vivian, moderated by David Levithan
at Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop, 1030 Bonita Avenue, LaVerne, CA 91750  (909) 599-4558

Friday, April 20
7:30 PM — Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Ceremony
Bovard Auditorium, USC Campus
The Big Crunch is a finalist in the Young People's Literature category!

Saturday, April 21,
12:00 PM — PANEL: “Young Adult Friction: Writing YA”
Robin Benway, Libba Bray and Pete Hautman
Moderator: Angelina Benedetti (Award winning teen librarian and reviewer) Followed by Book Signing with other panelists
3:00 PM-4:00 PM — “this is teen” signing at Diesel/Scholastic Booth (Booth # 975)
Pete Hautman/The Big Crunch and What Boys Really Want
Libba Bray/Beauty Queens
Maggie Stiefvater/The Shiver Trilogy and The Scorpio Races

Sunday, April 22
11:00 AM — Book signing at Once Upon a Time booth (Booth # TK)
12:30PM — Book signing at Diesel/Scholastic booth (Booth # 975)

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Everybody's an Art Critic

Let me be clear about one thing: I am big fan of Peter F. Hamilton. I've read all of his novels and most of his short fiction. Peter Hamilton writes astonishing space opera; his imagination is prodigious, and although his writing is not exactly of "literary quality," his ideas, storytelling, pacing, and fearlessness place him among the very best sci-fi writers out there.

I am also a fan of Tor Books—I think I must be among their best customers.

And I try to avoid ridiculing anyone in the book business because 1) it is bad business to do so, and 2) it's just plain mean.

But...I have to say that the cover of the 1999 mass market edition of The Nano Flower (now out of print) is possibly the worst book cover I have ever seen. It is so awful that I can't stop looking at it. So dreadfully silly that I feel compelled to share it with you.  Here ya go:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

This Saturday, April 14, at 1:00 pm, I will be signing books (and possibly chatting, reading, or whatever seems appropriate) at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis. The featured books will be The Obsidian Blade and What Boys Really Want. We will also have copies of Minnesota Book Award finalist The Big Crunch on hand. Please come if you can!

Wild Rumpus, for those of you who have not experienced this fabulous shop, is one of the two best children's bookstores in the known universe. (The other best kidlit bookstore in the universe is The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, where I'll be doing a signing on May 11th.)

Last year it was strawberry jam.
After the Wild Rumpus event, I'll be heading to St. Paul for the Minnesota Book Awards Gala, where I will attempt to win another statue. What flavor will the statue be this year? I do not know, but I covet it all the same. 

If I don't win, it'll still be a great evening.  The other finalists in the Young People's Literature category—The Books of Elsewhere: Spellbound by Jacqueline West, The Tanglewood Terror by Kurtis Scaletta, and With or Without You by Brian Farrey—all deserve to win, too.

The event is nearly sold out, but as of yesterday they had a few tickets left.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Minicon and Fritatta

I had a great time at Minicon yesterday—got to hang out with a lot of people I hadn't seen in a long time, and gawp at a lot of geeky cool stuff.  I came THAT close to buying a Green Lantern cape. The guy selling them pointed out that the velcro neck fastener made it safe for kids. I said, "Kids?" Like I wouldn't totally wear it to Easter mass. If I ever went to such a thing.

Ooh! Ooh! I met George R. R. Martin!  In fact, there were about a dozen versions of him stalking the convention halls. Of course, they all claimed to be somebody else entirely, but I don't believe any of them. I wanted to photograph them all, but by the time I thought to do it, most of them had retired for the evening, presumably to work on Book Six of ASoI&F.

On the menu for Easter brunch: Ramp and potato fritatta, with a bacon and ramp garnish.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Magic Doors: Sci-fi or Fantasy?

Like most authors, I am pathologically fascinated by reviews of my books: moments of joy interspersed with episodes of tooth-gnashing fury and bewilderment. I've been enjoying the reviews of The Obsidian Blade (one week to pub date!) both because they have been generally positive, and because the reactions have been so wildly mixed. Two contradictory points of view that have come up repeatedly in some of the early blog reviews are (I am paraphrasing): "I don't usually like science fiction, but I loved this book," and "Suitable only for hard-core science fiction fans."
From Geeks are Sexy

Is The Obsidian Blade science fiction? That depends on how you define science fiction. It is a time-travel story, and the means of traveling through time are not explicitly defended or explained. Conservative sci-fi definers ask that their sci-fi have a basis in real science, and the "real science" of time-travel is both sketchy and enormously technical. The Obsidian Blade is more of a "portal fantasy"—a subset of the sci-fi/fantasy uber-genre. Portal fantasies, or magic door stories, can tilt toward fantasy (Neil Gaiman's Coraline), or in the sci-fi direction (H.G. Wells' The Time Machine), or be all over the map (Doctor Who).

The Obsidian Blade is more Wellsian than Gaimanian, but it does not have the hard core sci-fi chops of, say, Gregory Benford or Connie Willis or Robert Charles Wilson. While it uses both language and tropes familiar to sci-fi readers, it is not about the science, and therefore exists in the nebulous space between hardcore sci-fi and the more pliable worlds of fantasy. In fact, that is true of nearly all time-travel fiction.

The Obsidian Blade will be officially released next Tuesday (April 10), and then we will find out how the non-professional reading public receives it. I am anticipating the gamut.