How David Anthony Durham Saved My Life

A year or so ago, I made the online acquaintance of fellow fantasy author David Anthony Durham.

Normally, I don’t associate with people who have three names. It’s just intimidating. Plus, on a practical level, it’s hard to deal with. Does he go by the full “David Anthony?” Is he a “David” a “Dave” or an “Anthony.” Hell, he could even be a “Tony.” I have a real problem remembering names. Even the simple first names of my friends. That means someone with three to seven different potential names is going to give me a lot of trouble.

I can’t remember how we first got in touch. But I do know that our first contact was over e-mail. And, to tell the truth, I was more than slightly intimidated by him.

Part of this was due to the fact that before his most recent novel (an epic fantasy called Acacia) he wrote literary fiction. While I’m not one to engage in genre snobbery. The fact remains that to Lit Fic has a certain amount of cultural cache. A certain gravitas.

Another intimidating thing was the fact that he had a tenure-track job teaching creative writing, which means he’s got some hefty edumication under his belt.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, this picture was the the first I ever saw of him:

Not only was he thinner and more attractive than myself. But to me this picture says: “I’m going kick a man’s ass, then go read some Coleridge. You have a problem with that? No. I didn’t think so. Move along.”

I know, I know. It’s wrong to judge a book by its cover. It’s doubly wrong to judge an author by his jacket photo. If you were to do that with me, you would be forced to assume that I was some sort of rogue Muppet, eremite priest, or Russian dictator.

When I finally met him at a convention. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that most of what I’d assumed about him was off-base. He wasn’t pompous, or stiff, or academic. He was relaxed and friendly, with an easy laugh.

At the last convention we hit together, Wiscon, we sat at the bar for an hour or two and had a lovely argument about Heinlein, and a different argument about C.S. Lewis, and a discussion about purpose of literature and the ethical responsibility of the author. We disagreed a lot.

It was lovely. I love few things more than a conversation with an intelligent person who is passionate in their beliefs and willing to disagree with me.

In short. He turned out to be my favorite sort of person. The sort of person that I wished lived closer to me so that he could come over to my house, watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and get his ass solidly handed to him at Settlers of Catan.

Because, as I’ve said before, I cannot be beaten at Catan.

Lastly, though not leastly, David may prove instrumental in insuring that y’all get to see books two and three.

Let me explain. At World Fantasy convention last year his hotel was hell and gone from the convention center, and I had rented a car. So one night when things were winding down, I offered to give him a ride.

We wandered out of the hotel to the parking lot. After we had climbed into the car, he looked at me and said, “You’re not wearing your seatbelt?”

It wasn’t the sentence itself, it was the way he said it. He wasn’t chiding, or disapproving. He was honestly shocked. More than that. He was aghast. It was the same tone I use when I say, “You smoke?”

When I say this, usually the unspoken part of my comment is clear, “What are you, a fucking idiot?”

When he looked at me and said, “You’re not wearing your seat belt?” I thought to myself, “Of course. I should wear my seat belt. I’d be an idiot not to.”

And ever since then, I’ve worn my seat belt. This means that I’m much more likely to live long enough to get you day two and three of the trilogy, and many more after that.

Despite all of his coolness, it took me a long time to get around to reading David’s book. I did mention his book, right?

It’s epic fantasy. A nice mix of big empire-level stuff and character centered story. He’s a great worldbuilder, which is where my heart lies, and his cultures are varied and well-developed. He leans more toward description, where I tend to do more dialogue. But we’re playing a similar game in many ways. Odds are if you dig on Tolkien, Acacia will be right up your alley. Check it out.

That’s all for now,

pat

This entry was posted in conventions, meeting famous people, recommendationsBy Pat24 Responses

24 Comments

  1. Adam B. Shaeffer
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 9:58 PM | Permalink

    I’d love to hear more about that argument over C.S. Lewis . . .

  2. Anonymous
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

    I went to Amazon to check out the David’s book. I found it interesting that Amazon was promoting Name of the Wind as the book to buy with Acacia!Better Together Buy this book with The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, Day 1) by Patrick Rothfuss today!

  3. Arevanye
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 10:16 PM | Permalink

    I’ll chime in with adam, what was the argument about C.S. Lewis over?

  4. Frame's Blog of Nothing
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 10:32 PM | Permalink

    I bought both books a while ago and loved them, of course. I bought DAD’s (awesome initials) because of recommendations, and yours because I thought you were a rogue Muppet, and I was interested in seeing your writing style. ;D (That part made me cackle and led to my mother giving me quite a look)

  5. Micah Cowan
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 10:57 PM | Permalink

    <>It’s wrong to judge a book by its cover. It’s doubly wrong to judge an author by his jacket photo. If you were to do that with me, you would be forced to assume that I was some sort of rogue Muppet, eremite priest, or Russian dictator.<>Okay, that just went in my quote-monster.BTW, I’ve also thought that < HREF="http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=76993966" REL="nofollow">certain photos of myself<> look rather “Russian dictator”-esque. :)

  6. Fe2O3
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 11:31 PM | Permalink

    Make sure you’re wearing a seatbelt on your way to DragonCon.Please keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times.Hold on tight and have fun!

  7. buzz
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 12:54 AM | Permalink

    You had me at “rogue Muppet.”Second plug for ‘Acacia,’ means now I must order it. To Amazon, post-haste!

  8. logankstewart
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 1:03 AM | Permalink

    I would’ve loved to been in on the conversation. My wife and I have argued over the position of the author, and she thinks that once the story is presented, the story then belongs to the fans, and that the fans have a right to how the story should go. I, however, tend to see the author as the artist and that he/she has total control and absolute authority over the story. If the reader doesn’t like it, then that’s too bad, because the reader is along for the ride, regardless. I’m sure it was an interesting conversation, Pat.

  9. Susan Renee
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 5:34 AM | Permalink

    It’s good to know that you are getting over the three name thing seeing that I am one of those.And photos… well I look a bit crazy with my awesome moogle hat, but who wants to look sane anyway?Also, what’s with the C.S. Lewis debate? And why are we all so curious about it?

  10. Mihai (Dark Wolf)
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 8:20 AM | Permalink

    When I saw the first time your picture I didn’t think you look like some sort of rogue Muppet, eremite priest, or Russian dictator, I thought you were the reincarnation of Rasputin himself. And now seeing that you cannot be beaten at Catan I know for sure you are :)

  11. marky
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 9:07 AM | Permalink

    I don’t think you look like a Russian Dictator. You do however, remind me of someone else, but I can’t seem to put my finger on who it is.Micha. You remind me more of Zangief from streetfighter. A very, very cool look!Susan. Never feel crazy wearing a moogle on your head. My money’s on Kate Moss copying your fashion genius within the year.

  12. Dave-Brendon de Burgh
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

    Well Patrick, I couldn’t agree with you more on what a nice guy David is; I’ve never met him, but he is generous and gracious. :-)TNOTW is awesome, btw. I’m lost in it!

  13. ripshin
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

    Does no one else find it slightly disturbing that our fearless leader…ahem…I mean, author, has professed an intellectual block with names? Yet, said author has a devoted following due to a book based on…NAMES! Forget music (referring to Mr. Rothfuss’s ability to fabricate musical truths w/out the slightest bit of actual ability), it seems as though his greatest achievement was completing a novel with a hero named Kvothe!Regarding the disagreements, why is everyone so interested in the Lewis discussion? I would think that the inevitable socio-political discussion deriving from Heinlein was ever so much more interesting. That is, I’m guessing that the Lewis discussion centered around religion, which, while being (arguably) of prime importance, becomes that much less likely to offer grounds for gracious give-n-take.rip

  14. Anonymous
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 3:32 PM | Permalink

    The first time I saw your picture, Pat, my thought was, “Holy crap, I wish my beard was that majestically awesome.”I’ve heard good things about D.A.D. but never picked up Acacia or his historical fiction books. When I can scrounge up book money around here I’ll have to check it out.Oh, and fair warning, Pat, I was planning on using my middle initial as part of my author name, sort of like George R. R. Martin does but now I may put the full name up there. Besides, with my full legal name on the cover there’s no way people would mistake it was my book.

  15. David Anthony Durham
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 3:34 PM | Permalink

    Hey Folks!So, I’m thrilled that Pat took the time out to post about me. Thank you, Pat. You mentioned that you didn’t remember quite how we got talking via email. I’m glad to say that I do remember that. It was because my very first pre-pub, genre-insider review came from Rick Kleffel on his Agony Column, back in the spring of 2007. The cool thing was that is was a very positive, joint review. The other title he liked? The Name of the Wind.I was happy enough about it that I searched out Pat for the first time and discovered what I think was his newly launched website. Got an email, and dropped him a note. Which should demonstrate the nice sort of guy that I was right from the start… ;)Anyway, very glad I did. You can be sure that I have an equally high opinion of Pat, and I’m glad I got him wearing his seatbelt!As to that CS Lewis debate… I remember that we had it, but I don’t remember the details. Next time I’ll take my mini-recorder…

  16. bluharlequin
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking of checking out Acacia for a while. Now I suppose I’ll have to.And if you keep talkin’ smack regarding your Catan game, one of these days I’m gonna have to track you down and teach you a lesson.-Paul

  17. Chris
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 5:12 PM | Permalink

    Russian dictator? LOL

  18. gapyeargirl123
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

    Nothing particularly wrong with being a rogue Muppet.I’ll have a look for Acacia next time I’m in Glasgow – it’s been a while since I read any ‘straight’ fantasy. (And by straight, I don’t mean it’s sexual orientation. I mean, not Urban Fantasy or anything like that. Nice, normal, fantasy.)

  19. Anonymous
    Posted August 29, 2008 at 1:11 AM | Permalink

    I can’t believe you didn’t wear your seat belt prior to that. My mother made up a little song that sticks with me to this day. It goes as follows:Buckle up for safety,buckle up for fun!Buckle up for safety,buckle up everyone!How can you say no to something as clever as that?

  20. paranoyd
    Posted August 29, 2008 at 4:26 AM | Permalink

    Hey, Pat. Hanging out with you and David at WisCon (in the con suite – I was playing a game, and when David introduced you to me, I said “Well, I’ve never heard of ya.” Then I bought your book and it is getting closer to the top of the pile every day.) was one of the highlights of the convention. You were both supercool and you were very funny. David is a great guy, and I really enjoyed Acacia. I comment on his blog most every day he posts on it. So, while he didn’t save my life, I can say you have good taste in friends. (BTW, I read your blog as well. You are funny here as well.)

  21. black Sunshine
    Posted August 29, 2008 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

    i LOVED Acacia. and i have posted on the forums a few times . . . it warms my heart to think that you guys are friends. God forbid both of your sequels should come out at the same time . . . i would probably have to tear myself in two and read each book with one hand and eye apiece.

  22. Gabriele C.
    Posted August 31, 2008 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

    You know that German historical fiction author Rebecca Gablé, best known for her War of the Roses books, has written a <>Die Siedler von Catan<> novel? Now you’ll have to learn German and read that one. ;) Or pester your publisher to get it translated, I’m sure Ms Gablé would appreciate that. *grin*

  23. Ben
    Posted September 2, 2008 at 3:11 AM | Permalink

    For those of you who haven’t read Acacia, it was just released last week in paperback…and, no, I don’t work for Mr. Durham, I just happened to pick up a copy of it last week. I’m planning on reading it within the next month or so and am looking forward to it.

  24. Pamala Knight
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 1:31 AM | Permalink

    Excellent post. I’m glad for the recommendation. Also, I will have to give David Anthony his props for keeping you alive long enough for the rest of the trilogy to see daylight. God knows I’m still reeling from that sleight of hand called the change in date that Amazon pulled on me with book two of the Kingkillers.So hurry up and get to writing or whatever it is that needs to be done to get that book finalized and in my greedy little hands.Oh, and lighten up on the three named people–some of us just can’t make a decision.

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