Tag Archives: Locus

Locus Magazine

I’ve been cutting back on conventions this year so I can focus on revisions and my pretty new baby.

I’d even decided to skip Wiscon this year, even though it’s in Madison, which means it’s practically in my backyard.

But then I found out my friend Nnedi was going to be Guest of Honor there this year. (Remember Nnedi? I interviewed her for Worldbuilders last year, and talked about her book a couple months ago.) Anyway, getting asked to be GOH at Wiscon is a pretty big deal, and I don’t see Nnedi nearly as much as I’d like, so I decided to go.

Then the people at Locus dropped me an e-mail, asking if I wanted to do an interview. I said, “Sure.” Because Locus is a pretty big deal in the Sci-Fi Fantasy publishing world. And I like doing interviews, especially when they’re in person. I spend enough time typing.

So I meet up with the lovely folks from Locus. The interview is fun. They ask good questions. We hang out. Then they say, “Do you mind if we take some pictures?”

And I’m like, “Sure, if you’re into that sort of thing.”

Then a couple weeks ago, this shows up in the mail:

My first thought? “If I’d known they were going to put me on the cover, I would have gotten a haircut….”

My second thought was, “I’m on the cover of Locus.”

My third thought was, “Shit. This is kind of a big deal. I hope I don’t sound like an idiot…”

Then I open up the magazine and burst out laughing. Here’s what I see:

Why don’t we zoom in on that a little?

Yeah. There you go. You can click that to embiggen it if you want, but you might want to be careful, lest the intensity of my sheer awesome reduce you to a quivering wreck.

For those of you who are curious. My t-shirt says: “My Marxist feminist dialectic brings all the boys to the yard.” It’s a very specialized sort of joke, and there really isn’t any point in me explaining it if you don’t get it. Suffice to say that Wiscon is a feminist Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention. It’s the only place I can wear the shirt where people think it’s funny.

Anyway, after I had a good laugh at this picture I was much more relaxed. I get very nervous when people take me too seriously.

I read the interview and was very pleased that I didn’t come off sounding like an idiot. It was a lot more wide-ranging than a lot of the interviews I do, and we talked about some stuff I don’t normally talk about.

If you want a taste of it, there’s a few excerpts over on Locus’ website.

Still revising. One week ’til deadline.

pat

Posted in Achievement Unlocked!, being awesome, cool things, Interviews | By Pat64 Responses

On Becoming a Review Connoisseur….

I love talking about writing. I love talking about books I like and what makes them work. Alternately, I like talking about books I hate and what makes them suck.

So it goes without saying that I love talking about my own book, too. When people read my book and want to ask me questions, it’s fun answering them. I’m proud as a new mother talking about her baby.

But there is one question I do not love. One question that I’ve never really been able to answer.

It usually comes up in a casual conversation that goes something like this:

Me: So what do you do?

Them: Oh, I’m getting my PHD in advanced beverage management. What about you?

Me: I teach and work on my novel.

Them: You’re writing a novel? Wow. What’s it about?

At this point the conversation can take two different paths. Most people really don’t care about the novel. They’re just making a polite social noise. So I say, “Oh, it’s about a lot of things,” and the conversation moves along to another topic.

But some people are really interested. They ask follow-up questions, gently encouraging me to talk until eventually I break down and try to explain it. Because, ultimately, and I WANT to tell them what the book is about, I just suck at it.

Them: What’s it about?

Me: It’s… well, it’s kind of the story of a man’s life. An exceptional man. It’s sort of like a behind-the-scenes look at the myth of the hero. As the story progresses you see the truth of this guy’s life is really different than the legends that have grown up around him over the years.

Them: Oh, I –

Me: But it’s more than that. It’s a mystery. The story centers around his attempt to uncover the hidden truths of his world. It’s about what it means to be human. It’s a love story, too. It’s a story about stories. About how everyone tells stories, but at the same time stories shape our lives.

Them: Um, Okay, I guess that –

Me: It’s about adventure! It’s about a world so real you can touch it. About love, loss and betrayal! Truth! Beauty! It’s like a thousand angels singing in your head! It’s a three-day orgasm with super-size fries and a footrub. It’s…. it’s….

Them: [backing slowly away.] I’m just going to go hide behind something if that’s alright with you….

What makes it hard is that I’m trying to be honest. If I just lied to these people about my book, it would be easy:

Then: So what’s your book about?

Me: It’s The Princess Bride meets Fight Club, with a little bit of Pirates of the Caribbean sprinkled over the top.

Them: Sweet!. [Leaves at a sprint to go buy the book.]

It’s probably this particular deficiency that caused me to get endlessly rejected back when I was writing query letters to agents.

What’s the point of all this? The point is that my particular handicap has helped me really appreciate the art of the review.

In the last month or so, my book has been getting reviewed. It’s a new experience, having strangers read my book, then publishing their comments up for the world to see.

I’ve never read reviews before. The most I want to know about a book or movie is if it’s good or not. No details. When I read a book or watch a movie, I want to experience it uncluttered with any previous knowledge or expectations.

So this last month has been an eye opener for me, because the reviews have been rolling in, and I’m curious what people have to say about my baby. Er, I mean my book.

My newly formed opinions of a review is this: a bad review summarizes a story, like a third grader’s book report. A good review delves deeper, they not only tell you why it a book tickled their fancy or left them cold, a good review shows you what a story is about, what lies at the heart of it.

And, since that’s something I’ve always had a hard time expressing, it’s really interesting watching other people do it. I know the book better than they do, of course, but they’re better at describing these things. Sometimes I read a review and think, “Yes! that’s it! Why couldn’t I have said that?”

Sometimes I read one and think, “Huh, I’d never considered that before, but I guess that is sort of a central theme….”

And, of course, there are a few where I read them and think: “The hell?!?” Luckily, these have been few and far between.

Anyway, here’s a few reviews that I read just today, that led to this rambly musing.

One’s from Locus, which is one of the high-mucky-muck sci-fi/fantasy magazines out there.

And this one is from a smaller, independent reviewer on a website called Flames Rising.

In some ways I’m jealous of these people who get to read by book for the first time. They get to see the book from the outside. That’s something I’ll never be able to do.

Later,

pat

Posted in reviews, the craft of writing | By Pat8 Responses
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