Short version: the panel, everyone on it, the entire experience-wonderful!
The longest version would start to look like one of my dispatch emails from China and Cambodia, which could run for well over 10 pages, so advance warning: that one might not ever see print, and certainly won’t now, since I’m running to get out the door in 20 minutes for Stephanie’s birthday present to me: a trip for the two of us to Rockport (the one in Massachusetts) where I’ll be cranking away on the manuscript for Two Serpents Rise (book 2!) in style in a beach cabin, and maybe (depending on weather quality) swimming.
Medium-long version: the panel was in the gray-and-red upholstered McGraw Hill Auditorium, and I was a bit nervous, since this was my first time out of the gate. Public speaking isn’t new to me, but public speaking about something I’ve spent so much time stewing over, and thinking and more importantly caring about, is. The closer a subject gets to your heart, the harder it is to talk about it, especially to a stranger (or a roomful of strangers). I thought at first that I was the only one feeling a little shaky, but as we all walked up to the front of the auditorium, I could detect a little aura of nervous energy from all of us in our own ways, which made me a bit bolder. If everyone’s nervous, then there’s nothing weird about being nervous in a situation, and you can enjoy it. Fear gives an edge.
I wish I had a recording of the event, but in the Buster Keaton haze of my excuse for a usual morning ‘ritual,’ I’d forgotten my camera (and my business cards); maybe later when I have more time I’ll assemble some of the notes I made while preparing for the panel and post them here. The questions ranged all over, from the responsibility of the historical fiction writer (depending on how you cut it four out of the five of us were historical fiction folks) to write accurate history to the nature of writing voices. I talked about how Three Parts Dead grew out of uncertainty, out of a desperate scrambling attempt to understand an economy that, in the fall of 2008, tripped, stumbled, and fell into a meat grinder, and out of a sudden appreciation for the vast immortal and invisible systems that ran on faith and investment and dreams and, once in a while, died–and then, to stave off disaster, had to be resurrected by hardworking young men and women who wear suits and speak Latin. I talked about Bryn Terfel and how operatic voices mature and develop over time, and about the many uses of the wonderful household maintenance tool called a five-way, and about a lot of things really.
The laughs came in all the right places, but I could hear the silences too, between my words, which is always encouraging when working with an audience.
Afterward my editors took me to Tor’s amazing Manhattan offices, where, walking about, we ran into Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi, and Charles Stross, who were all as amazing class-act type guys as you might imagine from reading their books and their essays scattered through the web. They were in town to give a panel on DRM at BEA (Acronyms! Not just for the consulting world any more!), but if I ever learn that Tor offices aren’t constantly full of excellent writers in smoking jackets, I think my vision of the world will tilt from its axle and explode.
Now really running up against my time limit, so let’s make the longer story even shorter.
In the afternoon we returned to the LibraryJournal event to sign books, which means for the first time I got my hands on a real live ARC of Three Parts Dead! They’re beautiful. The cover art looks even more amazing in person. And we gave a *ton* of them away, often to people who walked up to me saying, “I don’t often read fantasy, but the way you talked about the book at the panel really intrigued me!” Which was maybe the best part of the day, outside of, you know, all the other parts of the day.
And time! Twenty-five minutes elapsed, now I need to run downstairs and catch the shuttle to Rockport. Best to everyone, and I promise I’ll share some more exciting news come Monday!