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Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

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June 15th, 2005

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

A very long rambling thing on conferences, travelling, and many other things...

Lessee, where were we?

THE MOUSE SITUATION
We got the exterminators in. There are now mouse traps in several rooms. And the mice... have comprehensively disappeared. OVernight. This vaguely worries me - just where the frick did they GO? The cats are sitting on the stairs and looking mournfully at the place where they had such great fun with these new toys a couple of weeks ago, and then glancing accusingly back at me with a glare that eloquently demands to know what I did with their playthings and they are bored and would I kindly stop futzing with their universe. On the whole, I'd rather bored cat than dead mice on the stairs, so they're out of luck.

VARIOUS CONFERENTIAL THINGS

I was going to do a loooong and detailed thing on both Wiscon and Writers Weekend, but events are just moving along far too fast for me to keep up with my own life, so you get the condensed Reader's Digest version of both. So there..

Wiscon - it was my first WIscon, and all I can tell you is, it definitely won't be my last. "Jin shei" was a hit, as I thought it might be; I did a reading and I was on some four panels or so, one of which I moderated (and apparently impressed one of my panelists by my moderating skills because he sought me out afterwards at a party to tell me so. Good, I'm glad for the feedback - I always do this sort of thing with my heart in my mouth, at least until I actually get going and forget there is a crowd out there listening to every blessed word I am uttering...) I got to meet and share various meals with a lot of people I know off the net and see far too rarely - Charlie Allery and Anna Feruglio Dal Dan, because they both live way over there on the other side of the pond, are as always a particular highlight, but meeting fellow rasfc-ers like Elizabeth and Suzanne was great, too. We all had a wonderful raucous breakfast together. I also met up with a bunch of new people involved in a brand new organization that I now belong to, Broad Universe (yes, they have a website, but I'd have to go and double check it now to make sure a link was accurate and - well - just Google 'em). They did a table in the Dealers Room where they sold members' books - and between the six copies of "Jin shei" that went here, and the fourteen or so jointly held by other dealers in the room, I sold twenty or so copies of the Blessed Book in the space of three days which does not make me too unhappy at all. Other highlights: meeting Lyn McConchie, a New Zealand writer who happens to have read (and likes) my work, and who is a racoonteur par excellence and a very entertaining party companion; meeting people like Hilary Moon Murphy, a fellow writer, and renewing acquaintance with folks such as Jane Hawkins (and getting back into the Seattle Vanguard scene, perhaps, bu default); getting my hair plaited into a renaissance crown-like thing with flowers in the braid - it looked absolutely fabulous. Oh, and being picked by a traditional WIscon panel as one of the new women writers to watch - and having my book compared to "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell" in these terms: Panelist: "I liked [Jonathan Strange]..." (patting my own novel) "...but I liked this one MUCH better."

An aside - the talking elevators at the Wiscon hotel get REALLY annoying after three days...

The next confenrence was the Writer's Weekend in Seattle (and yes, THEY have a website too. GOogle them while you're looking for those other guys). Aside from certain issues regarding the hotel picked for the event (you get to the conference area from the lobby of the hotel by going THROUGH the enclosure of the indoor pool - which is a little bizarre...) it was a great conference and perhaps the fact that there were so many people in such a relatively small space really did mean that folks got to know one another pretty fast and pretty well. I did a reading which went very well, and then I was the keynote speaker on Saturday (this was my first ever Guest of Honor badge - I'm keeping this one for posterity ). That went better than I thought, because later, at the booksigning, someone bought all three books - the fantasy duology and "Jin Shei" - because she had liked the "music of my sentences", as she put it, from my speech. I got to meet people like Matt Ruff, with whom I shared a banquet table on Saturday night, and a bunch of other writers, published and otherwise, who were all very pleasant people and a joy to spend time with. Lots of yakking was done. And it is a very civilized conference because it brought in its own barista with an honest-to-goodness espesso machine and it was actually possible to get lattes without leaving the building... Here, too, I shall (if they'll have me) return with great pleasure.

I had lunch in Seattle on SUnday with a friend at a restaurant called Lola which I can heartily recommend (Turkish Coffee icecream, anyone?...) and then caught the train back home.

The cats followed me around for a full day, one or the other or both, keeping a paw on me. They must have decided to nip these absences in the bud before they become a habit...

Oh, and I"m doing a reading tonight at http://www.villagebooks.com and quite a few people said they may be able to make it. Let's hope I have more than five in the audience...


MOVIES

I went to say goodbye to Star Wars. My husband, who recoiled violently from the whole thing after the disaster that was Episode 1, wouldn't go with me so I went with a friend. People kept saying "Sith" was better than the first two movies... which, frankly, would not have been hard at all because both of those were appalling messes. Whether or not that was true, it was a debt I had to pay to my childhood - to hear That Music one last time, and to see, and pay tribute to, the Vader mask coming down, and to hear the first harsh breath drawn through it.

On one level, it was a wonderful excapist little movie - Yoda, as usuaal, steals the show - but I am honestly beginning to believe that Lucas is great on vision and comes badly apart at the level of crucial detail. The less said about his love scenes the better (the next time he feels the urge to write a love scene, he should probably go away and lie down until the urge goes away), but even in the action sequences things are left to be desired. How's this for an exchange between two ex-friends and now mortal enemies, Obi-Wan and Anakin, lightsabres out and ready, both balancing precariously on arbitrary pieces of wreckage (what the blazing heck were those things MADE of???) floating in a river of molten lava, and the conversation goes something like this:

OBI-WAN: But Pal[patine is EVIL!!
ANAKIN: In my opinion, it is the Jedi who are EVIL!!!

(This, by the way, pretty much based on a childish tantrum that he wasn't getting the treatment he thought he deserved from the Jedi council. Anakin, even on the verge of becoming Darth Vader, remains a sulky, pouty, whiny adolescent)

I wish Lucas could have let go of his own vision long enough to have a competent writer do his dialogue. There are no surprised in this movie, which isn't surprising in itself because we all knew what was supposed to happen - but there could have been so much more made of it than a couple of lightsabre duels in unlikely places (although I admit I succumbed to a spirited reaction of "oh, that's just not FAIR" when General Grievous sprouted four arms with a light sabre in each hand...) and a bunch of visually stunning backdrops and amazing special effects. What was missing, for me, was adequate motivation and (even if we DID know what was coming) character build-up. Anakin's motives for turning into Vader are just... not enough. Not enough for me, anyway. But maybe that's just a curse of being a writer, exacerbated by the fact that I'm in the middle of re-watching the whole Babylon 5 series on DVD. In comparison to that, "Revenge of the Sith" just doesn't really rise to the occasion, light saber or no light saber.

But the end, with its hints of the hallowed original Star Wars movie which I first saw when I was fifteen years old and which left an indellible impression on me then as it did on so many others... oh, it was worth going to see. Just to say goodbye.

And for the glimpse I got of the Narnia movie preview. It looks stunning; with the usual caveat of "Oh GOD I hope they didn't screw this one up", I will definitely be queueing up to see Aslan the lion roaring on the big screen come this winter.

That's quite enough for now. I need to go and start getting ready for tonight, seeing as we have to leave early and do a couple of errands before I present myself to do the reading. I'll be back to tell y'all how that went...