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[Today a Month Ago] Authors and Artists and a Video Game

December 8, 2014

Let’s see if I can piece this day back together. The only thing I wrote in my journal on November 8th was more about our conversation with Betsy Wollheim the day before, and then the next thing I can find about the 8th is from a week later, and it only says,”I don’t remember Saturday at all. Man, that sounds like I was drunk. Which, obviously” And then it just stops. That was supposed to say, “Which, obviously, I wasn’t.”

And then a few pages on, it says, “Saturday: more con, there must have been panels, I can’t remember, dinner in the hotel room with Marian”

So, looking at the program and my notebook, we had our kaffeeklatsch with Guy Gavriel Kay that day.

I remember very little of it, and didn’t take many notes, because, as I said yesterday, his voice/way of speaking makes it very difficult for me to pay attention. (Would it be mean of me to say that maybe he should be reading bedtime stories? He has a nice voice, it’s just kind of sleep-inducing.)

Here’s what notes I have – Firsfron posted more (scroll down to “day 4”)

many books written overseas
→ things end up in books by accident, like:
Tigana: written in Tuscany
he could see San Gimignano from his window – building war – every family wanted the hightest tower
prince: “anyone who builds higher than me will be killed”

If you write about real people in fiction, it’s difficult for the reader to tell what’s research and what’s imagination
If you write about people inspired by real people, you have an agreement with the reader that it’s all imagination

Michener, Follett → info dumps
makes people feel like they’re learning something, less guilt about reading for pleasure

Fionavar Tapestry: voice inspired by opera
Tigana: Jacobean tragedy (I think. My notes are a mess of scribbled-out things here, and I think I wasn’t sure I had heard it correctly.)

and adding this from memory, for The Last Light of the Sun, he used style elements of Norse mythology. But I haven’t read the book and am not familiar with Norse mythology, so it’s difficult for me to remember the details. I think it was something about telling the life story/background of all the minor characters.

Afterwards, we stood in the hallway with him for a bit, and Cyan praised the tone of his writing in Under Heaven and River of  Stars. (She is originally from Hong Kong, and says the tone is very familiar from the things she watched on TV growing up, and he absolutely got it right.)

Following GGK’s recommendation, we also went to a talk about Dynastic China and Guy Gavriel Kay’s Kitai, by Professor Anna M. Shields, but she spoke so fast that I just gave up on taking notes after a few minutes. It’s quite frustrating, because I’m sure it was very interesting, and I wish I could remember more, but there was just no way I could keep up. So here are the few scraps I wrote down:

Europe: romantic poetry
China: friendship poetry

Tang dynasty: China was the biggest empire, the capital was the biggest city in the world

literature was very important
over 50,000 poems left

Other than that, we only went to one panel:

The Future of Book Illustration

Jennie Faries (moderator), Irene Gallo, Lee Moyer, Charles Vess, Jeremy Zerfoss


Jennie Faries, Charles Vess, Jeremy Zerfoss, Lee Moyer, Irene Gallo

Illustration seems to be doing well, according to everyone’s bank account.

e-books are challenging, because font size changes cause illustrations to move
and 70% are still print books

interactive books
animated illustrations/cover
paper-like displays

(Cyan: “We already interact with books. Somebody has to turn the page.”)

Irene: “People don’t read books because there isn’t enough television to watch”

changing/cutifying illustrations ruins people’s experiences
(from memory, someone talked about a series he’d loved as a kid, which had very creepy illustrations, and in the newer edition, they had been changed.)

adult books with illustrations are hard to sell because illustrations are expensive

future: smaller presses making beautiful books

cover reveals as part of the marketing process → artists becoming more known

the difficulty of drawing for books you haven’t read fully
→ depends on author and publisher

Stardust (for which Charles did the illustrations) was originally four 48 page segments, so he couldn’t plan ahead

Lee: self-publishing – collaborative
“I love that book so much, have to go back and rewrite the scene. Yours is much better.” (there is no context for this in my notes (because I always think I will remember more than I do), but I think it was an author’s reaction to an illustration that was a little different to what s/he had written)

writing books around pictures “do you think they’d think she’s a man because she has no hair?” (again, one of those things I thought I’d remember. I think it was about a painting that showed a hairless, female character from the back. Possibly the painting existed first and they (whoever “they” are) had people writing a story about it.)

crowdfunding – you should have help with distibution

old versions of covers still show up online
even when the final version of the cover is done

make sure you send small enough files so they can actually be opened

But the most memorable thing happened after the panel. Lee Moyer had been drawing in his sketchbook while on the panel, and since we’d been sitting in the front row, and Ylvs had a feeling he’d been drawing the audience, she went up to ask him about it afterwards.

the drawing

He’d drawn me!

And it wasn’t until later that we found out he had done the cover art for Tad Williams’ A Stark and Wormy Knight. (I would post a picture, but my own copy has fallen prey to my usual habit of removing the dustcover and, in 99% of the cases, not keeping it, because I’m never going to put it back on anyway.) So we met another one of Tad’s cover artists and didn’t even know it!

This might also have been the day we met L.E. Modesitt in the bar. There’s nothing about it in my journal, but Friday was too full of panels and other interesting things, there wouldn’t have been time to sit in the bar, and I don’t think it happened on Thursday or Sunday.

He has a long history with Smarchers, going back to WFC 2008 in Calgary, when Cyan got to know him, so he sat and talked with us for a while. Sadly, since I haven’t read any of his books yet, much of the conversation became a blur to me, and the only thing I remember was an interesting bit about space travel, but I think he’s going to use that in a future book, so maybe I shouldn’t talk about it yet.

At some point, we returned to our hotel to have dinner, again with Marian. There were a few kind of interesting panels later in the evening, but we decided against going there because Firs’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn video game. Marian wasn’t as reluctant to play as Cyan, Ylvs and me, so she got to make Simon wander around the Hayholt and the frozen north for a while.

Apart from taking pictures, I also scribbled down a few random lines that made me laugh. (Mostly, I suppose, in a you-had-to-be-there sort of way.)


Marian, wondering why Vorzheva is wandering around the nighttime garden.


Inside Naglimund

“And the only thing he has to defend himself with is some mutton.”

– Cyan


Heading further north


Marian and cactus-headed Firsfron

“I have dead friends and this painting is everywhere.”

– Marian


Duke Isgrimnur


Simon in the Quiller’s Mint – a little in-joke for Smarchers

“That was mainly whatever we talked about at the kaffeeklatsch, when we weren’t talking about having sex with dinosaurs.”

– Ylvs, who snuck into a kaffeeklatsch she hadn’t signed up for (but I forgot with which author.)


Into the lion’s den, or rather the Norn’s city


Not going to get out of here alive…

“Yay, onions!”

– everyone

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2014 22:57

    The quotes are hilarious! Thanks for sharing the screenshots (I just wish there was a little less me in the photos).

    • December 8, 2014 23:02

      I can always crop the picture if you prefer, so you’ll be gone entirely. I just like how it reminds me of how nice it was to sit together in that room, just the five of us.

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