“Texas Writers on Texas Writing”

This was a panel from the AWP conference. Think the stardate was 9 March, 2006, about 1:30 in the breathless afternoon. A big room with these draping chandeliers, and some ice cold water in metal pitchers (and, luckily for my whispering self, a mic). The write-up of the panel, from the schedule-thing:

Where Genre and Non-genre Meet: Texas Writers on Texas Writing. Just because you’re from Texas doesn’t mean you write Westerns. Contemporary writers of horror, mystery, science fiction, and other genre and genre-inspired literature talk about the influence of Texas on their work, the effects of place and culture, redefinitions of ‘Texas’ on writing, the space between genre and nongenre literature, and how from Robert E. Howard, father of Sword & Sorcery, to the present, the wide Texas landscape has inspired more than stories of cowboys and cattle herds

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AWP reading

Guess I did two readings at AWP this past weekend. Well, two readings and one panel. Of the two readings, anyway, this is the one that happened to get recorded [ the other reading was at the FC2 party; I read “Faberge,” that piece that’s out in Third Coast right now ]. anyway, I forget what-all I read for this reading. lots of short, one-paragraph type stuff.

And, many thanks to thirstygerbil for manning the camera. ( he was also kind enough to snag that panel, the one with Craig Clevenger and Joe Lansdale and Mark Finn; once I get the okay from all them to post the thing, I’ll throw it up here somewhere )

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It was a good run

On a sad note, SciFiction is a gone thing. Of course, wherever Ellen Datlow lands next will be the new hot spot for speculative stuff. Just hope the wait isn’t too long.

My selfish reason for being sad, of course, is that I cut my teeth on OMNI’s fiction* back in the 80’s. Which is to say Datlow introduced me to the short story, more or less. So I’ve been amassing rejection letters from her for about twelve years now. Maybe longer, even. I should rig them up in some kind of display case, really, charting changes in letterhead, all that. Going to miss that monthly rejection, though. You get addicted to it after a while. Well, that and the hope that there’s an acceptance in the mail too, one that’ll bring you (me) full circle, as far as the short story goes. Foolish as it sounds, I’ve always felt like I owe her one good story, as thanks for all the good ones she’s shared over the years.

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Texas Book Festival


The video of the panel is live. It runs close to an hour, but well worth it, lots of good stuff talked about by all of the authors. Too, thanks to my brother for the steady hand as he filmed most of it, and when it shakes and your stomach is sick, blame me, sorry, couldn’t stand still. Enjoy. Click the picture to start the recording, or click here to just listen:

[audio:http://www.demontheory.net/wp-admin/excl/SGJ_TxBkFest.mp3]

links to the panelists:

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Back when

Early, scary stuff here. All of it right about fifteen years old. Not sure how I ever learned to write, really. Just that I had to. Included: “The Parrot Man,” which has a scene in it I’ve still yet to stop trying to tell; “West Texas Dirt,” which got me my first-ever fiction award, and $150; “Breakfast for Two,” which maybe had potential; then the first story I ever turned in for workshop, “Whiter Shade of Pale.” back when I thought song-lyrics were cool in stories. Or when I thought nobody else knew that song. I don’t know. Then the first story I ever wrote, sitting in another emergency room at nineteen years old, a blank spiral in my lap–all I’d had when the cops pulled me from World Lit, escorted me to the hospital for a three-day wait. What I remember best from those seventy-two hours–it was Halloween–would be this huge, big guy, who’d taken his kid trick or treating but got a flat, was changing it, got hit and dragged by a drunk driver. He was tore up all kinds of bad, of course, and really shouldn’t have been alive, but–I still get all shaky talking about it–the way he kept rising from that bed, fighting the lines and wires, fighting everything, just to live. It’s never left me. And, at the end of it, I had a story in my spiral. And here I am. But maybe I’d trade it just for that guy, I think. So he could have just taken his kid door to door, collecting candy.

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Stranded

So, yeah, I’m on a desert island, can only have ten books. A strange, impractical set-up—that the dungeon master here can assume I’d grab a round number of books instead of a two-way radio or a knife—but so be it. I’m there. I can only have ten books. Which is a lot like punishment, but, too, is a lot better than just nine books. Here goes:

1.Don Quixote. Not because it’s a classic and not because it’s on the required reading lists and not because it was the first real novel, any of that. I’d have it with me just because it’s good. Because I still think often of the way Dulcinea’s world must have reordered itself just a little, when she ceased being a princess. Because Don Quixote is able to preserve that romantic idealism most of us lose in the process of growing up. For him the world’s a magical place. I envy him that.

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