Appearances: Washington DC Fly-by Visit!

Oyez! I’m going to be in DC tomorrow through Friday doing some really neat public events that it’d be great if you could come to!

Canadian Authors: S.K. Ali, Amal El-Mohtar and Canisia Lubrin

Wednesday, Feb 14
4:30 PM – 5:30 PM EST
4450 Wisconsin Ave. NW

“The Canadian Embassy, the Ottawa Writer’s Festival and DC Public Library are proud to present S.K. Ali, Amal El-Mohtar and Canisia Lubrin.These Canadian authors will read excerpts from their work and speak on their experiences as writers. The event will take place in the large conference room and is open to teens and adults.”

Culture Blast: An Evening with Five Canadian Writers

Thursday, Feb 15
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST
IA&A at Hillyer

9 Hillyer Court Northwest

“Join us for our February Culture Blast featuring five Canadian writers who will each read an excerpt from their writing, followed by a moderated discussion on the importance of culture and stories to an open and vibrant democracy. Featured authors include Canisia Lubrin, S.K. Ali, Cherie Dimaline, Amal El-Mohtar, and Aviaq Johnston. The conversation will be moderated by Matthew Davis.”

 

 

 

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NPR Reviews: Nnedi Okorafor’s THE NIGHT MASQUERADE and Kim Purcell’s THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER

A couple of reviews I wrote went up on NPR these last couple of weeks! Here are samplings of them:

Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

9780765393135_custom-c05e841327d3ad168eb2474a1a7bc93d8d5c71fe-s400-c85The Night Masquerade picks up where Home left off, with Binti learning, through her newly enhanced senses, that her home — and her dear friend Okwu, a jellyfish-like alien from a race called the Meduse — is under attack from the Khoush, Earth’s dominant ethnicity and the Meduse’s ancestral enemies. With the help of her new friend Mwinyi — a member of her father’s people, the Enyi Zinariya — she navigates the desert while plagued with nightmares of violence, knowing she must find a way to broker a peace once and for all. But Binti’s story is nothing quite so straightforward.


This is Not a Love Letter
by Kim Purcell

9781484798348_custom-437cf096e51455d722918e87d0c62cf151bd1d44-s400-c85Every now and then I read an article or essay musing about whether or not young adult literature is “too dark” — whether there’s too much sex, too much violence, too much sadness. The premise of these essays is usually that teenagers exist in some pristine unspoiled state until they pick up a book about drug use or self-harm that makes them unhappy.

This is of course not the case — and I’m glad that Kim Purcell’s This is Not a Love Letter exists for teenagers who have to look after their parents, navigate hostile social environments, and cope with trauma.

That’s that for now — towards the end of this month I’ll be covering Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman, and around the same time my first Otherworldly column for the New York Times should appear. Things! Stuff! So much things, so many stuff!

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LeVar Burton Reads “The Truth About Owls”

I’ve been waiting since October to talk about this.

Back in October, on our last day in Portland, my agent, DongWon Song, took Stu and me out to lunch at a sandwich shop — one of those places where you find yourself eating a sandwich and saying it’s the best sandwich you’ve ever had, because Portland.

Towards the end of the meal, DongWon — smoothly, calmly — leaned over to show me an email on his phone. I started reading it.

I saw “LeVar Burton.”

Then I burst into tears.

This is not hyperbole. Messily, noisily, I found myself weeping in a sandwich shop in Portland because — well, Community already did this in jest so I feel it’s some kind of self-parody for me to say, completely earnestly, everything that got played for laughs there. (YOU CAN’T DISAPPOINT A PICTURE!)

LeVar Burton Community gif

LeVar Burton — of Reading Rainbow, of Star Trek: The Next Generation, two pillars of my childhood emergence into books and science fiction — was asking for permission to read “The Truth About Owls” on his podcast, LeVar Burton Reads. It’s episode 14.

He says, of the stories he reads on this podcast, “the only thing these stories have in common is that I love them, and I hope you will too.”

 

I keep reaching for more words to really spell out the heart of how much this means to me, why it’s undoing me to the degree it is. I think, maybe, it’s that LeVar Burton specifically — his face, his voice — was my first experience of seeing a character also be the person behind the character. I was watching Star Trek and Reading Rainbow at the same time, and I was so young; it seemed to me that Geordi LaForge walked out of a starship and into a diner where he became LeVar Burton. It seemed like a kind of reality-bending power — which is also the power of books, the power of that colourful butterfly touching the world with magic and wonder. That butterfly touched LeVar Burton and he became Geordi LaForge.

And now it’s touched this story, and made it into a story read by LeVar Burton.

I’ve only listened to half the story so far — blown away, already, by the production of it (there’s music! SOUND EFFECTS!) as well as LeVar’s reading — and suspect I’ll have to take it in increments because I’m just feeling so much. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out to Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein, the editors of Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Storiesthe anthology where this story first appeared. It’s literally a rainbow of good reading.

I’ve said before, and will say again forever, that this story wouldn’t exist without Julia’s kind insistent shepherding of my insecurities out the door until I wrote it for her. It was a very hard story to write. Thanks, too, to Tessa Kum, for introducing me to the Scottish Owl Centre; to the Scottish Owl Centre, for patiently putting up with my repeat visits and being at the heart of two award-winning stories now; to CSE Cooney, for brain-storming this story’s core with me; to Strange Horizons, for reprinting it online and inviting me to talk about its genesis.

All these things are inexorably tied up, for me, with the fact that LeVar Burton is reading my story on his podcast, and I expect to be reeling from this for quite some time.

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ConFusion Schedule!

Weather and borders willing, I should be at ConFusion in Novi, Michigan in — ten days! TEN DAYS! Here’s my programming schedule:

Steven Universe Sing-Along
Friday 9PM in Marquette
Amal El-Mohtar, Maggi Rhode
(Come sing with us! The songs are all super short and fun!)

Immigration and Refuge in Science Fiction
Saturday 10 in Manitou
Travel stories are classics in any genre, but in science fiction, stories of travelling to a new home are often about colonization, or about intrepid explorers amongst the (primitive) aliens. Let’s talk about the science fiction stories that better reflect the experiences of immigrants and refugees in the real world.
Alexandra Manglis, Amal El-Mohtar, David Anthony Durham, John Chu

Reading: Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar
Saturday 3PM in Keweenaw
WE’RE GONNA READ FROM OUR FORTHCOMING NOVELLA COME HEAR US READ FROM OUR FORTHCOMING NOVELLA

Autograph Session
Saturday 4PM in St Claire
Bring stuff and I’ll sign it! I may even have fountain pens with pretty inks to do so!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a Case Study in Storytelling
Saturday 5PM in Isle Royal
Our panel of writers discusses the structure, pacing, characters, themes, and world-building in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Also the swords, floaty rocks, and tiny fluffbeasts.
Amal El-Mohtar, Annalee Flower Horne, Annalee Newitz, Delilah S. Dawson, Julia Rios, Nisi Shawl

Poetry In Novels
Sunday 10AM in Isle Royale
Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass include lengthy poems, placing them in a long tradition of long-form fiction that incorporates poetry into the work. How does writing poems for prose fiction differ from writing poems that stand alone? What distinct techniques does it require? Where do poems within stories exist in the landscape of genre poetry today?
Amal El-Mohtar, Clif Flynt, Jeff Pryor, Josef Matulich, John Winkelman, Mari Ness

A Novel Look at the Short Story
Sunday 2PM in Charlevoix
Short stories require a different approach to pacing, character, world-building, exposition, and plot than longer works. Let’s explore the tools we use to convey important information to the reader when we have a lot fewer words to do it with.
Lucy A. Snyder, Jessi Cole Jackson, A. T. Greenblatt, Benjamin C. Kinney, Scott H. Andrews, Amal El-Mohtar

 

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2017 in Creative Work

Happy New Year!

Term doesn’t start up again until next week — when I’ll be teaching Creative Writing at the University of Ottawa while continuing my doctoral dissertation at Carleton — so this week’s been a combination of gearing up for what’s ahead while looking at 2017 in the rearview mirror.

2017 was a year of enormous honours, of being bowled over again and again by gratitude and disbelief, of being supported through bad times and sharing deeply in the good. Most spectacularly, “Seasons of Glass and Iron” was nominated for seven awards and won three: the Nebula, the Locus, and the Hugo. But I also passed my comprehensive exams with distinction, taught two creative writing courses in one term and several workshops for children and adults, attended ConFusion, the Nebula Awards weekend, Wiscon (as Guest of Honour?!), went to Sweden and Finland for the first time to attend a conference (RECEPTION HISTORIES OF THE FUTURE, organized by the brilliant Arkady Martine) and the Hugos respectively, attended Can*Con in Ottawa right before the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, was a guest host for a year’s worth of Writing Excuses (the episodes of which start appearing this month!), gave several readings and performances, and holed up in a Catskills mansion with 11 other women to talk, write, and drink cocktails.

But what did I write?

Non-fiction:

  • Two speeches, one at Wiscon and one at SiWC, delivered before hundreds of people in spectacular company to standing ovations; the experiences were so enormous that I’ve shied away from publishing the texts, because I feel they could only be a shadow of what was shared between us in those ballrooms. (Still, I should.)
  • 17 full-length reviews and 12 bite-sized reviews for NPR
  • 4 review columns for Lightspeed
  • 1 full-length review for the New York Times (?!!?)

Academe: 

  • I taught a short fiction course at the University of Ottawa and a poetry course at Carleton (in the same term, while doing the rest!)
  • wrote a digital humanities essay about the intersection of data visualisation and anthology-building
  • a Comprehensive Exam
  • a revision (not yet final) of my Doctoral Research Project
  • a (sadly unsuccessful) SSHRC application.

It may not sound like much (I tell myself) but that’s about 24000 words of material and a lot of time, so, it ain’t nothing.

Fiction:

  • A very short story, “Anabasis,” about which more below
  • A very short story, “As Above” (haha I am making jokes) for the Rubin Museum’s Spiral magazine, which should appear this year
  • A video game tie-in short story for Living Dark.
  • Notes for novels

2017 Publications: 

I had only two original pieces published in 2017, and both are small, dense, furious and heart-broken:

  • “A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds,” a fable about borders, refugees & generations of immigration in The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories.
  • Anabasis,” my first fiction on Tor.com, under the auspices of its flash series Nevertheless, She Persisted. It shares themes with “A Tale of Ash”; I wrote “Anabasis” partly in response to this news story, and it has the distinction of being the only work of mine to be written entirely while crying, which is not really a metric I’ve ever thought to reckon, but here we are.

I had a few reprints appear too:

  • Wing,” originally published in Strange Horizons, was included in Jacob Weisman and Peter Beagle’s New Voices of Fantasy
  • Weialalaleia,” originally published in Ann VanderMeer’s Bestiary, was reprinted in Lightspeed.
  • Seasons of Glass and Iron,” originally published in The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales (and reprinted in Uncanny in 2016), was reprinted in Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 11.

Miscellaneous Other Stuff:

Most excitingly, 2017 saw the sale of This Is How You Lose the Time War, Max Gladstone and my co-written spy vs. spy epistolary time-travel novella, to Navah Wolfe at Saga Press. It’s due to come out in the Fall of 2019! Mark your calendars! I love it more than I can easily say, and can’t wait to share it with you.

Audio-wise, in addition to the Writing Excuses stuff, I narrated a lot of gorgeous work at Uncanny between January and October, before concluding that position in fierce pursuit of Moar Time; I appeared on Antony Johnston’s Unjustly Maligned, defending the V for Vendetta film; I was interviewed, brilliantly, at both Storyological and Eating the Fantastic, by Chris Cuvols and Scott Edelman respectively.

Uncategorizably: 2017 was my first full year being an Oracle of Buses. I declared my intention on October 12, 2016, and since then have inhabited the role whenever the mantle settled upon me while on a bus.

The Oracle is ephemeral: she answers by quote-tweeting the questions she receives (unless they’re from protected accounts), so it’s difficult to find her replies. I’ve been encouraged from some quarters to establish a hashtag, keep the replies organized in one place, but I’d like to sound out the community that’s formed around the activity first. There’s a magic peculiar to the intangible, and it suits me to have that liminal bus-riding space be one in which magic happens without being preserved — but I don’t know. Maybe folk want to look stuff over, return to their replies. For now, I just want to look back in gratitude and joy at this small beauty we share between us on Twitter sometimes.

So! To conclude.

Last year, around this time, I wrote the following:

This year I want to pour into a novel; that’s the only writing demand I’ll make of myself. Well — that, and keeping on top of my academic work. So by the end of 2017 I hope to be a novelist, ABD, and in good health; if I can manage that I’ll be very proud of myself.

Well, I’m ABD and in good health, but I am not yet a novelist; looking back on how busy the year was, I don’t even feel bad about it. I learned a ton, enjoyed brilliant conversations that taught me further, travelled widely, and while I’ve taken on a couple of short story commissions this year, I’ll not take on more. There’s a chunk of summer that looks free and clear; I’ll be sharing it between dissertation revision and novel-writing. So, again, by the end of 2018, I hope to have submitted my dissertation to my supervisor and a novel to my agent. That’s a ton of work — but it’s a gift to feel, right now, up to it.

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2017 Winter Solstice: Hermitage & Candles

The last of the shortest day’s light is dimming. Across from me is Rima Staines’ “The Storyteller” Advent Calendar, with 21 days’ worth of folk and fairy tales opened up so far. Outside my window is a lot of snow, a seasonable amount of cold, and a confusion of brown oak leaves still clinging to the trees; it didn’t freeze enough for them to fall before the snow did.

It’s been a deep few weeks. December — my birthday month — has been a bit of a rollercoaster. I got detained while travelling for the second time this year, which led to a Twitter thread going viral, which led to some 2000 new followers over the course of a weekend, which led to some media attention, which led, in turn, to hermiting; if I’ve not answered your kind wishes and anger on my behalf, I’m so sorry. I’ve been overwhelmed, and trying to keep on top of work obligations while heading into a holiday season of trying to give my loved ones as much attention as possible, and it’s all been much of a muchness.

Part of that hermiting has had to do with separating my email and social media accounts from my messed-with phone; I haven’t had a chance to get it examined or do a hard reset, so some of the ways in which I use the internet have changed. Without Twitter on my phone I can’t be an Oracle of Buses, or easily share photos of the world tilting into winter. It’s been fascinating, feeling out the faultlines in the ways I communicate — how much I’ve come to rely on combinations of text and image to convey feeling, to reach out. It’s one thing to take a deliberate hiatus; it’s rather another to feel this strange sort of interrupted.

But I’ve been working. I’ve finished marking, some fiction, some work for hire, some revisions, I’m reading books for January reviews, I’m applying for grants and thinking about next year’s teaching. I cleaned and decorated my flat for Christmas — a first, for me, as we usually converge all our Christmas cheer on my parents’ place — and threw a tiny party to give away a bunch of ARCs. I’m trying, too, in the deepening dark of this longest night, to take stock of this past year: the good, the bad, the ugly, the unbelievably beautiful.

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I saw The Last Jedi a couple of days ago. I loved it. It makes much of sparks scattering, sparks being kept alive to light brighter fires, which strikes me as a very Solstice-y perspective. My birthday is on St. Lucia’s Day, which, before calendars changed, once overlapped with the Winter Solstice; in places of deep, dark winters, young girls wear crowns of candles to celebrate. I’ve loved seeing candles, oil lamps, electric lights burning everywhere this month: candlelight vigils in parks, Christmas lights jewelling trees, photos of friends’ menorahs and hearths. I imagine each light touching a new wick, blazing brightly, as we follow each other out of the dark.

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Merry Solstice, everyone.

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EATING THE FANTASTIC: Revisiting Helsinki with Scott Edelman

It’s November 17 and I haven’t yet written about the summer. “Blog the summer” has migrated through three bullet-journaled months. It will happen, if only because I need to get those photos off my phone — but in the meantime, I was delighted to revisit the Helsinki portion of summer magics through this delicious conversation with Scott Edelman.

Says Scott:

We discussed the importance of female friendship, the first poem she wrote at age 6 1/2 (which you’ll hear her recite), how Charles de Lint helped her get her first bookstore job, the importance of welcoming newcomers into the tent of science fiction and fantasy, what she learned about empathy from Nalo Hopkinson, the only time she ever cosplayed, which book made her a writer, why Storm is her favorite member of the X-Men, the delicious magic of honey, the difficulties of reviewing books in a field where everybody knows everybody, and much more.

Please join us for lunch!

Talking about how much I love talking has kind of been a thing this year; Scott has said that this is the longest iteration of his podcast to date, clocking in at just over 2 hours.

I enjoyed the delicious food and the delightful company very much, and I loved listening back to the ambient restaurant noise behind us, recollecting Helsinki. But more than that, I was really moved by how relaxed I sound. I’m used to experiencing interviews and podcast appearances as performances, with the slightly nervous energy that entails; but here, to me, I sound relaxed, like I was in fact just there for a meal with Scott that he happened to be recording.

I hope you enjoy it! Here, as a teaser, are the very dimly lit photos I took of the most marvellous, fairy-like dessert: frozen cranberries with hot caramel sauce.

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NPR Review: THIS MORTAL COIL by Emily Suvada

Nothing quite signals the approaching end of the year like the number of reviews I have left to write. This is probably the last one I’ll do (though won’t be the last one to appear), and it’s fitting that it should be a review of a book that goes out with such a… Bang.

Here’s a (oh dear) taste:

9781481496339_custom-aea9f637232cd0c9070f196e1514909c620e5a98-s400-c85The Hydra virus literally makes people explode.

The resulting fine pink mist gets airborne and infects anyone within a mile radius — unless they’ve first immunized themselves by eating the flesh of the infected. In a neat reversal of the usual zombie-virus trope, the healthy have to eat the sick in order to stay alive — and keep eating them, because the immunity wears off after a few weeks.

 

I also really enjoyed reading this essay by Suvada in Nightmare magazine, about the anxieties of eating or not eating flesh. The last line absolutely thrilled and chilled me.

In other news, I’m reading Max Gladstone’s Ruin of Angels in stolen moments between deadlines and it’s so smart and so good and all the speaking characters are women and it’s breaking my heart a lot and I love it. Thinking a lot about the role art plays in the worldbuilding, and that I’d like to write something linking it to revelations we get in N. K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky, because there is Cool Stuff Happening There.

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This Is How You Lose the Time War

maxamal

Navah Wolfe took the above photo at World Fantasy in Saratoga Springs, 2015, in the aftermath of Max and I duelling for honour & justice show in the parking lot. We joked, in its wake, that we should totally collaborate on something so that we could use it as a joint author photo.

In the summer of 2016, Max and I were at a writing retreat together to do just that. We had decided we wanted to write a novella together; we had decided on the form of letters exchanged between warring parties. We wrote three of five acts over the two weeks of that retreat, one act while stealing time away from World Fantasy in Columbus last year, and the finale in late December while sitting across from each other in True Grounds in Somerville.

We revised it together over the course of the spring, read from it for the first time in Ottawa this past April (back when we had the working title These Violent Delights), revised it again over the course of the summer in between a million other respective projects and travels, and sent it out into the world…

Where it landed with Navah Wolfe at Saga Press, who’s been there with it from the beginning, and whose photo of us crossing swords will, I hope, in fact actually end up inside the fully realized physical book that you’ll hold in your hands in the Fall of 2019.

I can hardly wait. Meanwhile, you can read the full announcement on Barnes & Noble’s blog — and keep an eye out! This is the longest thing I’ve had a hand in writing to date, and the whole process of announcement, cover reveals, pre-orders, all that good stuff is totally new to me! I expect to keep talking about this in increments for a while.

Duelling Max

 

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October: A Summary

I feel like if I don’t start writing about all the beautiful things I’ve experienced this year, they’ll just vanish and maybe have never been. I’ve had “Blog the Summer” on my to-do list since the first week of September, and now it’s the last day of October; I exist in a perpetual state of Catching Up on Email, and it’s all I can do to stay on top of important deadlines.

But today’s Samhain, the year’s hinge, and I have a space of time to sit and write before flipping the calendar page, so at the very least I want to talk about what an incredible month it’s been.

It began with a lovely visit: Stu’s parents came and stayed with us for the first ten days, celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving, during which we had unseasonably perfect weather, though this unfortunately meant the trees weren’t as spectacularly colourful as usual. Still, it wasn’t exactly shabby.

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In spite of the fact that I was writing reviews, wrangling grant applications and revising research projects, we managed to do some neat stuff together: we visited Carleton’s annual butterfly show…

…and went on a boat trip through the Thousand Islands.

On top of that I was teaching weekly workshops at Glashan Public School under the auspices of the Ottawa International Writers’ Festival, having an absolutely wonderful time with Sharon Kuiper’s 8-8 class. I taught four different workshops — on character, fairy tales, poetry, and writing spontaneously from a taste of honey — and was always blown away by what the kids managed to come up with. I’m really looking forward to them sharing their favourite pieces at the showcase in November.

Glashan Honey Workshop

No sooner did my in-laws leave than it was time for Can*Con! Dominik Parisien and Kelsi Morris came over from the shadowy place Toronto for it and stayed with us while attending. I had such a blast with them — when I wasn’t on panels having great conversations, I was at their table in the dealers’ room, watching the stack of The Starlit Wood copies steadily diminishing over the course of the con.

 

That last photo is of the final three copies, an appropriately fairy tale number with which to close out the con.

Immediately after THAT… I had a very special duty to perform.

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I had to keep Nadine (left) distracted at a very nice dinner (which went WAY too long) while Jenn (right) prepared to propose to her via private flash mob dance in the place they first met. It all worked out, in spite of my anxiety-fuelled nightmares of making everything go wrong NEARLY coming true! But they didn’t! And now Jenn and Nadine are affianced and everything is amazing and best!

I was up at 6:00 the next morning for a flight to Chicago!

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The fine folks at Writing Excuses invited Maurice Broaddus and me to be next year’s guest hosts, and we recorded a year’s worth of episodes over two days. This was intense and amazing: distilled, beautiful, challenging conversations about craft, where I felt myself learning as much as I was performing and thinking. After the first session, we repaired to Mary Robinette Kowal’s beautiful home, where she made us Boulevardiers and taught us to appreciate three different Vermouths.

It may have been how perfectly balanced were the cocktails, but whenever I tried to say how satisfying I found this work even when difficult, how much it felt like flexing muscles into new strength, how grateful I was for it, I mostly just teared up. I’d be thinking about it for the rest of the trip, though, as I went from host to host, conversation to conversation. I’m so excited for these episodes to air — partly because I’m looking forward to listening to them and reliving those two beautiful days over again.

(The following morning I would, in an attempt at helpfully doing the dishes, break one of those beautiful cocktail glasses. Mary forgave me. This will be Important Later.)

Also, dear gods but the Cards Against Humanity building is amazing. They have Global knives in the extensive kitchen! They have a shipping crate turned meditation space! This is the wallpaper in the BATHROOM.

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And this is what’s on the outside!

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After a lovely last evening with Mary spent in conversation I didn’t want to end, we got ready to part ways and reconvene at the Surrey International Writers’ Festival.

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That was the view from my hotel window, which I periodically lost time to, sitting on the couch beneath it and just watching curtains of distant rain parting over the mountains.

Surrey really deserves its own post, because I want to go into more detail about how magical everything was, how wonderful the workshops and keynote speeches, how kind the attendees, organisers, and volunteers. For now, suffice it to say that I delivered two workshops, a Blue Pencil session (where writers come up to you with three pages of manuscript and you go over them in fifteen minutes) and a keynote, had an amazing time — and then, on the last morning, a ridiculous thing happened to Stu!

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Not only did he find the only other ginger-bearded Scot in attendance at a literary conference in Surrey, British Columbia — he turned out to be his friend from highschool! Àdhamh Ó Broin is a Gaelic language consultant on Outlander, and had come from Glasgow to give workshops too. This is literally the second time this happens to Stu while we travel — Glaswegians clearly get around.

Then the conference was over, and after a weekend of solid rain, Surrey bid us a lovely farewell.

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And we were off to Portland!

DongWon Song — AKA SFF Ron Swanson or, more colloquially, World’s Best Agent — had driven up to the conference, and offered Stu and me a lift down to Portland. Neither of us had ever been in the Pacific Northwest, and the drive was breathtaking; we stopped in Seattle for soup dumplings and chat with a newly local friend, and kept on our way.

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Ostensibly I was going to give a talk to his students — who were all super smart, asked fantastic questions, and were generally a delight — but after that it was basically a holiday. Oregon is absurdly beautiful, and DongWon and Kristin gave us a fantastic foody tour of it, from food trucks to fancy restaurants to tastings of tea and honey and salt.

But better than any of that was the Bo Ssam he cooked for us on our last night there, with all the trimmings.

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On top of everything else, he drove us to the coast, so that Stu could greet the Pacific.

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The views were impossible.

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The signs were … Adorable?

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I basically felt like this the whole time.

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Many, many sealfies were taken. I’ll spare you most of them.

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While we flailed and sputtered at the ocean, DongWon was literally working.

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An agent’s work is never done. I call this one “Negotiating the Horizon”:

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To my abiding delight, we got to have a lovely breakfast with Kelly Sue DeConnick, followed by my first trip to Powell’s! Featured: Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Misfit’s Manifesto, which looks super cool.

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I signed every copy of The Starlit Wood in Powell’s, heartened by how many there were and in how many sections, and definitely hope to go back sometime.

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All too soon it was time to go — to take the train back up to Canada and visit with my cousin Rima and family!

We were pretty exhausted by this point, but Stu’s parents had insisted that we absolutely had to visit Stanley Park while in the vicinity, so we managed a glancing acquaintance with it.

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Rima took me to a very local honey bee centre, where I tasted even more honey, and got to see the workings of a hive up close through slightly smudgy glass.

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I held my hand against the glass and feeling how warm it was with the bees’ bodies.

And then it was time to go, again — but home this time, looking back over the expanse of a very thorough month. I couldn’t stop watching the colours change out the window, light draping over mountains and water like cloth under the moon.

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We’d be arriving back in Ottawa around 1:00 AM, and I only had a day or so to recover before being back at work. The jet lag’s easing now, I’m beginning to surface up out of email — and look at that. That’s most of a month blogged. The highlights, anyway. The highlights I can talk about, anyway! So many good things happened during this whirlwind trip, and I’m excited to share them in the coming weeks.

But by then it’ll be November, and that’s a whole different month.

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