Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I went to the Tattered Cover last night, where Connie Willis answered questions and signed copies of her latest novel, Blackout, which has been in the works for eight years. It was my first trip away from both of my boys that didn't involve the grocery store in ages, and it was excellent to get away. I returned home to discover that Banshee Baby had given his Daddy a hard time and gotten poop all over, but at least I had a relaxing evening.
Connie Willis is one of my favorite science fiction authors. Actually, that's not true. To be honest, I'd have to say that she is my all-time favorite author, science fiction or otherwise. Her plotting is excellent, her timing impeccable, her dialogue snappy, and her humor is wonderful. I can't remember whether I started with The Doomsday Book or the story collection Impossible Things--but it doesn't matter anymore, I've read everything of hers that I can get my hands on. And sometimes it's hard to get your hands on her stuff. Some of her novellas had limited runs, not all of her short stories are in anthologies, and her earliest work can be difficult to track down. But there are lots of books you can get your hands on, and I highly recommend her.
It's always a blast to hear Connie speak. She's very open, talkative, and her sense of humor works in person as well as in print. She is also very well-read and will recommend many books over the course of a talk--and I always find myself wishing I'd thought to take notes. She regaled us with tales of her research, how relieved she is to finally be done, and talked about her writing process. It felt rather good--a validation, I suppose--to know that she gets stuck in some of the same sort of places I do while writing.
In addition to signing my copy of Blackout, Connie was nice enough to sign my copies of several other (okay, seven) of my books. I was amazed at how many of them were not signed yet. I've seen Connie many times before at MileHiCon, the convention where I met my husband, but I guess I'd accumulated a lot since my last visit. I knew I'd be okay bringing them along, though, since Connie is not the sort of person to be stuck-up about rigid rules for book signings. In fact, she has a Christmas story, Adaptation, in which she makes fun of the sort of celebrities who do. The signing took a little longer than I'd anticipated, and as I returned to my car I hoped that my $28 book would not turn into a $70 book--but thankfully the meter maid did not pay a visit after the meter expired. Whew!
Blackout is part one of a two-volume series involving time travel and the blitz--and I happen to know it has an Eileen in it! All Clearwill be coming out sometime in the fall (I believe she said October.) And she promised us many times last night that it is indeed finished--she said if she gets hit by a bus on her way home from the signing, we'll still get the book later this year. It'll be a while before I get to start this one, since I'm in the middle of reading something else right now, and with my son around, my reading time is limited. And if I put it off for a while, the wait between books won't be as long. I shall certainly share my thoughts on it once I've finished.