Last night I stopped by Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO to check out a reading of stories from my friend John Joseph Adams’s new anthology Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom. Excerpts of three stories in the anthology were read by the authors — David Barr Kirtley, Genevieve Valentine, and Chris Claremont. The stories were great. The art was great. The Brooklyn Lager was great. I hid behind a bookshelf rather than introduce myself to Mr. Claremont. I mean, what was I supposed to say? “Hi. You invented Shadowcat. Please excuse me while I go pass out.”
During the reception after the reading, Dave Kirtley introduced me to a young man named Terrence, a fan of JJA’s work and frequent listener of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, on which I was a recent guest . Terrence had just applied to Clarion West, and was interested in knowing more about the workshop. As a graduate of Clarion in San Diego, I am always happy to talk about what a fun and irreplaceable experience the workshop is, and what a profound effect it had on my skills as a writer. So we chatted for a few minutes and I name-dropped some famous people.
Afterwards, I couldn’t stop thinking about the encounter. There was something so familiar about it. And then I remembered, years ago, a similar reading I attended at the South Street Seaport. Anthologist John Joseph Adams was promoting his new book The Living Dead; David Barr Kirtley and John Langan were the authors in attendance. Before that reading, I didn’t know any of these people, but after the reading, Jordan and I started a conversation with Dave, who introduced us to JJA, who suggested we go to the monthly reading series KGB Fantastic Fiction. Six months later I had several new friends, a “posse,” if you will, and an acceptance letter to Clarion.
I’m not sure if I even would have applied to Clarion without John and Dave’s encouragement, but there it was, and here we are. So let this be a lesson to any would-be writers out there: people in the spec-fic industry are generous and approachable. Friendship is contagious. And Terrence, if you’re at the next KGB, feel free to sit at my table.