Thursday, 4 September 2014

Kaffeeklatches and Literary Beers

I don't think this had been thought of back in 1987, but it's certainly a thing now - you could sign up at the information desk the day before to have coffee in a small group with the author of your choice, or in the case of a literary beer, hang out at the bar with the author of your choice. I put my name down for Kim Stanley Robinson - I greatly admire his work, but then I had a bit of a panic because I haven't actually read any of his books for long enough that the details had got a bit fuzzy. I wondered if I should do some homework to get up to speed.
As it happened, none of that was needed. It was a very relaxed affair, with people chatting around a table - and there were so many of these scheduled that there were two tables going at the same time in the London Suite where we were. It was also quite interesting that everyone around the table, as they introduced themselves, was either a writer, aspiring writer or computer programmer!
So we talked about the inadvisability of basing major characters in your book on members of your own family, as KSR did in Forty Signs of Rain. The toddler is heavily based on both his own sons, and for the later books he shifted the focus from that family to another character because it was a bit awkward at home.
He also talked about the new lease of writing life he's got from writing outdoors, which he's been doing for five or six years now. Of course, he lives in California, rather than Wales, and has a tarpaulin to shelter under if it rains, and bird feeders with humming birds visiting them right by where he's sitting. He wrote Galileo's Dream like that, and it had been the most enjoyable writing experience he'd had for years, which made me happy because I'd just bought it at the dealers' hall.
Later, I bought Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable, critical essays edited by William J Burling and published by McFarland, who had a stand in the dealers' hall with a range of scholarly works about SF authors and subjects. I was tempted by several there, but they weren't cheap. I think I made a good choice with this one, though.

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