Saturday, 31 March 2018

Follycon live Blog 2: Hangovers, Heinlein and Hugos...

Like many a poor fool, I paid for that one. Being horribly unused to alcohol, the rounds on Friday night were enough to finish me off. I was still a little lightheaded at breakfast.

 Discovered the Hotel gym, which was good because I have a 10 k run on the 8th, not to mention a horrible Tough Mudder 10 mile challenge in May and have to train. Heavy exercise also woke me up a bit!

After this I felt slightly better so I went to the first talk of the day, on Farah Mendleson’s new book concerning the Golden Age writer Robert A. Heinlein. She deliberately steered away from Heinlein’s politics to focus on story construction, dialogue, language and sense of the sublime. Heinlein’s often misunderstood in a number of ways, because people only read part of his writing or mistake what a character says in his stories for his opinion. I’m aiming to buy this book!

The hangover set in and I began to feel grouchy, pissed off and remorseful, so I went back to my room to chill out/meditate. Also had an expedition into town for food supplies.

 Felt marginally better on my return, in time for the Nnedi Okorafor interview. Nnedi is a supernova in modern SF. She is a frighteningly talented person who has a deftness with prose that makes the rest of us look like crayon-wielding muppets.

She’s Nigerian-American, and the daughter of two high-achieving parents who was very athletic at school. This was curtailed by a developing scoliosis of the spine that left her temporarily paralysed and in a great deal of pain.

During this period, she was given a copy of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot and began to scribble stories in the margin. Basically, she never stopped, and eventually did a creative writing course, going on to produce large volumes of work. Eight years later, about 2005–6, she begins submitting this work, and soon found an agent and publisher.

Today, she writes novels and is also working with Marvel on their Black Panther series. It turned out that she’s on this year’s Hugo shortlist — twice! This was all interesting/inspiring to hear, if a little intimidating, as I’m on the Le Guin panel with her on Monday!

 The most interesting bit for me was the suggestion that Nnedi’s athletic discipline got transferred to writing, and that this allowed her to produce large volumes of high quality prose over long periods of time. This chimes with my own experience of athletes in my personal training day job: the ‘can do’ attitude and discipline has also helped me with my writing, and I think that writers have a lot to learn from sports psychology in terms of motivation and persistence.

At half four, my friend Tiffany from the Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy was co-launching their new web science fiction magazine Electric Athenaeum, so I turned up and got chatting to a very nice person who’d only just accepted one of my short stories! The magazine looks a very worthwhile project, and one of the authors stood up and read a sample of his forthcoming story.

After the Hugo shortlist announcement,  I joined my fellow panellists for the ‘Real Magic’ panel. I’d been asked to be on this because of my interest in consciousness studies/parapsychology/Buddhist practise and it was fun, although very pagan focussed.

We ended the day in the bar, and I had some great discussions with old and new friends. I hope I’m less hung over tomorrow morning!

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