Sarah Is a Busy Bee

So, I had a lovely time in America!

The Smart Chicks tour you have heard about: I also saw New York, Baltimore and Massachusetts, attended not one but two weddings and not one but two debates on zombies versus unicorns. (Naomi Novik of His Majesty’s Dragon renown secured my support for team unicorn by feeding me cupcakes. I am easily bought: all you need is cupcakes.)

Here is a picture of me, Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman, taken by Maureen Johnson on our way to one wedding.

Right after this picture was taken we got into a van. The van door was beside me. It kept opening and closing, as if pulled by a magic hand. We could not get it to stop.

SARAH: Just drive, my fine driver!
DRIVER: drives
CAR DOOR: opens and closes, opens and closes
PASSING PEOPLE IN CARS: all stare
PASSING MOTORCYCLE: circles back to get another look
SARAH: waves. Like the Queen.
ROBIN: You know how you always say that you’re cursed? I BELIEVE YOU NOW.

You would this moment have video footage of this event, except both Scott and Maureen were laughing so hard they both fouled up taking video with their phones.

The final thing I did on my trip away was attend Sirens, a convention in Denver about women and fantasy.

I was on two panels: one about fans and feminism, in which we discussed (among other things) how female creators get hated and male creators get loved. See people saying things like ‘Joss Whedon is my master now’ – I have never seen anyone talk about female creators like that. Women also get to create TV shows much less often, but a lovely member of the audience pointed out that Shonda Rhimes created Grey’s Anatomy and is vocally hated by many fans of the show.

It is the same with writers: popular guy authors like Neil Gaiman? A lot of love. Popular lady authors like J.K. Rowling? Not so much.

In the end our only conclusion was that we must all try not to judge ladies, both real and fictional, more harshly than guys! But it was nice to all rant together.

The other panel was on YA fantasy, and is ably recapped here! Though I think I said what I wanted when I was younger was fiction on the corner of magic and deviance. (Not that I don’t love a vampire. But I wish to be clear my heart is also open to demons and magicians and werebeasts of all kinds. Except the werepossum. Werepossums are out!)

I also very much enjoyed going to roundtables and discussing stuff loudly. Holly Black, Mallory Loehr (Tamora Pierce’s editor, so a very fancy lady indeed) and I walked into a roundtable on sexuality in YA, and were all immediately outspoken about wanting to see diversity: there should be books for all teens, with all different experiences.

Also Malinda Lo, with Cindy Pon as her right-hand lady, ran an excellent roundtable on faeries and the fey.

During that roundtable and also the panel on YA, Malinda and I both got to talk a lot about gay characters in YA: how we’re seeing more of them, and less of ‘the only story is the coming-out story’ but how it’s very much a process, and how a lot of readers are still just not expecting gay characters at all.

In Malinda Lo’s Ash, which I have previously recommended here, the Cinderella-ish heroine falls for the king’s huntress rather than the prince, and readers write to her saying they were stunned when the two girls get together! I myself have received emails from people who were very surprised when Jamie turned out to be gay in The Demon’s Covenant, which always makes me picture a couple scenes in The Demon’s Lexicon with great amusement.

NICK: What are you looking at?
JAMIE: I was just thinking something.
NICK: What.
JAMIE: Well, speaking purely heterosexually, dude, you are smokin’.
NICK: I get that a lot.

But even though people are surprised, we see progress by seeing how people mostly accept it much more happily than they would have done in the past. My own sister was I think a little taken aback that Jamie was gay, but she likes him best and thinks that I made a Serious Mistake by not writing The Demon’s Surrender from his point of view. Holly and I both got to talk about how great it was to see the massive outpouring of fan love for Alec and Magnus (a serious young demonhunter and a sparkly bisexual warlock), the gay couple in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.

So in conclusion: Sirens, it was lovely to meet so many great people and discuss the Things I Love Discussing in-depth! And here are some Sirens pictures.

I got back to Ireland on Tuesday. It’s children’s book month in Ireland, so I have library events every day this week and next, and this weekend I am attending Octocon, an Irish fantasy convention, on Saturday discussing Paranormal Romance Vs Urban Fantasy at 12, and Likeable Anti-Heroes at 2pm. On Sunday I will be doing a workshop on writing YA with Claire Hennessy.

Guess who else will be at Octocon? George R.R. Martin, of A Song of Ice and Fire fame. I think this means everyone will be staring at him in fascination, and I will be able to say all the scandalous things I can think of and not get in trouble…

I also have a book to finish, a book to edit, two short stories to edit, and I have to move house. (Alas, Cherry Bomb of my heart, goodbye forever.) And I must put up chapter one of The Demon’s Surrender for all of you!

So in November… I may die. We shall SEE. Until my death, I’d love to talk about books, my curse, zombies versus unicorns, feminism or anything at all.

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