ALA Recap

I spent my weekend in the Washington DC area at the ALA conference, which was actually a whole lot of fun. The first reason was that I’m a tremendous fan of librarians in a general sense, and the specific librarians I met over the weekend were fairly excellent as individuals, and basically a whole lot of fun to meet and spend time with. Honestly, the day I can’t enjoy myself among people who spend their life dealing with books is the day I’ve probably fallen head first into a grave.

The second reason was that it allowed me to get to know a few of my fellow authors a bit better, specifically Jeff and Ann VanderMeer and Steve Erikson. Jeff and I have had that “we know each other online” thing going on for a couple of years now and have always been fairly friendly, so it was nice to seal the deal in the real world, and Ann (who incidentally is the new editor over at Weird Tales) was a delight to meet as well. Steve Erikson I had not met nor corresponded with before, but he’s kick, especially when he’s sharing stories about his past life as an archaeologist, which have to be heard to be believed. It was excellent to meet him.

Jeff, Steve and I were all on a panel titled “The Literature of Ideas,” along with Charlotte Jones, who is the granddaughter of Madeleine L’Engle and an absolutely wonderful person in her own right. The panel was put together with the help of Tor’s Kathleen Doherty, and I think she chose the participants well, because each of us came at the topic from entirely different angles, which is what you want to keep the audience from keeling over from boredom. Each of us talked individually about science fiction and fantasy for about fifteen minutes and then did a Q&A. Jeff gives some of the highlights of the talks on his new blog Ecstatic Days, which I recommend, both for the talk tidbits and in a general sense.

Aside from Jeff, Ann and Steve I managed to sneak in a little time with Sarah Beth Durst, who was down at ALA promoting her debut novel Into the Wild, and made the acquaintance of graphic novelist and Whatever reader Jane Irwin, who was nice enough to give me copies of her Vogelein comic series. I also saw YA author David Lubar, who used to write humor articles for me back when I was an editor at AOL; we’ve known each other for a decade but it was the first time we met in person.

But wait, there’s more! I also very briefly saw Delia Sherman, Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, each appearing literally as we were heading out of the conference to catch a cab to the airport. I think they planned it that way. At the airport Jeff also very briefly introduced me to Peter Straub, who happened to be wandering about. It was one of those small world things. In short, lots of interesting people who do that writing thing were at the conference. Funny how that might be.

And of course one of the nice things about going to a library conference is that the publishers there give out all sorts of free free free books, and I’m a flat-out sucker for that. Really, that’s why I love lit conferences and trade shows and will pretty much show up for any of them: Because afterwards I get to wander the aisles and graze. I ended up picking up a couple dozen books, even split between books for me and books for Athena, and then heaved myself down to the temporary post office at the conference to mail them all home. They’ll be here in a couple of days. I’ll have to figure out what to do with myself until then.

So there you have it: Librarians + Authors + Book swag = happy Scalzi. That said, it’s good to be home and to have nowhere pressing to be for a while. I’ve got work and family to catch up on.

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