My First Interview as a Science Fiction Author
Posted on September 20, 2009 Posted by John Scalzi 11 Comments
It was at Torcon 3, in 2003, which was after Tor bought Old Man’s War but was a year and a half before the novel actually came out, and which was my very first science fiction convention, ever. The interview was with CBC radio dude Joe Mahoney, who met me at the Tor Books Worldcon party, was putting together a piece on the convention for CBC, and decided to get the perspective of the “new guy.” He recorded nine and a half minutes of an interview, of which roughly thirty seconds made it into the finished piece (which I linked to almost exactly six years ago in this entry). I was pretty pleased to get a moment in there with the likes of Cory Doctorow and Robert Sawyer.
As for the rest of the interview, well, it was lost to the mists of time, until right this very day, when Joe decided to post it up on his Web site. It’s a very interesting interview from an archeological standpoint, because among other things it has me reflecting on attending my first science fiction convention and trying to make sense of fans and fandom, which was definitely a new concept for me at the time. I hope the fen listening now won’t judge me too harshly.
2003 is six years ago, so I can’t really say that I’m discussing events across a great bridge of time, but I will say that the Tor party that year was particularly interesting for me. Aside from being the occasion of my first interview as a science fiction author, it was the place where I first made the acquaintance of a number of writers and sf/f notables. I was introduced to Rob Sawyer there, who was having a very good con (he won the Best Novel Hugo); we were introduced just briefly and he had quite the crowd about him so I don’t imagine I made much of an impression on his memory track at the time. I also got to make the acquaintance of Robert Silverberg, who was both droll and gracious with his conversational time. And it was also the place where I first met Alan Beatts, owner of San Francisco’s Borderlands Books, which has since become one of my all-time favorite bookstores, and where I’ve had quite a lot of fun. In all, a good party for me.
In any event, enjoy listening to the amusingly-clueless-about-science-fiction version of me, circa 2003. How far I’ve come since then.
I have a feeling that when I am a first time author being interviewed I’ll sound just like that, only less coherent.
Your very first con was a worldcon? Talk about diving in at the deep end!
As a former book dealer, almost 20 years experience and now as a manager of a large IT company I fail to understand how the fact that you serialized your first novel on the internet does a “great disservice” to “emerging writers”.
No offence is intended toward Steve Resnick.
I think what Resnick is worried about is that new writers will think the way to get published is to put their novels online and wait around for a publisher to come by, rather than submitting work the usual way.
I liked the ‘well, if it works out [writing SF], fine, if not, I’ll move on, especially, when looked at from where you are today.
Today’s LA Times article on Penny Arcade was illustrated in the print edition with the strip showing Zoe’s Tale front and center. I don’t think it made it to the online article, though.
Mike Resnick has clarified his comment:
Otherwise, not a bad interview Mr Scalzi. Some people are just born articulate I guess.
Well, heh, alas, no. By that time I had written several books, had done a book tour and been on TV and radio for interviews a whole bunch of times. I had practice.
It was interesting to listen to your first interview as a science fiction author. I’m not sure that I would have gone so far as to describe you as “amusingly clueless about science fiction”
Certainly I have been an avid fan of yours.
After more than 50 years of reading science fiction I decided it was time to make my own (very) modest contribution:
Just to give something back for a life time of pleasurable reading.
Pretty cool. Only 6 years ago, wow. You’ve come a long way, baby.
Oh, and the “land of the misfit toys” reference made me chuckle.
That was my very first con, too. I was much earlier in my writerly trajectory, though, so there was no interviewing and very little meeting of fellow writers. Still, a great time.
Man, do you sound young! I mean, not that you sound like an old codger now, or something, but I think your voice has changed as a result of having to speak so much more frequently and at length.