Wednesday, June 2, 2010

BEA 2010 Round Up: Day 2

Tuesday night I took the train into New York and met an old friend for dinner. Her name is Rebecca Milzoff and she writes for New York Magazine. She reviews ballets and interviews musicians--pretty much the perfect job for her. She also writes the Glee Recap! You can check out all her online posts here.

Rebecca took me to a fantastic little Venezuelan restaurant of which I cannot share the name. What I can do is share the photos I took of my amazing meal (Mmm fried plantains. And yes, I am aware that the part on the left looks a bit like dog food in the photo but it was in fact very delicious beef people food)

And the watermelon juice, which tasted like the sweetest, most perfect watermelon that ever existed. As I took the first sip, I felt spring ripen into summer.
Now that your mouth is watering, let's dive into Wednesday: my first day at BEA 2010!

I bumped into several people, who made me smile on Wednesday. First C, the younger sister of yet another old friend. Her mother is an author and illustrator, and now C works at a publishing house. What a relief to see a familiar face!

I also--and I can't help but brag here--met Moonrat of Editorial Ass! I know. I heartily encourage you to envy me. She was just as lovely in person as she is on her blog. And yes, I've been sworn to secrecy by threat of the loss of all my fingers, thereby rendering me incapable of typing, if I were ever to reveal her true identity.

And then guess who wandered by the booth where I was book pimping?!?!

CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE

Luckily I knew what she looked like from watching the video of her recent acceptance speech for winning the Andre Norton award for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which she posted on her blog.

(Ye gods, there are a lot of links in this post! And that was a terrible sentence. Moving on.)

This is what happened when I spotted her:

ME: Reprogram your genes to get the body you always...(spots CV) Catherynne Valente!!

CV: (turns and looks at me in confusion)

ME: (holds current pimped book in front of her in embarrassment) Fan Girl moment!

CV: (laughs) That's the coolest thing that's ever happened to me.

And then I told her that I was going to see the Steam Punk panel later that day, in which she was participating. She asked me where the stage was and I told her, because even though this was literally HOURS before the panel, I had already scoped it out so I'd know where to go when it started. I told you, I don't mess around with my author crushes.

Does this exchange not make you love Ms. Valente?? She seemed so normal and unimpressed with herself. But if you'd read any sentence this woman has written you would be Very Impressed.

So you want to know how the panel went? Well, the punk aspect of Steam Punk was very much on display. It seemed that none of the authors (Valente, Cherie Priest of Boneshaker fame, and the Brit author Felix Gilman) were too thrilled to be labeled in any way. Instead they rambled on about how they did not fit perfectly into Steam Punk, but loved it nonetheless in some shape or form. I suppose this is fitting. Punk should be on the fringe, unwilling to join the masses, right?

One interesting moment came when Cherie Priest stated that in her experience many people (British people? This was unspoken, yet somewhat implied) don't think America is a worthy setting for Steam Punk and that it should only be set in gaslight London. The very British Felix Gilman agreed with her on this point, saying that he preferred setting his Steam Punk in America. So much for a punked out mosh pit in the middle of the panel.

I especially liked that Catherynne Valente described Steam Punk as an aesthetic more than a genre. Brass, steam power, gears, goggles, and bustles all seem to fall under Steam Punk and were mentioned by all the panelists. She also felt that the definitive Steam Punk novel had not yet been written, since she believes that the genre can do so much more with the pseudo Victorian setting of a society on the brink of change.

It'll be interesting to see how Steam Punk evolves if (...when?) it becomes more mainstream.

Alas, even book pimps need to rest once in a while. I ended my day at a low key party for Midpoint Trade Books (my temporary employer). Pizza, beer, and book talk--needless to say, it was a great night!

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