Tuesday with Nisi


Previously on the blog…

I said that Tuesday night of our Seattle/Anaheim trip needed a post all its own because it was so excellent. This is that post.

Here’s what happened: we got together with Nisi Shawl!  Nisi was one of the instructors for the Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat I took last June in Chattanooga. More than that, she (with Cynthia Ward) literally wrote the book—the one called Writing the Other, that is.

Nisi met BK, Lori and me in Seattle’s U District at Shalimar for dinner, which was delicious. After dinner, Nisi and I went to a reading at the UW bookstore.

I squeed when Nisi first suggested the reading for numerous reasons. First of all, it was sponsored by Clarion West. For those unfamiliar with Clarion West, it’s one of the premiere places for a serious science fiction and fantasy writer to move from “wannabe” to “is.” Instructors for the six-week intensive summer workshop have included Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, George R. R. Martin and many others, equally as luminous.

The reading/Q&A/signing featured Charlie Jane Anders,  who was one of this session’s Clarion West instructors. I first became aware of Charlie Jane’s writing around Worldcon (Chicon) 2012, when she won the Hugo for her novelette, “Six Months, Three Days.”

Anyway I just happened to have a copy of the July/August issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction, mostly because a fellow Writing the Other workshopper, Annalee Flower Horne, has a story in it called “Seven Things Cadet Blanchard Learned from the Trade Summit Incident.” This is Annalee’s first professional fiction sale, so—exciting, right? Later I discovered that one of the other stories in the issue, “End of the World Community College” by Sandra McDonald has a character named Professor Nisi Shawl. This was another unexpected bonus to the July/August issue, which I highly recommend checking out.


However, another story in the issue is “Palm Strike’s Last Case” by Charlie Jane Anders. I hoped I could get her to sign my issue. (Annalee, you’re next! I just need to figure out when and how we can meet up to make it happen.)

Charlie Jane’s Tuesday night reading (a cutting from a story about a genie after the apocalypse) was great fun. The entire story is set to appear on Tor.com this fall. The reading in itself would have been enough to cap off the evening, but I also got to gush at Charlie Jane and receive the longed-for autograph. Nisi introduced me to many Clarion West people, all of whom were gracious and welcoming. In all, it was a fabulous night.

I was momentarily sad when Nisi mentioned that she would be teaching a one-day workshop at Clarion West this October. Not sad that she’s teaching it—sad that I won’t be able to take it. My travel budget is seriously maxed out for the year, and I can’t plan another trip to Seattle so soon.

Do you write fiction? Can you get to Seattle October 5th? Then go and take the class! The topic—Voice and Voices—is something any fiction writer needs to work on, and Nisi is a great teacher. I asked her to let me know if she ever teaches it as an online class, and she promised me that she would. In turn, I promise to keep you all posted.


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