A year or so ago, I made the online acquaintance of fellow fantasy author David Anthony Durham.
Normally, I don't associate with people who have three names. It's just intimidating. Plus, on a practical level, it's hard to deal with. Does he go by the full "David Anthony?" Is he a "David" a "Dave" or an "Anthony." Hell, he could even be a "Tony." I have a real problem remembering names. Even the simple first names of my friends. That means someone with three to seven different potential names is going to give me a lot of trouble.
I can't remember how we first got in touch. But I do know that our first contact was over e-mail. And, to tell the truth, I was more than slightly intimidated by him.
Part of this was due to the fact that before his most recent novel (an epic fantasy called Acacia) he wrote literary fiction. While I'm not one to engage in genre snobbery. The fact remains that to Lit Fic has a certain amount of cultural cache. A certain gravitas.
Another intimidating thing was the fact that he had a tenure-track job teaching creative writing, which means he's got some hefty edumication under his belt.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, this picture was the the first I ever saw of him:
Not only was he thinner and more attractive than myself. But to me this picture says: "I'm going kick a man's ass, then go read some Coleridge. You have a problem with that? No. I didn't think so. Move along."
I know, I know. It's wrong to judge a book by its cover. It's doubly wrong to judge an author by his jacket photo. If you were to do that with me, you would be forced to assume that I was some sort of rogue Muppet, eremite priest, or Russian dictator.
When I finally met him at a convention. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that most of what I'd assumed about him was off-base. He wasn't pompous, or stiff, or academic. He was relaxed and friendly, with an easy laugh.
At the last convention we hit together, Wiscon, we sat at the bar for an hour or two and had a lovely argument about Heinlein, and a different argument about C.S. Lewis, and a discussion about purpose of literature and the ethical responsibility of the author. We disagreed a lot.
It was lovely. I love few things more than a conversation with an intelligent person who is passionate in their beliefs and willing to disagree with me.
In short. He turned out to be my favorite sort of person. The sort of person that I wished lived closer to me so that he could come over to my house, watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and get his ass solidly handed to him at Settlers of Catan.
Because, as I've said before, I cannot be beaten at Catan.
Lastly, though not leastly, David may prove instrumental in insuring that y'all get to see books two and three.
Let me explain. At World Fantasy convention last year his hotel was hell and gone from the convention center, and I had rented a car. So one night when things were winding down, I offered to give him a ride.
We wandered out of the hotel to the parking lot. After we had climbed into the car, he looked at me and said, "You're not wearing your seatbelt?"
It wasn't the sentence itself, it was the way he said it. He wasn't chiding, or disapproving. He was honestly shocked. More than that. He was aghast. It was the same tone I use when I say, "You smoke?"
When I say this, usually the unspoken part of my comment is clear, "What are you, a fucking idiot?"
When he looked at me and said, "You're not wearing your seat belt?" I thought to myself, "Of course. I should wear my seat belt. I'd be an idiot not to."
And ever since then, I've worn my seat belt. This means that I'm much more likely to live long enough to get you day two and three of the trilogy, and many more after that.
Despite all of his coolness, it took me a long time to get around to reading David's book. I did mention his book, right?
It's epic fantasy. A nice mix of big empire-level stuff and character centered story. He's a great worldbuilder, which is where my heart lies, and his cultures are varied and well-developed. He leans more toward description, where I tend to do more dialogue. But we're playing a similar game in many ways. Odds are if you dig on Tolkien, Acacia will be right up your alley. Check it out.
That's all for now,
posted by Pat at 3:18 PM