I got back from WorldCon last night and spent today processing and napping.
In case you hadn’t heard, I won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer of 2012. I mean, HOLY CRAPBASKETS. I’m still stunned. As Pat Cadigan keeps saying about her Hugo, “I keep waiting to wake up.”
Jay Lake, me, and Jay’s daughter – Photo © 2013 James J. Seals, all rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.
The very cool thing you’re not seeing here is we were in front of a wall of photographers, and Jay’s daughter was directing the whole thing. “OK, let’s focus left…” (wait for photos) “Now center…” (wait for photos) “Now right.” She was IN CONTROL. It was awesome. She is such an amazing young woman and Jay should be very proud.
But I’ll get to more Hugo/Campbell details in a moment.
I stopped doing con writeups years ago, as I would always worry I would forget something. I’m going to give some highlights, but if I forget someone, I’m truly sorry.
On Wednesday, I drank with Chuck Wendig because drinking in the afternoon is either sad or awesome, depending on where, why, and with whom you do it. And I figured a hotel, being at a con, and CHUCK was good enough. Later that night we got Adam Christopher and his oh so cool wife Sandra and my friends John Cmar and Laura Burns and treked down the very warm street to a pub where we ate under the scary severed head of a buffalo and I drank a tasty Hemingway cocktail.
Thursday the con started in full force, and I got to be part of Just A Minute, an English game show that Paul Cornell brings to cons. You must talk for a minute on a topic, without repetition, hesitation, or deviation. If someone catches you in this, they can challenge. It gets silly and cutthroat at times. I was in the competition with Connie Willis, Emma Newman, and Gary K. Wolfe. It was amazingly stressful and fun, and it was awesome to sit beside my idol, Connie.
I had a great autographing – there was a line of like four people at one point! That’s great for me! – and before that got to have lunch with my mentor and friend, Jim Kelly. Later that night, I was in the weird position of all of my friends were scattered, and I was wondering what to do with myself, and SFWA President Steven Gould and his wife, writer Laura Mixon, my old Viable Paradise instructors, invited me to dinner. It was great to catch up with them. I fear I didn’t call Steve “El Presidente” enough, though.
Jim got in that night. Yay husband!
Saturday night my editor, Devi, took me and Jim out to dinner, and then we hit the Drinks with Authors party late. It turned out that we missed a lot of the party, but the plus side was that the overcrowded bar group had thinned and we had a nice time. I discovered that ALL of the Campbell nominees were there, and we quickly gathered and bonded. Stina Leicht and I already knew each other from last year’s Campbell nomination, and Chuck and I knew each other from before, but I hadn’t met Max Gladstone and his awesome wife Steph yet. So we bonded and formed Team Tiara.
The other nominees are awesome people. The next day, Max, Steph, and I went shopping for tiaras to form Team Tiara for real, and we found some nice ones at the mall. We brought them to the Campbell panel, which included Ben Bova, the creator of the Campbell Award. Ben wore his tiara with good humor. (We got him an understated one, you can barely see it in the weird lighting below.)
Team Tiara! Max Gladstone, Stina Leicht, me, Chuck Wendig, and Ben Bova – Photo by Karen Bovenmeyer
It’s hard to compare the two years of Campbell nominations without making one sound better than the other, but the experience was better this time around. And I know that is stupid-tasting, because duh, I won, but it goes beyond that. Last year, Karen Lord didn’t make the con, E. Lily Yu (the much-deserving winner) arrived late to the convention, and I never actually met Brad Torgersen. (NOTE- I am NOT putting any of them down for this, I’m just saying this was how circumstances worked out.) This left Stina and me, and we bonded, but it felt more like a friendship (this is NOT bad, obviously, but I’m speaking of bonding as a group of new writers who have the crazy honor of being told they have amazing potential). This year, we missed Zen Cho, but everyone else were there, and we all got along great. We hung out at the before party, all sat together during the ceremonies, and exchanged much hugs after. These are amazing writers, each one, and I know Max will be on the ballot again next year.
The downsides of the con were the kaffeklatch and my reading. The kaffeklatch had only four people (one of them a friend, John Shade, a writer at Stonecoast) and was somewhat awkward. I’ve had better kaffeklatches as an unpublished writer. Weird. Then my reading, which was a clusterfuck of non-euclidian design. I thought I knew where room was, and I was wrong. No one could give me satisfactory directions, and it turned out the signing rooms were in a separate building that had about 80% of the outside doors locked. (I of course didn’t try the 20% that were open) The fans were very, very kind that they only got 15 minutes of reading, and haphazard and stressed reading at that. Mortified.
So, the Hugo awards! I was terrified I wouldn’t have enough time, as the Campbell panel was at 5 and the reception started at 6. I ran back to the room, got showered and started getting my girl on. I managed not to mess up my hair, and the only makeup problem was learning that liquid eyeliner is proof that Satan exists and he hates women. Once I got it out of my eye and threw the rest of the shit away, things were smooth sailing.
When I won, I was stunned and shaking (video, about 5 min in), and I can’t decide if being caught in a bear hug by Chris Garcia helped or hurt my composure. (I’m kidding, Chris hugs are one of the best things about WorldCon.) When I got on stage, a beaming Lake child (Jay calls her The Child) held the tiara, put it on my head, and hugged me and told me it looked wonderful. I had never met her before but she was so welcoming and she looked so thrilled to give it to me I nearly teared up right there. During my speech, I managed to a) remind people that we were all winners simply by the fact that through our nominations, we’re all entered into SF history, and nothing ever changes that, b) swear on stage, by quoting Grand Master Connie Willis’s advice not to say “OH SHIT” when you lose, and c) remember to thank my family, mentors, the fans, and my listeners. Sadly, I forgot to thank my editors, namely Jeff VanderMeer, who gave me my first pro sale, and Devi Pillai, my editor at Orbit, who was texting me furiously after the ceremonies to come to the bar and get my champagne.
I meant what I said, that Zen, Stina, Max, and Chuck will be forces to watch in the next several decades. I can’t wait to see what else TEAM TIARA comes up with.
I was quite happy with the Hugo awards, including the podcast Writing Excuses for Best Related Work, never-won-a-Hugo-in-decades-of-writing Pat Cadigan for novella, and John Scalzi’s Redshirts for novel. I was super super proud of my friends Patrick Hester (ISBW producer, winning with the staff of SF Signal for fanzine) and Kate Baker (Clarkesworld podcaster, winning semi-pro zine) winning Hugos. I was so happy to see John Scalzi win for Redshirts, for two reasons: 1) the book moved me in many ways- it was a funny romp for the first part, and then the three codas moved me and made me think a lot. and 2) Funny books winning the Hugo is a Good Sign (TM) for my career. The full list of winners is here.
The awards were covered by the New York Times, shockingly enough, and they mentioned me. Whoa.
At the photos after, John Scalzi whacked me in the face with his Hugo, but it was an accident and didn’t leave a mark. Got a good story, anyway. Those things are heavy.
Devi bought a lot more champagne for me than was needed, I think they were on their third bottle when I finally got to the bar. I didn’t drink that much (I know, SHOCKING) but I think i was on an adrenaline high most of the night.
The night was magical, and so so wonderful. Orbit bought a ton of champagne. I hung out with my Stonecoast friends. I was congratulated by the likes of Gail Carriger, Carrie Vaughn, Harry Turtledove, John Scalzi, and Patrick Neilsen Hayden (among many others.) And my sweetie was by my side the whole time, taking pics, giving hugs, and just in general being the best husband in the world.
Since then I’ve gotten tweets, FB messages, and emails that have made me cry with the sentiments involved. This is an overwhelming and amazing time. Paolo Bacigalupi told me that I have to take a few days to enjoy this before delving back into the pits if self loathing. I will do my best.