Interview by Scott Laming, AbeBooks

This year for the 2007 Nebula Awards Banquet in New York, AbeBooks teamed up with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association to give someone a pair of tickets to the event and a couple nights' stay in downtown New York. The winner was Gavin Grant, who was kind enough to tell us about the high points from the weekend.


AbeBooks: How did you enjoy the event?

Gavin Grant: The SFWA weekend was a ton of fun. We were very surprised to be going. My wife and I run an indie press (Small Beer Press) with many connections in the sci-fi world (we'd even published a small hardcover edition of one of the Nebula novel finalists, Ellen Kushner's The Privilege of the Sword) but we'd decided not to attend the Nebulas. In the following weeks we will be in Madison, Wisconsin, for a convention and then return to New York City for Book Expo. However when we received the news: well, who could say no to two free nights in New York? Not us!

We took Amtrak to the city (so civilized!) and arrived in time to join a crowd of writers for dinner. From then on we were immersed in conversation about science fiction and fantasy with writers new and old.


AbeBooks: What would you say is the best part of the event for an SF&F Fan?

Gavin Grant: The awards ceremony might be the best part where fans can (hopefully!) see their favorite authors applauded for their work, but really the whole weekend can be just as fun. There was a mass signing at a nearby bookshop where readers could meet an amazing range of writers and editors: from Connie Willis to Peter S. Beagle, Carol Emshwiller to James Gunn, Ellen Datlow to Paul Witcover.


AbeBooks: Where there any surprises or interesting moments?

Gavin Grant: D.G. Compton, who received the Author Emeritus award, was hilarious! But since I would only misquote him (it was late at night and the HarperCollins table was very hospitable...) you'll have to wait and see if there is a podcast of the event.

Another surprise was that the hotel was one block away from the World Trade Center site. It was sobering and surreal to go from heady talk of science fiction and fantasy to then wander around the fenced-off site with many other tourists wondering why, six years later, there's still a hole in the ground.


AbeBooks: Did you get a chance to meet James Gunn or any of the other authors that were attending the Nebulas?

Gavin Grant: I did not meet James but I did spend some time talking to two of his former students who honored Gunn at the awards banquet, Kij Johnson and John Kessel. Both of them are great writers and both either teach or have taught writing. Coincidence? I don't think so!


James Gunn is obviously an inspiring, well loved, and intriguing man who much deserves his award.

I wasn't meeting John Kessel about James Gunn, though. We met with him (at the City Bakery, mmm!) to seal the deal on publishing his new short story collection, Invisible Empires, which we will publish in 2008!

AbeBooks: Best or most interesting talk/panel?

Gavin Grant: James Patrick Kelly (who podcasts fiction weekly at www.jimkelly.net) led a panel on web presences. It's been years since anyone had to tell authors they needed a website. This panel presented authors with different approaches to the web:

-- Jeffrey Ford (whose novel The Girl in the Glass was a Nebula finalist) blogs at 14theditch.livejournal.com/ (read it as "One for the ditch"!) where he makes sure he answers everyone who comments. He posts about his writing, foreign editions of his books, art by his (talented) son, Derek, and politics. He never pulls his punches.

-- Boston-based Theodora Goss (www.theodoragoss.com) set up her site years ago to be visually striking and decidedly different from other sites. She posts a monthly journal rather than a blog. She says it brings in all kinds of readers including those like her who "might be more interested in fairies than the internet."

-- Toby Buckell (www.tobiasbuckell.com/) blogs daily on all aspects of his career and the genre and has become a node for information for new and experienced writers.

The hour flew by. The result: authors need Web sites but they don't have to be the same.


AbeBooks: What new books or new authors where being talked about?

Gavin Grant: Devi Pillai from the new Orbit imprint gave us a great postcard folder with information on their first books which include a new "Culture" novel from UK writer Iain M. Banks. Can't wait for that. We had lunch with Jennifer Stevenson (whose first novel we published) who told us Del Rey is publishing her three sexy fantasy novels next spring one per month for three books. That model of publishing, which maybe started in the romance genre, is getting very popular in science fiction after Naomi Novik's Temeraire novels (18th century navy + dragons!) were such a big success. Young adult novels are also all the rage and people were talking about M.T. Anderson, Holly Black, and Diana Wynne Jones.



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