04 October 2012

[pdx], So, I Run Into S.M. Stirling At Powell's Books One Day …

2863.I do happen to be a fan of the Emberverse.

So, after a particularly trying day in McMinnville (long story, patience, my friends, patience, we shall get there anon), back on Sept the 6th, me and The Wife™are achieving ingress to the Greater Portland area along Highway 99W, the Pacific Hwy, and we're tired and kind of hot after doing several trying things (like I said, later, some other time maybe) and all I want to do is get home. I'm blown, as they say, to hell and back.

But Wife™wants to stop by Powell's Beaverton. Gas prices being what they are, we don't get over the Sylvan Hill as near as often as we used to, and Powell's is a relatively quick detour up Southwest Hall Boulveard, and she's driving, and a visit to Powell's Suburb of Books is always guaranteed to brighten the dullest day, and this one made me dull indeed, so I mumbled in the affirmative, and we went.

I didn't intend on buying anything. Then, Tiny happened.

I've not written much about Tiny, and that's too bad. I love this guy. Big in body and big in heart, just the sweetest fellow you ever wanted to meet. Cares for his friends, is one of those big guys with a huge heart who is a little scary looking but you need not to judge books by their covers sometimes.

He looks like one of those big, bruising biker-dude types, but he's a smart, kind fellow. And he recognizes us, and we make greeting, and he asks us if we're here to see S.M. Stirling.

'Scuse? You mean S.M-everlovin'-Dies The Fire-Emberverse-Stirling?

Yah. Dat da guy.

All of a sudden I'm buying a book. I'm gonna get an autograph. I think most of you can relate. We come off this real trying day, we're stunned by certain events and have had more mood swings than a teenage girl, and it just so happens that I've stumbled into an S.M. Stirling author appearance to promote his next Emberverse novel?

I'd like to be able to report that I jumped up and down like something that jumps up and down going Yippee, yippie! but believe it or not, I was still discouraged enough from the day we'd had (like I said, some other time, nothing personal) to think aaaaah, just want to go home anyway. 

Glad I thought about it a little. A lunch at the TacoTime in the mall area did a lot to help. TacoTime soft taco. Staff'o'liff. You can quote me. Thus fortified, we go into Powell's and take a seat in the assembling seating area. Steve's due in at 7:00 PM.

He arrives and seats himself at 6:30 PM. I thought authors (or, as some I knew as a kid called them, arthers) were dissolute and got there when they were damn' well good and ready, but I found that incorrect, making this an S.M. Stirling appearance and a learning experience. Bonus!

Now, whether or not one idolizes the artists whose work they adore one does form a certain impression based on the photos they seen, the things they've heard, and the voice that comes from the work. Based on Island in the Sea of Time and the Emberverse series, something told me he'd come on like a retired Marine, real strict and correct, but he was just about the nicest and easygoing-est author of the (sadly) few I've had the fortune to meet. He just carried around this marvelous relaxed attitude with him, and all of a sudden people were chatting with him, he was chatting with us, it was rather like making the fellow's acquaintance at a SF convention in hospitality. Very friendly, affable, chatty.

The appearance officially got underway after he got caffeinated (well, that author stereotype holds, at least) and he treated us to over an hour's worth of reading out of the newest Emberverse novel, Lord of Mountains, which apparently finds High King Artos I, Queen Mathilda, and the rest, chasing the CUT and their Prophet back across the Rocky Mountains, and the United States of Boise nearing a turning point.

You'll all excuse the blurriness of the photos. They were taken only a row back from the front and I didn't want to give Steve sparklies-in-the-eyes with a my rude camera flash.

One other thing I can assure everyone about Stirling is that he knows how to read aloud from the printed page. That's not as easy as one would think. It was easy to tell when Rudi MacKenzie was speaking as Stirling affected this rather delightful faux-Gaelic lilt.

After the reading, a rather generous question-and-answer session. I got a few questions of my own answered, had my suspicion that a few lines of dialogue was probably inspired by The Frantics, and I think we nearly went over. There was much good feeling.

One particular question really drove home to me how nifty this guy is. The Wife™ asked a question about how talented people sometimes have trouble getting published. He answered it, but somehow in mid-delivery he changed the angle of approach on the reply and turned it into a very touching and sensitive encouragement to keep trying. My spouse has never tried to write any stories, but she's made some tentative steps into diarizing and I'm betting she's always wanted to try. It was a very personal answer, or at least it was pitched that way, and it really endeared him to her. If my betrothed ever becomes a published author, you can mark this moment; this was the point of inflection.

So, that's the thing about S.M. Stirling. Nice guy, writes what excites him, for readers who like him and he likes them right back.

Couldn't ask for more, really, considering that there was a chance that we'd not have been there at all. Sometimes, things just kind of get dropped in front of you. 


S. M. Stirling said...

Glad you had fun! I always enjoy visiting Powells, not least because there were always interesting people there.

Samuel Klein said...

You're a great entertainer, a great storyteller. I count myself amongst the fortunate. Thanks for being there, and me and my PDX peeps will continue to try to be interesting. PS: Write faster!

S. m. Stirling said...

I'm writing as fast as I can! 8-)

Particularly since I busted my left hand in a fall last week. Dislocated little finger – it was sticking out at an alarming angle – and broke a bone inside the hand. I'm going in for surgery tomorrow.

However, never fear, I'm using Dragon Dictate and it actually seems to be faster than typing. I may well keep on using it after the hand recovers.

Samuel Klein said...

I have a vivid imagination, and when you described your injury, I think I had sympathy pains.

Or, in simpler terms, "ouch!".

I'm glad its not going to slow you down and sincerely wish you a speedy healing. And I know that speech recognition and translation into text has come an awful long way, I for some reason was reminded of handwriting recognition on the Apple Newton, and pictured a line in one of your stories that read:

"Beefstick", said Rudi. "Cellphone … banana patch!".

Good luck. I can't wait to see where the story goes next.