For the past seven years I've spent my Memorial Day weekend with a thousand fans of speculative fiction in Madison, Wisconsin, the host to Wiscon, the World's Leading Feminist Science Fiction Convention. Every year I divide my time between panels and readings.
In the early days I focused more on the panels discussing writing craft and publishing. These days I find that I get more inspiration from the readings. Getting to hear folks whose work I love is a pure joy. Especially when those authors have amazing reading voices.
Here are three folks who were highlights from this year's selection of readings. Highlights not only because the works they read brought me to tears, punched me in the gut, and made me giggle, giggle, giggle, but also because each of them was such a fantastic reader.
Sofia Samatar: I got to hear my friend Sofia at two different readings, one for her poetry and one for her fiction. She was in a writing workshop with me a couple years ago and her book AStranger in Olondria, has just been published by Small Beer Press. I sobbed while listening to her poem "Long Ear." The piece tells the story of a Somali version of the mythic boogywoman who eats small children, but here told from the perspective of the woman and her daughter. Mostly, I sobbed inwardly, so as not to interrupt her reading with my wailing, but there was a bit tearing up on the outside, too. Here's a short short of hers that reminds me of some of the settings of Jon's stories: "Undoomed"
Kathrin Koehler: Kat I met at the same workshop I met Sofia. She's an amazing poet and an amazing reader. Her poem "Sea Change" twisted up my insides and wouldn't let me go. Here's another one by her, also about the sea, and, even better, you can hear her reading it! Listen for when her voice goes all spooky at the end of the first stanza: "Submersion -- stuckweise" (And, for Scribblerati fans, there's a parallel to Mark's Blackheart.)
Will Alexander: Will lives in my neighborhood. He writes at the Blue Ox Coffee Shop. He won the National Book Award for his middle grade novel, Goblin Secrets. I got to hear him read from the next book in this world, Goulish Song. And holy smokes is he good at reading his own words. So good they let him do his own audiobook. I'm reading the first one aloud to my son right now, but I think I'm going to get the audio version so I can have Will read it aloud to us both. Here's a short story of his; it is charming and slicing at once: Nicholas Went Looking for the Mayor's Right Hand