How would you like to spend an evening with six Epic Fantasy writers? Have a good meal? Great conversation? And then head over to the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit at the EMP Museum here in Seattle?
A quick word about Heifer. Their idea is to give people in developing nations livestock and bees and such in order to help build sustainable agriculture and commerce in areas with a long history of poverty. These gifts then create both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can then form community savings and fund small businesses.
And Pat Rothfuss runs a fundraiser every year to raise money for Heifer. That fundraiser is Worldbuilders. And that, friends, is where the money from a winning bid on this Epic dinner I’m about to share will go. Not only will you get a night to remember with some of the best writers in the genre, but you’ll be helping people build a better life. That simple.
So, about the dinner. I contacted Pat with an idea. I suggested that I might be able to pull together many of the writers in the Pacific Northwest for some activities he could list in Worldbuilders Ebay auction. After a bit of back and forth, we landed on two things. One was a full day of writing discussion across games, short fiction, and novel writing–that auction ended a while ago. The other was this epic dinner, for which there’s still time to bid. The auction ends at about 5 p.m. Pacific Time today, February 2.
And while just hanging out with these folks I’m about to introduce would be cool enough. I mean, they ARE cool! I wanted to take a minute to say a little more about each of them, because the person behind the writing is even cooler.
Terry Brooks has more bestselling books than I can count. He’s created several successful fantasy worlds beyond the renown Shannara series. His work will soon be a major television series soon on MTV–think Game of Thrones.
But Terry’s a hell of a lot more than a writer. He’s one of the most gracious, generous, and willing people I know. As a punk writer, I approached him at Surrey many, many years ago and struck up a conversation. I wound up trading a couple of emails with him, and pretty soon we did a dinner. Terry’s very good at eating. As I reflect on it, I kind of shake my head. I mean, really, this man had no need to go to dinner with an aspiring writer, even though I was a fan. Which isn’t to say his dinner card is empty. And with the MTV thing, his time is going to become more rare. But along the way, he’s offered wonderful advice, been a rational voice in an irrational business, and added his easy good humor to it all. Terry’s the genuine article. A chance to hang out with Terry is just way more than taking in a meal with a bestseller. He has a way of making everyone feel welcome and comfortable. When was the last time you met someone like that?
Robin Hobb is another fantasy writer who has more bestsellers than I can count. She’s a pillar in the field. She writes dragons better than just about anybody. And for fans of her Fitz character (of Assassin’s Apprentice fame), you’ll be glad to know she’s writing another Fitz book.
Now, let me tell you a story. I post a song every day on Facebook. I can’t help it. I’m a musician. One day I post Nightwish doing Phantom of the Opera because I love Nightwish. I’d met Robin before, briefly. But a few hours later I get an invitation from her to go see Nightwish who was coming to town on their Imaginaerum tour. What?! Robin Hobb just invited me to a rock show! A Nightwish rock show, no less! Yeah, she’s cool like that. Of course, her music tastes are diverse. But the fact that Nightwish is in there gives me a happy. Since that night, I’ve gotten to know Robin even better. And take it from me, there’s not a more lovely woman. She’s witty, well spoken, knowledgeable, and kind. I don’t just throw that last one in there. Kindness isn’t a given. And atop all this, she’s encouraging. So, again, yes, you’d be dining with a bestseller. But the person will impress you more than the fiction. She impresses me every week.
Greg Bear . . . oh my lord. Here’s another bestselling writer whose career is just mind blowing. In addition to his fantasy writing, he’s also widely known for his science fiction, and has lately done amazing things with the Halo franchise, which is close to my heart.
But, true to my theme here, Greg is a man that is even cooler than the things he writes about. I first met him at a Clarion party. Here’s the thing: He asked ME what I was writing. At the time, I was more a submitter than a writer. But Greg’s attention was never drawn away, never slackened. He showed genuine interest and we chatted for longer than any host probably ought to. And it wasn’t just me. I watched him do this repeatedly. Then, more recently, he accepted my invitation to do a joint reading for SFWA. At the end we did joint Q&A. This was a science fiction crowd. And more than that, GREG BEAR. So, you can imagine where the questions were directed. Midway through the Q&A, Greg takes the mic and turns to ask me a question. Class! Go read Greg’s Wikipedia page if want to be stunned by his awesome.
Brent Weeks is not a rising star in fantasy fiction. He’s already there. He pretty much landed in the field as a star. His Night Angel trilogy set the fantasy world on fire, and Brent hasn’t looked back, adding new worlds and great reads for fantasy readers. He’s another bestseller, in case you’re wondering.
And Brent, like the others, is a great deal more than his books. Oh, sure, I’ve seen him trade quick retorts with the best in the field. One ill-conceived evening at World Fantasy in San Diego, I watched him shred another author who thought he was having the best of Brent in a battle of wits. It was pretty remarkable. So, a word of warning there. But then, get this. On my book tour for my first book, I was scheduled at Powell’s in Beaverton. Let’s just say that there weren’t many attendees. But Brent and his awesome wife Kristi came. There’s no way there weren’t several other things he could have been doing that night. He showed up to support me. What’s more, we had dinner. And he had some calming things to say. There’s an energy about Brent that’s infectious. He’s also hilarious.
Steven Erikson is yet another bestseller. His Malazan Book of the Fallen series is not only one of the best in recent years, it’s complete. How often can you say that? He’s also an anthropologist and archaeologist by training, which might play into what I’m about to say.
Steven is one of the brightest minds in the field. The dude’s just flat out smart. The real kind of smart. He’s the kind of guy who raises the IQ of the whole room when he enters. And like the others, he’s extremely gracious. At a recent World Fantasy convention, we had a short conversation. Steven had been on a panel–one where he’d shown how meaningful a panel on myth and history can actually be–but wasn’t feeling well. He excused himself and retired to his room to sleep. I later got an email with an apology for having to cut our conversation short. That kind of thoughtfulness is rare. I mean, the guy was sick. He needn’t have said another word about it. But he did. And his wit . . . well, you can imagine. Steve’s schedule is crazy, so we’ll be working hard to pick a date that he can make for the dinner, but there are dependencies.
So, there you have it. These are the kind and awesome folks who agreed to join me for a dinner to be auctioned off for Worldbuilders. I don’t feel right about going on about myself. Anyone interested can find info at my website. I’m a pup among these giants. And frankly, the fact that they accepted the invitation tells you an awful lot about them. You know them for their books. They’ve enjoyed amazing success crafting worlds and telling stories. One wonders if perhaps there’s a correlation between success and graciousness. That’s probably a stretch. But in the case of these dinner guests, I could defend the argument. And I just wanted to take a moment to share a few stories that might help you understand why I think this is a unique and awesome opportunity.
So, here’s your chance. Head over and consider placing a bid. Auction ends at about 5 p.m. Pacific time today. Like I said, it’s a night with a few of the best epic fantasy writers on the planet. It’s a night of amazing conversation. But more than this, it’s a night with some of the best people I know. Really. Sappy as that sounds, it’s just plain true. And after it’s all said and done, the money goes to help people who need help. Literally, everyone wins.