Nora’s Sunday Quickie: Shout-outs!

I just wrote my first “Acknowledgements” page, to go with my book! It’s tough winnowing down all the people who helped me achieve my goal of becoming a published author to just the few who can fit on a single page. Such a list can never quite be complete, because the influences are so many and so varied. Astronaut Mae Jemison belongs here, for inspirational reasons. Mr. Butler, a middle-school science teacher who didn’t laugh when I asked, “Where does the moon come from?” belongs here because he answered seriously, and then gave me some books to help whet my interest in space and the fantastic further. And a lot of the people who I’d like to thank wouldn’t thank me for mentioning them by name on the internet, so that includes my Canadian BFF, who I’ll call K, who was one of my first real editors, and my American BFF D, who patiently listened while I laid out elaborate plots in hour-long phone calls.

But of the folks I can mention… obviously my agent Lucienne Diver, who picked me out of her slush and helped me get on the desks of many editors I couldn’t have reached otherwise, and who was a great emotional support to me when my first book failed to sell. Also my editor at Orbit, Devi Pillai, who’s been phenomenal; a lot of other folks at Orbit too, since the process of getting a book off the ground and a career out the door is a lot more elaborate and involves a whole lot more people than I ever realized.

Before that, my four (yes, four) writing groups: the BRAWLers of Boston, the Secret Cabal, the Black Beans, and most recently Altered Fluid. All of these were (and still are!) necessary incubators for my ideas; I think every writer needs a group of people who are willing to tell her when she’s hit the mark… and when she’s done something dumb. I’m very lucky to have so many.

And also, the folks at Viable Paradise, the one-week writing workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. I chose it over Clarion because it was cheaper and shorter and closer-by, but I honestly think it was the best match for me at the time in other ways. I didn’t commit to the goal of publication until VP, and I wouldn’t have done it without that workshop.

But possibly the most important influence is a woman I never met, and who is now dead: Octavia Butler. As a young black woman drawn inexplicably to science fiction and fantasy, I was desperate to see some faces both in the industry and in fiction who looked like me, and she gave them to me. I might still have become a writer if not for her, but I don’t know if I would’ve been a speculative writer, and that would’ve been a true shame, because my heart is here.

So, to all the above: thanks. =)


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