Tag Archives: authors

Beyond Words: A Fantasy Author Charity Calendar Project

Lauren Zurchin, professional photographer and managing editor of the SF/F blog Lytherus, contacted me the other day about a new project. Basically, she wants to dress up fantasy authors in custom-made costumes and photograph them for a calendar. She has a decent roster of authors lined up, several of whom I’ve read or at least heard of: Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, Christopher Paolini, Gregory Maguire, Tad Williams, Patrick Rothfuss, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Lauren Kate, Lauren Oliver, Maggie Stiefvater, Gail Carriger, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.

Ms. Zurchin explains further:

This project is huge, and with the support of these authors I’ve taken to Kickstarter to raise the bare-minimum funds needed to make this project a reality. Every author involved in the project has offered limited edition exclusive items up for grabs — prizes that are only offered this one time and never again. Kickstarter contributors can find limited edition prints of their fantasy calendar photo (signed), wall posters (signed), “personalized packs” (containing prints, autographed calendar, and more — personalized and signed by the author), and calendars signed by all fourteen of the project’s participants. There are several high-end prizes up for grabs, including Skype chats with a few of the participating authors. […] The Kickstarter runs through the end of February and aims to raise $15,000.

Enough to pique your interest? Visit the Kickstarter page.

And here’s where things get interesting (aka, the “why you should care” bit): proceeds from the calendar are going to support the charities First Book (which donates books to schools and children’s programs) and WorldBuilders (which raises donations for Heifer International through auctions of author-donated goodies). Worthy causes both. Ms. Zurchin goes into more detail on her website.

I contributed. I don’t have any particular attachment to any one of the authors but I like fantasy photography and the fact that it’s of fantasy authors is a cute idea. And raising funds to make a product that will ultimately be sold for charity sits well with me.

P.S. – For those of you with an interest in seeing authors being awesome, I still have a few of these left.

P.P.S. – I have absolutely no idea how Ms. Zurchin found me. I’m just pleased she did, because otherwise this never would have appeared on my radar.

My “Favorite” Conundrum

How does one determine their favorite book or author? It’s a common question around lit-loving communities, and I never know how to answer.

If it’s the author by whom I’ve read the most books, then my favorite author would be Mike Resnick, Dean Koontz, J.K. Rowling, Katherine Neville, Jodi Picoult, Piers Anthony, Robert Asprin, Douglas Adams, Orson Scott Card, or Jennifer Weiner. But I’m not sure I’d count any of them as my favorite author (though I’ve referred to Mike Resnick as such many times just because I’m pretty much guaranteed to enjoy his stories). Aside from Resnick, Rowling, and Neville, I don’t see myself going out of my way to pick up anything else by these people. I’m currently on hiatus from Picoult and Koontz, and Anthony and I broke up years ago.

If it’s the book I’ve read the most times, then it would be The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “trilogy” by Douglas Adams, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, or Santiago: a Myth of the Far Future by Mike Resnick. Sure, I’m guaranteed to laugh out loud every single time I read Gallery of Regrettable Food, but I’d like to think my favorite book would be something with a little more depth. So my problem there may be self-delusion more than anything else.

If it’s a book that really stuck with me for a long time, then it would be The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan, Flatland by Edwin Abbott, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, or – most embarrassingly – the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I refuse to consider any of the Twilight books a favorite because they are awful and I will never read them again. I wouldn’t mind claiming The Demon-Haunted World or The Time Machine, I suppose, but if they were truly my favorite, wouldn’t I have read them multiple times?

So tell me: what’s your favorite book or author? How can you tell?

Weekly Geeks – Author Interviews

WG 2010-08 is about interest in authors. The prompt puts forth the possibility that “there are two types of readers…those who stick to the books versus those who like to know more about the author’s background, thoughts, motivations and writing process.” I am definitely in the former category. I don’t seek out author interviews and I’d have no idea what I’d ask an author were I to interview them. I don’t subscribe to author blogs in general, though from time to time I’ve been pointed to specific posts. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve visited an author’s website just to learn more about them, since Fantastic Fiction provides all the book information I need.

It all comes down to separating the work from the worker. My opinions are solely about the work. For example, JK Rowling may have invented Harry Potter, but I won’t like her books any more or less by learning where she grew up or how she gets her ideas. I don’t feel any special desire to get to know her personally. She’s a complete stranger, and reading her books doesn’t change that. Do rumors of Lewis Carroll’s pedophilia change the quality of Alice in Wonderland as a story? Of course not.

The only exception to this are authors of memoirs. Clearly my enjoyment of writers like David Sedaris and Laurie Notaro have quite a bit to do with them personally, since they write autobiographical essays. I’m still not sure I’d go out of my way to read an interview with them, but it’s possibly more likely that they’d have clever answers on the fly than, say, your average novelist.

Weekly Geeks


WG #24 is fun facts about authors. I’ve decided to choose Christopher Stasheff, not just because he’s a brilliant writer, but also because he and his family are wonderful people and close friends of mine. So here you go.

  1. When he’s not writing, he’s teaching: he used to teach theater at Montclair State University in New Jersey, and now teaches radio and television at Eastern New Mexico University.
  2. He named his four children after kings and queens.
  3. His daughter has done some ghostwriting for him.
  4. He naturally resembles Santa Claus, and has been a mall Santa several times.
  5. His books were popular on the black market in Soviet Russia.
  6. His BA and MA degrees were in Speech and Broadcasting, both from the University of Michigan, but his PhD is in Theater, from the University of Nebraska.
  7. He is a practicing Catholic.
  8. He grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, and Ann Arbor, Michigan; raised his kids in New Jersey and Champaign, Illinois; and now lives in Portales, New Mexico.
  9. He co-wrote the final two Harold Shea novels with L. Sprague de Camp.
  10. Though he appears on a number of author sites and fan sites, Mr. Stasheff has no homepage of his own.

P.S. – If you’re curious: my review of St. Vidicon to the Rescue.

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