This past Monday, I was one of six readers at the LGBTQ Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading at Bluestockings Bookstore in Manhattan. I was joined by Sam J. Miller, my former Clarion classmate and organizer of the event (here’s his take on the reading), my girlfriend and brilliant YA author Val Howlett, former teacher Delia Sherman and her partner Ellen Kushner, and World Fantasy Award-winner Richard Bowes.
I’ve never given a reading outside of college/grad school – certainly never one where strangers attended, and not just my classmates – and so my heart pretty much overflowed with joy and then utter terror as the bookstore filled, and filled, and filled, and there weren’t enough chairs and people were standing and smashed against the walls and windows. I had to get a pep talk from Delia and Ellen (“Treat every word as if it’s gold. Because it is.”) and do some deep breathing.
And so we read. I went first with my (as-yet-unpublished) story “We Were Never Alone in Space.” Val read an excerpt from the gorgeous and heartbreaking “A Skeleton Story.” Everyone was phenomenal. The crowd was full of friends and visiting Clarion classmates and family and strangers and everyone was supportive and excited. I’ve been feeling a bit down-in-the-dumps recently about writing, and this was exactly the boost I needed. After the reading was over, I found out that people came a little late and were physically unable to get into the bookstore, that’s how full it was. People were apparently out on the sidewalk, watching through the window. In January. In New York.
So thank you to Sam, for organizing the event, all of my fellow readers, my friends and family who came out to support me and everyone else, my Clarion classmates, some of whom flew from very far away (Kentucky, Tennessee, California, DC, England) to attend, Bluestockings Bookstore, my wonderful teachers, the city of New York, and everyone in my life who reminds me every day why I do this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.