To Go Where No One Has Gone Before
Well, not really no one...but this is all new to me. Thoughts leading up to Worldcon and the Hugo Awards.
So, I will be in Chicago for Chicon/Worldcon. Light From Uncommon Stars is a finalist for the 2022 Hugo Award in the Novel. The Hugo Award is the most well-known award in all of Science Fiction and Fantasy—just being a finalist has already brought Light From Uncommon Stars to so many new and unexpected readers!
At the same time, Light From Uncommon Stars is also a finalist for the Dragon Award for Fantasy Novel—and it is mind-blowing that this book is a finalist for two such prestigious awards on a single weekend.
She’s also been recognized by the Mythopoeic Society, the Ignyte Award, the America Library Association, the Ray Bradbury Foundation, among others—even by Goodreads and Barnes & Noble.
Watching Light From Uncommon Stars out and about in the real world makes me so proud. We had such a journey together, some of it very difficult, and now I feel like a parent watching her child on her own, making friends and being recognized for all she can bring to the world.
There are less roundabout ways of getting to the Bahamas than writing a SF/F novel, but none more enjoyable... Oh, the JoCo Cruise!!! THANK YOU!!!!*
In preparing for Worldcon, I feel very much like a parent. On my panels, I will chat about some of my experiences raising Light From Uncommon Stars. I can share what I am happy about and worried about and grateful for—for my book, for books by other amazing authors, and for books that are being conceived or delivered even as we speak.
And then, of course, the Hugo awards themselves, which are completely out of my hands—so I just get to be super happy and proud to be there! My more detailed World Con schedule is right here.
My first panel is called Writing Books That May Be Burned with K.A. Doore (m) she/they, K.G. Anderson she/they, and Micaiah Johnson she/her.
I guess they don’t mess around at Worldcon.
For me, this both the easiest and most difficult panel to understand. On one hand, it's obvious that there is much hate in this world. However, where and how this hate is directed can be inexplicable. With so many things in this world needing fixing, I would think a book with queer donut ladies would be a non-issue?
But the world is what it is, and although I never sought to write a book that others would want to burn, I didn't want to hide whatever truth the book was holding. So, as Light From Uncommon Stars began to find its voice, I began to worry. Could it find a home? And when it went out into the world, would it be hated?
Light From Uncommon Stars is on a table at the main Kinokuniya in Tokyo.**
Luckily, my super brilliant agent Meredith Kaffel Simonoff brought it to the people at Tor. “Team Space Koi” has not only accepted my book—they have advocated for it and treated it with a stunning level of care and consideration. I could not be any happier. And, since it’s been published? I feel truly blessed.
That a book about people of color, immigrants, trans people and even violinists who play Bartok could find its way into so many bookshelves? I am overjoyed!
And yet have also been some very hateful things directed toward me. Not many. Again, the overwhelming number of messages I've received have been very positive.
But those few messages remind me that we live in a very peculiar place and time, and care is necessary.
After that, I am going to do a book signing, which is the best thing ever!
Thank you, San Diego Comic Con 2022***
'Cuz there is nothing nothing nothing nothing better than being able to tell a reader "thank you."
The next panel is called Queering the Love Interest: Writing Queer Romance in SpecFic with K.M. Szpara (m) he/his/himme, Alyx Dellamonica they/them, David Gerrold (!!) He/Him, Elle E. Ire she/her.
As the Star Trek fan…to even be on the same space with David Gerrold—well, this is going to be a fangirl moment.
Captain Kirk with some of David Gerrold's kids.****
However, even without the fangirling, this could be the most awkward panel for me. I think it's because I want to say that queer romance is like any other romance, but for differences in morphology, or anatomy or whatever.
Except it's really not.
Queer people, trans people, queers of color…are exposed to different sorts of trauma and see a completely different side of culture than non queer people do. It can't help but leave changes and scars and one’s identity.
For example, dealing with suspicion and disapproval every day makes it hard to love yourself. And, if there's one thing that holds true whether romance is queer or straight or something in between, it's that loving yourself is foundational.
I think Light From Uncommon Stars shows that divergence and difficulty, not just in the “romantic” relationship, but in every relationship that negotiates a form of love.
And so, most of the characters in Light From Uncommon Stars start out guarded and suspicious about love. Which makes sense—after all, love can be indistinguishable from a poison if you've been hurt enough.
I'm really looking forward to the last panel. Overcoming the Debut Challenge, with Kelly Robson (m) she/her, Elle E. Ire she/her, and Victor Manibo he/him.
Although this isn't my first book, or even my first novel, Light From Uncommon Stars is my first novel from a major press…I have really felt legitimized as a writer. I know that there's nothing illegitimate about small process, but the number of people who have read Light From Uncommon Stars has been... well, a dream come true.
I don't think this ever stops being surreal.*****
It feels really good to look at one's writing career and realize that it's been worth it. Every sacrifice has been so worth it. And if I can help others, even if it’s just something I say at a panel, gosh there's no better feeling.
And once those things are done, I get to be a proud parent. The Hugo Awards Ceremony will be on Sunday evening.
Of course, there will be "winners" and "losers," but I realized a few days ago that I got most uncomfortably nervous when I made the award about me.
But it isn't. It's about Light From Uncommon Stars. And Light From Uncommon Stars is not even “my” book.
I mean, in some ways it is. Sure, my name is on the cover, and I wrote the words.
But it’s all grown up now, isn’t it? I've done everything I can with this book. I conceived this book, nurtured it, delivered it with the best of my ability.
And I'm proud of the job I did. Of course, I made some mistakes, but we got through them.
And I had the best agent and editor (thank you, Lindsey Hall!) that a girl could ever wish for. And when it came time to design, narrate, publicize, and market the book, I learned that does take a village, and this book had a wonderful one.
But delivering a book and watching it get published also means letting it go. It means letting the story and characters venture into the world on their own...watching them find their footing, and meet readers on their terms.
And some readers may love the book, and some readers might not connect, and that's fine. I think if everybody loved what I wrote I'd feel a little suspicious, anyway.
No matter what, I'm so proud of what Light From Uncommon Stars is doing.
To be honest—there are six amazing books to choose from.
I can do the math.
You cannot go wrong here!!!******
But I am so thrilled for Light From Uncommon Stars—to think that a book I wrote has reached so many people…just wow.
So, when those awards come around—whatever happens, happens! I only know of two things for sure—whichever book wins will be amazing, and I'm just so darn proud and so grateful to have written Light From Uncommon Stars, and so very very very happy.
Oh—and one more thing!! THANK YOU!!!!!
So, if you're there, I hope to see you in Chicago! Otherwise, thank you so much for reading this, and please stay tuned for all that comes next!!
Cover: AI generated from Light From Uncommon Stars and Hugo Award. As with everything else lately, surreal, but I'll go with it. (https://creator.nightcafe.studio/)
* Courtesy of https://jococruise.com/ which you need to be part of if you can.
** My photo.
*** Courtesy Tor Books. https://twitter.com/torbooks/status/1550572795456720896/photo/1
***** My photo.
****** Photo courtesy of https://www.thehugoawards.org/