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When You're Blue
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Blue Heaven was remarkable. I don't think I have a hope in Starve Island of recapping the experience, but I'll say a few things.

The workshop was a mix of people I knew well and some I knew slightly and and some I'd never even seen before. Spending some time with Toby Buckell was great. We clashed a lot at Clarion, but the passage of time has changed us both enough that we no longer instinctively lock horns, and I had a blast hanging out with him. Seeing Greg van E. is always a pleasure, and we spent a lot of time shooting the breeze, particularly since we were roommates. And his novel pushes all my buttons as a readers -- it's Norse mythic contemporary fantasy! -- so getting to read that was a plus. Sarah Prineas is one of my favorite people, and I wish I'd been able to spend more time with her, though at least I'll see her at Wiscon this weekend! I did Rio Hondo with Mary Turzillo a few years ago, and it was great to see her again, too.

As for those who were strangers to me -- I'd never met Charlie Finlay, the genius behind the workshop, or his able co-conspirator Paul Melko, and they're both fabulous guys. Charlie gave me a ride to the airport, so we had a couple of hours to talk, which was fascinating (for me, at least -- I can't guarantee that I was fascinating). Other people I'd never met (or, at least, not more than in passing at a convention) were the witty Sandra McDonald, who has a great attitude about the whole writing biz; the charming Brenda Cooper (had some nice little talks with her); Cathy Morrison, who hates many books I love, but hates them for reasons good enough that I found myself frequently re-examining my perceptions; and Bill Shunn, whose writing I've long admired, and who proves to be equally adroit at oral storytelling -- and he's got a wicked dry wit.

I was greatly impressed by the level of critique at the workshop, but for me, the social component is just as important, and these were flat-out great folks to spend time with. Whether we were hiking bug-infested trails, watching planes take off, talking shit on the porch, looking for phantom damsels in distress, throwing rocks for Sela the amazing rock-fetching dog, ignoring each other while we put our heads down and chowed on our host Marvin's fan-freaking-tastic breakfasts and lunches, dodging the attentions of the creepily touchy-feeler waiter at the Brewery (home to many varieties of Gherkinbrau), watching planes take off on the airstrip next door, slurping down free wireless and fried foods at The Pump, looking at the stars, poking non-endangered water snakes with a stick, watching a flotilla of goslings try to swim against the breakers of Lake Erie, considering the moral implications of a live bait vending machine, offending winemakers by asking for the beer list, or raising glasses in celebration of my still-embargoed good news, I had a great time with those people, and I hope I can spend time with all of them again someday.

And they'll all get acknowledged in the Bridge book.

Chance (that is, Cathy Morrison) has some photos online here.

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