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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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I've been a truant from LJ - both writing and to a very large extent reading too - for the last few days. There reason is my peripatetic Massachussetts adventure, which has carried me first to Readercon and then various points south, and now back here to Boston, where I am currently the guest of jadelennox and her partner.

I was thinking I'd do a general write-up on my return, but I suspect I'll be too whacked for a day or so to face such an epic task, especially as the heat in England is reportedly much on a par with what we have in Boston at the moment - or not much less. So here - in the minutes I have before going out to mooch around Harvard with diceytillerman - are a few highlights (and a couple of lowlights), some illustrated.

Reykjavik airport - where I stopped over on the way here - is home to "The World's Most Famous Icelandic Hot Dog". Not just Iceland's most famous, note, but the world's. This tickles me more each time I think about it. I must try one on the way home tonight.

Queuing nervously in passport control, I started to feel faint and hot, and my nose began to run. It was the beginning of a low-level fever that stayed with me through most of Readercon, unfortunately, meaning that I had to keep going off to lie down when I should have been partying and meeting people. At first I put the tiredness down to jetlag and the alternating shivers and sweats to the climactic extremes inherent in staying at an American hotel (as discussed here previously), before I finally twigged that I really wasn't well. nineweaving caught me at a very low ebb on the last morning, though, and came to my rescue with a packet of Advil - after which things perked up considerably.

In between times I did get to spend some time with nineweaving, negothick, ethelmay and rushthatspeaks, and more fleetingly with sovay and vschanoes - all of whom it was lovely to meet (or re-meet in nineweaving's case). I saw some great readings by rushthatspeaks and sovay, and a bravura performance by nineweaving. I gave a reading of my own, attended by a select audience, fully one of half of whom was ethelmay, and I made a rather indifferent contribution to a panel on problematic books. The best panels, I decided, were the ones that dealt with specific questions (such as the importance of hair in fantasy) rather than baggy and complex subjects that are best addressed with long pauses for thought rather than off the cuff. I came away with a copy of nineweaving's chapbook and a novel by ethelmay's mother for the plane - though I've dipped into (and much enjoyed) both already. I was also introduced to the dubious but seductive concept of "trail mix" - my culinary discovery of the con:

trail mix

At lunchtime on Sunday I was picked up by Susan Cooper, who took me to her house in Marshfield Hills for the night. By now unwoozy, I had a marvellous time, and it was great to see her again. Here we are in Scituate - but we didn't consider till afterwards that we might have asked someone to take a picture with both of us in it...

Susan Cooper2013-07-14 15.22.04

She has an amazing house, and we spent quite a bit of time mooching around it when we weren't working up to and then recovering from the traumatic task of boiling lobsters alive. (Next time, a salad will be fine.) And here I can't resist including what is, perhaps, the apotheosis of fandom. Susan has a "bragging wall", on which she keeps posters and similar items relating to her career:

2013-07-15 08.31.06

See that black-framed letter at the bottom? Let's take a closer look...

2013-07-15 08.31.24

That's right - it's a fan letter I wrote her fifteen years ago, just after my second novel came out, and which she liked enough to put up there. Here, my friends, is a squee that will never be harshed. Oddly enough, in that letter I refer to a fan letter I wrote fifteen years before that, when I was at university. What will 2028 bring?

But this has taken longer than I meant, and I must break of here to call a cab. More soon from Bristol, all being well.

Only our American cousins would add M&Ms to trail mix! :o)

Purists here (western edge of pond) would substitute chocolate chips for M&Ms.

That's more usual here too.

It was wonderful to meet you--and even more wonderful to hear that you are feeling better. We should have given you Advil earlier, if the effect was that miraculous.

I hardly ever get ill, which means that when I do succumb I have very few strategies in place to cope with it. Like, er, taking painkillers.

It was lovely to meet you, too!

How lovely! And speaking of lovely, that photo is very nice and I love the dress.

Thanks! I like it too. Very comfy even in that weather.

I'm sorry to hear you weren't well. Perhaps, like Elwin Ransom on Malacandra, you should have taken a thermometer on holiday (always useful in case you need to know the temperature of a hross).

I brought a new camera with me and managed to take no pictures whatsoever. Drat.

You were perhaps too intent on living to bother with recording the fact - it's always a fine line. I'm enjoying the book, by the way. I like the dry but affectionate narrative style, and it's very evocative of that time and place - says I knowing little of either, but it's convincing, anyway, and feels like something remembered rather than researched. The Tom's Midnight Garden-ish fantasy is, of course, entirely to my taste.

It's based on my mother's childhood in Whitehall, Wisconsin. Most of the characters are from life.

OMG! OMG! OMG! I was reading this thinking "Is this THE Susan Cooper???" And yeah, I knew from your credentials that it quite possibly was THE Susan Cooper but.... It wasn't until I wound up magnifying the bragging wall that I spotted 'The Dark Is Rising' and confirmed my suspicions that it was, indeed, THE Susan Cooper and I'm so excited that I am completely reduced to gibberish.

I grew up with The Dark is Rising series and I've long harboured an ambition to climb Cader Idris thanks to The Grey King....

Me too (although I actually did climb a very small bit of Cader Idris, in honour) - I am squeeing inside. It's thunderstorm weather here and the impending storm is going to be heavy, so I"m too tired to show the squee.

The most sincere squees are the inward ones!

I know, right? It was as a fan I met her, and although we're now good friends of course I'm still a fan. She's a lovely person - as you'd expect.

...I am the most jealous thing you have EVER SEEN right now.

Don't worry, I will still deign to know you!

...a bravura performance by nineweaving...

Proving that too much coffee is just about enough...

Also: Advil works.

It was blissful spending time with you--and sheerest serendipity to find you in Burdick's this afternoon! (All the nicest people eventually end up in Burdick's.)

As for the framed letter--I fall down flat in awe. Bet Susan Cooper enjoyed your visit.


Edited at 2013-07-18 02:39 am (UTC)

I'm told that this kind of encounter is not uncommon in Harvard, but it still felt quite a coincidence to me! And a very happy one.

I get sick when I travel so very often :( But the Susan Cooper bits are amazing - the framed letter truly is awe-inspiring. I can't even imagine how you must feel!

It was special.