The Great Balticon Readathon continues with a pair of writers who are also a couple: Sharon and Steve have been married, as she says, “for more than half her lifetime.” Their partnership apparently works. They began collaborating in 1979. Not only have they remained married, but they’ve written many novels (she says 17, elsewhere 23, he says “more than 20” … nice sort of problem to have) and more short stories than you could shake a stick at, if you were the sort of person inclined to stick shaking. (I’m not. I just read stories. Sometimes write them. And draw pictures about them.)
Sharon Lee joins our list of the Cat-approved among Balticon Guests of Honor. In addition to serving our genre by catering to our feline overlords, she was Executive Director of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., and then vice president and president of that organization. She is a self-described introvert, which makes her willingness to serve especially generous. She likes Maine, setting five novels and her own self there. Steve likes it too. They say it’s beautiful … and a place freelancers can afford to live. (Yes, I did note this in my Official Record.) Appropriately, it seems that their current cats are Maine Coon Cats. You can find delightful pictures of the Crack Coon Nursing Team on Sharon Lee’s blog. (Search for tag Life with Coon Cats.)
Full disclosure: If I didn’t adore them for living on a Cat Farm, finding out that they’ve got a computer called Number 10 Ox would have won my loyalty. So I’m firmly entrenched at this point.
Steve Miller has a background as a performance poet who got tired of living on beer and started expanding into other writing, including submitting stories to science fiction magazines and fanzines. He also plunged into fandom. He edited a science fiction tabloid, was involved with his local science fiction club (BSFS), and eventually he and Sharon started a genre bookstore with a “traveling convention SF art agency component.” That BSFS connection should make Balticon feel like Old Home Week to Steve!
Attention, novice writers who’d like to travel: Steve says he’s attended “hundreds and hundreds” of conventions, as a fan, writer, and art agent. If I get a chance to talk to the two of them at Balticon, I think I’ll ask them about the practicalities of this. Anything they wish they’d known back at the beginning that would have simplified their travel? And most importantly, do the cats miss them terribly while they’re gone? (Not that I’d know anything about the kind of spite-and-boredom-fueled-toilet-paper-snowstorm that can happen when one relegates cats to the care of sitters…) OK, I’ll ask straight up: is the house more or less intact when you return?
Pretty clever, the two of them, figuring out how to make a living travelling and writing and visiting Most All the Conventions. But then, they are the two of them clever in many ways. Prime example: Sharon kindly linked (sharonleewriter.com) a FREE download of the “quirky little space opera” Agent of Change. The first of the Liaden Universe® novels, replete with charming but lethal protagonists and a deftly portrayed universe for them to live in. Clever, clever. The first one’s free? I think I saw how this works on TV. Because, yes, of course, I downloaded and read the free book. And then started looking around rather urgently for the next. Agent of Change is a solid mix of planet-side and space adventure, touched with humor and suspense both, and graced with understated romance. Lots of action, and well-written dramatic scenarios of large scale and small. I so liked the protagonists! They were multi-dimensional, with strengths and flaws. The story was well balanced between male and female dual protagonists, which was refreshing. And the Turtles? How can you not want more of the Turtles? Well played, Lee and Miller. Well played. You’ve definitely hooked this reader into returning to Liaden.
Next up on GBR: Charles Stross!