DragonCon and Catching Up

Aaron Allston and Michael Stackpole

I think I am mostly recovered from DragonCon 2011. It was, as always, a wonderful experience. It’s an overwhelming spectacle, with friends everywhere I look. If it weren’t for the need to sleep, I don’t think I’d ever have seen the inside of my hotel room.

Without doubt the high point of the convention was the response to the Inner Circle series of Writing Classes that Aaron Allston and I offered. This was the third year for our classes. In the past two years the attendance maxed out at 80 people, more or less, which is a great draw. This year I remember, on the first day, counting the number of seat we had in the room. We had 160 seats, and by the end of the series, we had classes where folks were standing in the back of the room. I was completely blown away. I really want to thank everyone who attended, asked those great questions, and recommended to their friends that they might want to attend.

Aaron and I have already spoken with DragonCon’s leadership. We’ll be back again next year. We’ll retire a few of the workshops and bring some brand new ones in, so there will be something for everyone next year. I said I’d not be content until they had to put us in a ballroom. Aaron said he’d not be content until they gave us the Westin! I defer to Aaron’s wisdom in this regard. 🙂

At the show I got really lucky with elevators. I only had to make the trek up the stairs to the 14th floor twice during the show. A couple of years ago I tore the meniscus in my left knee. The tear is weird because it doesn’t bother me when I run, play in the goal at soccer, dance or ride a bike; but walking has been progressively agonizing. However, last November, on a whim, I started taking glucosamine and chondroitin. It’s supposed to be good for helping with joint deterioration. I’ve heard from doctors that it works in about 50% of folks; and I appear to be in that 50%. So, if in the past, late in the convention, I was distracted or a bit cranky, it was because I was walking around on a knee that felt like it was loaded with ground glass. After four big shows this year and a lot of walking (I pace when I lecture), it’s back to the usual aches and pains from shows.

The only bad part about the knee feeling good is now that I have no practical reason for carrying a sword cane. For some reason I’ve always thought that would be cool. (Not as cool as a fez, of course…) I think the romance of the sword cane comes from reading Doc Savage novels. 🙂

At the convention I got asked a couple of questions repeatedly, so I figured I’d mention them here in case any one else would find the answer useful.

1) What’s your next Star Wars™ novel? I loved writing in the Star Wars™ universe, and have many fond memories of working on the novels, short stories and comics. I am very happy that Aaron’s been given a new X-wing book to write. However, I’m not scheduled to do any new Star Wars™ work. Del Rey and Dark Horse Comics hold the publishing rights to the property, so it’s their decision as to who they ask to work for them. If they don’t have a place for me in their publishing program, they won’t invite me in. It’s a business decision. I understand that and respect it. They know where I am, and if their needs change, they know how to get in touch.

2) When will the next Crown Colonies book come out? The second Crown Colonies novel is titled Of Limited Loyalty. While I was at DragonCon, Night Shade Books was finishing up the pre-production work on the book. It’s set for a December release, so you should find it in stores just in time for the holidays.

3) When will your Homeland Security Services novel come out? I had intended to have Perfectly Invisible out in August. Gencon, the Conan movie premiere and the last round of edits on Of Limited Loyalty ate up the month. So, I’m looking to get that book out this month. Just keep watching this space for its release.

4) What are you working on now? I’ve got a couple of projects I’m playing with:

[untitled] military SF story: Aaron Allston, several other authors and I are working up a collection of short, military SF pieces for a digital anthology. I’ve been toying with a series of fighter pilot stories set in my Purgatory Station setting. These stories will take place a couple decades before the other stories I’ve written in the universe and fill in a key piece of that universe’s history. I’m working on the first story right now, but have notes on a whole series of them. It will be a lot of fun to be writing military SF and dropping characters back into cockpits—and getting to toss in all sorts of alien societies and politics will just make it that much more fun.

[untitled] steampunk World War One novel: I did an earlier post about the classes I’ll be teaching at Arizona State University this fall. As part of that, I’ll be working on a short novel in a world I’ve been developing for a number of years—I’ll be doing all the stuff the students are at the same time. I’ve already done two stories in this universe: both of the Chance Corrigan stories are set in 1902 in this universe. These new stories will take place in 1917 and start in the trenches of WWI. The big difference between that world and ours is that the story world is petroleum-poor. Steam and Tesla broadcast power are the big energy sources (well, men and beasts of burden still function, too). I’ve long loved the WWI era, and I’m really looking forward to cranking out the first of many stories about these characters.

An Ungrateful Rabble: In October and November I’ll be tackling the third of the Crown Colonies novels. Night Shade Books bought the series as a trilogy, and this third book will have plenty of surprises built in. What I’m really enjoying about this series is that it allows me to mix action and adventure with the explorations of issues like personal freedom, and what it takes to be human. This book will be a lot of fun to do because I’ll be able to push the growth cycles for many of the characters. I’m sure there will be other surprises that I’ll discover during the writing, and that thought has me smiling.

Beyond those projects I’m talking with a couple of companies about doing stories set in their franchise universes, and there’s more Conan in the offing. For the next year or so, anyway, I’ll have plenty to do. Then I can go to DragonCon 2012 for a rest!

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12 Responses to “DragonCon and Catching Up”

  1. That WWI setting sounds interesting. Where could one obtain those Chance Corrigan stories?

  2. Hi Mr. Stackpole, I met you at the writing classes at DragonCon and I just wanted to say thank you! I greatly enjoyed both yours and Mr. Allston’s classes. I’m only a few days into the prep for a story as outlined in the 21 days to a novel and I’ve already made a pleasant discovery about the story. I am very excited to be motivated about writing again!

  3. A few questions.

    For the short story collection you mentioned. Are you self publishing that? If so how many authors are going to include work and how will the proceeds be split? I’m curious how much negotiation goes into one of these books. These type of books are meant to draw new readers to authors, correct? How does this effect who participates, and do classic publishers have any say in who can and can’t participate?

    I haven’t picked up your crown colonies book yet because I like to have at least 2 of a trilogy before I start them. If you were forced to describe the pacing of that story though would be be closer to Age of Discovery or Dragon Crown?

    Looking forward to “Perfectly Invisible”!

  4. I wanted to thank you, and Aaron Allston, for the wonderful Inner Circle Writer’s Workshops at DragonCon. They were informative, interesting and accessible. By the end of each day’s session, I found myself wanting to retreat to my hotel room and write, rather than carry on with the rest of the convention. Needless to say, with DragonCon, that’s pretty amazing. Thank you again. I look forward to next years classes.

  5. I’ve seen you mention your Purgatory Station setting before, but I’ve still never seen it. Do you have a list of those stories and where they’re collected?

  6. Duh, grep “works” page. On it.

    How’s the Talion challenge going?

  7. You are more than welcome! Can’t wait until next year!

  8. Emily, that’s great. I’m glad you enjoyed the classes and that they’re working for you!


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