Thursday, July 06, 2006

Writers along the highway

Well, we're back from vacation. Obviously I didn't find time to post from the road, so I'll be backfilling here at some point. We had a good (if tiring trip). One enjoyable aspect was the opportunity to visit with writer friends, old and new, up and down the west coast.

Our first stop was on the way down, where we stopped in the Bay Area long enough to have an enjoyable Chinese dinner with our friends Mark Budz and Marina Fitch. Both are novelists, and Mark gave me an advance-reading copy of his upcoming novel Idolon. This is Mark's third novel. His previous books, Clade and Crache were released to great critical acclaim (Publishers Weekly compares him to William Gibson) but just haven't gotten the reader attention they deserve. You should really check out Idolon when it's released this month, and see what you've been missing.

Then we trekked down to my old high-school stomping-grounds of North San Diego County and had a three-hour lunch (cue Gilligan's Island theme)with my old friend Gordon McComb and his wife Jennifer. Gordon and I used to collaborate back in my high-school and college days, and we did a number of student films together back in the day. My first professional publication (see a bit of it here and here) was an article in the old Science & Mechanics magazine written with Gordon.

Gordon went on to become a computer journalist and writer of technology books (everything from word processing software, to home robotics, to how to program your VCR so the number stops blinking). He was very successful, and even occasionally threw some work my way when I was still doing that kind of stuff. I knew he'd cut back on the writing lately, but I didn't know why.

Seems Gordon had people come up to thank him for his books, and then go on to describe the huge sums they were making as consultants based entirely on his work, far more than he was making on the books themselves! So these days, he's focused on his own consulting firm serving corporate clients and leaving the sucker-work -- er -- books, to somebody else. Gordon also continues indulging his long-standing interest in robotics, and has started his own small company to manufacture and market robot components, Budget Robotics.

Anyway, I haven't seen Gordon in years, and it was great to have a chance to catch up. Maybe I can convince he and Jennifer to bail out of Southern California before the Big One hits and move to the northwest (probably just in time for a volcano to erupt, but...).

Finally, on the way home, we stopped off in Eugene, Oregon for dinner with our friends Sean and Rose Prescott, and Adrian Phoenix. It's the first time we've seen Adrian since she sold her first novel, a vampire book, on a two-book deal to Pocket. Her novel will be used to launch an entirely new book line for Pocket, so they're obviously impressed. This is very exciting news, and overdue. Adrian is a fine writer with a unique voice. So, if you'd like a chance to get in on the ground-floor with someone who could be the next Anne Rice, you should look for the name Adrian Phoenix in months and years to come.

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