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Rosemary Kirstein update
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
At Boskone, I attended both a reading by and a kaffeeklatch with Rosemary Kirstein, author of the excellent Steerswomen books. (Earlier reviews by me here and here, and a good review by siderea here.)

First up, the question everyone's asking: No definite ETA on the next book, though there was a (totally not a promise) indication that it might be less than two years. She's got a full-time non-writing job that is apparently fairly soul-draining, and doesn't leave her a lot of energy for her creative work :-(

I had earlier gotten the impression that she had written the entirety of _City in the Crags_, but then she realized that another book was needed to go before that. My current (still possibly incorrect) understanding is that she was partway into writing CitC when she had that realization, and switched to the current book.

The current book is still untitled. While working on it, she has had lots of realizations about future plot elements, so hopefully the writing of the later books will go faster: she has many scenes planned out in her head that she is eager to get to and write down. (She was careful not to give spoilers, although clearly frustrated, and wishing she could talk about coming developments with us.)

She read (most of) the first chapter of the new book to us. She had had read it before at earlier cons, but she can't read the stuff she's currently working on without massive spoilers.

Her reading style was fairly poor, though not the worst I've heard. Had an interesting hall conversation with dsrtao in which he opined that he could contribute alot to conventions by offering his services to certain authors as a reader. The author would show up, introduce him, and let him give a reading that was actually performative, rather than dry and flat as they typically are. I encouraged him to explore this as an actual proposal, not just an idle notion.
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Just to point out, there are all sorts of ways to give a reading, and flat is not necessarily a bad thing. I would rather listen to a somewhat flat reading than an emotive reading, gods help me, I really hate those. One of the things I loe about Neil Gaiman's readings is that he doesn't really do a lot, just read and have a really magnificent sense of where to pause.

Most of the thigns that result in flat or perceptibly poor readings are completely fixable when the reader becomes conscious of things like breath control, how long to pause, how long to stop completely, where to put the emphasis. One thing I have noticed is that a lot, I mean, a lot, of people let the end of their sentences drop off, both in volume and in emphasis. Other people think a reading should be dramatic, and do completely different weird voice things.

Anyway, that ramble is just to point out that often what is going on is not a need for someone else to do a "new and improved" reading, but for the author to be more comfortable with reading aloud and sadly, our culture doesn't often give people opportunities to practice that skill.

"he doesn't really do a lot, just read and have a really magnificent sense of where to pause."

As a frequent storyteller, I can tell you that "have a sense of where to pause" is not trivial.

Charles Stross has an interesting essay on the art of giving readings here.

My use of the word "magnificent" in relation to a sense of where to pause was intended to suggest how very not trivial I consider this skill, especially as someone who spends all of her time listening to things being read aloud.

I've wanted to make that pitch to a couple authors before, too.

Also I see we've made the same point to Kestrell, which I guess I shouldn't find surprising.

So if I start up Volunteer Authors' Readers Society, do you want to join?

Founding member all the way, please.

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