So late last year, my publisher’s publicist (heh, that’s fun to say) contacted me with a very interesting offer: I’d been invited along with two other Parliament House authors to appear on the Second Life Book Club in February.
I’d heard of Second Life, a huge online virtual world, but had never tried it myself. I knew nothing of the book club, but after looking at the videos that host Bernhard Drax (aka Draxtor Despres) sent us, I knew this was going to be a good time, and probably unlike any other appearance I’ll ever make as a writer. The book club has only been running since April 2020 but in that time Drax has hosted some really big names: Larry Niven, Matt Ruff, Cory Doctorow, and LL McKinney, for example.
In December, Drax hosted an onboarding session where he walked me through the set and the controls. Because we’d be appearing as avatars, he asked me to send him ideas for how I wanted my avatar to look. I decided I wanted to resemble Ada Oliver, the antagonist of Tidepool.
Who am I kidding? I’d dress like that all the time if I could get away with it and afford all that vintage goodness.
I attended the SLBC’s Year End Hang Out and was surprised when Drax called on me to talk to everyone a little about myself and my writing. But it was a great group of people, and I felt pretty confident about February.
You probably can’t see it (I didn’t until Bill sent me screenshots), but those green statues on the table were little Cthulhus. I’m pretty sure they were there as a nod to Tidepool. Cthulhu does not show up in Tidepool, but he wouldn’t feel out of place there either.
Something else the SLBC did I thought was amazingly cool: a Lord Below reading an excerpt from Tidepool.
at 12pm Pacific / 8pm GMT = @parliamentbooks authors [@Gibknight @EMWrightWrites + @insomnicole on the @SecondLife Book Club >>> fantasy, steampunk AND of course COMSIC HORROR = we may even get a reading from a Lord …. don’t be late >>> https://t.co/p5ANX9KoGe pic.twitter.com/jtNiUZsgQO
— draxtor™ (@draxtor) February 24, 2021
That wasn’t even part of the show. It was just there for the ambiance. I think it’s amazing these people go to so much trouble to celebrate the authors they invite, even an unknown debut author like me.
And here I am reading another excerpt from Tidepool. Look at the virtual book cover!
It’s possible to change your sitting pose, but I was having terrible graphics lag and wanted to leave well enough alone. But let it be known: Ada Oliver would absolutely NOT sit like that. For shame! She’s got one of those ramrod iron backbones going on. I, however, would totally sit like that. And do.
I had a great time and really enjoyed hearing more about E.M. Wright and Sean Gibson’s books; I’ve posted with them and other PH authors on Twitter and Facebook, but this is the first time I’ve really chatted with another PH author “in person”-ish. And the book club itself was wonderful. People asked very good questions and seemed genuinely interested in our work.
That brings me to something that’s really stood out to me this year as I’ve started doing panels as an author. Every time I’m invited to something like this, my Impostor Syndrome pipes up: But you guys know I’m a nobody, right? My book isn’t even out yet.
But no one has treated me like that, at all. Not on the HWA panel, and not at the Second Life Book Club either. Drax got a print ARC of Tidepool (which I’m jealous as hell of; I have yet to see Tidepool in print) and had lots of lovely things to say about it. The welcome I’ve gotten from these communities as a debut novelist with only one pro short story sale to my name has been nothing short of wonderful.
Drax wrote a bit about the book club here: https://www.thebookseller.com/blogs/who-afraid-big-good-second-life-book-club-1224692
Here’s the YouTube recording of my appearance: https://youtu.be/WuU0_5VTzYs
Aaaaand here is the schedule for upcoming book clubs: http://www.draxtor.com/sl-book-club-coming-up/?view=calendar&month=03-2021– I know I’ll be dropping by as an audience member again.