Thursday, January 25, 2007

Whatever Happened to ...

I have now declared all-out war on my sinuses. I've got the vaporizer going in my room at night and I'm drinking plenty of fluids. On the way to class today, I'm going to pick up some mint herbal tea (I'm running low) and some tomato juice to make Mom's no-fail remedy, which involves horseradish in tomato juice. It kills my stomach, but it totally opens my sinuses. Then on the way home from class, I'm picking up a tub of the hot and sour soup at the neighborhood Chinese place. That stuff also always works (but I think the people who work there think I'm always sick because that's the only time I go there -- still, their soup could get FDA approval as a sinus cure). The annoying thing is that I'm breathing freely. I just want to drill a hole in one side of my face to relieve the pressure.

But enough of that. Today's topic is "whatever happened to ..." As I've been writing a lot lately, that means I've been spending time in my "library" on the loft where my comfortable chair is. When I get sidetracked or stuck, I find myself contemplating my bookcases, and that leads me to thinking about books I've enjoyed whose authors seem to have vanished. I have a lot of these in the science fiction section, as I was in a science fiction book group from 1995 until about 2002. We liked to alternate classics with new authors, and we often picked things by chance or on a whim, just because they sounded interesting. I lately started looking up some of these authors to see if they had anything new, but I've been disappointed that they haven't.

One book that totally blew our minds in the group was The Merro Tree by Katie Waitman. It was weird, trippy and may have been the book responsible for what became one of the group's catchphrases ("kinky alien snake sex"), but it was utterly compelling and fascinating. That book won or was nominated for all kinds of awards, and I think was even considered by Barnes & Noble to be one of the top debuts for that year. I remember looking for more books by that author, but nothing seemed to come up. A little Internet sleuthing revealed that she had one more, but that was still back in the 90s. You can't help but wonder what happened to someone who made such a stunning debut.

Another science fiction writer of the 90s was Patricia Anthony. I sat next to her at a banquet at one of my very first writers conferences soon after she sold her first book (and boy, could she spin a story!). She had a number of books out during the 90s, got great reviews, and was promoted by her publisher as a science fiction author whose work was quite literary. We read Brother Termite in the group, and it was a fascinating twist on the alien invasion story. A quick Internet search doesn't show any publications for her since the 90s.

Then there was James Halperin, who was one of the rare self-publishing success stories. He wrote a book for fun, self-published it because he wanted to share it with people and he didn't really aspire to be an author, then a Random House editor got his hands on it and bought it. The Truth Machine was a critical and commercial hit, and then he followed that up with The First Immortal. He's still out there, but all of his more recent publications are about rare coins (that was always his primary profession). I got to know him a little bit (he's local), and my guess is that he had a couple of stories to tell, but didn't want to make a career out of it. But boy, does he have an imagination.

One that wasn't from our book group but who I also read and enjoyed in the 90s is fantasy author Mary Brown. I first read Pigs Don't Fly (But Dragons Do), then went back and found The Unlikely Ones. I was in the middle of reading that book when I met her editor at a conference and gushed in a rather embarrassingly fangirly way. There was a sequel to Pigs Don't Fly, and an Amazon search reveals that there was one more book I've never seen, but otherwise, her latest publication was an omnibus edition of her earlier books.

I really hate to see people disappear, both as a reader and as a writer. As a reader, I want more good stuff from people whose work I've enjoyed. As a writer, it fills me with dread and terror to think that I could just as easily vanish. Will people ten years from now be wondering what happened to me? "Yeah, she had this cute little series, but I haven't seen anything after that."

But enough about books you can't find anymore. Here's one you can -- well, starting next week: Protector of the Flight, by Robin D. Owens, the latest Out of the Blogosphere entry.

If horses could fly...

Then Calli Torcher might ride again. But a devastating accident left her in such pain, she thought the chimes and chanting in her ears were a hallucination...until she found herself transported to another world, and met the Lladranans who had Summoned her.

Lladrana was a parallel, magical earth filled with exotic creatures, noble humans and magic– all threatened by an encroaching evil.

And when the mighty volarans stopped obeying the Chevaliers, the flying horses' unexpected rebellion had thrown Lladrana into an uproar. In desperation, the sorcerers had sought help from afar - and gotten Calli. If she could fulfill this mission perhaps she would also finally find all she had longed for – a mate, a home, a family. But against this great darkness she had no battle experience, no strategy plans. She had only a bond with horses...

For more info and an excerpt, visit Robin's web site.

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