On 1 June, I attended an event, hosted by WORD Brooklyn, for China Miéville's latest novel, Embassytown. The catch when talking about events - or anything, really - is if you are wildly enthusiastic, people assume you're not thinking critically, that you're just reacting as a fangirl. But really, this was one of the best author events I've ever been to.
(And while I love Miéville's writing, I'm not as much of a fangirl as the person who whooped at his mention of the Bas-Lag trilogy, prompting Miéville's remark: "A whoop for Bas-Lag in a punk club. I have now reached my apotheosis of cool.")
And yes, the event was in a bar - Public Assembly - and not in a bookstore. This was, I thought, a great idea. Doors opened an hour before the event began, allowing people to mingle, and partake in the Kraken-themed drink special. The location lent itself to the crowd being informal and interactive.
The event opened with Miéville reading a brief passage from Embassytown, "fully seventy percent of which" he promised, would make sense by the end of the book. The next section of the evening was a question and answer session hosted by Lev Grossman. Writers, if you ever have the chance to have Grossman host your Q&A session, take it. A writer and critic himself, he's a smart reader, has a knack for the sort of questions that elicit interesting answers, and was able to mix questions about philosophy with the one from which I took the title of this post. After that, questions were taken from the floor. If I were a better reporter, I would have recorded the sessions, but I'll share some of the highlights: some of the recent SF Miéville has been reading is Alastair Reynolds, he also loves Jane Eyre, there is going to be a Bas-Lag RPG, upon which he is consulting, he isn't on twitter because he can't imagine people would care about his muffin (and, more seriously, because he doesn't feel an author should be the definitive source of information on his work), and his D&D character was a ranger, chaotic good.
Miéville is as smart as you would imagine from his writing, and interacted incredibly well with the fans. He's interested in a wide variety of things, and has a gift for conveying that enthusiasm. If you get a chance to attend a reading of his, I highly recommend it.