[personal] Ask me anything – open questions thread

Ask me anything in comments. This is an open questions thread. I’ll talk about life, parenting, cancer, writing, answer anything that doesn’t compromise the privacy of others.

Go ahead. You know you want to.

30 thoughts on “[personal] Ask me anything – open questions thread

  1. Gillian (reynardo) says:

    What brought The Child into your life, and what’s the most important thing she’s brought with her? And with that, how did you first explain death to her?

    1. Jay says:

      The Child came into my life as part of a decision on the part of me and her mother to adopt. She’s brought more than anything a sense of joy and purpose that sustains me deeply.

      As for death, we’ve been pretty straightforward. I’m an atheist, her mother is a Buddhist, so we both view death as the extinction of personal consciousness. She’s experienced the death of her great-grandparents on one said, and her grandparents on one side — not at the scene, but through the process of funerals and grieving. And we’ve had some pretty straightforward talks about my fears and health expectations.

      This life is the only one you get. I respect the wishful thinking of people who want there to be more, but given the absolute lack of empirical evidence for such a position, I’ve had to be very straightforward with my daughter.

      1. Gillian (reynardo) says:

        Awesome! I didn’t frame my first question very well – I knew you chose The Child (and an excellent choice on both sides, might I say), but I was curious as to where and how you chose her. Was chosing an Asian girl your very first priority, or was it that you knew when you saw her that she was the right one? And also how old was she at the time, and did she choose you?

  2. Michael says:

    What is your Day Job?

    1. Jay says:

      I am a senior sales engineer for an automated messaging company.

  3. Trey says:

    What is Sunspin about?

    1. Jay says:

      It’s a high concept space opera about a renascent second human interstellar empire on the verge of the same mysterious catastrophe that destroyed the first empire. One woman has found a key clue to the fall of the old empire, but her secret could overthrow the current power structure as well, so there is immense political opposition to her solving the problems. Cast of thousands, trouble ensues.

      1. Trey says:

        Thanks Jay.

  4. Stephanie says:

    So… do you keep a towel with you? And what do you think of 42?

    1. Jay says:

      I keep a towel to be warm and dry! And 42 was a good age. My last year before cancer.

  5. Dragon says:

    I love checking in every day to see what links you have put up. Do sites you find always get posted right away or do you maintain a stockpile?

    1. Jay says:

      Sometimes I stockpile them for a day or two, but mostly the links are fresh, from my own Web surfing and from what people have sent me.

  6. I just got got back from my first WorldCon (or any Con, for that matter). I especially enjoyed the panel discussion onthe Craft of Writing SF&F Short Stories. I hadn’t read any of your books previously, but right after that session, I RAN out an bought GREEN (and I’m LOVING it!). Kudos to you on your hosting duties as well at the Hugos. Since I’m a newbie to the Con world, can you please tell me the meaning of TOAST? You mentioned it several times at the Hugos, and I didn’t ‘get’ it, but it seemed I was the only one. (I’m pretty sure you weren’t talking about bread or drinking).

    1. Jay says:

      Hi, Pandora. I’m glad you enjoyed the Hugos, and like the book.

      ‘Toast’ comes from when I was Toastmaster at Westercon a few years ago. Kevin Roche and Andy Tremblay made a giant toast costume that I got different people to wear all weekend. Whoever wore the costume was the Toastmaster’s Toast Bitch. Every time I had an appearance or a panel or some other official duty, I’d get the audience to chant ‘Toast!’ very loudly. So it’s an extension of that joke, one enough people at Worldcon remember in order to keep it going.

      1. Aaah! Silly, I know, but inquiring minds want to know! Next year, in Chicago, I can chime in (or at least smile) with the chorus. I’d posed the question on blog and had several people ask me about it. http://pandoraswift.blogspot.com/
        Thank you!

        1. Jay says:

          Glad I could help!

  7. Stevie says:

    You are writing an epic about the fall and rise of empires, and you believe that personal consciousness after death is wishful thinking.

    The Homeric poets’ description of Haides makes it clear that everyone has a thoroughly horrible time once they are dead; the idea of a pleasant afterlife came much later.

    As a writer, how would you tackle rewriting the Iliad and the Odyssey from your worldview?

    1. Jay says:

      As a writer, how would you tackle rewriting the Iliad and the Odyssey from your worldview?

      Wow. There’s a stumper. Or maybe not. Framed in modern terms, the Iliad is basically adventure fiction. The Odyssey is basically quest fiction. Both have politics, love and war in them … always crowd-pleasers in fiction. I’m thinking space opera. Then, I’ve kind of got space opera on the brain right now.

      But bear in mind that despite my worldview, I write about things I don’t believe in all the time. I don’t believe in zombies, or magic, or FTL, but I use them in stories. So my personal views on the afterlife don’t preclude me from addressing it in fiction.

      1. Stevie says:

        Thanks, and I’m really looking forward to reading Sunspin…

  8. Mike says:

    How will living on digital tablets change fiction?

    1. Jay says:

      Wow, do I wish I was smart enough to answer this one well. Digital tablets certainly make e-reading ubiquitous, or nearly so, which even the laptop could not successfully do. E-fiction that’s written to take explicit advantage of the platform is still quite rare, but to do that well will essentially be an entirely new and different art form so far as I can tell. For now, instant availability, smart bookmarking and adjustable fonts are the real sell points, and those are consumer-end features/benefits, not producer end features/benefits.

  9. Jan says:

    I so admire how you stay postive through this cancer process Jay. I took care of my Mum when she died of cancer and I am now 2 years clean from mine.

    There are dark days, I know, but you just seem to shine even during those time. How do you keep so positive?

    BTW – I know you will beat this!


    1. Jay says:

      Thank you, Jan.

  10. Ben says:

    Jay, we met at World Fantasy in 2006–it was a blast, and I’ve watched you ever since. I’ve also seen the cancer come after you, and it ain’t fuckin’ fair. I admire how you have handled it, and only hope I could gather the grace and wit to handle it so well as you.

    1) So–you write quite damn well. I would think it would help, but…does it help you to know that you’re such a good writer, and prolific on top of that? Do you feel like it matters?

    2) Where do you see speculative fiction as a genre going? I worry that it’s getting factionalized and that it’s losing the wonder. On the other hand, I like the possibility offered by e-publishing. How do you see it?

    1. Jay says:

      1) I don’t know if I’m a good writer or not. I just know I like to write, and like to be read. I think what matters is my desire to write, and my fulfillment from writing.

      2) Spec fic is always fragmenting and recoalecing. ePublishing is an undeniable trend that is already affecting us all — watch for the sharp decline already underway in mass market paperbacks, for example. But I am not nearly clever enough to see where it is going.

  11. crazquilt says:

    Have you seen hellboy 2?

  12. Trey says:

    Maybe this edges into too personal, but any parenting tips you’d like to share with the world at large?

    1. Jay says:

      I don’t have anything special to say about parenting, except that my experience with my daughter has taught me two things.

      1) Love her for exactly who she is, even (or especially) when she’s acting her most unloveable

      2) Love her for the best of who she is

      I’ve tried to apply these ideas in other areas of my life, as well.

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