Last night, I attended the first of the SFWA Pacific Northwest Reading Series of 2013. Three authors gave readings from their works. Portland area writers Gra’ Linnaea (a Stoker award nominee) read the opening of a YA fantasy story he’s planning to serialize online; and Nebula-nominated Felicity Shoulders read to us from her post-WWI fairy tale, Small Town. Our host for the evening, Hugo and Nebula award-winning author James Patrick Kelly, read us the opening of The Biggest, a Depression-era superhero story.
It was my first writerly event since my move to the Portland area two months ago, and my first author reading event as well. All three authors captured the crowd’s complete attention, and I am certain each author’s story excerpt touched a place of wonder within each member of the audience. I for one was disappointed when each author finished their reading, and I am certain I was not the only one who felt that way. All three have made the full stories available online (or will soon be). A wonderful gift.
The event was held in the gymnasium at McMenamins Kennedy School, a place unlike any I have ever experienced. Imagine a circa 1915 educational institution converted into a restaurant, multiple bars and tap rooms (I especially liked the one designated as “Detention”), a hotel, a movie theatre, a soaking pool, a brewery, and so much more. What’s strange is that the old school infrastructure and sensibilities have all remained intact; right down to the chalkboards, the tired beige linoleum floors, and green-tiled bathrooms with porcelain sinks hung at kiddie-level. I had a strangest feeling that I was channeling the ghostly spirit of a former student, and that the afterlife is a hellofalotta fun. Very much of an Alice in Wonderland experience.
Evenings like this make me very glad I live here.