27th Annual Writers and Illustrators of the Future
Workshops and Awards Celebration: Day 5
Day 5 of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future workshop week started at 8 am. We met in the lobby of the Hotel Roosevelt then walked over to Author Services for the unveiling of the illustrations that will be appearing in the 27th volume of Writers of the Future.
During this part of the workshop, the illustrations are framed and placed in on easels arranged in a circle on the ground floor of Author Services. The names of the stories they represent are hidden, and then authors must find the illustration that belongs to their story simply by identifying the scene portrayed. Because our group is unusually close, most of the writers knew who their illustrator was, so in order to avoid giving away which illustration belonged to which story, the illustrators went in first and gathered in the center of the room.
Then the writers came in.
Even those who immediately recognized their stories went from easel to easel, simply to admire the artwork. All styles of art were represented, but by chance, I happened to stop in front of one particular illustration. Illustrator Nico Photos had used himself as a model and had his girlfriend of three years take a picture for him. He is very recognizable in the illustration, and his expression is so melancholic that I asked him what he was thinking of when his girlfriend took that shot. He told me that in the story he illustrated* the protagonist is separated from the love of his life by the vastness of space, so Nico simply imagined himself separated from the love of HIS life by thousands of miles, and the result is that expression of heart-rending loss. I was honored that he’d told me that story, and I envied author Jeffrey Lyman that his illustrator had put such a depth of feeling into his work.
Once I’d moved on from Nico’s illustration, I started to ask each illustrator who they thought might win the Gold Award. I was originally a winner in Volume 25 and was honored to return for Volume 26, and in each of those years I performed the same experiment. Both times, the illustrator chosen by the majority of his or her classmates had gone on to win. When I asked this year, the answers were all over the map. No single illustrator was picked by more than two others, and everyone seemed to admire everyone else. That, of course, simply heightened the suspense! The field is wide open this year--literally anyone could win the Award…and the $5000 prize that goes with it.
Adam Perin and Gregory Gunther
Keffy Kehrli and Vivian Fiedel
Richard Johnson and Dustin Panzino
Eventually the writers were pried away from their illustrations and we boarded a bus for Delta Printing. A quick 30 minute ride later, and we found ourselves in the Quality Assurance department of the factory that houses Delta Printing, staring at a machine that turns book pages over and over hypnotically in order to stress-test them. After a quick introduction by management, we soon passed deep into the factory and ended up in a room where color printing was being done and confronted a machine the size of a train car that was roaring so loudly we had to huddle close together to hear our guide. He began to describe the process used to produce covers and almost absently picked up a sheet of paper and began to lecture about it. Suddenly, there was a collective gasp from the writers and illustrators, then mumbled excitement. The sheet he was holding was the cover of the 27th volume of L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future! Cliff Nielsen’s artwork was beautifully rendered, but the design is still top secret until the book’s official release on Sunday, so I’ll have to keep you in suspense. For those of you who aren’t local, keep your eyes on the webcast, because you’re going to want to see this!
The tour progressed into the binding room where we could see copies of volume 27 whizzing by on the assembly line. The writers and illustrators quickly followed the books to where they were being spat out of the machine and descended on a stack of finished books, pawing through them in search of their stories and illustrations. I have a feeling that there are going to be a few sets of eyes with dark circles underneath tomorrow morning, courtesy of some late-night reading.
The rest of the day consisted of talks by some of the giants of the field--authors like Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick, Eric Flint, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, and of course workshop co-coordinators Tim Powers and K.D. Wentworth.
In the illustrators’ workshop, each illustrator revealed their portfolio to the others and workshop coordinators Stephen Hickman, Ron and Val Lindahn, and Cliff Nielsen suggests how each of them could take their work to the next level.
Later that evening, we were joined by the rest of the judges at the poolside welcome barbecue hosted by Author Services. There, illustrator judges like Robert Castillo and Laura Brodian Freas mingled with newly-arrived writer judges Dave Wolverton, Robert J. Sawyer, Dr. Yoji Kondo, and Doug Beason. Reactions among the winners at being in the presence of these titans ranged from shyness to outright terror, so some of the veteran winners (those I mentioned yesterday, with the addition of Nebula-nominated author Eric James Stone) took the vol. 27 winners under our wings and broke the ice. Soon writers like Patrick O’Sullivan and R.P.L. Johnson were rubbing shoulders with Larry Niven and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, while elsewhere illustrators Dustin D. Panzino and Vivian Friedel hobnobbed with Stephen Hickman and Cliff Nielsen.
K. C. Ball, Laurie Tom, Eric Flint, Brad Torgerson, Mike Resnick and Ben Mann
David D'Amico, Jordan Lapp and Dave Wolverton
Rebecca Moesta, Ryan Harvey and Kevin J. Anderson
Dr. Yoji Kondo and Meghan Muriel
Ben Mann, Richard Johnson, Tim Powers, John Arkwrght and Larry Niven
Doug Beason, Adam Perin and wife and Tim Powers
The winners stayed as late as they dared, but they had stories to workshop, and even better—stories to read in the copy of Vol 27 we were each issued at Delta Printing. As for me? I’m doing the same thing. The winners won’t be the only ones with dark circles under their eyes!
* The Unreachable Voices of Ghosts, by Jeffrey Lyman
—Jordan Lapp, your friendly blogger and 2009 Writers of the Future Winner
On May 15th, 2011 at 6:30pm, watch the live Achievement Awards Celebration at www.writersofthefuture.com.