Greetings once again from ground zero of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest Workshop Week. The Contest got a lot of positive feedback about the Workshop Blog we ran last year, so we’ve returned to report on it once again, and added a second reporter to the mix. Brad R. Torgersen will be helping to cover both workshops.
Day 1 at the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest workshop is always a hectic one. The staff at Galaxy Press and Author Services, Inc. must coordinate the arrival of roughly a score of writer winners and judges from all over the globe. This year’s crop of winners includes writers from multiple locations in both the Eastern and Western United States, as well as Australia, and the United Kingdom.
All day long it’s a non-stop shuttle marathon from Los Angeles International Airport to the front doors of the Hilton Garden Inn, just a couple of blocks from Hollywood Boulevard, and the home of the Contest, Authors Services, Inc. The Hilton is the Contest’s latest residence for workshoppers and judges alike. Newly renovated, the hotel gleams with possibilities, much as the arriving winners’ eyes gleam with excitement (or weariness, depending on the length of their flights!)
Contest administrator Joni Labaqui is ready and waiting to welcome each and every winner to his or her (soon to be) whirlwind of a week. For judges and returning winners, it’s like coming home. For new winners, it’s a chance to meet some of the most successful and accomplished professionals working in the genres of science fiction and fantasy such as Tim Powers and Nina Kiriki Hoffman, this year’s instructors for the duration of the workshop.
Nina was one of the first Writers of the Future winners, whose story, “A Step Into Darkness,” was published in the very first volume of Writers of the Future, in 1985. Nina has either won or been nominated for numerous awards, including the Nebula, the Stoker, and the World Fantasy award. Multi-award nominee Tim Powers has most recently been involved with the production of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, as the last installment was based in part on Tim’s novel, On Stranger Tides, which also serves as the eponymous secondary title of the film.
Bestselling Australian judge and former winner Sean Williams arrived ultra early this morning, while this year’s Aussie winner for Volume 28, Nick Tchan, was already in the hotel by the time the first US winners walked in the door — Nick had an advanced day to acclimate to the adjusted time difference between Australia and the American West Coast, but still has a day or two of catching up (or is it falling behind?) to do before he’s thoroughly synced with Los Angeles. And of course, by then, he’ll be looking at a return flight back to Australia.
Several writer winners hail from Texas: Gerald Warfield, William Ledbetter, and M.O. Muriel. Muriel being this year’s “double threat” attendee, as she previously won the Illustrators of the Future Contest for Volume 27. Ledbetter also happens to administrate another writing contest: the Jim Baen Memorial Contest, dedicated to the memory of Jim Baen, founder of Baen Books, who are the primary publisher for former Writers of the Future winner and now judge, Eric Flint. Last year’s Writers of the Future Gold Award winner, R.P.L. Johnson, happens to be this year’s Jim Baen Memorial winner. Other arriving writer winners hail from Chicago, Philadelphia, California, Oregon, and Maryland.
Once everyone arrives and is accounted for, the evening commences with a general introduction to the workshop, with Powers and Hoffman outlining the structure of the week. Each of the winners can look forward to an extensive program of lecturing, reading, Q&A, a timed 24-hour short story exercise, and eventual guest lecturing from the many attending judges and former winners who will be flying in for the actual awards ceremony itself.
For many winners, one of the most valuable parts of the workshop are the after-hours mingling with judges and other winners, which can last well into the night. These are especially exciting opportunities for international winners who don’t always have ready access to authors like Eric Flint, Mike Resnick, or Kevin J. Anderson.
After the introduction, many of the writer winners met in the lobby and then set off to dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen with Australian Judge, Sean Williams (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed). With such a creative group all at the same table, conversation steered well into the speculative realm, with serious subject like unicorn steaks and polar bear riding kangaroos being addressed. I wouldn’t be surprised to be reading a few short stories inspired by that conversation in the pages of Asimov’s or Lightspeed.
Day 2 will get started bright and early. Watch this blog for rolling updates of Volume 28′s latest goings-on, to include the arrival of the winners of the L. Ron Hubbard’s Illustrators of the Future Contest.