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Thank you, Robin Hobb!

Following on from my post that Robin Hobb is in town, I actually went down to the event yesterday, stood in line to get in for way too long, sat around for another couple of hours waiting for her to be where she’d be signing books, stood in line again to get my turn, and then… finally met her in person.

Robin Hobb signing my books

Robin Hobb signing my books.

And it was awesome!

In case you don’t know, Robin Hobb is my favourite author. Reading her Farseer trilogy is what inspired me to begin writing. I’m not normally much of a fan of anything (at least nowhere near the extent of some of the people at the expo – wow, talk about nine kinds of crazy!), but her I had to go and see.

Robin Hobb after signing my books

Yes, she’s as nice as she looks. (The horrible quality of the picture is my fault.)

I wasn’t sure what the limit was for number of books she’d sign, so I brought two bags of books, agonising over which ones I’d leave at home, because I knew I’d kick myself if she was going to sign them all and I’d only brought one or two.

My Robin Hobb books

No, I didn’t take ALL those books to be signed. (But almost – my shoulders are still aching from carrying them all day!)

Signatures galore

Turns out, the limit was three, but luckily, I’d brought along my minion daughter, so between us, we got six of them signed.

Assassin's Apprentice Signature

My signed copy of Assassin’s Apprentice

Blood of Dragons signature

Robin Hobb’s signature on my copy of Blood of Dragons

Fool's Fate Signature

My copy of Fool’s Fate, now signed by Robin Hobb

I must admit I was slightly nervous just before it was my turn to meet her, but she was so down-to-earth and approachable that I found myself relaxing and thanked her for inspiring me to write. With a smile, she asked me how that was going, and I told her that I’d had a short story published but was currently working on the first part of my fantasy trilogy. She was friendly, natural, and encouraging, and seemed like a great person; I wish we’d had more time to chat, but of course I didn’t want to impose (I’m sure she gets enough craziness when she attends those types of events. I know many people say things like “it’s been an absolute pleasure meeting you” without really meaning it, but in this case, it was completely sincere.

Jo Spurrier

While I was there, I also purchased the third book of Jo Spurrier’s Children of the Black Sun trilogy, North Star Guide Me Home and had it signed by Jo Spurrier, who was also amazingly nice.

Jo Spurrier's signature

Jo Spurrier signed my new copy of her latest book

Queues

A staggering number of people lined up to pay stars and starlets between $20 and $50 per signature, and even more for pictures with them. Lots of people attended the cosplay part of the Supanova event, which I have to say didn’t appeal to me at all, but to each their own I suppose.

Celeb queues

People queuing up to see (or be seen with, or photographed with, or have something signed by) celebrities like Ming-Na Wen

More celebrity queues

More celebrity queues… George Lazenby, Richard Kiel, and so on.

Fitz and the Fool

So altogether a great day despite all the waiting and standing in line. I cannot begin to express how much I’m looking forward to reading Robin Hobb’s new book, Fool’s Assassin, due out in August, when Fitz and the Fool make a welcome return to my imagination.

Oh, and I told Robin Hobb that I was hoping that she wouldn’t reveal the Fool’s gender in the new books. In her typical way, her reply was simply, “Well, if he doesn’t tell me…”

So, from me, a heartfelt “Thank you!” to Robin Hobb.

Robin Hobb is in town!

First, apologies for not blogging for a while – I could say it was all because I was too busy (which I was), but there may well have been an element of laziness involved as well.

The big news for me is that my favourite author, Robin Hobb, is in Perth, Western Australia, this weekend at the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre, as part of an event hosted by Supanova, the “Pop Culture Expo”. She appeared in Sydney last weekend and will actually be in my town for the next couple of days!

From the official guest page:

Robin will conduct a general admission Q&A each weekend, and participate in signing sessions on Friday in Sydney (2pm to 6pm), and throughout each Saturday (10.30am to 5.30pm) and Sunday (11am to 5pm) in both cities.

I’ve been in awe of her ability to tell wonderfully intricate stories for many years and am very much looking forward to meeting her in person (nearly as much as I’m looking forward to reading her next book). This is not something I would normally do, and none of the other celebrities that will be at this event would get me excited enough to go see them in person. But Robin Hobb has been my main inspiration to start writing myself, and I can’t not go and see her. I’ll do my best not to gush and stammer like a star-struck imbecile, but can’t really make any promises. Of course I’m going to take along my favourite books and will hopefully get some of them signed.

Also attending the event will be Jo Spurrier, whose third book in the excellent Children of the Black Sun trilogy I have yet to read (I might buy it there if I can), as well as several other authors.

Have you ever met a “celebrity” in person, or even Robin Hobb herself? If so, was it what you expected and would you recommend it (not that you could change my mind!)? If not, was it due to a lack of opportunity or because you didn’t want to destroy your image of that person? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Jo Spurrier – A to Z: J

J is for Jo Spurrier. Jo has written an epic fantasy trilogy called Children of the Black Sun published by HarperVoyager, both as a paperback and on Kindle. Book 1 (published 2012) is called Winter Be My Shield, Book 2 (published 2013) is Black Sun Light My Way, and Book 3, North Star Guide Me Home, is due out later this month, on 22 April 2014 (at least the Kindle edition is, not sure about the paperback version – Amazon pages seem to be contradicting each other a bit there).

Winter Be My Shield cover

Cover of Jo Spurrier’s “Winter Be My Shield”, Book One of “Children of the Black Sun”

One of the main reasons I started to read it was that it was fantasy by an Australian author, and there aren’t that many well-known fantasy authors from down under. The endorsement from my favourite author, Robin Hobb, helped, of course. Jo had some unique ideas that I thought sounded very interesting. Here’s the blurb that sold it for me:

Original, dramatic and unputdownable,
Winter Be My Shield is the first in an epic fantasy
trilogy from brilliant new Australian talent Jo Spurrier.

Sierra has a despised and forbidden gift – she raises
power from the suffering of others. Enslaved by the
king’s torturer, Sierra escapes, barely keeping ahead
of Rasten, the man sent to hunt her down. Then she
falls in with dangerous company: the fugitive Prince
Cammarian and his crippled foster-brother, Isidro.

But Rasten is not the only enemy hunting them in
the frozen north and as Sierra’s new allies struggle
to identify friend from foe, Rasten approaches her
with a plan to kill the master they both abhor.
Sierra is forced to decide what price she is willing
to pay for her freedom and her life …

I found that the quality of the writing was excellent, the ideas as interesting as expected, the characters well-crafted with realistic flaws and ambitions, the dialogue felt natural, and the world in which the story takes place seems consistent, with its own set of laws making sense in the context of that world (although sometimes I found it a bit confusing to figure out where on the included map the action was taking place).

A few of the action scenes seemed a teeny bit stilted to me, but that didn’t detract from a good story. I’ve read the first two books and am looking forward to the third which should be out soon. If anyone is looking for a new fantasy series to sink their teeth into, I can definitely recommend this one.

With her debut novel, Winter Be My Shield, Jo Spurrier won the Aurealis Award for best fantasy novel in 2012. Visit her website, her page on amazon or her facebook page if you’re interested in more details.