Valya Dudycz Lupescu

Writer, fueled by coffee

Journal

David G. Hartwell, 1941-2016

Posted by on 8:04 pm in community, Cons | 0 comments

David G. Hartwell, 1941-2016

David G. Hartwell has passed away. David leaves an indelible mark on fantasy and science fiction–so many people who write and edit and read have been shaped by his vision and commitment to the genre. I met David while planning the Fuller Award to honor Gene Wolfe in 2012, and he was so generous and kind in all his help and enthusiasm. I delighted in subsequent opportunities I had to interact with him, at ICFA and other conventions, as well as on trips to New York where our paths crossed. Everything about the way he engaged with the world, from his clothes to his kindness, made a lasting impression. I didn’t realize until last summer when I was packing up my books to move that one of my favorite childhood anthologies had been edited by David. Published in 1988, it was one of those literary treasures that always moved with me–from childhood home to college apartment and all the places that followed. I made a mental note to bring it with me to a future ICFA (The International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts) where I planned to show David and ask him to sign it. Sitting in my living room and holding that collection in my hands 25+ years later, it felt like an important reminder of the many ways we are connected, of the creative continuum that we become a part of when we release work into the world, and of the ways that childhood aspirations can become reality.   Kyle Cassidy always says, “If you’re doing things right, eventually all your idols will gravitate to your living room.” Kyle calls it the gravity of art, and he’s right. I’m grateful that I had the chance to get to know David Hartwell. So many people I care about–writers and editors and fans, are hurting from the sudden loss. My thoughts are with David’s family and friends. Patrick Nielsen Hayden wrote in his online tribute that David “was our field’s most consequential editor since John W. Campbell.” Many people have been sharing photographs and memories. David Hartwell’s legacy is vast. He will never be forgotten....

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David Bowie: His Memory Is a Blessing

Posted by on 11:06 am in Art, Friends | 2 comments

David Bowie: His Memory Is a Blessing

Like so many people, I’m moved by the passing of David Bowie. When the kids woke up, I was listening to his music and weepy. I tried to explain it to them. “Was he your friend?” my youngest asked, knowing how many of my favorite artists are friends or acquaintances. “He wasn’t,” I replied. “I never had the chance to meet him, but his music was important…to me and to the world.” “You still have that,” my twelve-year-old replied sagely over her breakfast. “You can listen to it any time you want.” She’s right, of course. His memory, his music, lives on. One of the most important books I’ve read in the last few years is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. (It’s brilliant; you should read it.) In it he writes about surviving the Holocaust with those cherished things—no, cherished ideas—that kept him alive. He writes about the memory of his wife which largely motivated him to keep going. While in the camps, Frankl reflected upon their time together and his love for her. He writes, “A thought crossed my mind: I didn’t even know if she were still alive. I knew only one thing—which I have learned well by now: Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self.” The memory of loving her helped to give his life meaning when he was surrounded by death and despair. The power of memory—of having loved, of being moved by encountering someone or something—is a touchstone. This is true even of someone we may not know personally, like David Bowie, because their work (their music or art or words) touches us so deeply that it shapes the way we understand and experience the world. The memory of that encounter continues to resonate. Always. Viktor Frankl also writes: “In the past, nothing is irretrievably lost, but rather, on the contrary, everything is irrevocably stored and treasured. To be sure, people tend to see only the stubble fields of transitoriness but overlook and forget the full granaries of the past into which they have brought the harvest of their lives: the deeds done, the loves loved, and last but not least, the sufferings they have gone through with courage and dignity. From this one may see that there is no reason to pity old people. Instead, young people should envy them. It is true that the old have no opportunities, no possibilities in the future. But they have more than that. Instead of possibilities in the future, they have realities in the past—the potentialities they have actualized, the meanings they have fulfilled, the values they have realized—and nothing and nobody can ever remove these assets from the past.” What a beautiful way of looking at the gifts of age–all those treasures to cherish. There is sadness and loss (my heart goes out to his friends and family), but thankfully we still have David Bowie’s music. And our memories. How beautiful and telling it is that today so much of the world is sharing both. Here’s one from a young Bowie. “Tell them I’m a dreaming kind of guy, And I’m going to make my dream. Tell them I will live my dream. Tell them they can laugh at me, But don’t forget your date with me, When I live my dream.” ~David Bowie,...

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On New Years, Faraway Friends, and Fairy Tales

Posted by on 4:22 pm in Art, nyc, Stephen H. Segal, Writers | 0 comments

On New Years, Faraway Friends, and Fairy Tales

They take their mugs, then their seats, and fill the room; the empty chair holding everything they do not say. Until she speaks to raise a mug and, in remembering, cracks the silence, spills everything, and takes them back with, “I remember when” and “He always” and “I will miss” and “If only.” (“Seven,” KROnline ) I’m delighted that my new short story, “Seven” has been published by The Kenyon Review Online. The story is essentially a love letter to friends near and especially far, whom I don’t get to see often enough. It was also born out of something I was thinking a lot about at the time: What may have happened to the fairy tale heroes and heroines, victims and villains, as they eventually faced aging and death? It’s not the sexy part of the story, but I feel like there is beauty and grace to be explored there. So much of 2015 was spent working on Geek Parenting, that I wasn’t able to write and submit a lot of short fiction and poetry. “Seven” was an exception, and I’m grateful to begin this year by having it published it in such a well-respected and widely-read journal. Thus the wheel turns and we leave 2015 behind, having lost loved ones, having turned parts of our lives upside-down, having welcomed new relationships and projects, hopefully having created a few new treasured memories. We look ahead to 2016, beginning to write onto those blank calendar squares, planning the ways we hope the year will play itself out (although it will surely surprise us). I have not traditionally been a fan of New Year’s Eve. Many of my best eves have been spent “writing in the new year” in a quiet house or apartment, a cup of hot coffee beside me (maybe with a splash of Kahlua). However this time it felt appropriate to celebrate the threshold between the years with something more creative and dramatic–with a Celestial Ball in three stories of a festively decorated historic New York City Romanesque Revival building filled with live music and occupied by all manner of beautifully costumed people meandering about, drinking, dancing, and laughing. It felt very much like the shimmery veils between so many fantastic worlds were lifted to allow for such a congregation of sparkly, mythic creatures. I was swept up in all that that magic and forgot to take photos, but thankfully photographer Steven Rosen was there, and he took this beautiful portrait. (Oh, the light!) (If you’d like to see his other breathtaking portraits from that night and others, you can find them on his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stevenrosenphotography) There’s so much out of balance and broken and hurting in our world right now. I want to believe that the systems in place that continue to perpetuate hatred and injustice will finally be dismantled, that new models will spring up to reshape a future where all people are treated with dignity and respect. I have hope, and I want to do my part. In so many cultures, the end of an old year was a time for magic, for fortunetelling and storytelling, for casting spells and making wishes. My wish for 2016 is not long: May we find our way to love in 2016–in the people, animals, activities, and ideas that nourish our authentic selves and connect us with humanity as a whole. Happy New Year....

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The Mail Goblins in Winter

Posted by on 11:50 am in family, Geek Parenting, Writing | 0 comments

The Mail Goblins in Winter

I’ve written before about how much I love getting mail and adore hand-written letters. Because of this, I’ve always paid particular attention to mail that arrives damaged, and when I was a girl I concocted an elaborate story in my head about the goblinny creatures who live in the post office and delight in damaging packages and letters. (Come to think about it, THAT’S what the Box Trolls reminded me off). My most recent crop of mail seems to have been handled by a particularly exuberant gaggle of mail goblins–even taking what look like bites out of my New Yorker​ cover. Why today? Why this crop of cards and letters? Problem with being a writer is that now my imagination is concocting the story, even though I’m just trying to drink my coffee and pay bills. May the mail goblins skip your house this holiday...

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To Shatter and Create: Interviewing Matthew Kressel

Posted by on 8:25 pm in community, Friends, valya lupescu, Writers | 0 comments

To Shatter and Create: Interviewing Matthew Kressel

It was a delight interviewing Matthew Kressel for The Brooklyn Rail. We talked about his engaging debut novel, KING OF SHARDS, his other writing and creative projects, and the different ways Matt explores myth, landscape, and beauty in unlikely places. NYC friends, The Brooklyn Rail is in print, but everyone can read it online. (And if you haven’t encountered The Brooklyn Rail, check it out. It’s a really wonderful journal.) You can read the interview...

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2015 Fuller Award to honor Haki Madhubuti

Posted by on 2:37 pm in Chicago Literary Hall of Fame | 0 comments

2015 Fuller Award to honor Haki Madhubuti

On November 18th at the Poetry Foundation, the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame will be awarding the Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement to Haki Madhubuti.  In past years we have honored Gene Wolfe, Lisel Mueller, and Harry Mark Petrakis. Haki Madhubuti has not just left his mark on Chicago and the nation’s literary landscape, he has helped to reshape it in such important ways. One of the architects of the Black Arts Movement, he is an award-winning poet, publisher, an educator, and the recipient of so many well-deserved honors and fellowships. Please join us in honoring him at this free event on November 18th. I hope to see you...

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New Book…GEEK PARENTING!

Posted by on 3:59 pm in books, Collaboration, Comics, fandom, Friends, Geek Parenting, Quirk Books, Stephen H. Segal, Writers, Writing, Wyrd Words Workshop | 0 comments

New Book…GEEK PARENTING!

Many of you know I spent much of the spring and summer writing, and it’s finally time to announce why! A new book!!! And it’s coming next Spring! A few years ago, my writer friend and editor extraordinaire Stephen Segal edited GEEK WISDOM: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture. I loved the book of thoughtful essays reflecting upon well-known quotations, and when Stephen asked me if I would be interested in co-writing with him a follow-up that explored the parenting tips gleaned from geek-culture kids and their families, I was thrilled to be able to bring together some of the most important aspects of my life: being a mom, being a writer, and being a geek. That book, GEEK PARENTING: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us about Raising a Family  will officially be out on April 5, 2016, by Quirk Books, but ARCS are ready now and being given away free at Book Riot Live 2015 in New York this weekend! Stephen and I will be sharing more information as the date gets closer, and there will definitely be Chicago events around the release date, as well as elsewhere. (I believe that the book can already be pre-ordered online.) I’m proud of GEEK PARENTING. The lessons Stephen and I write about are important truths I try to keep in mind every day as I strive to raise thoughtful, kind, passionate, creative kids. There’s a lot of wisdom in those fantastic books and movies, TV shows and comics that we grew up with and continue to enjoy. Whether you have kids or are a kid at heart, I hope you enjoy it half as much as we loved writing...

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October

Posted by on 1:47 pm in community, Friends | 0 comments

October

Growing up, everyone I knew and loved lived in such close proximity. I knew that Baba and Dido’s families were in Ukraine, but my people were never far away. Now it’s so very different. The world is smaller in many ways, and our circles are larger to include beloved friends and family across the country and over the ocean. I wish I could see them more often, but I am grateful for online glimpses and treasured times when we do reconnect. Ultimately my world is richer for those connections. My friend Alison and I met in Germany 13 years ago when we were each pregnant with our first child, and she was family from the start. We’ve stayed in touch through ups and downs and moves back and forth across oceans. Our kids have grown up together, sharing the occasional holiday. Some of my favorite Thanksgivings have been spent with them. Alison came for a too-short visit that was mostly coffee and chats squeezed in around kid schedules and teaching, but we did have one night where I was able to give her a taste of Chicago’s stand-up and burlesque, Gypsy jazz at the Green Mill, and some of the best Ethiopian food (mmmmm). And just like that, she’s back across the ocean and life goes one. The wheel turns. Am thinking of you, so many people I love who are too far away and those who are gone from us too soon. I suppose it’s one of the gifts of October and Autumn and Halloween/Samhain–missing loved ones, sitting with nostalgia and longing as we prepare for the season to...

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Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler

Posted by on 12:04 pm in Collaboration, kyle cassidy, Writers | 0 comments

Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler

Mrs. Elvsted: You’ve got some reason for all this, Hedda! Hedda: Yes, I have. For once in my life I want to feel that I control a human destiny. Mrs. Elvsted: But surely you do already? Hedda: I don’t, and I never have done. In 1891, Henrik Ibsen’s play “Hedda Gabler” debuted in Munich, and the titular character has come to be regarded as one of the greatest dramatic roles of all time. I’ve heard of the play, but never seen it in the theatre, and it’s now being produced and performed by an incredible ensemble in Philadelphia that includes the amazing Trillian Stars in the role of Hedda Gabler and Kyle Cassidy as the videographer….because there will be a movie for those of us who may not be able to make it out to Philadelphia! Kyle and Trillian have put together a kickstarter campaign to fund the live production and video shoot for “Hedda Gabler.” Rewards include pre-sale tickets, dvds, a cravat from the show, leaving a prepaid ticket at the door for someone, and other goodies. As soon as I heard Trillian was going to play Hedda, I was struck by just how perfect a role for her it would be. Trillian has the kind of self-possession and graceful beauty of silent film stars. She’s unforgettable, and it would be a delight to see her as Hedda. Kyle Cassidy is a brilliant photographer, but the thing I really adore about him is the way that he brings artists together to make beautiful, provocative things. I’m such a proponent of creative collaboration–there’s magic when you bring the right people together to “make good art.” Kyle’s vision, generosity, and dedication have birthed so many unforgettable works of art and creative experiences, from his own War Paint to Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman’s The Bed Song Book, from music videos to to theatre posters to librarian portraiture. Together, Kyle and Trillian make magic. If you’re in Philadelphia, you can see the play performed in the parlor of Philadelphia’s historic Physick House, a mansion built in 1785 and decorated in the tastes of the late Victorian era  If you’re elsewhere in the world, they will have dvd and digital downloads available. Here’s the direct link to kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/612451148/hedda-gabler-a-play-and-film A lot of talented people are working together on “Hedda Gabler,” and I’m honored to be able to support it in some small fashion. Here’s Kyle talking about the project: https://d2pq0u4uni88oo.cloudfront.net/projects/2022787/video-582872-h264_high.mp4...

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Wyrd Words 2015

Posted by on 10:36 am in books, Friends, Writers, Writing, Wyrd Words Workshop | 0 comments

Wyrd Words 2015

It’s nearly the Autumn Equinox, and I’ve yet to write about so many Summer adventures. After more than a year of planning and months of drafting, revising, and exchanging manuscripts, the inaugural Wyrd Words Workshop was held in July. We ate, drank, and danced around the kitchen (Well, ok, maybe that was just me); we workshopped brilliant beginnings and provocative plots; we used technowizardry to traverse miles; we strolled under the full moon, and we sauna’d; we talked about creativity and inspiration, punk rock and K-pop, politics and fairy tales. There were bees, rockets, and skeletons in the trees… Most importantly, we did good work. I’m so excited to see the books that will eventually make their way into the world from this workshop. Such good stories. Such excellent writers. Such dear friends. Writers spend so much time alone at the laptop that in-person connections of quality are a real gift. Thank you to everyone at the workshop and behind the scenes who gave it shape and filled the weekend with such wonderful, wyrd words.  I’m going to quote from one of my favorite children’s books, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, because it fits so well for this dear group: “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.” Wyrd Wordians, you are both. Thank...

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