I read recently that Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones, and Philip Pullman all crossed paths with J.R.R. Tolkien (lucky them!). Their memories differ. Cooper heard him lecture and called him “a wonderful lecturer.” Jones, who also attended some of his lectures, said in an interview, “They were absolutely appalling.” Pullman, who had dinner with Tolkien later, when the latter was in his seventies, calls him “a genial old fellow” but his description of the dinner doesn’t sound very genial to me.
Reading this reminded me of hearing Tamora Pierce speak at a conference for the first time a few years ago. I will never forget how she performed — starting her speech as though it were going to be a terrible, dry, painful 45 minutes and then, as the audience’s eyes glazed over, showing us how the joke was on us. That impressed me, and probably always will, more than any book of hers that I’ve read.
The Internet makes connections with authors easier than ever, even if they’re not often in person. Which SFF authors have you had an encounter with? How was it surprising or rewarding?