Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Summer 2009

So letís get started with the newest of our contributors Ö and the happiest of our contributions.
Cue the Wonder from Downunder Ö

This is a photo of Lezli Robyn

FROM
READING
IN
THE
OUTBACK TO
WRITING IN
THE SF
WORLD

Lezli Robyn

Iíve had quite an amazing year. Ten months ago I had never been to a science fiction convention. Nine months ago I had yet to write a fictional story, let alone sell one – sf, fantasy or otherwise. And eight months ago I would never have thought it possible to realize my dream of publishing something I’d penned.

But in August of 2008 I went to my first Worldcon, and by October of that year I had written and sold my first story.

Since then, I’ve had a whirlwind tour of the publishing world, writing and then selling stories to Asimov’s, Analog, Jim Baen’s Universe, Clarkesworld, The 50th Anniversary Twilight Zone Anthology, and an anthology of another publisher I can’t name yet. I’ve also sold reprints to Russia and China, and had a non-fiction sale to boot - and I’m still not convinced that it hasn’t all just occurred within my very active imagination.

You see, prior to eighteen months ago the only contact I had with anyone in the science fiction field was an email I received from Anne McCaffrey in response to fan mail I’d sent her as a teenager. I remember asking her about the “secrets” to publishing (oh, I was so naïve!), and much to my delight she replied with some incredibly sound advice. But then Life intruded and my dream was shelved for many more years; I never actually got around to writing that first story.

After years of devouring as many sf and fantasy books as I could read on the bus to work, I decided it was about time I bought a signed book of Anne McCaffrey’s to add to my growing collection. (She had been the first sf author I’d read at the tender age of 11, and thus her books hold a fond place in my heart.) Since not many prominent international authors visit Australia – and with book prices here being so prohibitive anyway – I searched the internet to find an unbelievably cheap signed book of hers from overseas. Again Life intruded and I missed the end of the auction, but after discovering the book hadn’t sold I contacted the seller.

Now, you are probably wondering what this has to do with my first foray into the writing world, but the seller happened to be Mike Resnick, a prominent writer in the field and editor in his own right – and now a friend and collaborator.

After I bought the book off Mike, we traded some emails and opinions about the industry. I told him, frankly, that I would give him my opinion on his books, but I didn’t have one because I had never actually read a word of his fictional writing. (I know, shocking isn’t it? But in my defense Mike’s books, like a lot of well-known authors’ books, are hard to find here.) His response was “Well, we can’t have that” and he promptly emailed me some of his stories.

I critiqued them.

This is an image of a kangaroo with Lezli hanging out of her pocket and and typing on an old fashioned typewriter. He sent me some more.

I critiqued them too, and after a few months of this he strongly suggested (when I didn’t respond to his not-so-subtle hints) that perhaps I should try writing a story; I might find that my ability to analyze other peoples’ stories could translate into me being able to successfully compose some of my own. We could even do a collaboration together, something he’d done with many a novice writer before.

But I was hesitant. It wasn’t as if I’d been penning stories for years in obscurity. I knew that the first thing I would hand him would be the rawest thing I’d written, and I didn’t even know how well I could write fiction. So I suggested we’d wait until after we’d met at Worldcon. (I figured that if we got along then, he couldn’t form that bad an opinion of me if I then wrote something hideously awful.)

It turned out that the convention was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I was finally able to see more than the tip of the iceberg; the sf world behind the books.

And I was hooked.

I discovered people with interests akin to my own; new friends who were fans and writers alike – and all ordinary people like me. I knew then that becoming a writer myself didn’t just have to be a dream; if I worked hard I could actually become a part of the world it felt so much like I belonged to.

So upon my return to Australia I wrote my first story with Mike (who it turned out wasn’t scared off by my Aussie accent and outlandish ways when we met) and I didn’t do badly at all. In fact, in between our solo stories we’ve done several collaborations since then, all sold.

And now, as I approach my second convention in Montreal, I’m interacting with publishers and editors as well as writers; I’ve even been asked to sit on a publisher’s reading panel at this year’s Worldcon.


Who knows what else is ahead for me in the writing world?

I don’t.

What I do know is that I’ve had one hell of a first year: I’ve been privileged enough to form new life-long friendships since Denvention, I’ve discovered how much I love writing, and I’m committed to enjoying my second Worldcon, regardless of what the future holds.

What more could this Aussie lass ask for?

More sales, hopefully.

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