So here’s how it happened:
I was at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, which at that time took place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I’d just won the Asimov Award, given out by Asimov’s SF Magazine and Dell Magazines for stories written by undergraduates. Whatever. Anyway, here I am surrounded by many of science fiction and fantasy’s most glorious luminaries, and I’ll tell you, I’d done my homework. I’d looked up every writer who was scheduled to be at the conference and if I wasn’t already familiar with them, I tried to read one of their books. I was never a Boy Scout, for obvious reasons, but still I knew enough to Be Prepared.
I was standing in the hotel lobby early in the conference and the award’s administrator, a wonderful man named Rick Wilber who every year shepherds the young award winners around the conference, was introducing us to a couple of writers. One was Neil Gaiman, and the rest of the award finalists were in a state of ecstatic shock to be talking to Neil Gaiman. Because he’s, you know, Neil Gaiman. Except that for some reason at that time, I did not know Neil Gaiman, or anything about him, and anyway the other writer we were being introduced to was Sean Stewart, whom I did know about because I’d read his book Clouds End as part of my pre-conference research and it had peeled me like a grape. I remember reading this book and not knowing exactly what was happening to me but knowing that I’d never, ever read anything even remotely like this and had never been transformed by a book in this particular way.
So I made a beeline past Neil Gaiman and button-holed Sean and started right in on questions about Clouds End, which it turns out was one of his personal favorites and also one of his most underappreciated novels.
This was the beginning of a long and fruitful correspondence. Sean lives and works in California, and I’ve lived in various locales along the East Coast, from Maryland to Florida, so we haven’t seen each other much in the decade since we first met. But in those early years, Sean took a lot of time to correspond with me by email. We discussed the mechanics of writing, yes, but more than that, Sean mentored me in the soul of art: he taught me, by example in his novels and by long, patient emails, that in real art you strip your soul bare. Any success I’ve achieved as a writer, any capacity to Tell the Truth, to speak openly and honestly and authentically, is due in large part to those conversations.
And since then, I’ve worked for Sean in various capacities, usually working on Alternate Reality Games, or ARGs, transmedia, or whatever sexy word-of-the-day is being applied to that new art form. He’s a cofounder of Fourth Wall Studios, which is creating the tech platform that will shape ARGs in decades to come. It’s Pixar’s RenderMan, but for transmedia.
Most recently, I helped him and Marc Taro Holmes publish a Kindle version of Sean’s novel Resurrection Man. Marc a fab artist who did a boatload of illustrations for the book, including the ones featured on this page.
Working on this project meant that I got to read and reread Resurrection Man, which I hadn’t revisited in several years. And it was a strange pleasure to read it again, not only because I found the book more compelling now than when I first read it as a green 20-something, but also because I understood how much Sean’s vision of the world came to permeate my own. Both in its own right, and as a channel of deeper, darker forces that he and I both have a particular interest in tapping into.
So. If you’ve got three bucks lying around and you want a profound reading experience, get thee over to Amazon and download Resurrection Man. It will haunt you, and these days I think we could all benefit from a good haunting.