P1100153 Anne Sowards, Ilona and Gordon Andrews
at Ilona and Gordon Andrews' special guest interview.
Ilona Andrews certainly has had an interesting life, one that resonated with me because of certain parallels. Like me, she grew up in the socialist block and came to the US as an adult. She came to US "on a scholarship to a private school" (college? high school? not clear); I came here to go to graduate school. She said she didn't know a bit of English when she came to the US. (I find that a bit strange, because any foreigner who comes to US for schooling is required to pass TOEFL, Test of English as a Second Language, to be admitted.) The first time she used an English word was in the airport when she arrived to the US. A guy was blocking the walkway with his luggage. She waited for him to move, but he didn't. So she said "excuse me", and he moved. That was a defining moment in her life -- she used a word in a foreign language, and someone understood and responded. She felt like she was accepted into this other society.
Her experiences with new languages weren't limited to English. At some point early in her career she worked for a communication firm that verified Russian resumes (?). For some reason this required her to call Egypt and talk to people in Arabic, without knowing any Arabic. She eventually learned enough of it to say: "hello, I'm looking for so-and-so, but I don't know any Arabic, I'm very sorry."
When she first went to a bookstore in the US, she was stunned at the colorful book covers. In the USSR there were very few Western science fiction books sold, because most didn't pass censorship, and whatever books were sold had dark, gloomy covers with very little art on them.
My blog posts on ArmadilloCon 2010:
Writers' workshop, and sandwiches that cost their weight in gold.
Nancy Kress toastmaster speech: secret deal between Google and SFWA
What you should have read this year -- a list of recent science fiction and fantasy books recommended by our knowledgeable panelists..
Religion in worldbuilding -- why is it hard to add religion to your science fiction or fantasy novel without it looking like a caricature?
Time travel meanders
Ilona and Gordon Andrews' special guest interview -- when a non-native English speaker becomes a published author in the US, there has to be an interesting story in there.
Or see all my blog posts from ArmadilloCon 31 (2010) in one page.