The Briefcase

The Briefcase

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Seanan's Traveling Circus and Snake-Handling Show

(Well, actually no snakes in this post; they're all in my last post.)

I was going to try to list a few links in Facebook and Google+ and suchlike about all the people who participated in Seanan's latest book release party, but those social media sites are too limited in what they'll allow me to say at one time. And since I tend to ramble on at length, I decided to blather on to my heart's content over here. So here's my link-fest combined with my own thoughts about all of these amazing people.
Seanan during rehearsal at our place
 Let's start with Seanan, shall we, since she's the reason we all got together and had a blast playing music and such. Her latest book to be released is One Salt Sea, the fifth in her October Daye series.

Seanan McGuire is a force of nature. I first met her many years ago (when she was still a teen) at a convention where she walked up to me and pronounced herself astounded that I existed, since she had been convinced that I was a figment of Paul's imagination. I have considered her to be like a younger sister for years, and there have been times when I threatened mayhem to people who had caused her pain. She's a very successful, relatively new author writing under both her own name, Seanan McGuire, as well as Mira Grant. Seanan was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her novel Feed was named as one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2010. She was nominated for a Hugo award this past year, as well as hitting the New York Times Bestseller list. Her delighted squee-ing could be heard across three states, though she tried valiantly to contain her enthusiasm.

She sings and composes and has put out several music albums (my own favorite is Wicked Girls, and not just because I got to play harmonica on some of the songs) and she writes prolific amounts of poetry as well as prose. She's funny and poignant and multi-talented and I am always amazed at all she accomplishes. I feel very proud of her, though of course I had nothing to do with her success.
Seanan signing books at Borderlands Books
 So Seanan likes to put on fantastic book release parties when she has a new book coming out, and she found kindred spirits at the Borderlands Books in San Francisco, which is dedicated to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror books. It's a wonderful place, if you ever get over there. It's filled floor to ceiling with books, there's a comfortable cafe with wi-fi and lots of comfy chairs right next door. Great place to people watch, too.
Borderlands Books
Where was I? Seanan hosts these large parties and she brings fancy cupcakes from Cups and Cakes with flavors like Pretty Pretty Princess and Pancake Breakfast and Mat Hatter's Tea Party to share with all the people who show up (including the musicians, yum).

Mia brought her pendants, which are inspired by Seanan's books and use words and phrases literally taken from her books. They're subliminal and pretty and dark and magical all at the same time. She calls her shop Chimera Fancies; the pendants she had at this book signing were all from One Salt Sea.
Mia's pendants
There are raffle prizes and giveaways and book signing and she does a reading from the latest book, in this case One Salt Sea. (Riley told me later that her reading this time around was like a hard core fight scene intermixed with lots of sassy.) And of course there is lots of music, as Seanan gets a lot of her music friends to come out and play with her. It's a ton of fun, if rather epic and exhausting.

So Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff were there; Jeff brought all of his sound equipment, with speakers and mikes and sound board and everything a traveling band could want pretty much, and he set it all up and took it all down and it was honetstly a ton of work for him. The sound went off without a hitch, all thanks to Jeff.
Maya and Jeff Bohnhoff
Jeff and Maya are stellar musicians. They've played together in bands of various incarnations over the years, always together. They do a mixture of funny parodies, usually written by Jeff, with serious original songs written by them both. I'm particularly fond of both their Mobius Street album and Manhattan Sleeps, which have more of their original music. Jeff has branched out recently into putting some of his parodies to video, with hilarious and impressive results, like Midichlorian Rhapsody, among others. Jeff has his own recording and sound engineering studio, Mystic Fig Productions. He recorded and engineered Seanan's album Red Roses and Dead Things, as well as all of their own albums. Maya Bohnhoff is also a Science Fiction writer, with her most recent book being Star Wars: Shadow Games. She's always writing, and always manages to balance all of the disparate parts of their busy lives. She makes it all look easy, and she does it with good humor and grace. I aspire to be more like Maya (but don't tell her that; it'd be kind of embarrassing).

And Betsy Tinney was there, playing cello on most all of the songs because she's really that good and when she plays on your song you wonder how it ever stood on its own without the cello before. Betsy plays with numerous bands; she's in great demand. Betsy is so fun and easy to play with; she's such a consummate professional that she can jump in and accompany on a song and make it sound effortless and beautiful. She's a founding member and essential part of Tricky Pixie, performing and writing some of their original material with SJ Tucker and Alexander James Adams. Betsy also raises Maine Coon cats; Seanan got 2 of her wonderful cats from Betsy. Betsy's cool in so many ways.
Betsy on cello
Vixy and Tony were there, too, and Vixy sang on almost all of the songs, as did Maya. Vixy not only has a beautiful voice but is also a gifted songwriter, with both serious and funny songs to her credit. She's also a talented visual artist and we like getting to geek out together about art stuff.
Vixy during the concerts
Tony is not only a great guitarist (partly taught by Jeff when they were both younger) but he's also the mad genius behind Monkey Brains Studios, his own recording and sound engineering studio.
Tony during rehearsal
And we were there too, Paul and I and the boys. The boys didn't play any music, they hung out with Amanda, Jeff and Maya daughter, who is 2 years younger then the boys but is mature in intellectual ways far beyond the age of 35. I like having deep discussions with her about the state of the world and how annoying boys can be.
Amanda at last year's Consonance
So Paul played a set, Jeff and Maya played a set and Vixy and Tony played a set, and Seanan sang songs interspersed in all of the sets, and Betsy played cello throughout and I accompanied on harmonica on a number of songs in the sets as well. It was fun and exhausting. The bookstore was hot that night; though it was cooler and quite humid outside, all of the people crowded into the bookstore made it quite hot up there playing music.
Paul off in the background after his set
Paul got Vixy and Maya to sing on several of his songs, and Jeff accompanied on guitar and Betsy and I played along on several as well. I know Paul really misses playing with Puzzlebox, but it's hard to get together now since everyone has moved to different states. I'm really glad he's still playing and writing songs; and it's wonderful that more local music friends like Jeff and Maya are ready and willing to play music with us.
Vixy, Paul, Maya and Jeff belt it out on Jeff's "Get Offa My Lawn!"
So we all played music and Seanan sang and gave away raffle prizes and signed books and did a reading from One Salt Sea and answered questions from the audience and man, she must have been really wiped at the end of the night; I know I was even with my small role in the whole endeavor.
Breath of cool air near the end of the evening
It always impresses me, how much work Seanan puts into doing events like these; she doesn't do them in a half-hearted way either, she's there and present and she really interacts and talks on a real level with everyone who wants to speak with her. She loves being an author and getting her books out there and she's so appreciative of her readers and the people that support her writing and music. And man does she put on a good book party. :)

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