Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Hotel California

Had a chance, finally, for a visit with the writer Daniel Keys Moran. We have been bumping into each other for a while -- I recall eight or nine years ago doing a review of one of his space operas -- favorably -- and a telephone conversation about the review.

For my money, Moran is one of the top space opera writers in the biz, hands down. When I got into blogs a few years ago, I came across his while on Barnes's, and we exchanged a few remarks on his blog and mine, and then some email, and eventually, some manuscripts.

The title of the post is the name of the big book he has in progress, and what I've read of it is flat-out terrific. Dark, lush, violent. Given the nature of the publishing industry, there might not be many editors with the guts to publish it, but as George Takai says in his current TV commercial for TV's, "Oh, my!" I am looking forward to reading it when it is finished.

Dan and his family came up for a short visit during spring break. Lovely people -- his wife Amy Stout-Moran, and their three boys. Amy used to be an editor and has done some writing of her own. She had some great stories.

Nothing major. We grilled some burgers and drank a little beer, talked about this and that. Next day, we had breakfast/lunch, at J.D.'s Morning Star Cafe, visited with J.D. (The catfish po'boy, by the by, is the best I've had since I left Louisiana. If you live in or around Portland, you really should go eat there, or if you'd druther, drink there. Got beer, and stronger spirits.)

After lunch, we did a fast tour at Powell's Books before they had to get back on the road.

Always fun to watch a writer's mind boggle a little when he or she first steps into Powell's.

Hey, are you laughing at me?

Oh, hell, yeah.

Raining the whole time, of course, it being Oregon in the spring, and they had to make a fast turnaround, so we cut the book shopping short. Wandered around in the underground parking lot for a while trying to find the car -- we had a good excuse for losing it -- and they dropped me off at home and headed back down I-5.

Sometimes, when you know somebody for a while over the phone, or online, via chat rooms, blogs, or email, you build up an expectation of what they would be like in person, and there is a worry that when you see them, they will somehow not measure up.

Not the case here. Dan Moran was every bit as much fun, as irascible, and good-hearted as I thought he might be. Loves the Lakers. Hates the Celtics. Works too hard at his Real Job, but was a delight to finally bump into in person. And while I didn't get a chance to meet the two older girls who were off at school or otherwise occupied, the three boys were bright, well-mannered and behaved, and as cute as they can be.

Always a delight when somebody turns out to be what you hoped.


J.D. Ray said...

Thanks for the nice comments about the cafe, Steve. I certainly enjoyed your company and Dan's. After twenty years of being a fan of his work, it was indeed interesting to meet him. As you say, he is just as one would expect him to be in person: very personable. And, short of the fact that his youngest, Connor, got a little wound up in horseplay with me (I was culpable in encouraging him), Dan's family was great to hang with as well. Bram in particular seemed quite bright and articulate for his fourteen tender years.

I look forward to the next time you and Diane can get down for some lunch. If you come when it's not rush hour for us, I'd love to sit and chat with you. I'm really glad you liked the catfish.



Sean said...

I always find it interesting how many of my favorite authors enjoy reading other authors I like - apparently yourself and Mr. Moran can be added to the list now.

Dan Moran said...

Just got home tonight, but wanted to thank you for having us over, and for the kind words up front. You and Dianne were delightful, and JD, it was great meeting you. I'd hang out at your cafe if I weren't a thousandd miles away from it ...

Steve, back at you about the expectations thing. I had a pretty good sense of who you were going to be, but it was great finding it to be so.