The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, February 03, 2005

St. Larry

"Meanwhile, please talk a little bit more about the Niven 'protection'? I'd never thought of it in those terms, but I have wondered off and on over the years."--Pam
Larry was my mentor.  He read some of my early stories, believed in my talent, and gave me a chance.  He got me my first agents, helped me publish my first book.  He (and uber-conservative Jerry Pournelle) taught me much of what I understand about SF extrapolation.  On occassion, he helped me out financially when I was struggling.  When "The Kundalini Equation", my first attempt to write a mature novel, died horribly, I was crushed.  The publishing company literally "forgot" to publicise all the books that came out that month.  Arrgh. I had put material into that book that was achingly personal--my mother's death, my view of the ethical structure of the universe, my belief in human potential.  I had never researched so much, worked so hard, been so honest.  And it just died.  I even made the lead character white.  Nothing helped.  It died.  I was devastated, and spent the next eight years writing rote adventure novels (more or less), hiding behind Larry's name.  If I hadn't had Larry to help me through that period--as a friend, as a collaborator, as evidence that not every male of his social class was distainful of my efforts--I think I would have bailed.  Maybe so, maybe not.  But he gave me an opportunity to find my voice.  At the least, he gave me a five year jump on my career.  I love him more than I can say.  He is very human, as are we all, but also a good and decent man (as well as having a wildly creative intelligence), and I will always acknowledge him as the father of my creative heart.