The second time I met Cat Valente, it was eight o'clock in the morning, and she was in dire need of coffee, lest worlds should end. I, on the other hand, was bright-eyed and perky, having already been awake for an hour. I believe this was the meeting during which she was justifiably predisposed to dislike me. (I never hold people disliking me in the morning against them. It shows sanity.)
This is a story about Cat, and about me, and about all of us.
Because see, Cat had an idea for a book about a city that existed somewhere outside the bounds of simple cartography. It was a city of the sacred and profane geography of the soul, and it was called "Palimpsest." She wrote its story, because that's what women like her do, and, in the process, she wrote the story of a story: a children's book called The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Boat of Her Own Making. People were enchanted by the very notion of it, and asked when she was going to write it. She said she wasn't, and so of course, she did.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Boat of Her Own Making was originally crowd-funded, posted online for anyone to read. People followed the green wind into the realms of Cat's version of Fairy, and the book sailed away on sails that we all spun together. Since then, print rights have been sold, along with the promise of a sequel...and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Boat of Her Own Making has been nominated for the Andre Norton Award. It's being given tonight at the Nebulas, the day after we sent a shuttle into the sky to become a star.
Pause a moment, and consider this. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Boat of Her Own Making was a dream inside a dream, and it became reality because people said "I want this, and I am willing to help you make it real." It became so real that it's on the ballot for a major literary award. The book of the dream that birthed it, Palimpsest, is up for the Hugo, given the same weekend as the Campbell Award (which I have been nominated for, and yes, have had weird dreams about). We made this real for Cat, and so she made it real for everyone else.
Whether she comes home with the award or not, she's already won, because nothing like The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Boat of Her Own Making has ever made this sort of ballot before. Know that you helped to do this, and be glad.
Oh, and Cat?
I like you now. Even when I'm tired.
(*My screensaver face is one of abject puzzlement. Cat's is one of holy irritation. We're like the Statler and Waldorf of urban fantasy when we're tired and standing next to each other.)