Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Luck and awards, Julie Chibbaro

So, luck. Here’s a weird story. I went to a writer’s conference in Squaw Valley to see if I could interest any of the agents there in my novel about white Indians. At the airport in Reno, waiting for the bus out to Squaw, a stranger came up to me and handed me a cream soda. He said I was thirsty, he said I was there for a reason, and that I would see the purpose soon. I saw from his clothes and face that he was an American Indian (like in the book I’d just finished), and, parched, I cracked the soda open. We drank and we talked. I didn’t tell him about my book (I always felt bad about what Europeans did to Native Americans), but he seemed to know. I don’t usually believe in this stuff, but I had a profound feeling something would happen. I’d been writing for years, dozens of stories, three novels, and lots of close encounters at a number of writer’s conferences, but still, I had no agent, and no book published yet.


At the conference (my second at Squaw, a conference I highly recommend), there was an earthquake during the editors panel, but everyone calmly watched their glasses tinkle together, then went on. A bird flew into the room, flapped around until we shooed it out, and we went on. One of those editors read my first 15 pgs, and said I should get an agent. She gave me Jill Grinberg’s name – agent to Scott Westerfeld and Garth Nix (!), and I contacted her. She fell in love with my novel, and she and I have been together ever since. That was in 2001.


That first book, Redemption, went on to win the American Book Award. My second novel, Deadly, just won the National Jewish Book Award. I feel very strongly that awards are luck. To me, luck is not something you have much control over. You can be prepared, you can jump on opportunities, but you can’t buy or obtain luck as a commodity. It just happens. That defines awards. Yes, my publisher submitted my book, giving me the opportunity. But I couldn’t really tell you why I won an award over the hundreds of great titles that come out every year. It’s as mysterious as an American Indian walking out of your own novel and up to you in an airport and handing you a cream soda just when you’re about to die of thirst.

5 comments:

  1. I love it. It's the little kindnesses in life that get us through.

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  2. Yes, kindness. I didn't think of it that way - seemed like a vast connection to the universe. Or something like that. But maybe it was simple human kindness.

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  3. Beautiful. I'm know I'm always going to remember that last line, every single time I think of literary awards...

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  4. What a beautiful post! I love those moments of synchronicity in life and also as Brian said, the little kindnesses. And congrats on your award. Well-deserved!

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  5. I am a big believer in this kind of stuff. I love this story and it keeps me focused--reminded that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be at all times. All I need to do is pay attention to what is going on around me. <3

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