Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Sorry it’s been so long since I posted anything here, but I’ve finally got an item…

I finished writing my first novel, The Lure of the Basilisk, in April, 1978. I finally got up the nerve to submit it to Del Rey in late August, 1978.

The day I mailed it I also mailed Del Rey the manuscript of a novel called Slant, written in 1976, that had already been turned down at Ace and DAW. (This was, incidentally, the story I later rewrote as The Cyborg and the Sorcerers.)

Slant came back with a rejection in December, 1978. I expected The Lure of the Basilisk to follow quickly.

It didn’t.

In March 1979 I phoned Del Rey to ask what had become of the other novel, and was told they had no record of it, so I figured it was lost in the mail and that despite my minor-market successes with articles and a short story or two, I wasn’t meant to be a writer — a conclusion my wife Julie had reached a month or two earlier, actually. I spent April starting a mail-order business dealing in “paper ephemera” — comic books, pulp magazines, non-sports trading cards, etc.

On May 10, 1979, I got a long letter from Lester del Rey offering me $3,500 for The Lure of the Basilisk if I’d make a few revisions — they’d had no record of it at Del Rey because he’d taken it home with him, so it wasn’t in the office.

I called Julie at work and said, “Hey, guess what!”

She said, “You sold your novel!”

Took the wind right out of my sails, that she actually guessed. I mean, how’d she do that?

So a few days ago I got a letter from an old friend of ours, someone we’ve known for close to twenty years but these days see maybe once every year or two, mostly at conventions. This was the first letter in months, and contained an item of news that I found more than a little startling. The next day, when we were sitting in the family room, I said, “Hey, we got a letter from X. Guess what?”

“He’s changing his sex?”

Yes, that was the startling news — he’s started the hormone treatments and counseling for “sexual reassignment.”

Mind you, he had never mentioned this to either of us before as something he was considering. When I asked Julie, “How’d you guess?” she shrugged and said, “Well, he was always a little sexually ambiguous.”

Yeah, but so are a lot of people we know, and they don’t go for surgery!

How does she do that?

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