I met Ali Vali at Women’s Week in Provincetown. She won’t remember it, though…it was fleeting and I don’t think we formally exchanged names. Plus, it was years ago. In any case, I had the opportunity to be part of a group conversation with her. I found her to be really delightful and friendly.
As with many of the authors in the GBP, I was first introduced to Ali via Fan Fiction. The Harry and Desi series is still one of my favorites – I re-read it often. I don’t think I’m the only reader hoping for an addition to that series. 🙂 (How’s that for a not-so-subtle hint?)
Goats And The Voices In My Head
How do you kill a goat?
Don’t worry, I have never killed anything, nor will I in my books—goats or animals of any kind that is, some people aren’t so lucky after a few rounds with Derby Cain Casey. The question was something I was trying to answer at the first GCLS conference in New Orleans as I tried to finalize the first Devil book before introducing the Casey Clan to the world. The bartender was interested as he poured me a beer and asked about the book as well as the happenings going on next door in the big conference room. “It’s a bunch of partying lesbians is all I can tell you right now, but I’m about to find out more. Wish me luck,” I told him as I finished my drink and the section of the book I was working on.
After that I walked in, got my registration out of the way and put on my name tag. The damn thing kept flipping to the blank side, but as I bent to check out the books on display it flipped again and a woman ran from behind the counter and threw her arms around me. I only had a moment of panic since she also said my name loudly as she came toward me, but that was my first experience with a reader and I thought I had to get busy if great hugs like that were in my future. An hour later I also got my first warning from Mercedes not to leave her hanging when it came to the Devil series, so I now sleep with one eye open at every GCLS conference I attend.
The goat issue came about because of a question from my editor Shelley Thrasher since I hadn’t really gone into detail in a certain part of The Devil Inside and she was curious. Those types of questions have helped me develop a slew of characters, and started a long and wonderful relationship with Shelley and her partner Connie Ward who is one of my beta readers. The conference though, gave me my first opportunity to meet the readers and authors whose books I’d enjoyed for years. Believe me, it was a hardship to keep my geek side well hidden when I got a look at a few nametags myself.
After a few days I’d met and talked to folks I still keep in contact with, and looked forward to seeing again the next year, which would turn out to be in Atlanta after some bad weather we had blow through by the name of Katrina.
The panels were great even after my other momentary panic when I figured out I wasn’t doing half the stuff the first speaker lectured about. The term “pantster” didn’t come up then, but that’s what I turned out to be, and I’m glad there is actually a word for my condition. Planning anything but vacations freezes my brain and I stop hearing the voices in my head. Usually having so many people vying for my attention at the same time no matter what I’m doing requires medication, but then I’d have to retire. I’ve been fortunate up to now that none of the voices have asked me to act out the scenes in the books on people who cut me off in traffic.
That first night when the panels were over I remember piling more people than really fit comfortably in a 4Runner and going to dinner. My apologies to everyone in the back for every pothole we hit on the way to the restaurant. New Orleans has great food not streets. We laughed all the way there, through dinner, and all the way back. It’s one of those adventures you’re always glad you were a part of when folks reminiscence.
Karin Kallmaker was the final speaker that year and she was funny as she told us how she’d started, and the balance of family and writing. She like all the others who worked hard to make that first conference a success where incredibly giving of their time and talents and set the groundwork for making GCLS a success for years to come.
I was glad to be a part of the maiden voyage since we got to show off our hometown a little as well as learn a lot about the craft I love. After a few years of attending the conference in Atlanta, life as it does at times, got complicated. My mom got sick, a few other storms came for a visit, and the million other things you don’t plan for kept me away, but I’m looking forward to Dallas this year—seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and spending time with a great group of partying lesbians has me counting down the days.
If you see me at the bar with a pen in one hand and a beer in the other—don’t be afraid to come over and ask who I’m killing off now. I’ll be happy to tell you if you promise not to share the information with Mercedes. She loves a good cliffhanger.
Ali Vali is the author of The Devil series, which includes The Devil Inside, The Devil Unleashed, Deal With the Devil, The Devil Be Damned, and the soon to be released The Devil’s Orchard. Her Forces series include Balance of Forces: Toujours Ici, and Battle of Forces: Sera Toujours which will be released this fall. Her standalone novels are Carly’s Sound, Second Season, Lambda Literary Award Finalist Calling the Dead, Blue Skies, Lambda Literary Award Finalist Love Match, and The Dragon Tree Legacy.
Ali is originally from Cuba, and now lives outside New Orleans with her partner of twenty eight years. When she isn’t writing she works in the non-profit sector. Ali is also one of the 2011 Alice B. Readers Appreciation Award winners.