After a little hiatus thanks to shutuptou’renotmyMum, we’re back with another Precious Things post. This time out, it’s friend, mentor, Australian SF veteran and furniture, and all-round frood of the froods, Doctor Stephen Dedman!
Stephen is the author of (watch this space for regular updates) novels, 120+ short stories and a non-fiction book on the historic relationship between American SF and the US military. His history is littered with service to writerdom, and he is currently available as a manuscript mentor through the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre. He plans to update his website any day now.
My first experience of Stephen was meeting him at a long-distant Perth Writers Festival, when it was still held at the Fremantle Arts Centre and had just about enough budget to pay to open the gates. (We knew it before it went electric…) After a long, and at times, exhausting panel on an uncovered stage in the centre of the courtyard, in the mid-day February sun (It should be noted: Stephen’s wardrobe come in any colour you like, as long as you like black), he still took the time to accept being buttonholed by a naive git looming out of the crowd as he departed, asking him for advice, patronage, and general feelings of bonhomie. The fact that he took the time to chat, give me his contact details, and provide one of the single most useful piece of writing advice I’ve ever received, tells you a lot about the man.
Later, he invited me to join him at my first science fiction convention, and shared my first ever panel. He purchased some of my earliest stories. He was best man at my wedding to Luscious. It’s been a friendship of going on 15 years and counting.
Stephen is one of the coolest people I know. So there.
Precious Things: Stephen Dedman
Most precious literary possession? Only one? Jesus, Battersby, do I ask you to name your favourite child and put that up on the web?
The oldest book in my collection, maybe? That would be the Lafcadio Hearn first edition, a gift from Grant Stone, WA’s patron saint of the fantastic. The book that’s been in my family the longest? That would be the leatherbound Complete Works of William Shakespeare given to my maternal grandfather as a prize for Latin in 1926. (My sister has the family Bible; I think I won that round.) The book I’ve owned the longest? That would be Hans Meacham’s Vanished Giants of Australia, which I’ve had since I was twelve. While I now own many better books on the subject, this one is precious to me not only because it introduced me to Thylacoleo and Megalania and Kronosaurus, but because I managed to save it from joining so many of the other books I’d previously owned, in the library of the private school where my mother taught. (Hi, Mum!)
Other contenders? Books signed by Theodore Sturgeon, Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury, Terry Pratchett, Richard Matheson, Douglas Adams, Richard Adams, Harry Harrison, Anne McCaffrey, George Alec Effinger, Bob Shaw, Nigel Kneale, and many other writers who are still with us… A Doctor Who Programme Guide signed by Tom Baker, Peter Davison and Katy Manning… A lovely leather-bound The Hobbit that rendered me speechless at my 21st birthday party, the paperbacks of The Lord of the Rings and Childhood’s End that I’ve had since my teens and read more than any other volumes I own… the letter from Roald Dahl to my mother’s students, the original of the introduction Jack Horner wrote for GURPS Dinosaurs, my first acceptance letter from Ellen Datlow…
But the winner is (may I have the envelope, please?), my copy of The Dirty Little Unicorn, the book I wrote which Keira McKenzie illustrated – and coloured by hand. There are other copies around (this was #2 of 200), but that one is unique. Thanks, Keira!