Lindskold and Weber to Collaborate!

Last January 27th, I was out in the yard moving water from rain barrels into my tiny pond when my phone rang. Bucket still in hand, I answered it.

A familiar voice drawled, “Hello, Jane.”

A few stories

And I replied, “Hello, Weber.” I also went on dipping water. If you’ve ever met David Weber, you’ll know that there is nothing like a short conversation when he’s involved.

“Listen, I was wondering if you’d want to work with me on a couple of novels.”

I nearly dropped the bucket into the pond. Weber and I have been friends a long time. We’d talked about just about everything – and I mean that – except collaborating.

How long have Weber and I known each other? Well, let’s put it this way. When we met, Weber had one and a half novels out. I had two short stories, but since Starshore, the magazine that published the first one (“Cheesecake”), had died almost as soon as it brought my story out, I wasn’t sure that counted. My first “real” story, “Between Tomatoes and Snapdragons” in Dragon Fantastic hadn’t been out very long.

“Collaborating? I don’t know… But what do you have in mind?”

The next part of this conversation must be, for now, stamped Top Secret at the request of the publisher. Suffice to say, I got off the phone not at all certain I was going to say “yes,” but definitely considering.

There was a lot to consider. While Weber is an avid collaborator, I am not. I’ve done work in theme anthologies and shared universes. I finished two novels for Roger Zelazny (Donnerjack and Lord Demon). But I think my only real collaboration has been a Berserker short story, “Servant of Death,” with Fred Saberhagen in the anthology Man Vs Machine.

On the other hand, I’ve worked with Weber before. I’ve written three novellas set in his Honor Harrington universe: “Queen’s Gambit” (in Worlds of Honor), “Promised Land” (in The Service of the Sword) and “Ruthless” (forthcoming in In Fire Forged). All of these had been good experiences, even when Weber started doing things like insisting I had to include a bodyguard in a scene I wanted small and intimate, or nattering on at me about relative speeds of small inter-system craft.

I’d done these stories for two reasons. One, I like Weber a lot. (More on this in a minute). Two, I like writing Science Fiction. If you look back at my earlier novels, you’ll see that most of them are Science Fiction or at least fall into that strange, grey area often called “Science Fantasy.” Even when I write Fantasy, it tends to be what I have heard called “Hard Fantasy” – that is, no miracles out of left field, and that everything, no matter how weird, is somehow grounded.

However, once the “Wolf Series” (a.k.a. “The Firekeeper Saga”) became a hit, I found it harder to convince people I wrote SF. In fact, in this past year, I was asked in two separate interviews, by interviewers who had obviously taken the time to read the list of publications on my website: “What is this with you writing stories for David Weber?”

But even a chance to write science fiction (I think I can say that much without tearing the veil of secrecy) would not have been enough if I didn’t like David Weber.

We met for the first time at MOC, a now-defunct convention in South Carolina. We met again at another MOC. For some reason, we got in the habit of occasional phone chats. Then, one early spring, my phone rang.

“Hello, Jane?”

“Hello, Weber.”

“My car broke down. The sign I just passed said I’m nearly in Lynchburg, Virginia. Isn’t that where you live?”

It was. I went and collected him. His venerable Volvo went into a garage. It was there for eleven days. Weber stayed at my house for those days (although I have a memory that we attended an SF convention as part of that time). That visit changed what had been, to that point, a professional acquaintanceship into a deep and abiding friendship.

It’s a friendship that has seen us each through divorces. Weber was one of the few people who knew Roger was ill with cancer. He stuck by us through that, even coming out to visit. The last book Roger read was Weber’s Path of the Fury. He liked it a lot.

After Roger died, Weber was my greatest mainstay. He’d call daily. One day he found me so depressed that he stayed on the phone long distance (this was in the days that long distance cost money) for two hours, refusing to hang up until he managed to make me laugh.

Later, when we both started falling in love (with other people), we coached each other through the ups and downs. I might have run scared as my whirlwind romance with Jim began to get serious, but Weber talked me out of my panic. (“Don’t you dare run scared because you can’t believe lightning could strike twice.”)

I knew Weber was in love with Sharon long before he admitted it to himself. I mean, when every other word out of a man’s mouth is “Sharon says,” you need to be really slow not to catch on. When Weber came to visit, he bought Sharon so many gifts that I finally said, “Ok, Weber. You say you’re just friends, but does she know that?” He assured me she did.

Weber was right. The story of his and Sharon’s courtship is a long and very funny one. Jim says to this day that he regretted when they finally figured it out. He enjoyed coming home to hear the daily installments.

However, I will say (somewhat smugly) that I knew Weber was going to propose before Sharon did – and that Sharon (she really didn’t know they weren’t “just friends”) told me that she was going to say “yes,” before she told him.

Despite living many miles away and not seeing each other as often as we’d like – especially since Weber and Sharon set up family with three kids within one month (another too long tale that filled many, many hours on the phone) – we’ve stayed close.

So this isn’t a collaboration in the typical sense. I’m thinking of it as more like two good buddies finding a new sandbox in which to romp. As Baen Books permits, I’ll fill you in on more details.

Promise.

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7 Responses to “Lindskold and Weber to Collaborate!”

  1. Diana Says:

    Jane!
    You know how awful I am at responding but this Wandering hit me so hard I can’t stop myself. What excellent news, you and Weber together again! I look forward to reading what you two conjure up.
    Also made me a little misty reading about the early days of MOC and remembering meeting Roger, you and David.
    Every Wednesday I hit your blog to see what interesting thing you’ve been doing or thinking about this week.
    Cool! Hugs!

  2. CBI Says:

    Having enjoyed conversations with each of you at BuboniCon, and later becoming a fan of each, I look forward to this collaborative effort. Truly, good news.

  3. Ann M Nalley Says:

    This is great news! I loved and appreciated the background information on your history with David Weber, and I look forward to the day when the proverbial “veil of secrecy” can be removed!

  4. Alan Robson Says:

    That’s interesting, though surprising news. Your writing styles and choices of subjects are so different that it is hard to envisage what a collaboration between you might be like. Mind you, that very difference may well be what makes it succeed. I think I’m looking forward to this one…

    And how nice it is to have a friend like that. Such people are to be treasured.


    -Alan

  5. heteromeles Says:

    Sounds like fun, and I liked your previous short stories in his universe. Congratulations!

  6. Paul Says:

    I agree with heteromeles. As Alan says, your styles are different, but you have already written stories in Weber’s Honorverse and they have been excellent. So this new teaming is something to look forward to.

  7. janelindskold Says:

    Thanks, folks. It’s going to be interesting.

    I got a kick out of hearing from a few new folks — or new/old folks.

    MOC was on of the first larger conventions I went to. In addition to meeting Weber there, I met Steve White, Lois McMaster Bujold, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and, never to be forgotten, Bob Asprin. I later interviewed Bob for an article…

    Good memories!

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