Today, January 25th, is Jim and my twentieth wedding anniversary.
Jim and I have known each other since sometime probably in early autumn of 1994, having met a few months after I moved to New Mexico to live with Roger Zelazny. After Roger and I settled in, I told him that the only part of my past life I really missed was gaming.
Roger said, “I think George has a group. I’ll see if he knows of anyone who is looking for players.” Apparently, George spoke with his group because, when I attended my first Bubonicon, Melinda Snodgrass came flowing up (she was all dressed up, having come directly from having lunch out with her then-in-laws) and said, “I’m Melinda. George says you’re looking for a gaming group. Would you like to join ours?”
The group Roger and I joined was mostly writers – George R.R. Martin, Melinda Snodgrass, and Walter Jon Williams were all in that initial game. But there were non-writers as well: Chip Wideman, Carl Keim, and… Jim Moore.
Except that for a long time, to me, Jim was just “Jim.” I don’t think I learned his surname until a year later. He was just the good-looking archeologist with the quirky sense of humor who held his own very well with the quick-witted and verbally agile writers. I gathered that, like most of the others, he was in his forties. (Carl Keim and I, both in our early thirties, were the babies of the group.)
If you want to see what Jim looked like then, there’s a snapshot on my website under “About.” It was taken by my dad, a year or so into our marriage, during a summer when the cosmos we’d planted did the best they ever have…
As a writer, I’m very lucky to have Jim as a partner. Many writers’ families – even their immediate families—are not interested at all in what they do. Many are not even interested in SF and F. If they attend conventions or book events, they’re often out of their depth or just along for the free vacation.
Jim, however, was a long-time SF/F reader even before I met him. He’d attended conventions and, since so many of his friends were professional writers, he already knew a great deal about what a writer did and does. In the twenty years we’ve been married, he’s built on that foundation, so that he has knowledge as extensive as any member of the profession.
Unlike many author spouses – even those who are interested in SF/F – at book events Jim’s always available to help out. At a book fair, he’ll stand for hours at my side, flapping books (that is, opening them to the correct page to be signed). He listens with endless patience to me giving variations of the same reading or talk, then dissects the event with me after.
While I’m signing or chatting with readers, Jim stays near enough to help, but also chats with people. We’ve noticed that people too shy to “take up Jane’s time” will often bring their questions to Jim. Since he’s always up-to-date on what I’m doing, he’s good person to talk to… And he’s interesting in his own right, being as passionate about archeology as I am about writing.
People often ask me – especially since archeology crops up from time to time in my writing – whether the fact that Jim is an archeologist is an influence on my choice of topic. The answer is “no” and “yes.” I was interested in archeology long before I met Jim. I wrote the first version of The Buried Pyramid before we got together. However, Jim has definitely contributed his knowledge to subsequent works.
My short story “Out of Hot Water” (from the anthology Earth, Air, Fire, Water edited by Margaret Weis) had its genesis in a visits to Ojo Caliente, where Jim was directing a dig. When I was writing “Like the Rain,” for the anthology Golden Reflections (edited by Joan Spicci Saberhagen and Robert E. Vardeman), Jim’s extensive research library came to my assistance numerous times. And he agreed to be a character in my short story “Jeff’s Best Joke” (originally in Past Imperfect, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff; reprinted in my collection Curiosities). There are other examples, less direct, but in definitely places where Jim’s input mattered.
Jim has a role even in those stories that aren’t obviously archeological. He helped me narrow options when I was asked to come up with a series concept, and therefore is definitely the godfather of Firekeeper and all her friends. He is extremely patient with my tendency to become obsessive about whatever it is I’m researching at a given time. Even better, he’ll get involved with my research, going on trips, taking photos, suggesting possible areas I might want to further delve into.
When a work is done, Jim will put aside whatever he’s reading, pull out his pencil, and go through the manuscript. He’s learned I really mean it when I say I don’t want praise, I want an honest opinion. In turn, I promise that even if I don’t agree with a given comment, I’ll make a note of what he has said. If someone else says the same thing, I’ll admit that obviously I’m not communicating what I thought I was communicating and that revision is necessary.
Jim even has the tenacity to take the occasional photo of camera-shy me, which is far more of an ordeal than you may realize, especially if the photo isn’t a candid one. And, for many years now, he’s made time to take photos for the Wednesday Wanderings, Thursday Tangents, and Friday Fragments.
So, Jim’s definitely an influence on many levels, almost certainly in ways of which I am unaware, because sometimes the author is the last to figure these things out. Best of all, twenty years in, I can definitely say I’m hoping for at least twenty more. That’s got to be good, right?