Celebration of Community: Kim Fielding, Venona Keys, Shira Anthony, and Eli Easton

Celebration of Community: Kim Fielding, Venona Keys, Shira Anthony, and Eli Easton
Monday May 21, 2018

Kim Fielding on Venona Keyes

Every year I look forward to the workshop that Dreamspinner hosts for authors. It’s a wonderful chance to learn things—and to hang out with some of my favorite people. For the past few years, the workshop has been held in Orlando.

Last year my older daughter was a senior in high school, so I brought her along with me as a graduation present. We spent time together at Disney and Universal before the workshop, and while I was attending workshop events, she got to laze around the resort.

One DSP author I always enjoy hanging out with is Venona Keyes. A discussion we had at one year’s workshop led to our co-written novel, Running Blind (and we’re working on a sequel now). Venona is sociable and kind and enthusiastic and also a bundle of energy. She wakes up early to exercise, takes hotel stairs instead of elevators, and brings healthy snacks to share.

And she’s willing to try things that make many of the rest of us quail. Such as the really, really high water slide at our hotel. It’s something like five stories tall. Last year, at my urging, Venona coaxed my daughter up to the top of that slide. A group of us watched from across the pool as they stood on the platform, considering. For a long time. And then they took the plunge. Not only that, but Venona got my daughter to climb those stairs and do it again. Even if I’d been willing to brave the slide myself, I’d never have been able to persuade my kid to do it once, let alone twice. Such is the power of Venona.


Kim Fielding on Shira Anthony

In March 2018 I was lucky enough to attend Salon du livre, an enormous book fair in Paris. Dreamspinner had a booth—adjacent to my French-language publishers—which meant I got to spend the fair hanging out with some wonderful people.

Shira Anthony was one of the other DSP authors there. Shira is always a lot of fun to spend time with anyway, but she’s especially a joy in France because she speaks fluent French. Without her, I would have had to rely on the high school French I took back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

On our last night in Paris, Shira and I had dinner at a lovely Algerian restaurant. The waiter recognized her; she’d been there several days earlier with her husband. Because of that and her command of the language, I had one of my all-time favorite French waiter experiences. He was very friendly and chatty. He gave us free drinks. He talked about how he used to be a boxer and showed us photos on his phone of him working out.

The best part, though, was when Shira tried to explain the American concept of doggie bags to him. Like most Europeans, the French don’t take leftovers home (it helps that their serving sizes, unlike many in the US, aren’t unreasonably enormous). Shira described the idea well, but our waiter clearly found it hilarious. And then before we left, he wished us bon voyage and asked how we say that in English. I don’t think he believed us when we answered, “Bon voyage.”

It was a delicious meal, but the company was even better.


Eli Easton on Kim Fielding

How I Met Kim Fielding—by Eli Easton

I went to my first Dreamspinner author conference in 2013. I’d sold four stories to Dreamspinner but none of them had yet come out. So even though I’d published books and games in other genres before, I was a total newbie in m/m world. My only goal for the con was to absorb as much knowledge as I could and meet some of the authors whose books I loved. But I got more than that—I made a friend in Kim Fielding.

I had recently read Brute and adored it. The writing is excellent, and I loved the fantasy world-building and the huge, scared figure of Brute. At the con, I was a bit gobsmacked to meet Kim in person. But she took me under her wing and let me hang out with her that weekend, saved from being the lone kid at the lunch table who had no one to sit with. We’ve hung out at many cons since then, done some anthologies together, and supported each other’s work. I consider her one of my best friends in the m/m world.

Kim is so accomplished it’s sort of nuts. Besides writing m/m romance and publishing quite steadily, she’s a full-time tenured professor of criminal justice. How impressive is that? She’s an expert in hate crimes and has traveled to far-flung places around the globe to lecture on the subject and do local research. She also has a family and is raising kids. How she has time for all that and still manages to get in a ton of travel to cons and on family trips, I’ll never know.

Despite all these amazingly badass things Kim does, my favorite thing about her is how completely unassuming and ordinary she is in person. She’s obviously incredibly intelligent, but she doesn’t put on airs or have any attitude. I’ve never heard her say an unkind word about anyone else or bitch and moan. She’s the sort of person you can feel instantly comfortable around and trust completely.

Read other Celebration of Community stories here:

Celebration of Community: Scotty Cade and SJD Peterson

Celebration of Community: C.S. Poe, TA Moore, Rhys Ford

Celebration of Community: Will Parkinson and K.C. Wells