13 Things I Learned at Worldcon from John Joseph Adams


I decided to see if I could get an editor to meet with members of my critique group, Wordos, and me and let us buy him dinner and pick his brain at Worldcon. In the process, I think people were able to see that the big, bad editor who rejects most of us, is a normal human being who eats food like the rest of us. Yes, we humanized him. Crazy idea, I know.

First, I have to say, John Joseph Adams is a warm, approachable human being. I did a google search, found a website with his personal email and emailed him. He responded back quickly and was professional and friendly. I was so relieved he didn’t think I was a weirdo and stalker, especially when I told him the name of the critique group. Up until recently, my mom thought the critique group I belonged to was the weirdos, not the Wordos, and I hear that is a pretty common mistake.

Below are thirteen things I learned about John Joseph Adams.

JJA considers it a rookie mistake to have breakfast with people at a con. Mostly this is because people have been out partying or are hung over and they might be tired to get up to meet. As it turns out, he was right. Not everyone could attend due to late night Worldcon events the previous evening.

Lightspeed and Fantasy Magazine, and Nightmare are unpaid projects. He does this for the love of reading and the genre. JJA said that if they had enough to pay him, he would want to make sure all his unpaid minions of slush reading got compensated before him.

JJA makes his living putting together anthologies and selling them to publishers.

He used to read Piers Anthony books as a teenager. No judgement. Trying not to judge. Okay, failing, but trying to pretend I’m not a snob.

He considers Flowers for Algernon the perfect story. Or was that someone else at the table?

Sometimes it is really hard to classify the difference between science fiction and fantasy or dark fantasy and horror.

JJA doesn’t mind the crossover and intermingling between genres. If he likes a sci-fi story and thinks it would be a better fit for Lightspeed versus Nightmare, he will take it and decide which magazine to put it in later with the writer’s consent.

An editor can get tricked into publishing a serial/novella if he thinks each piece is going to stand alone. Someone did that to him.

He thinks it is common courtesy to send an editor a story in a particular world if that story was first published in that magazine.

He has served as editor at F & SF as a slush reader before his current editing position.

Lightspeed can boast of having stories from major authors like Stephen King and George R. R. Martin.

JJA met his wife at a science fiction convention and for that reason, they got married at a convention. Ironically, the hotel he was married in was the same hotel George R. R. Martin got married in at the same con right after him.

JJA can write George R. R. Martin an email and the Game of Thrones author will write him back. What this really means is I have three degrees of separation from George R. R. Martin.