Being in the Cedar Hills Crossing area of Beaverton, I took advantage and stopped at Five Guys Burgers & Fries on the way to Powell's, because that fast food is satisfying fast food. I walked over to, then sat outside, the mall and noshed. I then entered through the mall to increase the amount of time I had for eating before entering the bookstore. This ends the eating part of this journal entry; the being-in-the-audience-of-a-fun-writer part begins in earnest now.
Priest's enthusiasm was evident. That's a gentle way to put it: she was on the edge of bouncy, and she shared the just-received good news that was making her bouncy. We applauded it. Knowing a very accomplished fantasy writer -- in this case, George R. R. Martin of Wild Cards -- thinks you do the writin' thing good, that would make me bouncy, too. She'd just gotten an e-mail from Martin that he was happy with her rewrite of a story she'd written for him.
She's also enthusiastic because Boneshaker has helped her career; she'd been worried that she wouldn't be able to keep getting published after this book (it was the final book in her previous Tor contract), but winning awards and getting nominated for other awards and selling strong, THAT'S improved things for her. During the Q&A, a couple of us got Priest talking about the alternate history she's put in place for this book and its sequel Dreadnought, and the further she got into the details of her version of the 19th century -- a nearly 20-year-old Civil War, an England-allied Confederacy, a Republic of Texas that's still alive and kicking and dealing with drama of its own (both with Mexico and with its northern border), the slow death of slavery for slightly different reasons than happened in our 19th century, Native American nations still having significant control of the West, even the potential future of her ruined Seattle -- the more I felt the feeling that she was having evermore fun playing around in that alternate history, imagining possible other stories that she hopes she can write. And get published.
Priest signed books afterward and visited with us. She and I spoke briefly, the second time in person (here's the first time). Not an exchange for the ages, just geeks happily talking, so there's not much to recount. I did like how her next visitor was a stroller-installed girl who liked that Priest has blue hair. Bright blue hair, not old-woman blue hair, to clarify.
P.S. to tanuki_green: Yep, Utilikilts are steampunk. Nice ensemble.