Okay, so Ursula was positively delightful.
I asked her what her opinion of the medium of ebooks was, and she seemed to be rather positive about the kindle/nook/iPad phenomenon. Aside from “What’s wrong with engineers? Why would you ever name something i-PAD?” *Facepalm* “Are they working for kotex?” she remarked that “I don’t understand why everyone is so afraid that somehow books and reading will disappear. The medium doesn’t matter. If all I had was a rock, and… I don’t know, a harder rock — I would still be writing. It would take longer, but I would still be writing. It doesn’t matter.” She didn’t seem like one of those old school types who gets poetic about the tactile experience of a book.
Probably the most powerful thing I took away from her talk was about characters “rebelling” in fiction. Paraphrased: “You know, there are a lot of stories… Especially written for and about young people, where society is unjust, and the main characters rebel. They say, ‘but’… They fight the power. The problem I have with these stories is that, if a character was born and raised in this society, how do they know that it’s unjust? I think it’s misleading, particularly to young people, to make rebelling look so easy. It’s so hard to even know what you’re rebelling against. The process of recognizing injustice, of coming to that realization, takes years of thought and understanding…” Okay, definitely paraphrasing, I wasn’t dictating, just listening to her talk. But it was a good point she made. Pretty consistent with something else I remember her saying in an essay that it is an immature society that expects stories with black and white morals.
Anyway, cool lady. Glad she lives in Portland.