An interview with Realm Makers founder and author, Rebecca Minor.
Rebecca Minor draws narrative experience from a BFA in animation from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Since her graduation in 1997, she has worked as a game animator, freelance artist, full-time mom, teacher, and sheet music advertising associate. She is the author of The Windrider Saga, serial fantasy fiction from Diminished Media Group and Curse Bearer, from Written World Communications.
She blogs at http://www.rebeccapminor.com on anything from fantasy reading and writing to the life of mother and wife. In addition to writing, Rebecca also creates occasional interior illustrations, her favorite medium being pencil.
Because all of this hasn’t driven her crazy yet, Rebecca is also the conference director of Realm Makers, an annual symposium for people of faith who write science fiction and fantasy. (http://RealmMakers.com)
Rebecca resides outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and three sons, whom she is slowly infusing with a love of fantasy, one member at a time.
Tell us about you and your family.
We are a cluster of geeks and geeklings. My husband of 15 years and I spend a lot of time dreaming dreams together, and my three boys assume that all families listen to movie soundtracks all the time. I’m very thankful that all my kids learned to read prior to kindergarten and consume books in rapid succession, because I think it helps them better tolerate the time I spend clickety-clacking out my novels. We may not be the most well-traveled family we know, but the world we live in is still full of fantastic adventures.
What on earth possessed you to undertake such a momentous task as organizing Realm Makers?
A bout of insanity.
Seriously, though, the longer I spent in the world of Christian publishing, the more it became clear to me that those of us who love God and also love sword fights and space ships struggle to find a niche in either secular or Christian circles … we suffer the “too weird to be normal, but too normal to be weird” syndrome. But when we all come together, magical things happen.
As for what possessed me to take this on? I have a long history of biting off more than I can chew, so this just fits the pattern for me.
How much time do you spend on Realm Makers over the year?
The work on the conference comes in fits and spurts, but I would say I have probably only taken about 6 consecutive weeks off since we started planning the first one. If I had to guess how much time I spend on the conference, I would say it takes around a thousand hours of execution for me personally. There are many more man hours that accumulate via other volunteers that likely raise that number significantly, though.
Does your family help out?
Scott (my husband) provides operational guidance on the technical, detail aspects of the conference (I’m a global visioneer-type more than a nuts and bolts person), in addition to being a fabulous sounding board and moral support. My eldest son, Riley, helped out immensely in the book store last year, which was by far the most logistically stressful aspect of things, in my opinion. My two littler boys supply enthusiasm.
How has God led you in this process? Do you find it hard to listen sometimes?
Worries are definitely my worst “ear clogger” in terms of listening to the Lord’s voice in all this. When the details are swirling and the stress of “I’m not the right person to do this, and at some point, people are going to realize it” are pressing in hard, that’s when I’m reminded that this is the Lord’s thing, not mine. God has definitely shown me that he is in the details, and that he has a plan for each and every person who joins us, either as a conferee or a faculty member. Mostly, it’s my job to have the faith to push the first element of the Rube Goldberg, and then watch God work everything together in ways I never imagined.
What challenges did you face in planning Realm Makers?
Realm Makers: 2013 took place 900 miles away from my home, so planning something remotely—an event I never planned before—was, well . . . faith building. If I’m being honest, another challenge I struggle with is a selfish one: how much time conference planning takes away from writing. When I’m going hard core on conference preparation, I won’t pretend I don’t get a wee bit jealous of my author friends who talk about the progress they’re making on their books.
In what ways has organizing this conference stretched you as a person?
I am a classic introvert…not in the “shy in a group” sense, but the “drained by group interaction” sense, so making contact with people I have never met and asking them to subscribe to my vision has been terrifying, but at the same time good for me. It has also challenged me to keep a lid on my own opinions so that I can listen to others and foster conversation.
In what ways have you grown since starting this adventure?
Working on the conference has forced me to learn some “behind the scenes” tools that are new to me, and it has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone in terms of delegating tasks. As much as I’ve been an “If you want something done right…” person for too long, I’m beginning to see the fun in having minions—ahem, helpers.
What gets you most excited about the conference?
I get excited about the possibility of creative partnerships germinating. For example, 2013 faculty members Randy Streu and Matt Yocum came together to work on a writing project as a result of their connection at last year’s event. I also get excited about people having the chance to tackle writing in our genre with greater skill and wilder ideas as a result of what they learn at the conference.
What most stresses you out?
Money. (I look forward to the day we can add a bookkeeper to the conference staff.) I feel an immense burden to make sure the conference is an indisputable value to everyone involved. I wish there was a way to do this where every speaker and volunteer got paid what they’re worth and nobody would have to say they can’t come because of finances. Putting numbers on things definitely keeps me up at night.