“All Right, Tell Me A Story”

I still remember the first time I approached Larry Niven, one of the greatest SF writers of the 20th century, and said “Hello, Mr. Niven. My name is Steven Barnes, and I’m a writer.”

And he puffed on his pipe, looked me over and said: “All right. Tell me a story.”

I rocked back on my heels, all my insecurities hitting me at the same time. I realized on some level that this was a critical moment. It was put up or shut up. I actually had his attention, and if I didn’t blow the next second, it could change my life forever.