My first encounter with Belinda was in my guise as the evil reviewer. (Evil Review Queen sounds a little melodramatic so we'll stay with the small title.) The book? An Uncommon Whore.
I'm an ancient Science Fiction fan. Have been for...a long while. All right, I'll say it. Probably for longer than some of you have been alive. Reviewing M/M SF, though, had left a bad, bad taste in my mouth previously. It wasn't really Science Fiction at all. It was romance with spaceships and not even very interesting spaceships or with aliens who were just like humans in every way that mattered or on distant planets that really were Fantasies...on different planets. Where was the science? Where was the universe building? (Don't get me wrong - I love a good genre mash for a purpose. A little fantasy thrown in with the SF for a humorous piece is splendid. But these all took themselves waaaaay too seriously.)
Did I really want to risk another? I'm so glad I didn't give up on the genre and it was Belinda who gave me hope. Here was (finally!) an SF author writing M/M romance. There were planets and societies to explore, fun tech, evil aliens, (and morally dubious aliens) hints at intergalactic relations and so on. The SF didn't overshadow the romance, though, and we have a fascinating look at a main character who struggles to regain his confidence and his sense of self after losing everything up to and including his identity. This was SFR I could get behind and now I wanted more.
I started to run into Belinda through SFR groups next (The Science Fiction Romance Brigade, specifically) where I had fun posting about new releases for other authors. There was a dearth of GLBT SFR at the time so it was nice to see company. (Both Belinda and I write M/F SF as well, in the interest of full disclosure.) We found each other on Facebook and I've admired Belinda's huskies and the lovely pics from various cons. The second UW book came out and I snatched it up. Squeezed Blacque/Bleu in there for good measure - not SF but tons of fun.
When I arrived in Albuquerque for last year's GRL, I managed to squish myself onto the wrong shuttle from the airport. I didn't know the times were scheduled and reserved. I was just so relieved to find the right bus for the right hotel. On this bus? Belinda and ZA Maxfield (ZAM!) and the lovely Tara Lain. I think I'm recalling correctly... Anyway, I felt so much better about the whole going to a conference where nearly everyone would be strangers thing after that. It was such a lively group and the best introduction one could have to such things.
This year? I've just finished The Bacchi (which was quite a story, let me tell you... no, just read it. I won't tell you.) and Belinda and I will be doing a Storyteller spotlight together with KC Burn. I think we're just meant to keep bumping into each other like really strange ships in the night. At warp speed, of course.