Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Jane M. H. Bigelow on "Snow Dancing" in REALMS OF DARKOVER

Realms of Darkover®, the newest Darkover anthology, will be released in May 2016. You can pre-order it at Amazon (and it will be available at other outlets soon). Here’s a contributor interview to whet your appetite!
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of Darkover encompasses many realms, from glacier-shrouded mountains to arid wastelands, from ancient kingdoms to space-faring empires. Now this all-new anthology welcomes old friends and new fans to explore these landscapes of time and place, history and imagination.


Jane M. H. Bigelow had her first professional publication in Free Amazons of Darkover. Since then, she has published a fantasy novel, Talisman, as well as short stories and short nonfiction on such topics as gardening in Ancient Egypt. Jane is a retired reference librarian, a job which encouraged her to go on being curious about everything and exposed her to a rich variety of people. She lives in Denver, CO with her husband and two spoiled cats.


Deborah J. Ross: When and why did you begin writing?
Jane M. H. Bigelow: My first stories were mostly crayon pictures with a few words. I remember one with a young witch flying over the houses and having a wonderful time. As a story it lacked conflict, but the witch and I had a great time.

DJR: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. What about the world or its inhabitants drew you in?
JMHB: Darkover's wonderfully detailed world  intrigued me, especially the strong basis for the Darkovan's psi abilities. I only found the series after it had been going on for awhile; another thing I liked was that I didn't need to read the books in a set order to enjoy them.

DJR: What do you see as the future of Darkover? Is there another story you would particularly like to write?
JMHB: Another story? Oh, yes, several. As far as the future goes, I hope we'll see more of the ways that Terrans and Darkovans work out a coexistence. It seems to me that at least some of the Terran Empire might change, too. I enjoy stories set during the Hundred Kingdoms period also, though I can't seem to write them.


DJR: What inspired your story in Realms of Darkover?
JMHB: I'd always wondered why nobody on Darkover used cross-country skis to get around in all that snow. Since Darkovans didn't in fact have them, how could I introduce them?  What would happen if I did?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday Wisdom From Alice Walker

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.


I have the best friends in the world!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Adventure of the Walkabout Cat

One of the challenges of owning indoor-only cats is that they don’t always get with the program. They dart out of open doors, find ways to squirm through gates and partly-opened windows, and so forth. We humans have yet to find the means to explain to them why they must stay on one side of the door when there are so many intoxicating smells and things to chase on the other side.

In our neighborhood, there are all the usual reasons for keeping cats indoors, plus a few local ones. Predators (mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, plus critters who can take on a cat and come out on top, like raccoons), diseases, ticks, fleas, cars. Things that cats are predators for: songbirds and helpful garden reptiles, to mention a few.

In our household, the situation is complicated by having a retired seeing eye dog who has been trained to open doors. She can’t managed round knobs, but latches are no problem, nor are sliding screens.

Here are our two cats, Shakir and Gayatri. Despite having one eye, Gayatri is a fearsome hunter. If we acceded to her wishes, she would present us with a snake or lizard every single day. Since this would mean disaster for our garden ecology, we keep her in jail. She gets out occasionally, which is why we use flea/tick/heartworm prevention on her, and she always comes back a few hours later, irate that we have not let her in right now.

Shakir, on the other hand, would sniff at a screen door and then slink away to a cozy basket. We always believed that of the two cats, he was the stay-at-home. Until one day, we discovered that Tajji, our afore-mentioned door artiste, had managed to open the sliding screen door. We did not realize this until some hours after the fact.

“Where’s Gayatri? Oh, thank goodness, she’s here, napping.”

And we did not think to look for Shakir until the next morning, when he failed to demand his breakfast.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Michael Spence on “The Snowflake Fallacy” in REALMS OF DARKOVER

Realms of Darkover®, the newest Darkover anthology, will be released in May 2016. You can pre-order it at Amazon (and it will be available at other outlets soon). Here’s a contributor interview to whet your appetite!
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of Darkover encompasses many realms, from glacier-shrouded mountains to arid wastelands, from ancient kingdoms to space-faring empires. Now this all-new anthology welcomes old friends and new fans to explore these landscapes of time and place, history and imagination.


Michael Spence describes himself as an expatriate Virginian living less than five hundred kilometers from the Canadian border, along the northern event horizon of the St. Paul-Minneapolis paradox. He is the narrator of several Darkover novel audio books, including of Marion's The Heirs of Hammerfell. Recent publications include "Dark Speech" (with Elisabeth Waters, in Sword and Sorceress 30), "The Music of the Spheres" (Music of Darkover), "Requiem for the Harlequin: Two Perspectives on Time, and a Celebration of Kairos, in Three Stories by Harlan Ellison" (Sci Phi Journal), and "Why the Sea Is Boiling Hot: A Tale from the Archives of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences" (Imagine That! Studios), a Finalist for the 2014 Parsec Award.

Deborah J. Ross: When and why did you begin writing?

Michael Spence: When? Not sure; I only know that I was doing story fragments and rudimentary stories by sixth grade. Some were submitted as school assignments. One collection of fragments appeared on a stack of monogrammed memo slips discarded by an aunt. A novel got outlined in eighth grade and then abandoned. Junior high saw an attempt at audio drama and some Man from U.N.C.L.E. fanfic. High school Star Trek parodies placed fellow high-school students on an all-female starship (all but one, that is: me. Wish fulfillment, you ask? Naah. Well, okay, the starship part was).

Why? Hm. Some will tell you they read an atrocious story and knew they could do better. I saw a couple of stories like that, even a novel published as part of a media tie-in series (no doubt filling a last-minute hole in the schedule, albeit with silly putty). But also there's the fact, at least in my experience, that writers simply are cool -- you would agree, wouldn't you? -- and I wanted to be one. As Diane Duane's enticing title says, So You Want to Be a Wizard ... well, being a writer comes pretty durn close.

I might have quit for good in college, though, after a creative writing course with a then-prominent "literary fiction" author who had no time for SF. That I resumed it later ... "and who deserves the credit, and who deserves the blame? Ay!" Elisabeth Waters, that's who. We'd been friends during high-school years, and after college I lost contact with her ... but one day in a bookstore near the University of Virginia I picked up The Keeper's Price and saw Lisa's story "The Alton Gift," and some years later her impressive "The Blade of Unmaking" appeared in Sword and Sorceress 14. A mutual friend put us back in touch, and once when she and Marion were going through some stressful times I wrote a lighthearted Darkover novelette for them, noteworthy only in that it's the first piece of that length that I actually finished. I look on that as the moment I finally became something resembling a writer.

Sometime afterward, we were discussing story thoughts, and I mentioned an idea I was struggling with. Shortly thereafter she emailed me to say she had a possible solution, and would I like to collaborate? The result was "Salt and Sorcery" in Sword and Sorceress 16, the second of the Treasures of Albion stories, and we've been working in that world since then.

At about the same time, I took a short break from dissertation work one afternoon to do a short piece called "One Drink Before You Go." I submitted it to S & S, but Marion bought it for Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Worlds. That was my first fiction sale.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday Wisdom From Simone Signoret

Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.


Really, would you want to be with someone you had to chain yourself to?