Tuesday, May 27, 2014

INTERVIEW: Barb Caffrey on Stars of Darkover

STARS OF DARKOVER – not just the glorious night sky over the world of the Bloody Sun, but the authors who have been inspired over the decades by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s favorite world. It will be released on June 3, 2014, to celebrate Marion's 84th birthday.

Barb Caffrey is a writer, editor and musician from the Midwest. Though "At the Crossroads" is her first-ever Darkover story, she has written other things, including a humorous fantasy novel, Elfy that will be published in 2014 by Twilight Times Books. Previous stories and poems have appeared in Bedlam's Edge (with late husband Michael B. Caffrey), How Beer Saved The World, the Bearing North anthology, the Written Word online magazine, Joyful Online, the Midwest Literary Magazine, and at e-Quill Publishing. Find her at Elfyverse (AKA "Barb Caffrey's Blog") for discussions of all and sundry, or at Shiny Book Review.

Deborah J. Ross: How did Marion Zimmer Bradley influence your writing career?

Barb Caffrey: This is a three-stranded answer, which I hope won't be too confusing . . . you see, early on, like many readers, I was introduced to Marion Zimmer Bradley's fiction, most particularly the Darkover series, but also The Mists Of Avalon and some others. I remember reading Sharra's Exile first, and loving that, but then being completely blown away by The Shattered Chain . . . the whole idea that women would be able to find a way to be fiercely independent on such a feudalistic world as Darkover just enthralled me, the way it did so many other readers. And after that, I read all the Darkover stories I possibly could.
But that, of course, was just the first strand.

The second is that my husband, the late Michael B. Caffrey, was a friend of one of Ms. Bradley's sons. Michael lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay area, and he told me that when he first started to write, his friend brought him to his mother, Ms. Bradley, and they talked for a few minutes. Michael remembered Ms. Bradley as being unfailingly encouraging to him, which he needed, as no one in his family was interested in science fiction (at least, not then), so no one understood why Michael felt the need to write. (Note that by the time I met Michael, Ms. Bradley had already passed away. But he remembered her fondly.)
Had Marion Zimmer Bradley not been encouraging to my husband when she didn't have to be, I don't think Michael would've been as likely to keep after it. (Most particularly with such a positive attitude.) And in that case, I would be a very different writer now . . . that is, if I were still writing at all.

Finally, my first writing mentor (aside from my husband) was -- still is -- Rosemary Edghill. And Rosemary worked with Ms. Bradley on four books (the "Light" series), knew her well, and was positively inspired by her.

DJR:  What inspired your story in Stars Of Darkover?

BC: In The Shattered Chain and Thendara House, there's a mention of a Renunciate judge, Domna Fiona n'ha Gorsali. She had become the first female judge of the powerful Courts of Arbitration . . . and I'd always wondered how that had come to be.

As I read and re-read the Darkover series, trying to figure out just how Fiona would emerge, and from where, I realized that the women from the highlands seemed a bit more independent than those from the Lowlands. Even the Renunciates from the highlands seemed more likely to be iconoclastic, which a female judge would certainly have to be, so I decided Fiona must come from there.

Next, I had to figure out why Fiona would be named to the Courts of Arbitration. Obviously she must've done something important, but what?

My conceit was that Fiona was the judge who had dealt the most with the Terranan in Caer Donn. And because she was the judge most likely to run into the Terranan, obviously something had to happen because of the Terranan . . . so all I had to do was to figure out what. (As I don't want to spoil the actual reading experience, I'd best stop there!)
At any rate, I enjoyed getting to know Fiona, and I hope readers will, too.

DJR: What books have you written recently? What lies ahead?

BC: My first novel An Elfy On The Loose is now out as an e-book from Twilight Times Books. A second novel is currently being readied for publication, and more novels in my Elfyverse are planned.

I also have two stories of military science fiction available at Amazon as e-books starring space Navy Lieutenant Joey Maverick of the Atlantean Union, "A Dark and Stormy Night"
and "On Westmount Station." These were drawn from my late husband Michael's incomplete novel, and of course he is listed as the writer (because I drew them out and edited them and added a few things here and there, I am listed as the co-author and editor). More stories in this universe are forthcoming, including two novels, mostly because I loved my husband's writing, and I don't want to see it die out.

DJR: What do you see for the future of Darkover?

BC: I see many, many more high-quality novels written by Deborah J. Ross, and any number of fantastic anthologies written by caring and committed writers who believe that Darkover is just too vital a world to leave alone.

In other words, Darkover's future is brighter than its own four moons . . . and far brighter than the Bloody Sun.

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