Thursday, June 5, 2014

INTERVIEW: Diana L. Paxson 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.



Diana L. Paxson is one of the writers who was inspired by Marion Zimmer Bradley. In addition to the Chronicles of Westria and historical fantasies such as The White Raven and the Wodan's Children trilogy, she continued Marion's Avalon series, most recently with Sword of Avalon. She is also the author of 86 short stories, including contributions to most of Marion's anthologies. Her story takes place a generation after the events in "The Motherquest" and "A Season of Butterflies".




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

Diana L. Paxson: I made the mistake of taking Creative Writing in college-- a mistake, because although it did teach me something about structure and style, the goal was to write literary fiction, which I found a dead bore, and my stories showed it. As a result, I gave up on the idea of writing for the next ten years. It was not until I had married Jon DeCles, who had been unofficially adopted into the Zimmer family, and gotten to know Marion herself, that it dawned on me that real people (i.e people who liked the same kind of books I did) could actually write them.  When I finally managed to complete a novel, Marion was kind enough to read and critique it. I cried. Then I rewrote it. Several times, actually. But Marion continued to encourage me, and so I didn't give up. Since everyone else in the family was writing too (except for my sister-in-law Tracy Blackstone, who was our agent) we ended up with a sort of extended-family cum writers' colony, with some amazing discussions around the tea-table.




DJR: What inspired your story in Stars of Darkover

DLP: One of Marion's great gifts was to tackle subjects that no one else was ready to deal with she was among the first to include homosexual characters as protagonists, and her portrayal of the Free Amazons in Thendara House and the later books was cutting-edge feminism. She was also always ready to go on to the next challenge.
Today, the issue of whether trans-women should be accepted as "real women" is causing a lot of controversy. Those who disagree are offering the same arguments Marion wrote about in the Amazon "training session" scenes. But Marion never hesitated to change her mind. I think that if she were writing today this is exactly the kind of issue she would have tackled.
So I decided to try and write about what would happen if a trans-woman tried to join the Free Amazons.



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

DLP:  I just turned in a non-fiction book on possessory trance. My esoteric writing is also due to Marion's influence, as my first experience with paganism was in the Aquarian Order of the Restoration, the magical lodge she founded.  I have also been writing a lot of short stories. I also have several novels on the back burner, including one about a warrior woman based on the Hervor saga.



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

DLP:  Cultural conflict is an essential part of the Darkover series, and so as a setting it provides a way to explore some of the conflicts going on in our own world. As the conflicts keep changing, I think that Darkover can keep changing as well, while retaining the essential romance and color that keeps it interesting.
 
 

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