Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Marella Sands on “Impossible Things” 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.

Marella Sands says she was born in a yurt on a windswept plain in Outer Mongolia (thereby preparing her to write stories set in the Hellers), but one especially frigid winter convinced her to move somewhere she could enjoy central heating. These days, she spends her time teaching, traveling, and enjoying life with her husband and pets. She has recently become a fan of cricket and is in giddy anticipation of the next T20 World Cup, which will be held in India in 2016. Besides writing stories for Darkover anthologies, she has three books out from Word Posse, the most recent of which was Restless Bones, an anthology of dark fantasy and horror.

Deborah J. Ross: When and why did you begin writing?
Marella Sands: I was always writing things. Even when I was in trouble as a little kid, I'd write my mother notes about why I was angry and slip them under the door. Writing was always the most natural way for me to express myself.
Reading was also something I took to quite early on. My mother said she never tried to teach me to read; it was just always something I seemed driven to do.
It took me until I was 22 to realize that someone might actually pay me to write, and that the things I'd been doing during my down-time might be worth something (they weren't, actually). It took several more years and a lot of horrible manuscripts before I managed to acquire enough skill at storytelling to start selling my work.

DJR:  Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. What about the world or its
inhabitants drew you in?
MS: I think my dad had a used copy of Hawkmistress, and after he read it, I did. I loved it. From there, I read all the Darkover novels I could get my hands on, but I was always a little disappointed that the Ages of Chaos seemed to be ignored.

DJR: What do you see as the future of Darkover? Is there another story you
would particularly like to write?
MS: I want to know more about the first Tower Leepers! Even by the events in Stormqueen!, the Towers have been around long enough to have established protocols and rules. Lake Hali is already full of not-clouds, and bonedust and clingfire, though difficult to create, are common enough. But who established the rules? Who invented bonedust? Who decided where to build the Towers? How were they built? Ask me to write another story and that's probably where I'll go.

DJR: What inspired your story in Realms of Darkover?
MS: I have at least one friend who *hates* origin stories, but I love them. I always want to know how things get started; in fact, I've said I'd love to be a fly on the wall of the committee meeting where everyone agreed that killing people at age 21 in "Logan's Run" was a fantastic idea. (I know that in the movie, the age was 30, but it was 21 in the book.) Who proposed that? Who snapped their fingers and said "THAT's the key component we were missing in our utopia - slaughtering 21-year-olds!" For Darkover, I've always wanted to know more about the breeding programs, the building of the Towers, the development of bonedust, etc. For "Impossible Tasks," I felt that, even if Saint Valentine started a monastery, there was no reason the project couldn't have been interrupted for a generation or two during the Ages of Chaos. And as for the rumor that there was a cave somewhere above the monastery where a body lay that was presumed to be the saint himself, well, sometimes those kinds of things get a little messy if you know the real history. So, whose body is really in that cave? What person or persons got the project up and running again? What were their lives like? What brought them to Nevarsin? Here was my chance to find out.

DJR:  What have you written recently? What lies ahead?
MS: My most recent release was "Restless Bones," an anthology of horror and dark fantasy stories. I've always liked reading that type of story but hadn't delved into writing much of it. But this year, it seemed I had a lot of stories to tell that were pretty dark. I don't know why that is; my life is going pretty good right now. Maybe that's the key, though - I'm not sure I really want to write dark things when my mood is also dark.
I would like to expand a book that *almost* landed me an agent some years ago (he said he couldn't put it down, but he didn't take it on). I've been debating since then what, if anything, I should change, and I think I've come upon something the MS was missing that I'd really like to see in there. After that, I'd like to tackle the horror genre again, but this time in novel-length form.

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