Thursday, March 15, 2018

Crossroads of Darkover Author Interview: Shariann Lewitt

Coming in May, an all-new Darkover anthology featuring tales of decisions, turning points, love lost and found, all in the beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Stories by Jenna Rhodes, Pat MacEwen, Gabrielle Harbowy, Evey Brett, Rosemary and India Edghill, Diana L. Paxson, and more!

Order yours today at: iBookKindleKoboNook

Table of Contents is here.

Deborah J. Ross: How did you discover Darkover?

Shariann Lewitt: Hmm, I don’t actually remember. It’s all back somewhere in the haze of nerdy girlhood along with Pern and Witchworld and everything else I read while I dreamed of a life in space.

DJR: What about the world drew you in?

SL: Pretty much everything. But I think what made it very different from all the others—and that kept me with it even as I grew up—was that it felt very real to my own experiences as a nerdy girl who wanted to do something with her life, but had to fight for it. In other worlds, women either were magic users or victims of the patriarchy. On Darkover—a world with the extreme gender roles that my mother insisted were my lot—women who were willing to fight for their dreams could have them. Yes, many of them had laran, but others didn’t. That inspired me and gave me a lot of hope when I was young.

DJR: What do you see as the future of Darkover? How has its readership changed over the decades? What book would you recommend for someone new to Darkover?

SL: I think it says a lot about the world that, unlike many of the other series I grew up reading, Darkover is still vibrant and alive, with new stories and characters. I think it will continue to grow, to expand, and to explore more within the expanse that Marion left. To recommend to someone new to the world, well, that would depend a lot on the person. Some people would prefer a book on the Renunciates, or maybe Hawkmistress to start. Maybe for someone who is more Science Fiction oriented, I’d possibly choose The Heritage of Hastur because of the Terran/Darkovan interaction. Though Thendara House would be good for that as well. But if it were someone who preferred fantasy with lots of politics, then I’d recommend The Fall of Neskaya. Really, it would depend a lot on the person.

DJR: What inspired your story in Crossroads of Darkover? How did you balance writing in someone else’s world and being true to your own creative imagination?

SL: Darkover is a big world and there’s room to go just about anywhere. But there are enough limits that it’s fun to play with them. This story, well—I was in the middle of writing another story, a story about a young Comyn woman with laran, and then Nyla showed up. I couldn’t put her down. Her situation really fascinated me because mostly on Darkover we think about people who are gifted as having laran. What about other gifts? We know there are musicians and poets. What about scientists and mathematicians? Is there a university? I realized in all the books I’ve read (which I think is all of them at this point) I’d never really noticed one. That kind of hit me over the head, so I had to explore what would happen. And, of course, Nyla was there to guide me.

DJR: Is there another Darkover story you would particularly like to write?

SL: If I say anything now, it will just change entirely when I start to write. A character will take over and lead me into the story, and I never know what to expect. I can say, “I would like to explore this part of the world,” but then a character will come along and suddenly I’m off somewhere else. I feel like I wait for the stories that want me to write them.

DJR: What have you written recently? What is your favorite of your published works and why?

SL: Most recently, I’m very proud of the short story “Fieldwork”, which Gardner Dozois included in his 34th Best of the Year Anthology, which came out last summer from Tor. It’s hard SF, which I love to write. My favorite published works, apart from that, would be mostly novels—Songs of Chaos, Memento Mori, Interface Masque and Rebel Sutra. And my favorite short stories, apart from “Fieldwork”, are “A Real Girl” and “Pipe Dreams.” 

DJR: What lies ahead for you?

SL: I’m moving towards writing more historical fiction these days. We’ll see what comes!

Shariann Lewitt has published seventeen books and over forty short stories, including “Wedding Embroidery” in Stars of Darkover and “Memory” in Gifts of Darkover. When not writing she teaches at MIT, studies flamenco dance, and is accounted reasonably accomplished at embroidery. Her expertise with birds arises in part from being the devoted servant of two parrots

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