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Deborah J. Ross: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover.
Leslie Fish: I've been a Sci-Fi fan since I was a little kid. I started on comic books, and learned early to recognize the difference the characteristic drawing styles of Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, and Jack Davis. I visited our local corner drugs/convenience/comics store at least once a week, and noticed when they started including magazines and then paperback books. One day I picked up an Ace Double paperback with The Planet Savers on one side and The Sword of Aldones on the other -- and finished them both in a single week, and was forever hooked.
DJR: What about the world drew you in?
LF: The fascinating ecology and resulting society: at least 5 different intelligent species -- not counting the two immigration-waves of humans -- and how they interact, the politics of a psychic society, the endless mysteries of its history and future. Wow! Yes, you could spend a lifetime studying this intricate world.
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?
LF: I can see fans and authors exploring the details and mysteries of Darkover until...well, until we're out in the stars ourselves.
The Darkover audience was originally romantic/adventuresome teenagers; over the years it's grown to include not-just-young adults, and more thought-provoking tales than only romance and adventure; people are exploring more widely the details and remote corners of this whole fascinating world, it's widely assorted peoples, and its history -- and future.
I'd recommend that a beginner begin where I began -- with The Sword of Aldones, in whatever incarnation it's reached now. I still think that's the core story of Darkover, and everything else branches out from there.
DJR: What inspired your story in Crossroads of Darkover?
LF: One of the mysteries of Darkover that's intrigued me for years is the connection between the Dry Towners and the culture of the planet Wolf (not to mention the presence of kyrri on Wolf!) as shown in The Door Through Space. We knew (from The Sword of Aldones) that trained and powerful psychics can "fetch" people through space, and from other tales that the chieri are the original psychic engineers of Darkover. I put them together in the individual characters of two young rebels, and this was the result.
DJR: How did you balance writing in someone else’s world and being true to your own creative imagination?
LF: Anything and everything can be grist for the artist's mill. I've imagined stories set in present-day America, historic England, and other future worlds. There's immense room for my own creative imagination to play in the Darkover universe!
DJR: Is there another Darkover story you would particularly like to write?
LF: There are several! I'd like to explore further the relationship between the other intelligent species of Darkover, and the assorted humans who live among them, not to mention the assorted mysteries of the world's past and future.
DJR: What have you written recently?
LF: Heheheheheh. A lot of new filksongs, currently seeking a collected album, short stories
DJR: What is your favorite of your published works and why?
LF: Right now, it's my Darkover novella -- and the song ("The Horsetamer's Daughter") that inspired it: "Tower of Horses," published in Music of Darkover. If you include my recorded works, then it would have to be my signature song: "Hope Eyrie".
DJR: What lies ahead for you?
LF: Ah, where to begin? I'm working on the remastered album, "Firestorm", writing a novel about psionics and AI, also co-authoring a novel with my husband Rasty that's meant to be the female comeback to 50 Shades of Grey, and co-authoring a novel with my old buddy Chris Madsen about the physics of metaphysics and adventures in the afterlife. It's anyone's guess which one will be finished first.
DJR: Anything else you’d like our readers to know about you, Darkover, or life in general?
LF: I've settled (permanently, thank you) in a farming town to the west of Phoenix, where I'm trying to raise an orchard of rare and endangered fruit-trees (have you ever seen a gold pomegranate?). I'm also raising a unique new breed of cats -- Silverdusts -- who have unusual intelligence and workable thumbs. Would anyone like a very smart cat?
On Darkover, the future is wide open and the possibilities are endless. For instance: all the humans on Darkover live on the single continent, but what about the rest of the planet? Why have they never explored the seas? There must be countless islands of less-than-continental size; what -- and who -- lives there? Another question: how did the Dry Towners get to Darkover, and how did kyrri get to Wolf? Looking back: what effect did the chieri have on the human society of historic Darkover? What's their relationship to the other intelligent species -- the Trailmen, the Catmen, and the mysterious dwellers in the seas? Looking ahead: how will Darkover's various peoples survive now that the Terran Empire has withdrawn from local space? See what I mean? Endless questions, and possibilities.
On life in general: the best advice I can give anyone -- Darkover fan or not, writer/artist or not -- is, never lose your imagination! Exercise your imagination, just for fun, about anything. Before you go to sleep at night, pick some topic to work your imagination on, and play with the idea until you fall asleep. You might find that you get new ideas in your dreams. More than just artistic inspirations have happened that way.
Leslie Fish learned to sing and to read at a very young age, playing guitar at sixteen, and writing the first of hundreds of songs shortly thereafter, including settings of Rudyard Kipling's poetry and the “all-time most notorious” Star Trek filksong ever written: “Banned From Argo.” She’s recorded a number of albums and composed songs, both alone and collaborative, on albums from every major filk label. She was elected to the Filk Hall Of Fame as one of the first inductees. In college, she majored in English and minoring in psychology, protest and politics, joined the Industrial Workers of the World, and did psychology counseling for veterans. Her other jobs included railroad yard clerk, go-go dancer, and social worker. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband Rasty and a variable number of cats which she breeds for intelligence.