Friday, September 13, 2013

A Community of Love

 Horse people form extraordinary, loyal, and sometimes contentious communities. The same is true for readers (and writers!) of science fiction and fantasy. (And for martial artists, and musicians, and . . .) When two or more of these interests coincide, the results can be magical.

The second volume of The Seven-Petaled Shield, titled Shannivar, touches many of the areas of passion in my life. A strong woman hero, a martial artist, a horsewoman, her wonderful horses, a love story (me being a romantic at heart), a quest . . . One of the people I’ve shared a love of horses and adventure with is my friend Bonnie, about whom I’ve written in the last few posts.
Bonnie and I became fast friends over folk dancing and wild adventures during our college student days in the 1960s. Later, when she fulfilled her dream of owning horses, she carried me back to my own high school years, when I rode my own horse over the golden hills. When I’d visit, we’d ride together, clean stalls together, talk endlessly about horse temperaments and training, and swap tall tales “in the saddle.”

Much to my delight, Bonnie  began studying tai chi chuan, which I had practiced for 4 or 5 years before being seduced by kung fu (30 years total). During those years, I’d delved into the women sf/f writers martial arts cabal. One of those adventures took place at a women’s martial arts camp, where I took a seminar in tai chi sword. I’d kept the sword even after I switched to kung fu, and earlier this year I brought it up for Bonnie to use in her sword form class.

It was therefore luminously clear to me that the Dedication to Shannivar belonged to Bonnie. Who else would understand the references to gaited horses (Bonnie rode Tennessee Walkers), the strategies of a long distance horse race, or the enchantment of a dance when all elements come together as a glorious whole? The only question was whether she would still be here to see its publication.

For the several years while I worked on revising the trilogy as a whole, all 3 books at once and scheduled for release 6 months apart, her health declined slowly and I was hopeful. And close-mouthed. Then everything changed with her hospitalization and greatly shortened prognosis. Shannivar was due to be released in December, and I feared she wouldn’t make it that long.

I sent off an email to Joshua Starr at DAW, my publisher, and explained my concerns. The book was well into production. I’d proofread the pages and seen both the preliminary cover sketches and the final painting. But the ARCs would not come along for a little while. Josh printed up and bound a copy with a mock up cover (the painting, but not the final design) and mailed it to me out here.

I presented it to my friend. Thank you from both of us to Josh, and Kate and Betsy and everyone at DAW.

Deborah and Bonnie


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