Tuesday, June 17, 2014

INTERVIEW: Rosemary Edghill on Stars of Darkover

TARS 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.

Rosemary Edghill (aka eluki bes shahar) has published stories in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine as well as MZB’s long-running Sword & Sorceress anthology series.  This led to her ghost-writing the urban fantasy series Witchlight, Ghostlight, Gravelight, and Heartlight under Bradley’s name. A woman of many, many talents, she’s also an anthologist and editorial mentor.  Her most recent books include the Shadow Grail series. 

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

Rosemary Edghill: Of course she influenced me, just as she did all writers of my generation by the stories she chose to tell, and by the founding of MZB’s Fantasy Magazine.  Writing for MZBFM and for the Sword and Sorceress anthology series was an exercise in writing to market while putting aside the preconceptions still widely held in the F/SF field of the time: it stretched my imagination, and really showed me what I could manage to get away with in terms of plot.

But more than that, having been privileged to collaborate with her and to write as her, I had the opportunity to study her writing in depth: her vocabulary and sentence structure, her themes and her methods of drawing a character.  It was really a master class in the “bread and butter” aspects of storytelling, and I think it has affected the stories I choose to tell, and the way I tell them, ever since.

DJR:  Tell us about your story in Stars of Darkover.

RE: The title, SECOND CONTACT, is a play on the phrase “First Contact”, which is usually used to describe the first meeting of human and alien.  But first contacts are easy: it’s figuring out what comes after you learn to say “hello” that’s hard.  The story is set a couple of years after Rediscovery, and features one of my favorite themes: culture clash.  Jenny Lauren is doing her best to help Darkover fit into the Terran Empire: Armsman Zhenyar thinks she’s going about it all wrong.  It wouldn’t be a good story if both sides weren’t completely right, of course!

Rediscovery is my favorite period of Darkovan history, and I think some of MZB’s best tales were set there.  The mix of “sorcerous” Darkovans and blaster-wielding Terrans gives the stories a Leigh Brackett/Fletcher Pratt space opera feel, while Marion’s modern sensibilities kept the material fresh.

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

Most of what I write these days is under a pseudonym that my publisher prefers I do not disclose, but there are two things – one recent, one forthcoming – I can talk about.  I just finished the last book in my four-book YA series SHADOW GRAIL (for Tor Teen).  VICTORIES was a lot of fun to write, both viscerally and technically: the trick to a short series (Shadow Grail was planned and executed as four books) is to change things up with each book: raising the stakes of the overstory while also providing a relatively standalone narrative.  I loved the final raise in VICTORIES, and I hope the readers agree.

 Meanwhile, I’ve just sold Baen a new book set in the Underhill universe, though we’re unlikely to see any of the characters from the BEDLAM’S BARD series.  The new book is called HOME FROM THE SEA, and it’s set in Maine, so it’s probably time for me to give Sharon Lee a call.

Right now I’m in the middle of a long-running series: I’m seven books in, with (potentially) another five to go.  So when that’s done, I’d like to do some things with shorter arcs that don’t require me to memorize the names for every element of 14th century plate armor…

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

RE: I think Darkover is forever.  Like the Cthulhu Mythos (a literary ancestor and very minor influence on Darkover), the canon is sweeping enough to attract dozens of writers to different aspects of it, while the “science fantasy” framework (in its time, the only way writers such as Marion could sneak fantasy or sword and sorcery tropes past the editorial gatekeepers) allows many many many different kinds of stories to be told.  Steampunks of Darkover?  Set it during Rediscovery.  High Fantasy Epic?  Ages of Chaos/Hundred Kingdoms.  No matter what kind of story you can imagine, it can be told beneath the Bloody Sun.

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