Thursday, June 19, 2014

INTERVIEW: Vera Nazarian on Stars of Darkover

STARS 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

Vera Nazarian is a two-time Nebula Award Nominee, award-winning artist, and member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a writer with a penchant for moral fables and stories of intense wonder, true love, and intricacy. She is the author of critically acclaimed novels Dreams Of The Compass Rose and Lords Of Rainbow, as well as the outrageous parodies Mansfield Park And Mummies and Northanger Abbey And Angels And Dragons, and most recently, Pride And Platypus: Mr. Darcy's Dreadful Secret in her humorous and surprisingly romantic Supernatural Jane Austen Series. Her latest work is the epic fantasy Cobweb Bride Trilogy set in an alternate Renaissance. After many years in Los Angeles, Vera lives in a small town in Vermont, and uses her Armenian sense of humor and her Russian sense of suffering to bake conflicted pirozhki and make art.

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

Vera Nazarian: There are no words sufficient to say how much of an impact Marion had on me as a young writer starting out. She bought my first story “Wound on the Moon” for Sword and Sorceress #2 (DAW Books, 1985), and my second and my third, and so on, so she gave me my “pro wings.” But that’s not all—her wonderful advice on storytelling, her supportive rejections—yup, there were tons of rejections, including the very first rejection where she graciously went through a novella with a red pen and gave me, a teenager just starting out, a detailed edit critique free of charge and encouraged me to rewrite and resubmit—all of this helped give me a focus and a direction and an understanding of the writing and editing process. And not only that, I also learned a great deal about shared world writing by writing in the world of Darkover. Basically I would not be the writer that I am now without her. I owe her everything, and am profoundly honored to be one of “Marion’s own writers” as so many of us went on to be.

DJR: What inspired your story in Stars of Darkover?

VN: “Zandru’s Gift” was my way of explaining the red-hot fury and anger that underlies, in some ways, the immense power that is the Alton flavor of laran. It is an origin story, and was a difficult story for me to write, In fact, I wrote a different version of the first draft over twenty years ago for one of the earlier Darkover anthologies. Marion read it, thought it was good, but rejected it because of how brutal some aspects of it were, saying it may be too gruesome for her readers. I am so glad she did, because years later, I rewrote it for Stars of Darkover and changed those things about it, and I think the resulting story is so much better for it. I think she would be pleased with the changes. Thank you, Marion, even now all these years later, for improving my storytelling!

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

VN: Last year I completed and released a huge epic fantasy trilogy Cobweb Bride (consisting Cobweb Bride, Book One, Cobweb Empire, Book Two, Cobweb Forest, Book Three), a romantic and intricate Renaissance fairy tale based on the Persephone and Hades myth, about death’s ultimatum to the world. It has brave knights and brave maidens, glittering palaces, true love, swashbuckling, the undead, ancient gods, and lots of sense of wonder. 

This year, I switch gears to write The Atlantis Grail trilogy, a dystopian science fiction YA in the vein of The Hunger Games and Divergent, about teenagers competing to be rescued from a doomed earth that is about to be destroyed by an asteroid. Book One, Qualify is about to be released this month.

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

VN: The world of Darkover is truly a timeless classic scenario of alien culture clash, of ancient traditions and modern high tech, filled with vibrant unforgettable characters. It is as relevant today as it was decades ago, delving into roles of gender, sexuality, and politics. There is so much story material and characters still to be explored that I don’t see an end to it, just as with any grand fantasy and science fiction milieu. Maybe Darkover could be opened as a shared world via Amazon Kindle Worlds, or it could continue being explored and enriched by Deborah J. Ross’s masterful continuations. Long live Darkover!


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