Monday, March 16, 2015

Jane M. H. Bigelow on "Healing Pain" in GIFTS OF DARKOVER

On a wondrous planet of telepaths and swordsmen, nonhumans and ancient mysteries, a technologically advanced, star-faring civilization comes into inevitable conflict with one that has pursued psychic gifts and turned away from weapons of mass destruction. Darkover offers many gifts, asked for and unexpected. Those who come here, ignorant of what they will find, discover gifts outside themselves and within themselves. The door to magic swings both ways, however, and many a visitor leaves the people he encounters equally transformed. Gifts of Darkover will be released May 5, 2015, and is now available for pre-order.

Jane M. H. Bigelow talks about her story, “Healing Pain.”  

So many different things drew me into the world of Darkover that it’s hard to decide what came first. I think I may have started with The Spell Sword; I know I read it early on, and Andrew Carr’s adventures make  a wonderful introduction to the world. The rich detail of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s world, the fascinating paranormal powers that some people there had, the clash of cultures between Darkovan and Terran societies: I loved it all. I first found the books when I was working at a back-office job in a brokerage, and Darkover had the excitement and big questions that my daily life noticeably lacked. Life’s become more interesting since then, but I’m still hooked on Darkover.
That cultural clash inspired my story. What happens when someone wants the best of both worlds, not just for themselves, but for their people? Taniquel’s father might have lived if the people around him had been able to combine Terran and Darkovan medical knowledge instead of each fearing and discounting the other’s resources. Taniquel also must deal with a question that transcends cultures: How do you rebel effectively against people who genuinely, but mistakenly, believe that they have your best interests at heart? People whom you respect, like, and even love?

I’m currently writing a short story about a young alien attempting to study earth culture in the middle of Denver, where I live. His attention to earth’s art and architecture reveals some surprising details of his own civilization’s history. Leaping several millennia here, I’ve done a short historical fiction piece set in Egypt’s Middle Kingdom just as the Kingdom begins to disintegrate. It’s for a still-untitled anthology created by the Egyptian Study Society; it should be published sometime this summer. There are also a couple of ideas that I thought were short stories but stubbornly refuse to stay within that length.
Speaking of novels, I’m revising a fantasy novel set in an alternate Bronze Age world where magic works, and both deities and donkeys may speak to people if it pleases them to do so. Layla’s a former gem thief turned jeweler. She had meant to leave politics, magic and love behind when she left Tzakende for the great trade city of Issrandar. Both her friends and her enemies have other plans. It’s one thing to fight the machinations of her old enemies the Exemplars of Order. When friends need help, Layla finds she can’t turn them down. An earlier book set in the Thilassthian Empire, Talisman, came out through Pronghorn Press. It’s currently available through Smashwords.
There are certainly other Darkover stories that I’d like to write. They’re still more concepts than stories, but here are a couple.

I’ve always wondered why no one skis there. Wouldn’t cross-country skis be a useful way to travel the less mountainous areas, especially if you wanted to go quietly for your own private reasons?
Another idea begins when a Terran woman working at the spaceport attends a cross-cultural event in Thendara. She politely assures one of the few Comyn ladies present that the Terran’s mother does perfectly well without her, as the mother has nine other children to raise, and the eldest are old enough to be of help. How does the Comynara react? Is this a comedy or a drama, I wonder?

Jane M. H. Bigelow had her first professional publication in Free Amazons of Darkover. She has always been interested in history and in fantasy; Darkover fit her interests so perfectly that she no longer remembers just when she started reading about it. She says it’s wonderful to play in Marion’s sandbox again. Jane has published a fantasy novel, Talisman, as well as short stories and short nonfiction on such topics as gardening in Ancient Egypt.

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