SOL Rising

Number 11, November 1994

Interview With A Vampire Author: Toronto’s Tanya Huff
1994 Aurora Awards
Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy in 1993
Setting A Course For The Future: The Friends and TPL Board Meet
Editorial Comment
An Interview with Glen Cook (Part I)
An Interview with Josepha Sherman

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Interview With A Vampire Author: Toronto’s Tanya Huff

by Mici Gold


I interviewed Tanya Huff twice for this article. Once in person just before she spoke to fans at the Merril Collection (November 1993); the second time over the phone two weeks later because the tape recorder failed to record the first time. Fortunately, the second interview was even better.


MG: A few things have changed for you since you last "appeared" in SOL RISING: you're not living in Toronto any more. Do you now have that "quiet cottage" you talked about in the last article?


TH: What I have now is a three-bedroom bungalow and 75 acres of land. It's quiet, not exactly a cottage. But I am living out in the country like I planned and I am managing to write full time.


MG: And do you find it's a lot different writing where you are now as opposed to Toronto?


TH: It's a heck of a lot quieter, that's one thing. I'm not being interrupted by Korean disco music at two o'clock in the morning like I used to be in the old apartment. There are a lot less distractions, a lot less excuses I can make for not writing. I can't just wander down to the store, given that the store is seven kilometers away. I have a lot more time to think about things, to develop characters. And in spite of the fact that I said once I started writing full time I wouldn't do what a lot of other writers I know have done and suddenly start writing longer books, I found that my latest book has been exactly two hundred manuscript pages longer than my next longest.


MG: This is Blood Pact?


TH: No, God, no. This is Sing the Four Quarters. And remember, I'm two books ahead of the latest book that's out there now… It's hard for me to remember that when I say "my latest book," I'm referring to the one I'm writing, but the people I'm talking to usually think I'm referring to the one that just came out.


MG: Do you find it very different now, not being in Bakka?


TH: Well, sometimes I miss the stimulus. Sometimes I get a little cabin fever, you know, days when I won't talk to anyone but Fiona and the cat, and Uncle Albert. But, I don't miss the distraction from the writing because there were, on the other hand, days when you would come home from work at Bakka and you had just spent the whole day talking science fiction and fantasy and the last thing you wanted to do in the evening was do it some more. But I miss the input, I miss knowing what's happening in the field. That was the great thing about Bakka, you knew everything. You knew what was coming out. You heard all the industry gossip. I mean, I don't have a clue of what's come out in the last twenty months because we don't have a book store here!


MG: The last book in the "Blood" series, is just coming out now (Blood Pact, December '93).


TH: This is the book I've been aiming for, right from the beginning. A lot of people seem to think it would be an open-ended series, with Vickie and Henry and Mike just encountering one supernatural foe after another. But I have always been aiming for an end. There was a small chance it might have been five books, if I could have figured out a way to work in a creature from the Rideau canal. So, they would have all trekked up to Ottawa and save the Parliament buildings from something that developed out of toxic waste, but it was just a little too hokey to work with. So, this is the fourth and last book in the series.


MG: Absolutely last?


TH: Well, it's the last book in this series. I may take the characters and begin a new series or write another single book about them. But this particular series is ended, closed, finito, done.


MG: A lot of us have wondered where you actually got your inspiration for this series in the first place. Because it is different from the fantasy you had written before.


TH: Well, while working in Bakka, I noticed that there were people who bought every single vampire book that ever came out. I mean, they didn't care who wrote it or what it was about. If there was a vampire in it, they wanted it. Vampire fans are extremely loyal to their chosen genre. And I thought to myself, "There's a market here!" And I was trying to save up money for a down payment. So I wrote a vampire book. Now, I originally started out to write a horror novel. But the first chapter written as a horror novel was just awful. And Fiona read it and said, this is really terrible. And so I rewrote it, and so instead of writing a horror novel, I wrote a Tanya Huff novel, and it worked a lot better.


MG: What's the difference between a horror novel and a Tanya Huff novel?


TH: I don't really write horror; I don't use the standard horror cliches. I think book four in this series is as close to horror as they come, but that's mostly because I'm dealing with my own feelings and fears about death. But just as there are certain specific things you do in any genre novel—I mean, there are certain things the reader has every right to expect when they pick up a high fantasy, say, or a contemporary fantasy—there are certain things that they also expect when they pick up a horror novel, and I can't do them. It's very difficult to define just exactly what they are, but if you pick up a novel, you can say, yes, this is a horror novel. It's that something that defines what goes on the spine of the book. And my books just don't get that horror label.


MG: Do you think there's something somewhat more gentle in yours?


TH: It's possible that's what the difference is… What my books have is not so much of a gentle quality but a hopeful quality. In my books, the bad guys will never win. And I will never do that jerking around with emotions where somebody who could be saved, isn't. There was a Daredevil comic, way back in the early eighties, done by Frank Miller, where the subplot was this kid's dog had been stolen, and they find it at the SPCA (it's an American comic, so it wouldn't have been the Humane Society), but at the very end of the comic, they arrive too late to rescue the dog and the dog is put to sleep, killed. And the only reason they did that was, well, life is like that sometimes. Sometimes life is "shitty." Well, yes, sure, sometimes it is, but more times than that, life is wonderful, and I don't think there's any particular reason why you can't look at the good things instead of the bad things. It's like the rappers who defend their lyrics by saying, "I just write what I see, man, I look on the streets and this is what I see." Yeah, well, why don't you see the other things? Why don't you see the good things? Why don't you see the single mother who's fighting to make a life for her kid? Or why don't you see the teenagers who get together and clean up the school yard, or something like that? Why do you have to see the bad stuff? And, I just think the more of us who see the good stuff and who pass it on, the better.


MG: Some of us have wondered why you had retinitis pigmentosa as the particular challenge that Detective Nelson is working with?


TH: I needed a disease, I needed a condition for Vickie that would mean she had to leave the force. It was plot driven that she needed this condition. She had to be forced away from the police but she still had to be functional. So I was researching, trying to find something that would do this, and I saw a television program about these bikers—motorcycle gangs—for whom this has become their charity of choice. Every year they do this big fair, with all these grizzled, leather-wearing tattooed bikers who are working for charity, and what they're working for is retinitis pigmentosa, this is what all the money that's raised goes towards. And I thought, yeah, I can use that. And I talked to my optometrist about it, and he actually spelled it out for me and told me a bit about it and suggested a book I could look it up in. I looked it up and found I could use it. But it was all because of this little TVO or PBS program about these bikers who do this retinitis pigmentosa charity work.


MG: You were also telling me before about all the other times that you've needed to know something and you've just been able to phone people up and they've been so helpful.


TH: People are extraordinarily helpful if you ask them about something they do or something they're interested in; of course they want to tell you. I mean, I have phoned various police departments and asked them the most ridiculous questions and they have always been incredibly helpful… if somewhat confused on occasion, but incredibly helpful… Once you explain why you want to know this, they really get right into it… For my third book, Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light, I needed a picture of a police car to send down to the artist for the cover of the book, and I could not find one anywhere. And I went down to police headquarters and I had one poor police cadet practically tearing the place apart just to find me a picture. And what I ended up doing was going out and taking a photograph. In fact, I took an entire roll of photographs and sent that down… I phoned the London detachment of the OPP and asked them to describe the outside of their building, and they were really helpful about it. In fact, I once called a nun, and told her I was writing a story about a vampire in a graveyard at midnight and I needed the liturgical Latin for "Christ is risen"; and she kind of laughed and then she moved the phone away a little and she said `Father, I think this one's for you!'"


MG: I think at this point, it's a good time to ask about your new projects and what you're working on and when we can look forward to seeing them.


TH: Well, the next one coming is scheduled for December '94, but I have a short story before that. I have a short story ("This Town Ain't Big Enough") which is a direct sequel to Blood Pact coming up in an anthology sometime this winter. Now I think the anthology's called Vampire Detectives (edited by Martin Greenberg), but I'm not positive; that's what it was called when I signed the contract, but that could have easily been changed. My next book out is called Sing the Four Quarters, and it's a heroic fantasy, and I suppose if it had to be compared to any of my earlier stuff, it's the most like Firestone of any of them. It can stand completely well on its own, but it's also the first book in a very loosely tied-together trilogy; mostly, it's a book one and then one and two, a duology set in the same myth of, which I contracted and I'm working on the first book of those right now.


MG: And that's called The Fifth Quarter?


TH: The Fifth Quarter and No Quarter, but those are working titles and those could easily change. In fact, I think the contracted title was Five Quarters for the first one. But it has, since I signed the contract two short months ago, been changed to Fifth Quarter. God knows what it's going to end up being called. I kind of like Fifth Quarter. And I have just sold the short story that I read at the Spaced Out Library, "The Harder They Fall," to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine… And Warner Books is doing The Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, which will include the Magdalene story, "Be It Ever So Humble."


MG: And when will that appear?


TH: Last spring or early summer ('94) as far as I know, but they don't give the authors involved a whole lot of information. If Marion had to sit down and tell everyone what was happening, she wouldn't have any time to do the editing.


MG: I asked last time whether you saw yourself staying with fantasy and the supernatural or whether you had ideas of ever branching into either science fiction or main stream fiction.


TH: Well, the problem with me writing science fiction is, well, it's two-fold, actually, it's one: science is changing so fast right now, that it would be very difficult to find a cutting edge to stay on the top of. The other problem is my science background is actually biology/botany… I even studied forestry for a while, actually… The stuff I can actually understand are mostly the soft sciences. Physics and math will lose me completely. Although I have to remember that, after reading The Proteus Operation by J. P. Hogan, I almost thought I understood quantum mathematics! So, I doubt I will ever write anything that could possibly be called hard science fiction. There are a couple of ideas I have for space opera that I would love to do, and I would dearly love to do either a Star Trek novel or a Deep Space Nine novel… I've pitched two ideas, they both got dumped, which is actually not a real problem, because I can use one of the ideas. I can adapt it for something that isn't in the Star Trek universe, which is actually probably why it got dumped, because it wasn't enough Star Trek exclusive. And I'll just keep pitching ideas as I get them and maybe someday I'll do one. I just love the shows…


MG: I have a question about your presentation of the vampire, Henry Fitzroy. He's almost sort of sanitized, a little bit "safe", but he's still a vampire, with all the supernatural strengths and everything. Can you tell me how you came up with his particular character?


TH: I don't see any reason why you can't have vampires who are "sweeties"; it stands to reason that if you can have vampires who are homicidal maniacs, you should be able to have the other side of the coin. And Henry's just this nice guy who happens to be a vampire. Umm, much of the characters are plot driven. I mean, they act the way the plot demands they act. Conversely, the plot occasionally goes in directions the characters demand the plot go, so... writing conundrums, you know… I always get to where I'm going, but the way I get there sometimes surprises me.


MG: You have a lot of different kinds of love relationships in your books, from regular hetero-sexual attraction to the three-way triangle between Vickie and the detective and the vampire, and then in Firestone, there's a very tender moment between the two men at the end.


TH: I think that it's the love that's important. And I think it's very important—to me, anyway—that love be present. I don't think the plumbing matters a whole lot.


MG: I think also, whether you're talking fantasy or detective-supernatural stuff, it's somewhat unusual to see anything other than the standard he-man and willing maiden scenario.


TH: Oh well, I don't read that, so I'm not going to write it! The whole point of writing fantasy is that you're not stuck in those tight little "real world" parameters. So you have the opportunity, or even perhaps the obligation, to explore, to present things in other ways, to do allegories that may help other people accept things differently, to put a different slant on things. I think if you keep telling people good things over and over and over, eventually, they've got to sink in… People learn by example. And the examples they get… the examples that, as a writer, I put out, are important; they're examples that say, you can be a he-man, greatest swordsman in the land, alcoholic prince, and still love another man, and have a tender moment with him. I think that's important. I think breaking stereotypes is very important. I think we each have a responsibility to leave the world a better place. And this is how I try to do it.

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1994 Aurora Awards

Winnipeg, September 3, 1994


(At the Winnipeg Centennial Library and at Conadian)


Presented by Robert Runte:

Fan Achievement (Fanzine): Under the Ozone Hole, Karl Johanson and John Herbert

Fan Achievement (Organizational): Lloyd Penney (Ad Astra)

Fan Achievement (Other): Jean-Louis Trudel, promotion of Canadian SF


Presented by George Barr:

Artistic Achievement: Robert Pasternak, illustrations in ON SPEC, Aboriginal SF, and Amazing Stories


Presented by Annette Saint-Pierre:

Best Other Work in French: Les 42,210 Univers de la Science-Fiction, by Guy Bouchard (Le Passeur) [accepted by Joel ChampetierJ


Presented by Judith Merril:

Best Other Work in English: Prisoners of Gravity (TVOntario) [accepted by Robert J. Sawyer]


Presented by Col. Marc Garneau:

Best Short Form Work in French: "La merveilleuse machine de Johann Havel", by Yves Meynard (Solaris 107)

Best Short Form Work in English: "Just Like Old Times", by Robert Sawyer (ON SPEC, Summer 1993)


Presented by Élisabeth Vonarburg:

Best Long Form Work in French: Chronoreg, by Daniel Sernine (Quebec/Amerique) [accepted by Yves Meynard]


Presented by Spider and Jeanne Robinson:

Best Short Form Work in English: Nobody's Son, by Sean Stewart (Maxwell MacMillan)

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Canadian Science Fiction And Fantasy In 1993

The following is a listing of the science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction works published by Canadians in 1993, according to first the date of initial printing and then copyright. This list is derived primarily from the nomination list for the 1994 Aurora Awards, as compiled by Dennis Mullin and Ruth Stuart, with the assistance of Claude Janelle, editor of L'Annee de la Science-Fiction et du Fantastique quebecois, and its staff; of Lorna Toolis and the staff at the Merril Collection; and also of Peter Halasz, Lloyd Penney, and Jean-Louis Trudel


We welcome any additions or corrections. We invite all authors, publishers, and other knowledgeable individuals to keep us informed of works in the SF field by all Canadians so that we may publish as complete and comprehensive a list as possible each year.


Books in English


  • The Night Inside: A Vampire Thriller, Nancy Baker (Penguin)
  • The Prism Moon, Martine Bates (Red Deer College Press)
  • Bread of the Birds, Andre Carpentier (Ekstasis Editions) [collection]
  • Dreams Underfoot, Charles de Lint (Tor) [collection]
  • Into the Green, Charles de Lint (Tor)
  • The Stricken Field, Dave Duncan (Del Rey)
  • Upland Outlaws, Dave Duncan (Del Rey)
  • The Broken Sphere, Nigel D. Findley (TSR Inc.)
  • Seed of Darkness, Nigel D. Findley (Mayfair Games)
  • Shadowplay, Nigel D. Findley (Penguin/ROC)
  • Headhunter, Timothy Findley (HarperCollins)
  • Deadly Vengeance, Stephen R. George (Zebra)
  • Virtual Light, William Gibson (Seal)
  • Blood Lines, Tanya Huff (DAW)
  • Blood Pact, Tanya Huff (DAW)
  • The Darker Passions: Dracula, Nancy Kilpatrick (Masquerade Books)
  • Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King (HarperCollins)
  • One Good Story, That One, Thomas King (HarperCollins) [collection]
  • The Darker Passions: Dracula, under the name of Amarantha Knight (Masquerade Books) [see: Kilpatrick]
  • The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon, W. 0. Mitchell (McClelland & Stewart)
  • The Flight of the Stoneman's Son, Terence Munsey (Munsey Music)
  • The Holder of the World, Bharati Mukherjee (HarperCollins)
  • Alien Nation: The Day of Descent, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Pocket Books)
  • The Callahan Touch, Spider Robinson (Ace)
  • Lady of Mercy, Michelle Sagara (Del Rey)
  • Fossil Hunter, Robert J. Sawyer (Ace)
  • WW III: Asian Front, Ian Slater (Fawcett)
  • Nobody's Son, Sean Stewart (Maxwell MacMillan)
  • Prince of Sparta, S.M. Stirling & D.Drake (Baen)
  • The Steel, S.M. Stirling & D.Drake (Baen)
  • The Initiation of P.B. 500, under the name of Kyle Stone (Masquerade Books) see: Soles
  • The Initiation of P.B. 500, Caro Soles (Masquerade Books)
  • The Nine Gods of Safaddné, Antony Swithin (Fontana)
  • The Baie Comeau Angel and Other Stories, Wilfred Watson (NeWest) [collection]
  • The Singing Sword, Jack Whyte (Viking)
  • Harvest, Robert Charles Wilson (Bantam Spectra)


Note: The "TekWar" novel by William Shatner have been excluded as having been mostly written by a non-Canadian, Ron Goulart, but could be added to the list since they are not entirely devoid of Canadian content.


Additions: For 1990, add: WW III, Ian Slater (Fawcett). For 1991, add: WW III: Rage of Battle, Ian Slater (Fawcett), and WW III: World in Flames, Ian Slater (Fawcett). For 1992, add: Out of Nippon, Nigel D. Findley (West End Games), 2XS, Nigel D. Findley (Penguin/ROC), WW III: Arctic Front, Ian Slater (Fawcett), and WW III: Warshot, Ian Slater (Fawcett).


Short Fiction in English


  • "Heart in a Box", Lynne Armstrong-Jones (Sword & Sorceress X, DAW)
  • "Love of the Banshee", Lynne Armstrong-Jones (Towers of Darkover, DAW)
  • "Changeling Child", Alison Baird (ON SPEC V. 5#2)
  • "The Dragon Door", Alison Baird (ON SPEC V. 5#3)
  • "The Marilyn Machine", Bruce Barber (ON SPEC V. 5#2)
  • "Distant Seas", Robert Boyczuk (ON SPEC V. 5#3)
  • "Falling", Robert Boyczuk (ON SPEC V. 5#1)
  • "Jazz Fantasia", Robert Boyczuk (ON SPEC V. 5#4)
  • "Also Starring", Cliff Burns (Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, St Martin's Press)
  • "RSVP", Cliff Burns (The Silver Web #10)
  • "Place of Meeting", Cliff Burns (Air Fish, Cat's Eye Press)
  • "Shipwrecked on the Isle of Lost Souls", Cliff Burns (Canadian Fiction Magazine, Nov.)
  • "The Cycle of Life", Cliff Burns (Not One of Us, #11)
  • "Something in the Air Tonight", Cliff Burns (The Stake, #3)
  • "Michael in the Forest", Bruce Byfield (ON SPEC V. 5#3)
  • "Die, LoreLei", Michael Coney (F&SF, May)
  • "Sophie's Spyglass", Michael Coney (F&SF, Feb.)
  • "The Bone Woman", Charles de Lint (F&SF, Aug.)
  • "Paperjack", Charles de Lint (F&SF, July)
  • "Cars Swing", Cory Doctorow (Air Fish, Cat's Eye Press)
  • "A Four Letter Word", Ivan Dorin (ON SPEC V. 5#4)
  • "Family Harmony", M.A.C. Farrant (ON SPEC V. 5#4)
  • "Fish", M.A.C. Farrant (ON SPEC V. 5#1)
  • "Motherlove", Leslie Gadallah (ON SPEC V. 5#3)
  • "D'awn Thinks", Preston Hapon (ON SPEC V. 5#3)
  • "The Dictates", Vaughn Heppner (Writers of the Future: IX, Bridge Pub.)
  • "Distant Seas", incorrectly credited to Wesley Herbert (ON SPEC V. 5#3) [see: Boyczuk]
  • "The Boomerang", Michael Hetherington (ON SPEC V. 5#1)
  • "The Intercourse Interface", Evan Hollander (Technosex, Circlet Press)
  • "First Love, Last Love", Tanya Huff (MZB's Fantasy, #21)
  • "Nothing Up Her Sleeve", Tanya Huff (Amazing Stories, Feb.)
  • "Birth Rite", Marian L. Hughes (ON SPEC V. 5#2)
  • "Godeaters", Jason Kapalka (ON SPEC V. 5#1)
  • "The Power of Faith", Jason Kapalka (ON SPEC V. 5#3)
  • "The True and Sad Story of Lena the Scream-Cleaner", Jason Kapalka (ON SPEC V. 5#2)
  • "Dead Shot", Nancy Kilpatrick (Prisoners of the Night, #7)
  • "I Am No Longer", Nancy Kilpatrick (Deathport, Pocket Books)
  • "Memories of el Dia de los Muertos", Nancy Kilpatrick (Dead of Night, #8)
  • "Mother Mountain Waits", Nancy Kilpatrick (Crossroads, #8)
  • "The Power of One", Nancy Kilpatrick (Sinistre, Mar.)
  • "Sustenance", Nancy Kilpatrick (After Hours, #18)
  • "Truth", Nancy Kilpatrick (Deathrealm, #20)
  • "Virtual Unreality", Nancy Kilpatrick (Crossroads, #7)
  • "Whitelight", Nancy Kilpatrick (Bizarre Bazaar 99, Tal Publications, Mar.)
  • "Virginia's Next Christmas", A.R. King (ON SPEC V. 5#4)
  • "Snatched", Dan Knight (ON SPEC V. 5#3)
  • "Mexican Fiesta", Nicholas de Kruyff (ON SPEC V. 5#2)
  • "A Vision of Matta", Lydia Langstaff (Testament of Lael, Maggie Cooper Small Press)
  • "Walk to Bryten", Sally McBride (Matrix)
  • "Sommelier", Catherine MacLeod (ON SPEC V. 5#4)
  • "Body Solar", Derryl Murphy (ON SPEC V. 5#4)
  • "Home", Luke O'Grady (ON SPEC V. 5#4)
  • "Andor's Whale", John Park (Tomorrow Speculative Fiction, Oct.)
  • "The Immediate Family", Spider Robinson (Analog, Jan.)
  • "The End of the Painbow", Spider Robinson (Analog, July)
  • "Just Like Old Times", Robert J. Sawyer (ON SPEC V. 5#2)
  • "A Swim in the Rocks", Keith Scott (ON SPEC V. 5#3)
  • "Three Moral Tales", D.L. Schaeffer (ON SPEC V. 5#1)
  • "Anna's Last Letter", John Skaife (ON SPEC V. 5#1)
  • "Los Muertos", Lisa Smedman (Writers of the Future: IX, Bridge Pub.)
  • "Three Happy Families", Heather Spears (Books in Canada, Mar.)
  • "The Triage Conference", Hugh A.D. Spencer (ON SPEC V. 5#2)
  • "Kissing Hitler", Erik Jon Spigel (ON SPEC V. 5#1)
  • "Child of the Bomb", T. Robert Szekely (ON SPEC V. 5#4)
  • "Deathbed", Edo van Belkom (Atsatrohn, V. 3#1.5)
  • "Induction Center", Edo van Belkom (Haunts, #26)
  • "Megzilladon, Two Thumbs Down", Edo van Belkom (Alternate Hilarities, #4)
  • "Scars of Distinction", Edo van Belkom (Alternate Hilarities, #1)
  • "Seasons Meeting", Edo van Belkom (Midnight Zoo, V. 2#6)
  • "S.P.S.", Edo van Belkom (Tails of Wonder, #1)
  • "Teeth", Edo van Belkom (Aberations, #13)
  • "Underground", Edo van Belkom (The Vampire's Crypt, Spring)
  • "The Wait", Edo van Belkom (Atsatrohn, V. 3#3)
  • "War Cry", Edo van Belkom (Deathport, Pocket Books)
  • "Chambered Nautilus", Élisabeth Vonarburg (Amazing Stories, Winter)
  • "The Knot", Élisabeth Vonarburg (Amazing Stories, Mar.)
  • "In Dreams", Andrew Weiner (Asimov's SF, Dec.)
  • "Penis Envy", Lyle Weis (ON SPEC V. 5#1)
  • "Angeldrome", Bill Wren (ON SPEC V. 5#2)


Books in French


  • La Grotte de Toubouctom, Michel Belil (Quebec/Amerique) [collection]
  • Rodolphe Stiboustine, Jacques Benoit (Boreal,)
  • Visa pour le réel, Bertrand Bergeron (XYZ Editeur)
  • Esprit, es-tu ?, Paule Briere (Boreal)
  • Arrete de faire le clown, Yvon Brochu (Quebec/Amerique)
  • L'Oiseau de feu (2-B), Jacques Brossard (Lemeac)
  • Matusalem, Roger Cantin (Boreal)
  • Le Jour-de-Trop, Joël Champetier (Paulines)
  • Le Voyage de la Sylvanelle, Joël Champetier (Paulines)
  • Les Mirages du vide, Bernard Chapleau (Boreal)
  • Je viens du futur, Denis Côté (Pierre Tisseyre) [collection]
  • La Licorne des neiges, Claude D'Astous (Pierre Tisseyre)
  • L'Incroyable Destinée, Marie Decary (La courte echelle)
  • Le Zoo hanté, Jacques Foucher (Heritage)
  • La Porte, Marc Godard (Guy Saint-Jean ed.)
  • Destinées, Jean-Pierre Guillet (Heritage) [collection]
  • Les Mésaventures d'un magicien, Sylvie Högue et Gisèle Internoscia (Héritage)
  • La Vie qui penche, Louis Jacob (L'Hexagone)
  • Le Retour du loup-garou, Suzanne Julien (Pierre Tisseyre)
  • Le Comédon, François Landry (Triptyque)
  • Monsieur n'importe qui, Jacques Lazure (Quebec/Amerique) [collection]
  • Maléfices, Bernard-Eric Malouin (Odette) [collection]
  • Les Mots du silence, Johanne Massé (Paulines)
  • Copie Carbone, Charles Montpetit (Quebec/Amerique)
  • L'Emprise de la nuit, Stanley Péan (La courte echelle)
  • La Bizarre aventure, Francine Pelletier, (Paulines)
  • La Planète du mensonge, Francine Pelletier (Paulines)
  • La Couleur nouvelle, Daniel Sernine (Quebec/Amerique) [collection]
  • Les Portes mystérieuses, Daniel Sernine (Héritage) [collection]
  • Le Secret le mieux gardé, Jean-Frangois Somain (Pierre Tisseyre)
  • La Fiancée d'Archi, Florent Veilleux (Quebec/Amerique) [collection]
  • Les Contes de la Chatte rouge, Élisabeth Vonarburg (Quebec/Amerique)


Short Fiction in French


  • «Un ange sur la commode», Denis Alie (Ébauches 9)
  • «Homme dans la grange», Natasha Beaulieu (Stop 129)
  • «L'Exhibitionniste, le voyeur-souffleur et la poupée gonflable», Jacques Bélanger (Moebius 56)
  • «Foetalité», Sylvie Bérard (imagine... 64)
  • «Le Complexe d'Orphée», Evelyne Bernard (imagine.. 62)
  • «Le Huitième registre», Alain Bergeron (Solaris 107)
  • «Si la vie vous intéresse», Guy Bouchard (imagine... 64)
  • «L'Éclosion», Lise Bourassa (imagine... 62)
  • «Dieu, un, zéro», Joël Champetier (L'Année de la Science-fiction et du fantastique québécois 1990, Le Passeur)
  • «Les Mirages du vide», Bernard Chapleau (Boreal)
  • «L'Impressionnisme>, Pierre Chatillon (Écrits du Canada français 77)
  • «Le Lancement», Pierre Chatillon (É'crits du Canada français 77)
  • «Colères!», Diane-Monique Daviau (XYZ 43)
  • «La Cage>, Geneviève De Celles (Stop 130)
  • «Babel Airport», Adrien Delage (Solaris 104)
  • «Le Monde est un parc la folie est le dernier plaisir», Guillaume Demers (Solaris 106)
  • «Genèse», Paul Desroches (Liberte 206)
  • «Nous vivons une époque formidable», Joseph Jean Rolland Dubé (XYZ 35)
  • «Shubert D210», Michel Dufour (XYZ 35)
  • «L'étrangleur>, Benoît Dutrizac (Stop 129)
  • «Le Dieu bleu, Bertrand Lachance (Moebius 56)
  • «Chacun son crédo», Gaston Lacroix (Lumière d'encre, Vol. 9, #4)
  • «Le Point Cassère», Michel Lamontagne (L'Année de la Science-fiction et du fantastique québécois 1990, Le Passeur)
  • «Ceux qui viennent d'en bas», Stéphane Langlois (Solares 106)
  • «La Mission», Denis Marcotte (imagine... 62)
  • «Sans arrêt», Jean-Pierre Mercé (Stop 128)
  • «La Merveilleuse machine de Johann Havel», Yves Meynard (Solaris 107)
  • «Le Sang et l'oiseau», Yves Meynard (Solaris 105)
  • «Retour», Natacha Monnier (XYZ 35)
  • «La Débâcle du Vendredi Saint», Jean Morisset (Moebzus 56)
  • «L'Antre des égarés», Salvator Saso (XYZ 33)
  • «Un émoi au palais», Michel Saucier (Moebius 56)
  • «Pas de paradis... sans l'enfer (I)», Danielle Tremblay (imagine... 64)
  • «Les Ponts du temps», Jean-Louis Trudel (Solaris 107)
  • «Un papillon à Mashak», Jean-Louis Trude1 (Solaris 105)
  • “Un appât exceptionnel», Lorraine Vincent (Lumière d'encre, Vol. 9, #2)
  • «Un bruit de pluie», Élisabeth Vonarburg (L'Année de la Science‑fiction et du fantastique québécois 1990, Le Passeur)

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Setting a Course for the Future: The Friends and TPL Board meet

by David P. Nickle


Representatives of the Friends of The Merril Collection met Monday, Sept. 19 with members of a working group of the Toronto Public Library (TPL) Board to iron out issues ranging from the roles of Friends organizations within the TPL system to the future of the Merril Collection in the new building and staffing.


At this meeting, the Friends delegation presented a position paper that outlined the Friends' concerns and responses to two TPL documents: "Overview of Roles for Toronto Public Library Boards and Friends" and "Special Collections — Priorities for 1994-97."


In that paper, the Friends established that the organization would best operate as a primarily advisory body to the Toronto Public Library Board.


In TPL's "Overview..." document, it had been suggested that Friends organizations operate solely as fund-raising bodies, and would not have a role in advising the board or lobbying other levels of government.


As well, the Friends set out a vision of the Merril Collection that sees the Toronto Public Library maintaining the collection as a public research facility with a vigorous acquisitions policy.


Members of the TPL working group—which was established specifically to deal with Merril Collection concerns—also assured Friends representatives that recommendations in the Special Collections report won't be considered before Christmas 1994, and agreed to consult more closely with Friends in the future.


The Special Collections recommendations were of particular concern to the Friends.


If the report, penned in early 1994, were implemented, access to the material in the collection could be curtailed by a combination of budget cuts, staff reductions, cuts in hours of operations and user fees.


In particular, the library would lose one full-time staff member, cataloguing would be centralized and out of library staff hands, and a $50 user fee for users living outside the City of Toronto would be imposed. [Whatever happens, Friends of the Merril Collection are exempted from this fee for the time being. ‑ Editor's Note]


The collection has operated under the auspices of the Toronto Public Library board since it was established with a donation by writer Judith Merril in 1970. During that time, the collection has hosted readings and symposia for such authors as Samuel Delany, Frederick Pohl and Orson Scott Card; served as an information resource for TVOntario's "Prisoners of Gravity;" and helped establish an upcoming exhibition on Canadian science fiction with the National Library of Canada. The collection is slated to move to a new, larger building next year.

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Editorial Comment

by Jean-Louis Trudel


For years now, since the first definite plans for a new building in 1981, we have been looking forward to the time when the Merril Collection would be housed in a way befitting the size, scope, and importance of its holdings. During the good years, when the Toronto Public Library as a whole was growing, the staffing and the facilities of the Merril Collection did not benefit commensurately, since we were all looking forward to the new building where the Merril Collection would finally have all its holdings in one place and its own facility for hosting special events.


However, doubts have now been raised that this dream will truly be fulfilled. Cutbacks in staff and services, and shifting of responsibilities have been contemplated that we feel would be highly detrimental to the future health of the Merril Collection. Holdings and facilities may wind up being dispersed in the new building, so that the situation will, at best, be no better than it is now. Discussions have begun to seek ways to ensure that our concerns are met. Future developments will be reported in this newsletter, as they happen.

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An Interview with Glen Cook (Part I)

Glen Cook was in Toronto on April 10, 1994, to read from his latest 'Garrett, P.I.' book and from "Glittering Stone," a work in progress. Afterwards he gave Sol Rising a 30 minute interview, Part I of which appears below. Part II will appear in our next issue.


MG: The first thing I'd like to talk about, because I thought it was amazing, is how you wrote so many of your books on the assembly line. A lot of your readers know that you worked for General Motors for a long time. And the fact that you wrote books at the same time—and so many—is just mind-boggling. Not just one or two, but three or four came out one year.


GC: In fact, I had three come out in one month one time. But it was just luck of the draw, the way it happened.


MG: How did you actually do that?


GC: The particular job that I had was tightening down the nuts that held the wheels on the pick-up trucks on one side, and it didn't take any thinking. We just glanced up to see what kind of truck was coming and load the proper gun with the appropriate nuts and when it got there, it was zip! zip! It was fairly physical because the machines that you use to put them on are real heavy and they're on a balance, but they still weigh a couple hundred pounds, and you have to start 'em and move 'em up to the truck and pull it back when it's done and lift it back up. So there's a lot of momentum to be overcome and to manage and nobody wanted to do the job. And I could do the job. After I learned how to it, I could do the job and have plenty of time left over to do something else, so I would take a regular notebook in there and just write a few words at a time. And every day I would come home with three or four pages of stuff done. And usually it was in good enough shape that it didn't really need any revision, or very little. And I was trying out a lot of stuff when I was doing that. That was only for a few years. When that plant closed down, 'cause they moved production elsewhere, I had to go to a farther away plant; it just ended up taking up all my time driving to and fro and not being able to do anything inside. So for four years, I didn't produce much of anything.


MG: This is recent?


GC: I guess it was May of 1988—maybe it was more than four years. I've only had two books come out since I been out there… One was Deadly Quicksilver Lies, which just came out last month (March 1994] and Red Iron Nights, which came out in 1991, I think.


MG: Your next one in that series is Petty Pewter Gods. Are there plans for one called Blooded Steel Heat?


GC: Yeah. I think that's the working title for the one I'll do after this.


MG: All that explains why it's been such a long time...


GC: And also, my kids have been at that age when they require more attention. Years ago, my oldest—who's now thirteen—was a baby, and I'd just put him under the table where I worked and he'd be happy to just roll around and crawl around there and play with his rattles and whatnot. And now I've got three of them, the oldest is thirteen and he plays basketball and does this and that, and he's got to be taken there and he's got to be brought home and you got to go watch the games to be a good parent… I do that because my parents never came and saw anything that we did when we were kids. They cared, but they didn't get involved with it. And I always kinda resented that, so I try to go the opposite way with my kids.


MG: Were you much into sports, when you were a kid?


GC: Ah, I played some sports in high school. I played some football and track, rifle team, in high school. Our high school rifle team were state champions four years running. Never lost a match.


MG: So, when you talk about weapons, you have a pretty good idea of what you're talking about.


GC: Well, it's weapons of the past now. Up to the time when I got out of the service, I knew a little bit about it. I never kept up with it. The technology of today is financially run. I'm sometimes amazed at some of the devices of destruction that are available.


MG: So you were actually in the military for a while, too.


GC: I was in the navy, the U.S. Navy.


MG: Was that back in the Viet Nam years?


GC: Ah, from '62 to '71, something like that. Most of it was reserve time. I didn't actually go over to Viet Nam. I went from active service into the reserves just as the group of people I was with were getting ready. I got out about two months before they went over in '65. So I avoided the really nasty stuff. I volunteered a couple of times later on to go back on active duty and go run the river gun boats, but they figured, if this guy's willing to volunteer, we don't want him! (Laughs) I'm just as glad that it didn't work out.


MG: Between you and your friends, it gave you a good feeling for the common soldier, that really comes across in your work, especially in the Black Company.


GC: Yeah, I think so. Lot of those guys in the Black Company, at least in the beginning, were guys I was in the service with anyway.


MG: I was wondering. I had a feeling that they could have been corporals or sergeants you had known in your life.


GC: Oh yeah. They're usually based upon people. I can't even remember the character's names in the books, but there's a nasty armoury sergeant that seems to creep into every one of my military type books because he was so cool! For a guy who spent his whole life training to kill people, he went home and had a flower garden. His hobby was gardening ....


MG: Is the "Garrett" series going to continue indefinitely?


GC: Well, we're starting to run out of the obvious metals that would be in a culture at that level of technology. It's kind of hard to make good rhythmic titles out of things like molybdenum and technetium. (Laughs) I don't know how long it'll go on. It's commercially the most successful stuff I've done. So, I'm sure some publisher will keep going as long as I keep writing. As long as I keep interested in it. I always think, well, I'll get this done and there won't be any more ideas and it'll be over. But right now, I'm working on one and already have enough ideas for another one… That'll make nine and we'll see. I'm sure something else could come up after that. I keep having fleeting notions of this and that... And it's not something that I'm having to look for, for ideas. I've never had that problem, shortage of ideas...


MG: Where do you keep your ideas when you're not writing them? Do you write it down? Keep it in your head...?


GC: Mostly just keep it in my head. And then a lot of them go away. I come up with wonderful ideas and I don't make any notes and three days later I ask, boy, what was that I was thinking about the other day? It was so neat. And I can't think of a thing. It's just gone.


MG: Does it come back?


GC: Sometimes. If I'm clever enough to have a tape going when I have the great idea, if I hear that same music playing again, it triggers some connection.


MG: I have to know something personally: does Garrett have a first name?


GC: Yes.


MG: Are we ever going to know it?


GC: No. (Laughs) In one book, he mentions in passing that his mother had called him and his brother "Beewort" and "Poogie", which is what we called our kids. My oldest boy was... My friends are mostly science fiction fan-type people. And when he was little, he was just getting to the point where he was just starting to walk, and they started calling him "Bee," for some reason. So we made him a little bee costume, and took him to parties and he'd toddle around in his little bee-costume and try to steal people's beer and stuff. And he just got called "Bee" or "Killer Bee" or "Beewort" for years. And then, Michael, he's the next fellow, he got called "Poogie" for years until he got up there, around seven or eight years old, smoke would pour out of his ears if anyone called him "Poogie" any more. (Laughs) Justin, the little one, he's had innumerable nicknames. Right now it's "Doodlebug" or "Bug". He's getting up to the age where he's outgrowing the whole nickname size. He's almost five, so… I actually spent some time thinking about this. The Romans, they used to not give a kid their official name until they were two years old, the real name. They had a nickname until they were three. And I think it was because that's the period most likely to perish from diseases and things like that. You don't invest quite as much emotion in them. Even though they're absolutely precious, you kinda semi-distance yourself so if something happens... And if they get to be three or four years old, they're going to make it, now you can give them a name. (Laughs) An awful lot of people in the various cultures seem to do that, not to use the official name for the first few years.


MG: In the Black Company, none of them have names, either, except for Morgan, and I couldn't decide if that was his real name.


GC: That's his real name. When I first started doing the Black Company, something I've done ever since I first started writing, was play with names… It used to irritate the hell outta me when I was in literature classes in school and they'd go on and on over a week over the meaning of a particular name in Cervantes or something. So, when I first started writing, I used to put all this kind of stuff in there just in case sometime down the road some moron professor was studying this stuff, he'd have something that was actually put in there on purpose, instead of making it up in order to have an excuse to have a job… One of my best buddies in college wrote his master's thesis on the meaning of the name of Don Quixote's horse, because he was the first person, apparently, in the entire history of the world who saw that it could be, from some earlier dialect of Spanish, a contraction of two other words. And he presented this as something he could do and they bought it! (Laughs) Anyway, for those kinds of people, I always used to play games. When I did the Dread Empire stuff, an awful lot of people complained, "Oh, I can't pronounce this name; it's too hard to figure out. So I just changed the name in my head to ‘Joe.’" So I said, "All right. For you people who are just so damn lazy that you can't even figure out a foreign-sounding name for your own trouble, when we do this, every single place name will be some simple word like "Jewel" that you can pronounce! And everybody will have a nickname, so you don't have to worry how to pronounce their names! And also, the guys that I hung with when I was in the service, we all called each other by nicknames. Actually, I was one of those people who didn't get a nickname, I was just "Cook." People with short, simple names generally end up just being called by their last names. Unless they have some peculiar characteristic. Sometimes, you never understand where it comes from. They came with them, born with these names. You know, improbable names. Right now, you find on the streets, in the States, anyway, in amongst the young blacks, you find the most off-the-wall nicknames. You can't figure out how they ever came up with them. It's all part of the game of playing with words... It used to bother me—it bothers my oldest boy now, that nobody has a real special nickname for him. 'Cause his best buddy's named Andrew Weedman, and they call him—it made no sense at all, nobody knows why they called him that—"Wobble" and they call his whole family "The Wobbles".


MG: For the benefit of all those people who weren't here and still want to know about The Glittering Stone, and when it's going to be seen, and so on, what can you tell us?


GC: Just that it's in process and that I hope to have it done by the end of the year, which means at least late 1995 or into '96, 'cause it takes ordinarily another year or more for a book to come out. Through various economies being what they are now, publishing scheduling is getting really stretched out. It will probably be 1996, at best. Even if I get into it again in a big way and really get it done in a hurry, probably no sooner that 1997.


MG: You were saying downstairs that it's probably going to take another two books to wrap it up.


GC: Yeah, I'm thinking about doing another one after that, tentatively entitled She Is the Darkness. And who knows?


(Glen Cook confirmed at Conadian in September that Glittering Stone is now a trilogy, to be turned in September 1995, and that he had just turned in another "Garrett" book, Petty Pewter Gods.)


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An Interview with Josepha Sherman

By Mici Gold


Josepha Sherman, a true New Yorker and writer and editor of speculative fiction, shared a panel on writing SF and fantasy with Steve Stirling at the Merril Collection in August 1994. Afterwards, she chatted about her books, editing and her true love: folklore, in all its guises.


MG: I was intrigued when I read The Shining Falcon, to read about its background; is it more slavic or Russian?


JS: It's Russian, about ninety percent Russian, about ten percent miscellaneous slavic.


MG: You mentioned that it came from your grandmother.


JS: Some of it did, but I'm also a practising folklorist, so some of it is my own. I'm a threefold menace: professional writer, professional folklorist, and professional editor. And in my spare time... I don't have any.


MG: So it was drawn from where you came from as a young person and what you studied in school and everything. How did it happen?


JS: The Shining Falcon was not the way you ordinarily sell a story. Because I had written something and sent it to Avon and they went mmm... and Chris Miller at Avon asked me at a party, do you have anything else? And to my amazement, I found myself spinning this entire story out of the subconscious and then I had to go home and write it, and she bought it!


MG: And that was The Shining Falcon?


JS: That was The Shining Falcon. So I have no idea where it came from! It was inspired by folklorists; there was a story about Finist, but... I don't know. I didn't know half of it as I was saying it. It happens like that sometimes.


MG: Did you sit down and write the book?


JS: No, I had to write an outline. She said, Oo, show me an outline. So I had to go home and write an outline. And she bought it from the outline. Because she already knew I could finish a book. But that was a while back, in '89, and since then I have left Avon... So I came into Baen through a weird way. I had had no intention of sending books to Baen, because I worked there. It would be awkward. And then Misty (Mercedes) Lackey's blue jay landed on my head. And all was changed.


MG: ... A blue jay landed on your head?


JS: Ta-dah! Yes, Misty has a blue jay—she's a bird rehabilitator. And she has a blue jay that cannot be released to the wild who is now a pet and his name is Rodan, a.k.a. the blue jay from hell. Rodan does things like turning people's computers off while they're working on them—he flew in one day and pecked the reset button. Seriously.


MG: This bird knows.


JS: Yeah, he also flies quickly, which is why he's still around. So I had met Misty at the ABA—American Booksellers's Association—and that was one thing, but then I was at a convention that she was at and I was having a serious book discussion with a book dealer and suddenly I had a blue jay sitting on my head. And so the rest was history and we decided... well, let's put it this way, this is how publishing works sometimes: I got a call from Bill Fawcett, who was packaging the Bride's Tale books, "What do you think about the book?" And I said, "What book?" "Oh, the book with Misty." "What book with Misty?" "Oh, the one you agreed on." "I never agreed on it." "Oh, nobody told you?"


MG: The author is the last to know?


JS: Well, in this case, the author was the last one to know. And then Jim said, "If you've got any other manuscripts out there, I'll buy 'em." And the rest is history .... I do not buy my own books, I do not edit my own books. And you'd better believe that my books are clean. They do not need much editing, 'cause I know. And, Walker was pretty much the same way, 'cause I'm editing their young adult fantasy line. And that came about because I was doing some free lance work for them and I said, what the hay, and submitted Child of Faerie. And it sold through the roof. It's almost sold out the second printing now. And it dawned on them: there's a market. So, they said, "How would you like to edit this line?" So, I'm editing for two houses. And again, I don't buy my own fantasy books for them, either!


MG: So you go through the same procedure any one does.


JS: Yeah, a little insider whatever, 'cause I can talk to the people face to face. And August House is a weird story, how I got with them. I had answered an ad for colouring books writers, 'cause I had written a colouring book, and—don't laugh—for forty-two lines I got $500 U.S. Right. So, I thought, well, I'll try that again. The deal didn't work out, but the woman was a friend of another woman. That woman I got talking to, she was a friend of Liz Parkhurst who's the co-owner of August House. As it happened, they were looking to put together a book in their series of American folklore—Jewish American folklore. I wrote a sampler of Jewish American folklore for them, it sold nicely. I did Rachel the Clever and other Jewish folk tales for them and then, I got the inspiration for the forthcoming one, coming out in November, Once Upon a Galaxy; folklore, fantasy and science fiction. I'll give you a riddle: what does Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and Bugs Bunny have in common?... They all have a background in world folklore. Every one of them has tie-ins with ancient stories. And that's what the book is about. It shows their mythic and folkloric roots… Bugs Bunny is a trickster figure. But the creators of Bugs Bunny didn't know that. They had no idea that they were creating a trickster. You could say, in the collective unconscious or whatever, the archetypes live. In Star Wars, Lucas knew what he was doing because he'd studied under Joseph Campbell. But the others, no… And, I'm working on two more books for August House; the next one is going to be called: Greasy, Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Children. It's coming out in spring of '95. And it's co-written with Toni Weisskopf. She's executive editor at Baen, and we're both on Genie, the electronic bulletin board, and that's where we got the idea .... You wouldn't believe the rhymes we're getting: we're getting it from adults, we're getting it from children.


MG: How are you collecting these?


JS: I've been going around to schools and libraries, I've been speaking to children… We're trying to limit it to U.S., 'cause otherwise, it would be forever. U.S. and Canada have the same rhymes for obvious reasons; the kids are in touch with each other... These things travel, that's what makes folklore such fun!


MG: That's one of your two books coming out next year.


JS: The other one from August House is a book of trickster tales... Coming out from Baen next year is a fantasy novel, The Shattered Oath, book one of a duology, but it will be a complete book in itself; I do not do cliffhangers! I think that is cheating the reader, any body who does a cliffhanger... At Baen, they try to keep the trilogy in print and they try to put them out every six months. Do you know why trilogies are so pop-u-lar? Marketing. J. R. R. Tolkien; you can blame him. Lord of the Rings was turned in as one book; it was too fat, the publisher decided, let's divide it. No, it's too big for two books, let's make it three! That's where the trilogy started… Well, I thank Professor Tolkien, he's done me an awful lot of good. He's the reason I'm a folklorist. He wrote an essay on faerie stories and, at the time, I didn't know some of the references, and I got curious. And I started reading, and I got hooked. So, blame him for a lot!... Let me get back to The Shattered Oath, because I'm proud of that one. It is set in eighth century A.D. Ireland and, if you think it was easy to research that time period, you got another thought coming. There's very little written, in English. I found the Annals of the Irish Kings, which was written by the monks of the time, and, oh, everything works out beautifully. You have serendipitous accidents that aren't accidents. I needed a love interest for the hero. The hero is a prince of the Sidhe, who has been unjustly exiled by his very suspicious brother, and he's stuck in the human world in Ireland, and this is the Christian era, so it's not such a great time for him to be there. And I needed him to have a love interest to show that he's got a gentler side, who was it going to be? Well, I wanted him to have a strong female character. I don't like wimpy women, I don't write them... What's she going to be doing in the High King's fortress, an unmarried woman? Okay, she's a widow. Well, what's she doing there? Well, she's gotta be the daughter of somebody important. Then I found out that the High King—it's an actual High King that I'm using—had a chief minister and poet. Bingo! She's his daughter. I also needed something spectacular. It turns out that in the reign of King Aedh, who ruled during the end of the eighth century and the beginning of the ninth; the book takes place more or less in 798-799 A.D.—in his reign, there was a horrendous storm, that killed so many people, that it was reputed to be sorcerous! As it happened, the villain of the piece, who is a false cleric from Rome, he's a Frankish nobleman who was put into the church, because that is what you do with second sons, has conjured a demon. Just by pure coincidence, I made it an Arridu, who is a storm demon. I didn't know about this big storm at the time. See how serendipity works? The sequel's going to take our hero to Anglo-Saxon England.


MG: What's the hero's name?


JS: Ardagh Lithanial. I wanted a name that sounded vaguely Celtic without sounding too Celtic. It turns out that there is a archaic Celtic name, Ardagh. Yes, I'm telling you, this is strange. And his clan name, his royal name, is Lithanial... What else can I tell you? Oh yes, it's set in the eighth century and, just by chance, everything works out again. At the beginning of the eighth century there had been a strong king ruling in the Saxon kingdom, which was not all of England. He died in 800, and there was chaos. Isn't that perfect? There's a lot of tie-ins, a lot of tie-ins. Everything historically... when it happens like that, it's wonderful... Did you want to talk about the books that are in print?


MG: Yes. There's The Shining Falcon, and The Horse of Flame takes place in the same universe.


JS: Yes. That's an independent sequel. You don't have to have read the first one to read the second one... They're technically still in print. The Baen books are still in print; so are the Walker and so are the August House. And I have two co-operations with Mercedes Lackey in print and three solo novels in print from Baen... The latest one is King's Son, Magic's Son...


MG: And you did Castle of Deception with Mercedes Lackey ....


JS: Castle of Deception was co-written... it was all thanks to a blue jay.


MG: And then you have a sequel to that.


JS: Yes, The Chaos Gate is a direct sequel, because—I don't want to give anything away from the first book—but let's say I thought the characters deserved a little more story. So, I did a sequel... The gaming world, being a gaming world, didn't make much sense. So we tried to make some sense out of it, make it believable, give it some rules, some limitations. We didn't want it to be a D&D book. It worked. It's sold so far 100,000+ copies. So it worked. We're not complaining: it was a fun book to write. It's not a deep book, it's not a heavy book. It's a quick read. It's meant to be light entertainment... It's not literary.


MG: And there's two more.


JS: Yeah, A Strange and Ancient Name is set half in Faerie and half in twelfth century France. So, again, a lot of historical research went into that. Except for the faerie part, of course; it's really difficult to study Faerie, it's always changing. And King's Son, Magic's Son is just out. It came out in June, and—how do I capsulize it? It's the story of a young magician who is trying to earn the right to court his lady love from Faerie, who finds out that his half-brother is the king. And, unfortunately, our hero has already sworn to a Faerie lord but is forced to swear a vow to help his brother, too. And not even a magician can serve two masters.


MG: Since some of our readers will be interested in how you wear two hats at the same time, let's focus on that. How did you get into editing?


JS: Through the back door, as a lot of editors did. I had started out to be an archaeologist. I worked in the Metropolitan Museum as assistant curator in the ancient east department. But there's no place to advance in a museum without killing the person ahead of you. There's just no openings. So, I did some temp work while I was writing, to earn a living, and one of the temp jobs was for Jean Karl, who at the time was heading up the Atheneum/Argo line of young adult fantasy and science fiction—and if you don't know that, you really should, because she published people like Patricia McKillip, and Anne McCaffrey's dragon books, the young adult ones, and Ursula Le Guin's trilogy The Wizard of Earthsea. And she thought that I knew the genre, and I started reading for her as a free-lancer. And then I started reading for Baen as a free-lancer and little by little wound up being an editor. Now I'm a consulting editor there.


MG: What's a consulting editor?


JS: It means I'm free-lancing, basically. I'm an acquisitions editor: I acquire the new talent. It means I go through an awful lot of slush, unsolicited manuscripts. I'm looking for the new talent.


MG: What are you looking for?


JS: Good books... Good writing, good story-telling; science fiction, fantasy. I can't say anything else: that's basically it. You know it when you see it, when you get the real thrill going, when you're reading something, you know it's going to be good... I look at the first chapter. If the first chapter is putrid, I may look at the second if the writing was half-way decent. That's as far as I'll go though, usually, 'cause if it's not good by the second chapter, you know it's garbage. Some of them are so bad, you feel like shaking people by the scruff of the neck. This is a business, learn the business!... I'd say ninety percent of what we get is just mediocre. Yes, just plain mediocre. And only about five percent is really bad. And the really bad ones we adore, too, but you don't want to know about that. And of the remaining five percent, maybe three percent are actually publishable and do get published.


MG: So how clean does something have to be? How much work are you willing to invest in a new novel?


JS: It's got to be as finished as the writer can make it. I will not look at first drafts. I want to see professional work. And by that I don't mean they have to worry about "Oh, my God! I left out a comma!" I mean that it has to look like they know what they're doing and they're telling a good, professional story.


MG: How much revision are you willing to do?


JS: It depends on the writer. I can't make it hard and fast. I don't want to see any revision unless I specifically asked for it. If I've asked for it, yes I do want to see it.


MG: Is there anything else you'd like to pass on, since a lot of our readers are aspiring writers?


JS: Read, practise, persevere, write, finish what you're writing, send out what you're writing, keep sending out what you're writing, don't quit your day job! What else can I say?


MG: One last question: do you think there are too many vampire stories and Arthurian stories getting published?


JS: Yes, but they still sell.


MG: Do you still look at them?


JS: Baen is not a good market for vampire stories. We've published one. And, we have an anthology of science fiction vampire stories, reprint stories. This is not a market; repeat: this is not a market. Science fiction vampire stories, do you want to know what the title is? Brace yourself: Tomorrow Sucks, I kid you not... Edited by Toni Weisskopf. It's coming out any minute now, in October. And Arthurian. We just reprinted The Winter Prince, which is an Arthurian book. But I personally am sick to death of Arthur. But that doesn't mean I won't look at something that's well written, but it has to be really good... Now you can go off and write!

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