Another in my on-going occasional series of guest posts from Writers I’m Reading…
I have been a Lynn Flewelling fangirl ever since my editing days, when I gave her agent hell for sending Lynn’s first book to other editors, and not me. (she apologized), and I’ve been waiting for CASKET OF SOULS for what seems like forever. She’s not only a compulsively readable writer, she’s also an interesting person….
So. Let’s talk not so much about this particular book (although of course this book) and more about the journey overall.
I first came up with the idea for the Nightrunner books in the mid-1980s. I never imagined I’d still be writing about these characters decades later. Of course, for the first decade I was teaching myself to write. My main characters are older than my kids!
It’s been a great, if not an easy journey. Back in the early days I asked an established writer if each book got easier to write. He rolled his eyes and said no, it gets harder. I don’t know if they’ve been harder for me, but they’re not easier. There’s a lovely innocence writing that first book without a contract or an agent or anyone else waiting for you to finish. It’s free and fun. Once you’re in the business contracts and deadlines define the process to some extent. The minute I sign a contract and commit to a deadline, I begin to stress. The fact that I’m a slow writer and that the editors want books faster has not helped.
Still, I love what I do. Writing the Tamir Triad, starting with The Bone Doll’s Twin, was a different experience. Those books are darker, and pulled more from my own guts. I wanted to explore ideas of gender and identity, and the difference in those two concepts. I work with mental illness in these books, which I have direct experience with in my family, and issues with parents. Of course it’s high fantasy, too, but I think it works on a deeper level than that. It saddens me a bit that that series hasn’t sold as well as the Nightrunner books. The Bone Doll’s Twin is the best thing I’ve ever written.
But it’s not just those two series – you’ve (finally, after much foot-dragging, branched out into short fiction, right?
In recent years I’ve written some short fiction, too. It’s not my strong suit, but it is gratifying to be able to tell an entire story in less than 400 pages! My latest one, “Namesake” just come out in the shared world anthology Tales of the Emerald Serpent. That was a particularly interesting process, as the world was already defined and I just had to people it and flesh it out. It takes place in a pseudo-Mesoamerican world, where the original inhabitants have mysteriously disappeared and the city has been taken over by immigrants. There are ghosts, weird magic, and constant threats. Most of the characters come from a seedy district in an old stadium, beyond the Black Gate. I had a lot of fun with the story and it was fun to step away from the Nightrunner world and do something new.
So your readers – who seem to be a wildly enthusiastic bunch – have followed you, no matter what you turn your hand to?
Oh, my readers, they are the best, and continue to span the spectrum of age, background, sexuality. I’ve been so pleased and relieved at the positive feedback I’ve had from the LGBT community. It was risky, writing about gay men, but I’m told I got it right. Not that there’s any one right for any group, but what I did strikes a chord with a lot of people. I don’t write for an audience or to fan expectations; that way lies madness. So it’s gratifying when other people enjoy the yarns I spin.
From the early days I’ve kept a blog, and wind up talking about my life as well as the work. To my amazement, people are interested in my dogs, my trips, my politcal opinions, my spiritual practice. I’m told I’m more open with my fans than some writers. I’m just being myself. Of course there are things I don’t share; I have definite boundaries between my public and private self.
Since you write a range of sexualities, and blog actively, do you feel that you have an obligation to also talk about LGBT issues, or do you feel that you do more “outreach” or education in your fiction? Or does that issue come up at all?
Anyone who reads my blogs or Twitter feed knows that I am an outspoken advocate of LGBT rights issues. This is an important human rights issues of our time. I believe the tide is turning to the good, but it’s not there yet. It’s not the only political issue I address, but it’s a significant one.
And clearly, your ability to be emphatic without preaching has carried over into the stories! And before I forget – I see you’ve got Nightrunner merchandise up - fun! Was that a calculated decision, or an outpouring of creative energy, or….?
Mostly the latter. I had a shop on CafePress, but just changed to Zazzle. I’ve streamlined the offerings and have been adding some new items. I spent this weekend coming up with a series of buttons for genre writers who are tired of people asking where they get their ideas. I was at dinner with my husband and some of his business colleagues one night and one of them asked me that question. What came out of my mouth (after a large mango margarita) was “I make shit up.” They got quite a kick out of that. So my buttons say things like Fantasy Writer, I make shit up . . . with swords! and Science Fiction Writer, I make shit up . . . with robots!
I think I may need one of those. Or both! Thanks, Lynn!