For the benefit of those of us new to your work, without giving too much away, give us a taste of the story that is SPELLBINDER.
Holly McClure is a Witch, and somewhat surly about her single gift: her blood seals other magicians’ spells. Her new boyfriend, U.S. Marshal Evan Lachlan, doesn’t know she’s a Witch. He finds out. Complications, as they say, ensue.
After such a long relationship with DAW Books, why change publishers to have SPELLBINDER released by Tor Books?
Tor bought the book.
How rewarding is it to see that your first two trilogies are still in print and have been re-released in trade paperback editions?
It’s seriously cool to see Michael Whelan’s cover art big enough so it can be appreciated! I gotta tell ya, though, I own the original “Dragon Prince” painting, and there is absolutely no way to comprehend how gorgeous his work is until you’ve seen it full-size, up close and personal.
What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
I’m pretty good at throwing characters against a wall to see how–or if–they bounce.
What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write the “Dragon Prince” and the “Dragon Star” series in the first place?
I was reading a history of Saudi Arabia, and in one of the last chapters was a description of a group of princes out hawking–in Jeeps. I liked the image (except for the Jeeps!) and sat down to entertain myself by seeing where it might go. I put the princes on horses, sent them out into the desert–and suddenly they were hunting dragons.
Characters often take a life of their own. Which of your characters did you find the most unpredictable to write about?
Kazander. The guy simply rode on in and took over. I kept having to find ways to get him off-camera so he didn’t steal the whole show.This is where I get to mention my all-time favorite quote about writing. John Fowles, in THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN: “It is only when our characters and events begin to disobey us that they begin to live.” This is, of course, scant solace when some moron you really needed in a later chapter gets himself knifed and says to you, “Hey–I’m dying here! You want to write down my last words or something? ‘Cause I figure I got maybe four breaths left, so–” You get the idea.
Honestly, do you believe that the fantasy genre will ever come to be recognized as veritable literature? Truth be told, in my opinion there has never been this many good books/series as we have right now, and yet there is still very little respect (not to say none) associated with the genre.
Theme song by Aretha Franklin, baby! R-E-S-P-E-C-T!It has to do with taste and timing. For instance, the Victorians loathed Jane Austen (two notable exceptions were Sir Walter Scott, who loved the elegance of her writing, and Robert Louis Stevenson, who said that every time Elizabeth Bennett opened her mouth, he wanted to go down on his knees!). Somebody someday is going to figure out that there’s some really good writing as well as really good storytelling going on in fantasy. But I’m not going to hold my breath.There’s an interesting problem fantasy writers run into all the time, and it’s this: What do we tell people when they ask what we write? If we say “fantasy,” it’s automatically assumed we write children’s books, and then we have to go through a whole long explanation that the questioner doesn’t really care about anyhow because none of the rest of us is J. K. Rowling. If we say “adult fantasy,” it’s an equally automatic assumption that we write pornography–which involves an even longer explanation that the questioner doesn’t care about either. Can’t win for losin’, as my Daddy used to say. So maybe it’s a matter of getting people clued in that there are more than two kinds of fantasy fiction.
How would you like to be remembered as an author? What is the legacy you’ll be leaving behind?
Y’know, I’ve never been asked to write the first line of my obituary before.
This is akin to another question beloved of interviewers (but not of writers!): “What’s your best book?” My answer to that one is always, “I desperately hope I haven’t written it yet.”
With a new generation of readers who have perhaps never read your books or heard of you, do you feel as though you have something to prove?
THE GOLDEN KEY was a collaboration between yourself, Jennifer Roberson and Kate Elliott. Do you have plans to collaborate on new projects in the future, with them or other authors?
The three of us deliberately set out to make the process something we could all enjoy (we’d heard tales…). We knew that readers can be skeptical of multi-author books, so we were determined that they would get the full experience of each of us; in this, I think we succeeded. We also decided that this would be a unique event in our writing lives, because we knew we could never be guaranteed the same quality of experience.
What authors make you shake your head in admiration?
A lot of people, in my genre and out, whose names I’m not going to list because I’d inevitably leave somebody out and thereby tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing. (And there’s a clue in there to one of my favorite writers–points for anybody who spots it!)
Before your hiatus, you ranked among the “big names” of the fantasy genre.
Man, I wish somebody had told me that at the time.
Since then, the landscape of the genre went through many changes, and now authors such as Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin, Terry Goodkind and Neil Gaiman are on top of the totem. Where does Melanie Rawn stand in the fantasy field in 2006?
Way out in the tall, tall grass.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give the younger Melanie Rawn concerning her writing career?
I think I did okay, actually–especially considering that I wrote things because I needed to write things, and never consciously considered a “career.” In fact, the first time anybody ever used that word to me, I gaped like a goldfish.
Is a World Fantasy Award something you covet?
A nomination is something I’d like. Jennifer, Kate, and I were nominated for Golden Key, and it was a tremendous honor.
The fact that you have your own forum on the internet is an indication that interaction with your readers is important to you as an author. How special is it to have the chance to interact directly with your fans?
I love it.
Writers work in a vacuum, pretty much. So it’s great to make that contact.People who’ve met on the bulletin board are now married. There are children named for my characters (which is classic “goes around comes around” because Mom got my name from–wait for it–GONE WITH THE WIND). They talk politics, current events, movies, music, school, personal problems, everything. They’re wonderfully supportive of each other. I think they’re an example of the best that an Internet community can offer.
Anything else you wish to share with your fans?
Have a good time with Spellbinder–please just laugh in all the right places, okay?
Interview by Patrick