Except the Queen began as a game between Jane and I wondering why there were no middle aged fairies and secondly, wondering what would happen if a pair of them were cast out of the Realm into our world, losing their immortal beauty and becoming frumpy all at once. She wrote the first letter as Serena, I answered as Meteora -- and so it began. Somewhere around 15,000 words in letters we knew we had a story. We polished it up as a novella for Marvin Kaye's Fair Folk Anthology, and after that, decided to flesh the story out into a full novel, allowing us to develop further characters we really enjoyed but had little time to develop in the shorter form.
The Innamorati was written as a passionate exercise: I wanted to create a novel full of food, sex, magic, and the brilliance of the Commedia dell'arte in 16th century Italy. I wasn't sure when I left for Milan in 1994 what exactly I was writing -- but a year of living there, traveling throughout the north (especially Venice during Carnevale), then down the coast to Rome (with stops to small and magical towns along the way that all had mazes of one kind or another, layers of ancient Etruscan civility, Roman grandeur, and Italian folk cultures) left me with enough visual nutrition, stories, and experiences to last a lifetime.
I was very thrilled when the novel won the Mythopoeic Award in 2001 for Best Novel of the Year, and I am still grateful every time I see my lion-shaped award sitting on the shelf. You can read my acceptance speech here.
The Innamorati was translated into French (Les Innamorati) by Edition Rivages and Gallimard in two really pretty editions of the book.
When I was first starting out as a fantasy writer, it was de rigeur to produce a trilogy. I got to work and developed the longer, more epic tale (originally titled Queens' Quarter) of four young women coming of age in a society that was undergoing a social revolution of sorts. So the trilogy became a personal rites of passage tale
layered over a political rites of passage, and, because it is fantasy, layered over
a mythic transformation as well. When Sharyn November bought the rights to-reissue the trilogy for Young Adults, through Viking, I decided to change the name to the Oran Trilogy, because not a single publisher put the apostrophe in the correct place the first time around, including Amazon, even now. The three books are : New Moon, Sadar's Keep, and Beldan's Fire. I had a great time pulling out a lot of historical background and mythic traditions for this one.
The series has recently been translated into Dutch and is available in the Netherlands from Luitingh Sijthoff Publishers...very cool. Here are the new covers:
I wrote The Flight of Michael McBride (1995) after finishing the Oran trilogy, wanting desperately to write a straight-forward, single book instead of a long and complicated series. I also wanted to write something that made use of uniquely American folklore traditions -- indigenous as well as the rich co-mingling of fantastic traditions from immigrants. I was intrigued by the way European fairy tales placed the fantastic in a close, parallel world -- a neighborhood within a neighborhood. The fey occupied territory in the corner of your garden, hustled cows in your barns, lived in your pond. But in the Southwest of the United States, the horizon stretched huge, wide, and mostly unknown. The fantastic hovered like a mirage on the edge of a broad landscape. How else to cross it except in one of the cherished traditions of the old west, the cattle ride? (I highly recommend reading B. Traven's brilliant short story by the same name in The Night Visitor and Other Stories. It inspired me to consider the possibilities of the cattle ride as a mythic journey.)
Hannah's Garden was part of a series that was to have been originally published by Byron Preiss with art by Brian Froud. Alas, the series went under berfore it was completed, so I re-wrote the novel as Young Adult fiction. I have always thought that most families have generational secrets -- and that part of growing up is stumbling upon these secrets and having that "Ah ha!" moment as some peculiar aspect of one's family is suddenly explained. My father learned at 66 that the man he believed to be his father wasn't...which made me realize that I also had a different lineage. My mother was good friends with a couple who ran a small bar in L.A. and discovered one night, as they were comparing notes about their absent fathers, that the woman Liz was in fact my mother's step-sister. (My maternal grandfather was an itinerant artist, a ladies' man, a fabulous cook, and a notable trickster.) So Hannah's Garden is about discovering one has very unusual ancestors...
I was delighted when asked by Random House to contribute a Dinotopia title for their Young Adult series based off of Jim Guerney's gorgeous Dinotopia books. I wrote Hatchling -- about a young girl's difficult journey to save a unique egg. The novel is also one of the few "girl" protagonists in the series as there was decision to market these books more for boys.
Soulstring was my first novel, published by Ace Books, 1987. It was a high fantasy tale -- combining ideas from the ballad Tamlin with a South African story about the hero Sikaluma and his bride (the daughter of a very unpleasant and dangerous sorcerer). At the time I wrote it, Warrior Maidens of all stripes were pretty popular and yet to me it seemed that what made them heroic was their acquiring of masculine attributes -- and weapons. I wanted a female heroine who was heroic because of something uniquely female -- the ability to give birth -- and in this case to "re-birth" the enchanted hero back from a stag to a human being. It was fun to write -- especially as I was hugely pregnant at the time.
Midori Snyder is the author of nine novels for children and adults. She won the Mythopoeic Award for The Innamorati, a novel inspired by early Roman myth and the Italian "Commedia dell'Arte" tradition. more>>