At some point, I fell in love with fantasy and science fiction. Back in Russia I had read, besides the classics, ancient Greek mythology, which for the longest time was an obsession. I knew every minor god, every hero, every act of Homer's ILIAD (unlike most normal people, I was in love with Achilles, rooted for the Greeks and hoped they would kick Troy's butt). I even went through a phase when I wanted to change my name to "Athena" -- my favorite, goddess of war and wisdom -- and pretended I was an Amazon (the idea of strong warrior women fascinated me even then). Okay, I was only six years old. I also loved the ancient Persian epic SHAH-NAMEH, fairy tales, all kinds of mythologies. I think this lies at the root of my love for adult fantasy. At the same time, my fascination with space, other planets, the tantalizing possibility of alien life, became the basis of my love for science fiction.
My best friend in jr high school, Cathy Thompson, introduced me to a lot of good fantasy such as Tolkien. Together we would read and discuss, and dream. We even made up our own secret fantasy language. Back then, Cathy was the writer, while I was the artist -- that's how we decided it.
My friend Cathy decided to write a novel. I decided I would write one too. And so we got black notebook journals and started. I remember, Cathy was excellent even then, at her early age. I, on the other end, really sucked.... Truth was, I was lousy, and I knew it. However, my desire to tell the whole world about the people populating my dreams was so overpowering, that I continued despite all.
Well, my friend and I had a silly fight -- as school girls do. We never spoke again, and she transferred to a different school. I never got a chance to tell her how much she had meant to me as a friend. Cathy, where are you? Wherever you are, you were the friend of my heart, and I'll never forget you.... To you I dedicate WAR AND WISDOM, that first novel of mine (in its original incarnation titled THE SWORD OF NORILANA, shamelessly ripping off Terry Brooks's title since we had just finished reading THE SWORD OF SHANNARA -- remember that, Cathy?), and some day I will finish it....
I was alone, without my friend. But something kept me going -- the fantastic world of people in my head. And so, I kept on writing and writing all through school, in all my spare time, despite the fact that I was still pretty lousy at it. But slowly, because of the strength of my desire, I improved.
By the end of high school, I put my first novel on hold, and wrote my first short story. I submitted it to different fantasy and SF magazines. It was of course rejected everywhere. Every rejection slip is always a stab in the heart. But you take a big breath, and throw it off, and go on. Just like that. And I went on. I subscribed to Writer's Digest and learned all I could about professional writing. Finally, in one of the Market reports, I saw an ad for SWORD AND SORCERESS II, an anthology of heroic women's fantasy, edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Hope sprang in me! I couldn't believe it, Marion Zimmer Bradley had been one of my favorite writers, and here was a chance to be published by her! Well, I sent in a story, but of course it was long and overwritten and silly -- overall unsuitable. However, Marion was kind enough to write personalized comments all over the manuscript, and she was right in all instances. As a result, I wrote another story, and submitted it just before the deadline. Well, Marion bought it. What a marvelous high school graduation present! I was on my way!
In college, I double-majored in Psychology and English, but in reality spent all my time with computers as a student consultant at our computer center. At the same time, I continued writing and publishing short fiction. And I continued to get lots of rejection slips -- I still do! After graduating from college in 1988, I have been in the computer/technical field ever since. However, writing is what I do from the heart. It is my first motivator, and some day I will be able to do it fulltime.
And here is a philosophical essay I wrote, called Vera's Theory of Relativity.
After 14 years, I have finally completed my first novel, a high fantasy of a unique other world -- a world without color.... It is called LORDS OF RAINBOW, OR THE BOOK OF FULFILLMENT, and it is currently making the rounds with publishers. As all of my writing, it has strong female characters and deals with intense themes. Be on the lookout for it, I promise you will be intrigued.... And now that I am finished with this one, a sequel has taken hold of my imagination, titled LADY OF MONOCHROME -- promising to make this a duology.
Meanwhile, a completely unrelated new novel is in the works, the beginning of a three-book quirky fantasy trilogy, tentatively titled THE HANGED WOMAN. It introduces Ruricca NoOnesDaughter, a poor traveling waif, a jester, and a wisewoman, in a pseudo-medieval milieu with strong influences of Tarot. The second book of the series is tentatively called THE WORLD, and the third is called THE FOOL.
And now, friend I do need to get back to the actual writing, so I must cut this essay short... So, wish me luck! I, meanwhile, thank you for being with me so far, and wish you great luck also in your reading and writing! See you at the bookstore!
A shot of me at the Mass Autograph Session at World Fantasy Con'98 in Monterey, CA, Halloween weekend.
Photo courtesy of Diana Rowland.
Photo courtesy of Diana Rowland.