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Showing posts from May, 2014

Stripping Down the Layers of (Hi)Story

Briars and Black Hellebore is a fantasy story, but its setting, the tiny kingdom of Vepres, is inspired by the deep forest valleys at the outskirts of the Holy Roman Empire, somewhere near the border of real-life 11th-century Bavaria and Bohemia. I decided to nail down a very specific time and place to ground my fictional kingdom because medievallish fantasies of Europe have become so entrenched, thickly layered upon each other, and derivative of each other that I want to peel back those layers and build something fresh on a truly ancient foundation.

I know it is impossible to know everything about a distant time and place with a high degree of accuracy and nuanced understanding, but I want to clear my palette of as much of the collective cultural-fantasy patina as I can pry loose, to open the creative space for a whole new fantasy world. I want to separate the elements of factual historical evidence, fluidly evolving folklore, revisionist history and censorship, cultural misunderstan…

Why I Love Having a Three-Year-Old

It's so easy to complain about how hard it is to be a parent. Grumbling is a human pastime that has drawn us closer together and relieved stress for hundreds of thousands of years, and toddlers are an easy topic for our rants. Raising children has become more complicated and political than ever before (while toddlers have become no more reasonable), but I like to remind myself that even so, it's not exactly harder than it was in the dark old days. Middle class parents today are more overworked, poor, and bombarded with advice and paranoid warnings than our parents and grandparents were. But we also tend to have fewer children and spend much more quality time with each child--which is hard but also deeply rewarding for a mommy like me.

Nux Gallica has reached the age that I dreamed her the day before my ultrasound that revealed she was a girl. In my dream, she was a blonde, pigtailed preschooler standing in a bedroom like a rainbow explosion of toys, holding a crayon an…