Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bed of Roses

"Bed of Roses" was published in SWORD AND SORCERESS 18 in 2001. The idea came to me from some historical research I was doing for a book about Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (1043-1099), better known as "El Cid," that Marion Zimmer Bradley planned to write. Because some of the books were in Spanish, and my undergraduate major was Romance Languages, I got the job of doing preliminary research.

Among the many reasons that the Moors conquered nearly all of Spain in only seven years, while it took the Christian kings almost 700 years to get it back was the way the kings handled inheritance. A king would unite (by conquest, marriage, and the deaths of his wife's relatives who had a better claim to a throne than she did) several kingdoms into one. He would be powerful; they'd call him "the Great"--and then he would die....

Fernando I, who was crowned "Emperor of Spain" in 1056, died in 1065. He left five children: Sancho, who inherited Castille; Alfonso, who inherited Leon; Garcia, who inherited Galicia; Elvira; and Urraca, who was given the city of Zamora, which was located in the middle of Leon. Even if Urraca hadn't already had a close relationship with her brother Alfonso, their interests certainly coincided now. And naturally, the fighting began; Garcia's kingdom fell to his brothers, and Sancho and Alfonso turned on each other in a war for control of the rest of their father's lands. By 1072 Sancho controlled all of them--except for Zamora. While he had surrounded and besieged the city, Urraca still held it against him. As the story goes, she persuaded Vellido Dolfos, one of her nobles, to go to Sancho, pretending to a deserter who would show him a way into the city, in order to assassinate him. His reward was to be a night in her bed. History records that Vellido killed Sancho and escaped back into Zamora. The stories say that Urraca kept her word--after a fashion. Vellido spent a night in her bed, in chains, and was executed the next day for his assassination of King Sancho, her brother. This left the kingdom to Alfonso--at least until he died. He was succeeded by his daughter, who was also named Urraca.

So that's where the idea of a night in the bed of an unmarried girl as a reward came from, along with how to cope with this demand if she didn't want him in her bed.

"Bed of Roses" is available for Kindle and Nook and from Fictionwise.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Salt and Sorcery

"Salt and Sorcery" is the second story in the Treasures series and the first one that Michael Spence and I collaborated on (the puns are his fault). It was written for SWORD & SORCERESS 16 and published in 1999.

This story is set several centuries after "The Blade of Unmaking" and introduces some new characters: Stephen; his long-suffering wife Melisande; and his precocious younger sister Laurel. Stephen is what my father called a professional student (come to think of it, he said that about Michael; sadly, he didn't live long enough to see Michael finish his PhD). At the time we wrote this story Michael was working on his dissertation. So we used that situation for our story, making his wife the protagonist. (Michael's wife was very helpful, and we dedicated the story to her.)

I particularly remember one discussion: "We need to give her a motive for wanting him to take his Senior Ordeal..." "Wait a minute, we're giving her a motive for homicide!" Fortunately for Stephen, Melisande is a Sensitive, so no matter how exasperated she gets, she's not going to kill him. And fortunately for Michael, his wife really loves him.

"Salt and Sorcery" is in the first volume of TREASURES OF ALBION.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


CHANGING FATE was my first novel. Like several of my friend's novels, it started as a short story: "A Woman's Privilege" in SWORD AND SORCERESS 3, published in 1986.

During the summer of 1986 I was writing the book as a serial and sending it to Madeline L'Engle, who was a friend of mine. Her husband was in the hospital with cancer, so I sent her a chapter a week to give her something to distract her from the problems of her daily life. By the time he died in September, I was almost done with the book. I finished it in November, and went back to writing short stories.

A couple of years later Andre Norton created her Gryphon Award. I didn't pay much attention at first, thinking I wasn't eligible because of all the short stories I had in print. But she and Marion and Julian May were working on BLACK TRILLIUM, which meant that I went to Florida with Marion. (She needed someone to do her insulin injections and she didn't drive. During that trip I discovered she couldn't read maps, either, which probably explains the geography of Darkover.) While the three authors were coming up with a Bible for the Trillium universe, I was talking with Andre's secretary, who commented that Andre wasn't getting as many good novels as she had hoped and suggested that I submit something. I stared at her in surprise and said "But I'm not eligible, am I?" She assured me that I was, so I sent CHANGING FATE, thinking that Andre might at least enjoy reading it.

The next thing that happened was that I was awakened on my birthday by a call from Russell Galen, my agent (when you're in California and your agent is in New York, he's usually at work long before you're up--and sometimes before the sun is up. He asked "What on earth is the Gryphon Award?" Still half-asleep, I explained what it was, and he said, "Well, you've won it." This meant that I attended in 1989 Worldcon in Boston to accept the award. Shortly after I got home from Boston, Marion had a major stroke, followed about six months later by a heart attack that the doctors all expected would kill her, so I was too busy dealing with her life to have time to worry about mine. While I coped with that, Russ sold my novel to DAW Books.

CHANGING FATE was published by DAW Books in 1994. It earned out its advance and then went out of print. I got the rights back, and it is currently available for Kindle and from Fictionwise in eBook form, and in paperback from CreateSpace.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


In 1998 Marion Zimmer Bradley held what turned out to be her last Fantasy Worlds Festival convention. At that point Marion was working on SWORD & SORCERESS 16 and Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine, but she was always happy to have an excuse to do another anthology.  One of her employees came up with the idea of a limited-edition (500 copies) anthology for the convention, so he and I got to put together the convention while Marion, Rachel Holmen, and Margaret Davis put together the anthology MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY'S FANTASY WORLDS.

In my "free" time, I wrote "Change-Child" for the anthology.  It's a short story in my Fate series, taking place between CHANGING FATE (DAW, 1994) and MENDING FATE, which I am currently re-writing for the third time. They say the third time's the charm; I really hope that's true.

"Change-Child" is available for Kindle and Nook and from Fictionwise.