POSTED: January 20, 2021
I have thought of her as an example of many different things over the years: as someone who did what she wanted to; as someone who wrote fantasy novels that didn’t tread water or recycle lukewarm tropes; as someone who started a publishing house because the world needs more small and flexible centres of creativity.
I read of her death in The Guardian, which pointed out, rightly, that her “work, dealing deeply with gender and sexual politics, was far ahead of its time”.
Like many fantasy authors she found the mythology she had created – the world of Wraeththu – the subject of fan fiction. Her reply to an inquiring fanfic author has struck me as interesting since I first came across it.
I thought about it for some time, and realised that I didn’t feel offended at all. Should I be? As far as I could see, it was similar to a time in my childhood when I’d also invented make-believe worlds – avidly – and the more friends I could get to share in that make-believe and play in my world, the better. This to me was the same.
People were coming to play in my garden with me. Why should that be offensive? Could I ever stop people imagining these stories? No. Hadn’t I myself begun my writing life as a fanfic author – albeit writing ‘sequels’ to Greek and Roman myths as a child rather than an established author’s work? I understood the impulse to add to an invented world, to want to play in it when the author had closed the gates for the night.
If you want to read this long, detailed and fascinating interview, you can find it here at the Nerine Dorman website.