My favorite fantasy anthology series of all-time is the Borderland series; a shared world where different authors create their stories within the same place, and characters from one person’s story are likely to walk right on through another’s. The setting for this series was the brainchild of Terri Windling who has been involved as editor, writer, or consultant ever since. Authors include Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Charles de Lint and many other pioneers of urban fantasy.
The idea is this:
The gate to Elfland has reappeared in our world, and around it stretches a border where neither magic or technology works quite right. Bordertown is a place unlike any city but also like a bit of them all. Runaways come from both sides of the border to find adventure. Elves play in rock bands and race down the street on spell-powered motorcycles. Humans have the freedom to recreate themselves but have to cobble together ways of doing what was once for granted with a combination of iffy magic and ingenuity. But all isn’t fun and happy-ever-after in the clubs and squats of the bohemian Soho neighborhood or even in the high-priced elvin homes on Dragon Hill. Prejudice, addiction, and revenge walk hand in hand with the artists, poets, and musicians of the city, gangs of elves and humans are constantly at war or in uneasy truce, and surviving sometimes depends on discovering skills you didn’t know you had.
The first book, Borderland, came out in 1986. There were three other anthologies spread out through the eighties and nineties, and several spin-off novels. You can read about them on Terri’s page.
I gobbled those books down when they came out. I could hardly wait for the next one to be published. I loved them. I lived in them. I wanted to go there—desperately.
And now I get to go!
I have taken my time getting around to writing this blog entry, probably because I couldn’t believe it was true, even after I had written the story and had it accepted, but now the table of contents is public and a cover will be on it’s way soon, so I’m ready to talk.
There will be a new Borderland anthology published by Random House in May of 2011--Welcome to Bordertown-- and I WILL HAVE A STORY IN IT! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!
This all started for me two summers ago at the American Library Association annual conference. I was at a dinner with various publishing people and writers, and some of us were talking about fantasy books we loved. Borderland came up, and Holly Black admitted to me that she was going to edit a new Borderland anthology with Ellen Kushner.
OMG! OMG! OMG! I was so excited that I almost fell off my seat. I was a total squealing fan girl gone wild. Holly must have thought I was demented. She must have also realized how much I loved those books, however, because she asked if I might be willing to write a story for the book. I didn’t even think twice. YES!
The next day, however, when I was sober, I was all, “OMG! How could I write a story as good as those I remember? Oh, no, what have I said? What if I make a fool of myself?” Yes, the evil critic within was awake. But, dammit, this time I wasn’t going to listen. This was a dream come true. I sat down in my hotel room and began typing ideas for stories into my laptop right away. If I couldn’t physically go to Bordertown, this was the next best thing. (It also helped that my husband was just as excited as I was when I called him with the news, and there was no way he was going to let me weasel out of it because of imaginary fears. grin)
Of course it all seemed doable months away from the deadline, but like images in a car’s side mirror, deadlines are much nearer than they appear. I had to find my old copies of the books still in boxes from our last move, and I had to read them to refresh my memory. I made notes, and created smudged and ever expanding and corrected and out of proportion street maps, so Bordertown was clear in my mind. I found websites on-line that listed characters and places—The Yellow Brick Road and Mock Avenue Time--what a help! I printed out and compared all this information to my notes and annotated everything, put all the papers in a binder, which became my Borderland Bible, and I went to work. Thank goodness for last winter’s Snopocalypse which closed the entire Washington/Baltimore area down and kept me home from work so I could, sort of, almost, close to it really, get the story in on time. "Elf Blood" by Annette Curtis Klause.
I will post the cover when it’s available and also a link to the official Welcome to Bordertown website when it’s up. In the meantime, here are two on-line commentaries—one, two.
Now cross you fingers and cross your eyes and wish with me that the new anthology will be a smashing success, and all the others come back into print because of it, and there will be more anthologies to come. (Because I’ve already got some ideas.)