Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The gifts of the fairy godmothers

Over on twitter today, there's a #womeninpublishing meme going around. It's kind of amazing to watch people praise all of the talented, generous, helpful women in the publishing industry, and it's made me want to say some thank yous of my own.

When I was, oh, somewhere around middle school age, I decided I was too cool to read fantasy books any more. Now, let me assure you that in no possible definition of the word was I cool, and trading Susan Cooper and Madeleine L'Engle for Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club didn't help. Thankfully, the phase was a brief one.

I remember the book that got me back into reading fantasy: Jane Yolen's harrowing and lovely Briar Rose. Inside the book, there was a list of other fairy tales, put together by Terri Windling. That was it. The beginning of a continuing quest to read all of those stories. I've read every Windling-Datlow anthology in existence, looked for every book they've mentioned, and I owe them so many of my favorite authors and stories. I owe them so much of what I've become.

Inside those books, there was often the mention of a magical place: The Endicott Studio. It seemed as wonderful and impossible as Narnia. In 2006, my life was falling apart in a number of significant ways. I was at a conference, and I was speaking with a woman named Helen Pilinovsky, who was part of the Endicott staff. Terri and Midori were looking for another reviewer. She would pass my information along. I wrote three audition reviews, and I cried when I got the email from Terri saying I could write for them. It sounds cliched to say that changed my life. The simple reality is it did.

That was where I first heard about Clarion, as well. Terri and Midori were the first people I told that I was applying. Good luck, they said, they had faith in me. I am a writer. I should know words that would express how much that faith meant. I don't have them. Simply saying thank you cannot possibly be enough.

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