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Kage Baker: Company Time June 2003

Kage Baker grew up in Hollywood, where she was educated in convent schools. Her first sale was "Noble Mold" in 1997, the first of her stories and books about "The Company", 24-th century time-traveling immortals, which comprise the majority of her work to date, including four novels: In the Garden of Iden (1997), Sky Coyote (1999), Mendoza in Hollywood (2000), and The Graveyard Game (2001); Hugo-nominated novella "Son Observe the Time" (1999); and collection Black Projects, White Knights (2002). She has worked as actor, artist, and director with As You Like It Productions (formerly the Living History Center which started the original Renaissance Faire) since the 1970s, and has taught Elizabethan English as a second language for 20 years. She currently writes ad copy part-time for a San Luis Obispo newspaper, and resides in Pismo Beach, California, with a Lilac-Crowned Amazon parrot who says, "Hello" and "Shut up, Harry." The Anvil of the World, first in a new fantasy series, is due August 2003 from Tor Books.
Photo by Beth Gwinn


Excerpts from the interview:

“I was a literary child -- I read from about the age of four. My mother got me a library card when I was not quite old enough to see over the top of the counter, and I read voraciously. When all my siblings came of age to get library cards, I made them do so too, and then used their cards as well as mine. I was bringing home 50 books a week and having a wonderful time! I tended to like adventure stories -- Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson. You can learn a tremendous amount from reading people like that, because they really did know how to tell a story. It certainly also steeps you in historical detail, which is possibly where I got the predilection for writing historical fantasy. Kipling was a journalist, and any time a journalist turns to writing fiction, it's usually eminently readable because journalists have to learn the basic 'reach out and grab you' elements of the plot. They may not be terribly elegant or good at simulating dialog, but they can at least tell a good story.”


“I started writing about the Company back in the early '80s. The idea came out of nowhere. I was on a bus with 50 other actors -- they used to cram us in and ship us from one end of the state to the other to different shows. We were going back to L.A. from San Francisco on Interstate 5 through this absolutely parched California landscape, and I got just the image of two people walking along through the back country, trying to get to any place civilized without transportation, and one of them saying, 'Well, if you can get me away from San Francisco by 1906 I'd like it, thank you very much.' It just built from there. I put in a lot of concerns I've had about ecology, about things going extinct. The Elizabethan setting of the first book came from the fact that I happened to know a lot about Elizabethan England, after 20 years of teaching Elizabethan English as a second language.”


“I don't think humanity just replays history, but we are the same people our ancestors were, and our descendents are going to face a lot of the same situations we do. It's instructive to imagine how they would react, with different technologies on different worlds. That's why I write science fiction -- even though the term 'science fiction' excites disdain in certain persons.”


“With Anvil, I wanted to see what epic fantasy might be like if Thorne Smith had written it. If he or Noel Coward had written The Lord of the Rings, what would it be like? Frodo stopping for cocktails at a roadside establishment on the way. Gollum not happy with his martini: 'It put onion instead of olive in our drink, my precious; we didn't want filthy onionssss!' And what would happen to the Ring is anybody's guess. It would be fun to see something a little more witty and upbeat.”

The full interview, with biographical profile, is published in the June 2003 issue of Locus Magazine.

You may purchase this issue for $7.95 by sending a check to Locus, PO Box 13305, Oakland CA 94661; or for $10 via credit card submitted by mail, e-mail, or phone at (510) 339-9198. (Or, Subscribe.)


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