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30 September 2003




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Terri Windling: Border Coyote October 2003

Terri Windling studied literature and mythology and planned to attend art school, but found work in publishing instead. She helped establish the Ace Fantasy imprint in 1982, later working as consulting editor for Putnam/Berkley and then for Tor, which continues to publish her series of "Fairy Tales" retellings of classic stories and "Borderlands" YA shared-world anthologies. Her many anthologies include sixteen volumes of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror with Ellen Datlow, and six volumes of adult fairytales, including World Fantasy Award winning Silver Birch, Blood Moon (1999). Fiction includes the novel The Wood Wife (1996), winner of the Mythopoeic Award, and the upcoming The Moon Wife (Tor). Her art has been exhibited in galleries and museums in the US, England, and France. In 1987 she created The Endicott Studio, an interdisciplinary organization dedicated to the mythic arts. She has homes in Devon, England and Tucson, Arizona.    
Photo by Beth Gwinn

Excerpts from the interview:


“'Border crossing' is a recurrent theme in all aspects of my work -- editing, writing, and painting. I'm interested in the various ways artists not only cross borders but also subvert them. In mythology, the old Trickster figure Coyote is a champion border crosser, mischievously dashing from the land of the living to the land of the dead, from the wilderness world of magic to the human world. He tears things down so they can be made anew. He's a rascal, but also a culture hero, dancing on borders, ignoring the rules, as many of our most innovative artists do. I'm particularly drawn to art that crosses the borders critics have erected between 'high art' and 'popular culture,' between 'mainstream' and 'genre,' or between one genre and another -- I love that moment of passage between the two; that place on the border where two worlds meet and energize each other, where Coyote enters and shakes things up. But I still have a great love for traditional fantasy, for Imaginary World, center-of-the-genre stories. I'm still excited by series books and trilogies if they're well written and use mythic tropes in interesting ways.”


“Twelve years ago I left Boston and New York, and moved east and west at the same time. East, to a little village in Devon, England, a town I've been familiar with for years, since my friends Brian and Wendy Froud and Alan Lee all live there. It had long been my dream to live in England, so I finally bought a little old cottage over there. But I decided, both for visa and health reasons, living there half the year would be better than trying to cope with cold, wet Dartmoor winters. At that point, Beth Meacham had moved out to Arizona, and I discovered how wonderful the Southwest is, particularly in the wintertime. Now I spend every winter-spring in Tucson and every summer-autumn in England. Both places strongly affect my writing and my painting. They're very opposite landscapes, and each has a very different mythic history. In Tucson, the population is a mix of Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and Euro-Americans of various immigrant backgrounds -- so the folklore of the place is a mix of all those things, as well as the music and the architecture. The desert has its own colors, light, and rhythms. In Devon, by contrast, it's all Celtic and green and leafy, and the color palette of the place comes straight out of old English paintings -- which is more familiar to me, growing up loving the Pre-Raphaelites and England's 'Golden Age' illustrators. I've learned to love an entirely different palette in Arizona, where the starkness of the desert is offset by the brilliance of the light, the cactus in bloom, and the wild colors of Mexican decor.”


“It's been several years since The Wood Wife came out, and although I've written a number of children's books since then, and a lot of non-fiction on mythology and folklore, I'm thoroughly enjoying the process of sinking deep into an adult novel again. I'm not giving up anthology editing entirely though. I love short fiction too much, and I love working in partnership with my 'dark sister' Ellen. We're doing a series of myth-oriented anthologies for Sharyn November's YA line at Viking, and middle-grade fairytale books for Simon & Schuster. I'm also co-editing an interstitial fiction anthology with Heinz Insu Fenkl for Small Beer Press, the 'Fairy Tales' series of novels over at Tor, and a quarterly online journal of mythic arts for The Endicott Studio.”

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

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