Mercedes Ritchie was born in Chicago IL and earned a degree in biology form Purdue University. She married Anthony Lackey in 1972. They divorced in 1990, and two years later she married her current husband, artist Larry Dixon.
Lackey began publishing with ‘‘A Different Kind of Courage’’ in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Free Amazons of Darkover anthology (1985). She has gone on to become one of the field’s most prolific authors, producing over 100 novels in under 25 years. Her first novel was Arrows of the Queen (1987), beginning her Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, which continued with Arrow’s Flight (1987) and Arrow’s Fall (1988). Lackey has since explored the world of Valdemar in dozens of books and interconnected series spanning millennia of imagined history. Other Valdemar works include the Vows and Honor series, Mage Storms trilogy, the Owl Mage trilogy (with Larry Dixon), the Last Herald Mage trilogy, the Mage Wars (with Larry Dixon), the Collegium Chronicles, and some standalone works.
She’s written many other series as well, including the Diana Tregarde books, the Bardic Voices series, the Elemental Masters series, the Dragon Jousters series, and others, including many in collaboration with Ellen Guon, Rosemary Edghill, Andre Norton, and others.
Some of Lackey’s short work is collected in Fiddler Fair (1998) and Werehunter (1999). She co-edited Flights of Fantasy with Martin H. Greenberg (1999). She edited non-fiction collection Mapping the World of Harry Potter (2006).
Her latest book, Intrigues (2010), is book two in the Collegium Chronicles.
Lackey and Dixon live outside Tulsa OK.
“I’d been writing fiction for a long, long time – I always wrote. I used to make up stories for the kids I baby-sat, which made me very popular, which meant I got more babysitting gigs! And I wrote fan fiction. When I got down to Tulsa, I ran into C.J. Cherryh. Strangely enough, by that time I was also writing filk, and I was a bigger name in filk than she was! So I was kind of her mentor in filking. She had just discovered it, and was absolutely entranced. After I knew her about six months, she finally asked me, ‘Well, have you written anything?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Would you show it to me?’ ‘No.’ I didn’t want to impose, and I wasn’t entirely sure she wasn’t just being polite. So I made her ask me three times.
‘‘The first thing I showed her was the book I’d been working on, Arrows of the Queen, which she sent back saying, ‘This is much too much for one book. Commit trilogy.’ Eighteen rewrites and a lot of rude comments in the margins later, she figured it was ready for Betsy Wollheim to look at.
‘‘I remember Betsy and I were walking between the convention hotel and a restaurant. Betsy apparently asked me along at that point because she was thinking of buying the damn thing. She said, ‘We really like this, but it’s going to need some significant rewrites.’ By that time, of course, there were such things as PCs. I’d gotten a very, very primitive Samsung. It had two single-density, single-sided floppy drives, and I was working on WordStar. It was a long time ago, but it wasn’t bad! So I said to her (in these words): ‘Betsy, if you had told me that when I was still working on a typewriter, I’d have thrown myself off this bridge into the river right this moment. But I’m working on a computer. I don’t care – how many rewrites do you want?’ By the way, that attitude is probably what sold the book.
‘‘Publishers really don’t want a difficult writer who writes brilliant books. Publishers really like a good writer who writes good books and doesn’t have any problem with being a prima donna. That’s part of the unwritten credo: ‘Don’t be a dick.’”
‘‘I’m not reading fanfic based on any of my stuff and never will read it, because I don’t want to get into that ‘You stole my idea!’ stuff. However, yes, I do allow fanfic of my work published under Creative Commons. As Marion’s agent, Russell Galen did not like fanfic – seriously did not like online fanfic, because it’s distributed everywhere with no control. But Cory Doctorow’s a client, and (god bless Cory!) he has brought about a sea-change in Russell Galen. So now the answer is, ‘Yes, you may do fanfic, under Creative Commons, even though I don’t understand how Creative Commons works. If I were a lawyer, I would be a lawyer! So if you want to work out a correct licensing agreement, you go find a Creative Commons lawyer and you deal with it. I’m not going to do any of that – I’m just allowing it.’ ”
“I’m going in a couple of new directions. There’s one YA book, Legacies, that is the start of a series, Shadow Grail. If I had to start naming influences, it would be Professor X’s academy, Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, etc. It’s about a school out in the middle of Montana that turns out young magicians, except there are a whole lot of things happening under the surface. (We start right away with a fatal accident – except it’s not an accident, it’s a fatal-on-purpose.)
‘‘I am lucky if I can manage to figure out what I’m going to do for the next year. Sometimes it goes day by day. (Life has a tendency to run over my plans.) I’ve always been pretty casual about my work. I make fun of it all the time, and make fun of myself. Anybody who can’t do that is certainly putting a lot of strain and stress in their lives that doesn’t need to be there. There are six billion people on this planet. Most of them have never heard of me, and most of them never will. So when you put it into perspective that way, it’s just kind of neat when somebody does!’’