“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!’’