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Rosemary Edghill
conducted by Toni Weisskopf
 
November 2005

Rosemary Edghill (aka eluki bes shahar) is a fantasy writer -- and much more. For Baen she's done one solo novel, The Warslayer, and an on-going series of collaborations with Mercedes Lackey, set in Lackey's world of urban fantasy, the most recent of which is Music to my Sorrow, published in December 2005. She got her start writing, as so many readers do, by running across a book that wasn't so hot and thinking, "I can do better than that." And so she did.

"I've gotta claim Georgette Heyer and Star Wars [as influences], as so many do. It was all the way back in the early eighties, and having read through all of Heyer, I was trying one of the current crop of Regencies, and had just gotten to the part where the heroine takes a train from London to Malta in 1805, ignoring all the rules of both history and geography. And in spite of all of my best intentions and impulses to emotional self-preservation, The Writing Fairy landed on my shoulder and whispered in my ear: even YOU can do better than that.

"Since I'd been writing a lot of Star Wars fan fic, I already was (at least in my head) in storyteller mode, so with one thing and another, it was not long before I had settled myself down in front of my venerable IBM Selectric III and typed: The early morning sunlight of the brilliant late March day sparkled off the sills and railings of the quiet row of townhouses in this fashionable section of London . . . .

"How hard, I thought, could this be? I didn't, after all, have to show it to anyone . . .

"We will draw a veil over the subsequent year of Living Dangerously. Suffice it to say that there I was in 1982, in possession of a 150,000-word Regency novel (Turkish Delight), a 5,000- word SF short story ('Hellflower'), and (with one thing and another) several years of practice, during which time I'd managed to make every single Beginning Prose Writer error. Twice. But I had also fallen among small press editors--notably Poison Pen Press' Devra Langsam, who gave unstintingly of her time and energy to point them out. I was tanned, rested, and ready.

"Both items--the novel and the short story--sold. Turkish Delight sold to St. Martin's Press, and 'Hellflower' sold, to my stunned amazement, to Amazing Stories. And then I sold a sequel to Hellflower-the-short-story, also to Amazing Stories, which made me feel way cool and very much like a Freelance Master of the Universe. And I've never looked back."

It's difficult for Rosemary to pinpoint her earliest science fictional influences. "It's really hard to remember, because I started reading so very early. I think it may have been a J-book called Door Into Space. I don't remember the author--not one of the 'greats'-- but it was about a kid who accidentally has an alien kid come home and spend the summer with him for some reason. From there I got hooked on the Heinlein juveniles, the early Andre Nortons--my favorites there were Night of Masks and The Stars are Ours--and read just about everything both of them wrote. Then, of course, I ended up reading everybody: Clarke, Asimov, Leiber, C.L. Moore (LOVE her!), Cordwainer Smith (wow!), the Innsmouth Kids--Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard (the Grand Master of Sword and Sorcery and everybody should read every word he's ever written in every genre), Tolkien ... pretty much everything I could get my hands on in SF and Fantasy. Dune was a huge influence on me. It was, in every sense, the biggest book I'd ever seen at the time it was published. Enormous."

Some of Rosemary's favorite non-SF authors include: "Dorothy Dunnett (but who doesn't?), Bernard Cornwell (the Sharpe books are brill), George MacDonald Frasier (his Flashman novels and he writes great nonfiction, too!), John le Carre' (I would read the phone book if he wrote it), and, of course, I grew up on Kipling (he wrote a heckuva lot more than just The Jungle Book, and it's all good) and Mark Twain. Love them both."

Of her characters, she says, "I adore them all--you have to, to write them, of course. But hot damn. Glory McArdle has to be a personal fave. Who wouldn't love Vixen the Slayer [from The Warslayer]? And Nick Brightlaw from my Twelve Treasures series--I still miss the fact that I never got to finish that one, because I had so many stories to tell about all those characters: Philip, Ruth, Melior, Jausserande... Bast, my Wiccan detective, of course.

"I really love the Bedlam's Bard characters, but alas, I don't think of them as 'mine'--they're Misty's, and I just get to play with them. I think my favorite is Ria. I love her dark side, and that she's so focused. Besides, I like the angsty damaged ones best. I really do. And she may damp it all down, but hey, you know it's there...[And] I'd love to see Matt Damon play Eric Banyon. Oh yeah...."

Although Rosemary has held down any number of interesting jobs covering all aspects of publishing from comic book writing to typesetting, she now is a "full-time writer, so it's nine in the morning (or eight, or sometimes seven) till unconsciousness strikes. Usually my working day runs from about nine in the morning until five, with another two or three hour stint in the evening. With breaks for dog-walking and watching Stargate (big fan here)."

I wondered if her writing schedule changed by working with a collaborator like Misty Lackey. "Not really. Except I have bouts of envy because she writes faster than I do..." For Rosemary, some of the big perks of writing full time are: "Being able to have my dogs at work with me. Having my own office. Being able to play rock music all day and work seven days a week. I'm an obsessive workaholic. I freely admit it."

Rosemary also worked with Misty Lackey as an editor on the collection of urban fantasies set in Lackey's world published earlier this year,Bedlam's Edge. "It was a wonderful experience and one I'd love to repeat! I love being an editor and all the authors were great to work with! I think it was a terrific anthology, too, one where we got to explore facets of the Bedlam's Bard universe that Misty and I just never get a chance to go to. And I must say, the readers seem to enjoy it as well, from what I'm seeing in the posted reviews... "

Much of the new Eric Banyon novels in this series are set in New York City, but Rosemary lives "upstate." I asked her how she researched her locations. "I walk around them, I read New York magazine, I go online and read articles to get inspiration. But basically, when you're setting a book in a real place, there's nothing that beats feet on the ground.

"I love research..."

Asked about her hopes for future technology, Rosemary knows what she wants: "Dammit, I want to see us get out into space bigtime! Moon colonies, Mars colonies, L-5s, cislunar manufactories; we could solve so many of our Earthside problems if we'd just Get Out There. Heinlein was right about our need for a High Frontier."

Rosemary is ready for time travel, when it gets invented, and complains vociferously at being constrained to pick only time to go back in history to view. "Just one? Oh, not fair! I have a really long list, actually, since I am a major history geek. And I would want to take a camera, to document it, because the real point would be to settle a lot of vexed questions once and for all, wouldn't it? Okay, let's see (I'll pick a safe one). like what really happened to The Princes In The Tower, since you know for Damned Sure that neither Richard nor Henry killed them. Why? Neither man was stupid enough to kill the next in line to the throne and not have bodies available to display. The fact that there were no bodies to display ensured that Henry's reign was haunted by pretenders and -- probably--false claimants. In fact, there were Plantagenet claimants all the way into the reign of Elizabeth, precisely because the "little Princes" vanished without a trace..."

For more information about Rosemary Edghill please go to: http://www.sff.net/people/eluki

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