Release the Kraken!

The wonderful Catherynne M. Valente on embracing her true identity as a fantasy writer:

· Excerpt ·

When I wrote my first novel, The Labyrinth, it honestly never occurred to me that I wasn’t a realist, a mainstream, salt-of-the-earth, if slightly cracked earth, writer.

If you’ve read The Labyrinth, you might find this slightly difficult to believe. It involves talking animals, doors that eat people, a sentient maze, and queer angels. But for someone like me, steeped in classics to the point of leaking golden apples and bull-sex machines out of my very pores, all of this seems quite normal to me, the stuff of Literature. Of course, contemporary ideas tend more towards the Theban (the urban angst of sleeping with just the wrong person) as opposed to the Olympian (the celestial angst of having slept with just the right person in the form of a cow or a shower of gold coins, and then she gave birth to a Minotaur and/or a banker and you know, both are very inconvenient houseguests.)

But what did I care for Thebes, when there were nymphs and satyrs in that nice wood over yonder?

And then a publisher picked it up. And my editor started saying things like “dark fantasy.” This turned my head completely around. Sure, I was a little surreal, funky, even, but I felt “fantasy” was taking it a bit too far. My husband very gently poured me a cup of tea, sat me down and told me that, strictly speaking, animals don’t talk, mazes are cute little things made out of cardboard they put up for Halloween carnivals, and angels are supposed to be androgynous and sexless, so they can’t really be queer. Oh, and there’s no such thing as angels, anyway.

You are not a realist, he said. Realism doesn’t have alligators preaching the gospel.

Then realism is stupid, I said, and it was a crocodile.

· End of Excerpt ·

This is just a taste of Valente’s full essay, which we encourage you to read in its entirety at her website. Or take a look at the summary of Valente’s latest novella, Six-Gun Snow White:

  • In the novella Six-Gun Snow White, Valente transports the title’s heroine to a masterfully evoked Old West where Coyote is just as likely to be found as the seven dwarves.

    A plain-spoken, appealing narrator relates the history of her parents—a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. With her mother’s death in childbirth, so begins a heroine’s tale equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have. Filled with fascinating glimpses through the fabled looking glass and a close-up look at hard living in the gritty gun-slinging West, readers will be enchanted by this story at once familiar and entirely new.
  • Enjoy an excerpt of Six-Gun Snow White when you Look Inside on Amazon.
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Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Own Making. She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus and Hugo awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with her partner, two dogs, and enormous cat.