Readercon's Guests of Honor (l-r): Greer Gilman, Miss Hope Mirrlees, Elizabeth Hand
I am returned but newly from some ultimate dim Burlington, Massachusetts, where Marianne and I staged the single most spectacular event of the convention -- an interview with Hope Mirrlees, the brilliant but long-dead authoress of the fantasy classic Lud-in-the-Mist.
Do you doubt me? Then be patient. I'm trying to get hold of the video footage of the event, and if and when I do, it will be posted online where you can find it.
I'm tempted to snip the thunderous applause (and cheering!) from the end of the audio recording and podcast it here. But instead, I'll simply post the transcript of one of the questions-and-answers:
The book that most people here want to hear about is your sole fantasy novel, Lud-in-the-Mist. How did you come to write it?
My father died suddenly in Buenos Aires in 1923, and that got me to thinking about fathers. My father was a successful man, but you would not say he was a happy one. There was some dark secret there, some injury or incident which cast its shadow over him . . . I was thinking about death and how it’s a kind of fairyland, dark and glamorous and mysterious, and of course I was thinking of what Jane wrote about sirens:
The Sirens stand, as it would seem, to the ancient and the modern, for the impulses in life as yet immoralised, imperious longings, ecstasies, whether of love or art, or philosophy, magical voices calling to a man from his “Land of Heart’s Desire,” and to which if he hearken it may be that he will return no more – voices, too, which, whether a man sail by or stay to hearken, still sing on.
Then, too, there were the literary influences, Keats and so on. Oh, really, too many things came together to list them all. But a blossoming sense of mortality must be given the lion’s share of the credit for this book’s existence.
Needless to say, the brilliance of the piece was all in Marianne's performance. Though some were kind enough to say that my stiff and wooden reading reading of the questions set her up quite nicely.