Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Andre Norton

Ever Read a 4-Novel-Series 5 Times?

The year was 1976…

The young woman in the image was 34 and had her first novel published—Gate of Ivrel

She followed that, in 1978, with the second in the series, Well of Shiuan

The third book, Fires of Azeroth, was published in 1979

And that was the “complete” story of Morgaine and Vanye

—until 1988 when Exile’s Gate was published.

The author is C. J. Cherryh—born Carolyn Janice Cherry—multiple Hugo Award winner—produced over 60 books—even has an asteroid named after her (77185 Cherryh).

I just finished reading those books for the 5th time yesterday

I wouldn’t recommend them to everyone

First, because they don’t easily fall into the genre-rut (though plenty of people have tried to ram them into various categories…).

Yes, there are lords and swords, horses and bandits, undying love and treachery, alien technology and whisperings of witchcraft

Still, these books are, to me, not “Science Fiction” nor “Fantasy” nor “Science Fantasy” nor “Sword-and-sorcery meets hard sci-fi”.

The acclaimed author, Andre Norton, wrote an introduction for the first edition of the first book and said:

“Never since reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ have I been so caught up in any tale as I have been in ‘Gate of Ivrel’.”

I also can’t cram Lord of the Rings into a genre.

I’m not sure when I first read them

Yet, each reading revealed more—each reading gave vast impetus to my own writing—each reading spurred me toward deep self-examination.

That last could be my second reason for not recommending them to everyone—so many folk are desperate to avoid self-examination

The third reason I don’t say everyone should read them is that the main characters reverse nearly every standard of “normal” relationships:

Morgaine, woman, leader of men, world-saver, often autocratic, feared by most, skilled in war.

Vanye, man, outcast warrior, claimed in servitude to Morgaine, in doubt about his courage, often alarmingly emotional, superstitious.

Cherryh in an interview:

“It was a set of characters I’d invented when I was, oh, about thirteen. So it was an old favorite of my untold stories…”

I do wish everyone who likes to read would read these books.

Perhaps more of us could work through the perilous patterns of relationship

Perhaps more of us could face our inner demons

Perhaps more of us could see hope where the world only shows decay and riot

Perhaps more of us could face each other with utter loyalty and trust

If I meet people who want to read something full of spirit but I know they abhor religion, I recommend these books

There is an amazing element of these stories that most articles shove in your face.

I’m going to let you discover it for yourself :-)

It’s being rumored there will be The Gates of Morgaine movies

Here are a few more quotes from the Andre Norton introduction:

“…there are indeed no supermen or superwomen—rather there are very human beings, torn by many doubts and fears, who are driven by a sense of duty to march ahead into a dark they are sure holds death. Ancient evils hang like noisome cobwebs, the stubbornness of unbelievers wrecks again and again their quest. Wounded, nearly at the edge of their strength, shamefully forsworn in the eyes of all they could once call kin, they continue to push on to the last test of all.”

“Few books have produced such characters as to draw a reader with them, completely out of this mundane world…one accepts it all without any longer remembering that this is a creation of an imagination. It might be actual history—from another plane.”

And, a final quote from Norton that I can actually feel like I wrote:

“Books flow in and out of our lives in an unending stream. Some we remember briefly, others bring us sitting upright, tense with suspense, our attention enthralled until the last word on the last page is digested. Then we step regretfully from the world that author has created, and we know that volume will be chosen to stand on already too tightly packed shelves to be read again and again.”

There is now a one-volume edition called, The Complete Morgaine (that last link is for the paperback and e-book on Amazon—go here for free world-wide delivery of the paperback)
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Author Interview ~ Jaleta Clegg

We’ve had two previous interviews with authors: Simone Benedict and Karla Telega.

Today, we have the author, Jaleta Clegg.

I first met her in the forums of BestsellerBound and I’m very glad she agreed to doing an interview here :-)
Jaleta ( or, Aleta :-), where are you from and how old are you?

I was born about fifteen thousand years ago on a starship deep in the Catalbin Nebula. Wait, you want the real truth? I’ve lived pretty much my whole life in Utah. I’m older than I look. Mentally, I’m thirteen most days.

I didn’t know Utah was in the Catalbin Nebula :-)

When did you begin writing and can you remember how it felt inside, back then?

I dabbled for years. It wasn’t until I got my hands on my own computer that I started writing in earnest. We bought a Commodore 128 at a garage sale and set it up in our family room. We’d just moved to a new neighborhood, it was summer, and I was stuck at home with four children ages seven to two. I needed an escape, so I ran away into the imaginary worlds in my head. Those have been there ever since I can remember. By the end of the summer, I’d completed three novels. They were horrible, but they were a beginning. The freedom I felt was addictive. I could be anyone, anywhere, with super powers if I wanted. It still feels that way when I get a story rolling. I love when the words flow and the worlds grow under my fingers.

Was there any certain date or time you remember when you began to either think of yourself as or call yourself a “writer”?

I’m still struggling with that. My sister was the writer in our family, not me. I submitted to a magazine back in college and was told, “This is horrible. You have no talent. You’ll never be a writer.” I believed them for years, until the stories wouldn’t stay inside any longer. I’m still not a writer, I’m a storyteller.

Interesting distinction…

What are your hopes, or dreams, or goals for your writing?

I want everyone to read my books and love them as much as I do. Isn’t that what any writer wants? It would be nice if I sold enough copies to make a decent living, too. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I really want from publishing my books. I want to share the stories. I want to entertain. I want to make enough money I can keep writing.

Have you had any “formal” training in the art of writing?

All the writing classes I ever took were for technical writing, a completely different beast from fiction writing. I learned by reading, by doing, and by attending conventions and talking with successful authors. Anyone can learn to tell stories, but it takes a lot of dedication and practice and willingness to take critique to get good at it.

Ah, yes, willingness to take critique.

What do you feel has taught you the most about “how to write”?

Reading. I used to devour between three and ten novels a week, before my eyes went bad and I had a house full of children and my own writing career. Any and every genre–science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, how-to, nonfiction–everything but straight horror and chick lit. I’d steal my kids’ books and read those, too.

Writing is also big. The best way to learn to craft a story is to write. Not just one story, or even a dozen, but hundreds. Write, and then write more. Pick apart what you wrote with a critical eye. Find where you messed up. Throw it out and start over. If you fall in love with your first story and never move beyond it, you’ll never learn what you really need to learn to get good at writing.

Sage advice, Aleta.

Who are your favorite writers and why are they favorites?

Andre Norton is my all-time absolute favorite author. Her books kept me up more nights than I want to admit. She created such fantastic worlds and characters. I could never get enough of her stuff. I still can’t. Anytime I start questioning why I’m writing, I read one of her space adventures. It re-awakens my love of words and stories. It reminds me of why I’m putting stories on paper. It’s because storytelling is fun. Writing is work.

Another fascinating distinction :-)

Where and/or how do you get your ideas for your writing?

From anywhere and everywhere. I’ll be chatting online with friends, being silly, the conversation will take an unexpected turn and I’ll suddenly have more story ideas. Putting bizarre ideas together can also lead to stories. Since I write mostly science fiction and silly horror, it’s perfect for me. I also watch a lot of B movies–old horror movies with the rubber monsters and the newer monster movies, science fiction movies that few people have ever heard of, and lots of campy classics. I have the entire Buck Rogers TV series on DVD, the one from the late 70s. I love it partly because it is so hokey, the costumes are marvelous, the acting is over the top, but the stories are fun and so full of ideas.

What is your normal revision or editing routine?

I have to get the whole thing down before I start editing or I’d never finish writing anything. I play with the story in my head until it feels right, then I write it down, and put it aside for at least a few days or months. When I pull it out to edit, I have some distance and I can read it with a more critical eye. With my novels, the process can take a couple of years before I’m happy with the book. With short stories, I can write, edit, and polish in a few days if I need to. I have several trusted readers that I send things to before I submit anywhere. They usually catch anything I’m too blind to see.

Tell us about what you’ve published and what’s coming up.

I have my first novel out, Nexus Point: The Fall of the Altairan Empire Book One. It’s a science fiction adventure story heavy on the action with just a touch of romance to keep things interesting. Don’t let the Book One scare you, though. This is a complete story. Book 2, Priestess of the Eggstone, is due out later this year. More fun and games with the characters I introduced in Nexus Point, plus a few more just to keep things interesting. You can download sample chapters at Smashwords or from my website.

I also have quite a few short stories out in magazines and anthologies, a few up for free on Smashwords and a few other sites, and a serial Star Trek fanfic story on a blog. Check out my webpage for a complete list and links. I just signed contracts for two more short stories, so I’m keeping myself busy.

Tell us about your blog: its purpose, how you go about deciding what to post, and what you want to do with it  in the future?

Well, on my main blog, on Mondays, I post book reviews, writing tips, author interviews, convention news, whatever strikes my fancy. Thursdays, I post recipes. Cooking is one of my hobbies. Come check out The Far Edge of Normal.

And, your other published work?

I write a column for Abandoned Towers Magazine print issues that features themed recipes based on books and movies.

You can also follow the adventures of Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster of the USS Voyager. This is my Star Trek fanfic, based on a character I play at work during our summer camps.

And try out Nexus Point, if you like adventure. I have ten more books in the series under contract.

Autumn Visions is a collection of short stories I’ve got up on Amazon for the Kindle.

Aleta, thanks so much for stopping by and letting us know about all your work. You’ve got lots going on and I hope our readers ask you more questions in the comments!
Aleta Clegg, writing as Jaleta Clegg:
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