My very first professional sale, back in the early 90s, was to one of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover anthologies, Leroni of Darkover. After I sent my story, “Cherilly’s Law,” out, I spent three months walking home from my first day job on my lunch hour to check the mail for a response.
When the contract to publish my story arrived, it arrived without a cover letter, and I just stared at it for a while, not sure I was understanding it right: that my story really would be appearing in an anthology that would be in a book on bookstore shelves.
That sale told me that maybe, just maybe, I could do this writing thing professionally after all, and the knowledge that I’d sold a story once helped push me to continue trying to sell, too. When the anthology came out, I carried it with me for weeks. I still have a battered copy that opens right to the page where my story was, because I broke the spine doing so over and over again.
So I was thrilled to be invited to contribute to a new Darkover collection, Stars of Darkover, edited by Deborah J. Ross and Elisabeth Waters and coming out this spring. Returning to Darkover after two decades was a chance to explore how much both my take on the world and my own writing had changed in that time. I kept thinking that you can’t go home again, but also that you can, and especially that ways in which both these things could be true at once was fascinating.
You can see the full Stars of Darkover contents here. My story, “All the Branching Paths,” gives voice to Elaine Montray-Aldaran, a character who is deeply influential but never seen in the original Darkover books. “All the Branching Paths” takes place during the years after Elaine’s father returns to Terra and brings a young Darkovan exchange student, Kennard Alton, home with him. Exploring what Elaine and Kennard’s romance might have looked like was fascinating, too.
I can’t wait to read all the other stories in the anthology, to see what returning to Darkover has meant for other MZB and MZB-influenced writers, and to discover new voices, too.