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February 7th, 2008

Story of a Story

So a few years back (never mind how many), I invited a bunch of friends to a place called Cubertou in the obscure reaches of South Western France to help me celebrate my 50th birthday. One of the guests was Charles Vess, whose birthday is a couple of days before mine.

In the 40's and 50's, Cubertou was home to a British painter and printmaker called Peter Norton and his colorful French ballet-dancer wife. They ran an arts camp for years--print making in the barn, dance recitals and plays in the courtyard, mask-making in the attic, teenagers and young adults everywhere. All washing (personal and laundry) took place in a square stone-lined basin fed by a stream: what remained of what was probably a late-medieval wash-house. It was out in the woods a piece, and probably not all that picturesque when it was in daily use, but by the time we were there, Cubertou boasted a washing machine and showers and other modern conveniences, and the place had gone beautifully back to nature.

Charles painted me a picture of it for my birthday.

Fast-forward to a couple of years ago. Charles suggested to Shawna McCarthy of Realms of Fantasy that she might be interested in publishing stories based on pictures of his that weren't already illustrations. She agreed. I said I'd do "Gift From a Spring," and then immediately forgot about it. At the Nebs last spring, Shawna asked me if I still intended to do the story, and I said sure. And I did, working a lot faster than I'm used to and utterly in the dark from moment to moment about where the story was going next. It was a completely back-brain experience, and rather disconcerting.

It's being published in the next edition of Realms. My author's copies appeared in the mailbox this afternoon. It looks beautiful. And the strange thing? I don't recognize many of the sentences. Oh, I know I wrote them. I just don't have them engraved on my brain, so that reading the over was a surprise rather than an exercise in over-familiarity.

There are, of course, many other wonderful stories in the magazine, including kenscholes "The Doom of Love in Small Spaces," which didn't make it into Interfictions only because not everything I loved would fit. Also, a very timely (for me) article by Midori Snyder on Swan Maidens. And a lot of really cool pictures.

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