The past two days have gone by in a kind of swirl of conversations and panels, meals and signings and connections. I don't actually remember much about the "Authorial Intent" panel, except that I felt that our moderator, Vito Excalibur, was in complete control of the situation at all times and wasn't going to let anything bad happen, which, given the emotional temperature of the topic, was very comforting. I felt as if interesting and important things were said, both from the dais and from the audience. The whole thing gave me food for thought, and I'm going to go off and do that thing (think, that is) as I tackle this redraft of The Freedom Maze, my time-travel fantasy set on a sugar plantation in Louisiana in 1960 and 1860.
Speaking of authorial intent. This afternoon, during the huge group Sign-Out, where anyone with books to be signed can find the right person to sign them, a woman came up to me, carrying Changeling (which she had not read) and Horns of Elfland, an anthology of stories about music which Ellen and I edited a bunch of years ago, in which I have a story called "Sacred Harp." The woman had loved that story, also "CATNYP," and wanted to talk about how and why so many of my stories were driven by the protagonist's need to live with, circumvent, and finally break the rules by which her world was bound. "It's a cycle," she said (I'm paraphrasing here). "She learns what they are, the punishment for breaking them is hard, she doesn't really want to break them, but she does, and learns that breaking them didn't make her a bad person. It's really interesting."
Yes, it was. It was also news to me. Oh, I know I write about rules in the NYBetween books--fairy tales are all about knowing when to break rules and when to abide by them. But I realized that the same could be said of "Sacred Harp" and "Gift From A Spring" and a bunch of other things I've written over the years. Not everything, certainly. But a lot.
So we talked about rules some more. And I think I convinced her that I was genuinely surprised to hear that I had a rule obsession, and that I was rather tickled than otherwise that she'd pointed it out to me. After all, as unconscious revelations go, it's not particularly dire. I just hope I can be as open to hearing that a story or a book has revealed some less palatable part of my subconscious.