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Author Spotlight: Tanith Lee

Did you draw upon any particular myth or lore about mermaids for “Doll Re Mi”?

Not at all. For me it was just the complementary shapes—violin, woman with fish-tail.

Your parents were dancers—did you hear a lot of classical music growing up? Are you a classical music fan? Do you play any instruments?

My gorgeous parents weren’t classical dancers—but very able and graceful exponents of Ballroom and Latin American. However, they both loved classical music. So yes, I heard lots, and fell in love with it too. I did try to learn the piano as a child—I could compose on it, but stayed useless as a pianist. (Same with the guitar, later). Both my parents could play well.

What is the significance of the dream sequence? Who is the figure with the webby veil?

A reader will undoubtedly decide for themselves in both cases. There may be many answers, and most of them correct.

Do you see “Doll Re Mi” as a story about punishment for hubris?

No, I see it as the punishment for wasteful cruelty, which the main character so lavishly displays towards both people and things.

What scares you? Who are your favorite horror authors?

In books what scares me is usually rather less the subject matter than how it is handled. Among my favourite writers here are R.L. Stevenson and M.R. James. Individual books: I’d cite John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot—the only example of a work that truly, if temporarily, made me afraid of vampires. While William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is, I think, one of the most frightening novels of any sort ever written.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a weird contemporary novel (my contemporary stuff is generally even more odd than my fantasy) called Turquoiselle. I shall never think of a garden shed the same way again!

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Erika Holt

Erika HoltNightmare assistant editor Erika Holt lives in Calgary, Alberta, where she writes and edits speculative fiction. Her stories appear in Shelter of Daylight Issue 6, Evolve Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead, and Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales. She is also co-editor of two anthologies from EDGE and Absolute XPress: Rigor Amortis and Broken Time Blues: Fantastic Tales in the Roaring ’20s.

1 Responses »

  1. Thank you so much for publishing the story and this interview online!

    Tanith Lee is my favourite living author (Octavia Butler was my other fave), so it’s always a pleasure for me to read anything by or about her. I think this is the first mention of the title for the next Colouring Series book, *Turqoiselle*, so thanks for that as well. I’ll start checking Immanion publishing for it next (unless this series has moved somewhere else already). Also, I never knew she enjoyed those particular writers. Her taste reminds me a little of Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s. M.R. James makes complete sense though. I think I’ll download some free copies of his stuff from Project Gutenberg this weekend.

    I’m waiting on her newest collection of shorts, *Space Is Just a Starry Night*, to arrive, so “Doll Re Mi” was a nice appetizer until then1. I ordered *SIJaSN* direct from the publisher, Aqueduct Press, but understand it should be available on Amazon.com in a few weeks.

    Sorry to sound like a print ad – I really appreciate reading about her whenever I can.

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