About the creation of the Borderlands...Part 2

by Terri Windling

The wheels of publishing can turn quite slowly, and when, much later, it was time to take all those amorphous ideas and turn them into something real, several life changes had occurred with an impact on Borderland. Mark and I had joined a short-lived "book packaging" company called Armadillo Press, bringing the Borderland deal with us (Mark and Armadillo gave Borderland back to me when I subsequently left that company.) In addition, Mark and I had come to a cross-roads in our lives together--he went back to Ohio to live, and I moved into Ellen Kushner's rambling old apartment in Manhattan, feeling somewhat dazed at being single for the first time in a decade, and playing rather too much angst-ridden Bryan Ferry music on the stereo.

Now, I understand that every writer who has joined the Borderland project over the years has their *own* vision of Bordertown, largely influenced by the city where they live, were raised, or otherwise know best. But for me, Bordertown will always be a corner of Ellen Kushner's apartment, with the vibrant, punky New York City of the Eighties pulsing just beyond the front door...grafted onto older memories of sleeping in parks and alleyways back in the Bad OId Days...as well as of the colorfully squalid "squatting" scene I had known in London, England, where I'd been a college student short on cash and common sense.

Bordertown began to take shape beneath the pens of the original writers: Ellen Kushner, Charles de Lint, Midori Snyder, and myself (under the name Bellamy Bach). I wanted Ellen in Borderland for her wonderful prose and dazzling sense of style; Charles had once been a street kid like me, and was also a musician--perfect! Midori asked to join the group, which took me by surprise I confess, since I knew her only as the writer of a gentle fairy-tale-type novel. Then I discovered she too had an adolescence straight out of Borderland, and she soon drew a powerful story from that well of experience. Steven Boyett came into the book rather at the last minute (saving my bacon when a writer who lived abroad suddenly failed to deliver), adapting a story idea he'd already had into a Borderland piece. From the very beginning, Mark and I had wanted the cover art to be by Phil Hale--a young painter friend in Boston whose punky, distinctive and irreverent canvases we both adored. *Borderland* was completed, and published in 1986 with little fanfare. The sales were unexceptional; nonetheless NAL stood by their commitment to produce a second volume.

Book #2 (titled *Bordertown*) saw the addition of two new writers into the circle: Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. I had worked with both of them previously, editing their first novels, *War for the Oaks* and *Cats Have No Lord* respectively. And, just as importantly, I knew that each had excellent taste in music and motorbikes. (<g>) Charles was hard at work on a novel at the time, and Steven had dropped out of the project, but the rest of the original Borderland crew came back for the second volume. Phil Hale, who had moved to England, sent us another splendid cover painting--which was subsequently incorporated into the plot of "Mockery". The sales on this book were a little better, and an underground cult following was growing. A film company in Seattle contracted for Borderland media rights--introducing screen-writer Michael Korolenko to the circle.

With my departure from Armadillo Press, I moved the series from the Young Adult line at NAL to the Adult Fantasy line at Tor, where enthusiasm for these quirky little books has been unflagging. This change allowed us to reach a larger audience of readers of all ages, but the flavor of the books has not been changed: these are still stories focused on the lives of street children and teenagers, with all the joys and terrors that coming-of-age presents to us all. Book #3 (titled *Life on the Border*) widened the Borderland circle once more to include Kara Dalkey, Craig Shaw Gardner and Michael Korolenko alongside all the Usual Suspects. In addition, the input of Tor editor Patrick Nielsen-Hayden (and copy-editor Teresa Nielsen-Hayden) proved to be invaluable. It was Tor's decision to change the look of the series away from the Phil Hale covers--a decision (with all due respect to Tor, and the subsequent cover artists) I confess I still regret. Maybe I'm just sentimental, but to me Phil's art will always be a strong part of Bordertown.

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This site Copyright 1997 By Christian Colquhoun. The names Borderland, Bordertown, and the names of characters are used with the permission of the authors.

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