REMEMBERING ANDRE NORTON
GRAND DAME OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY
I first read Andre Norton’s book, Star Man’s Son, in seventh grade because it was in our classroom library. From that book, I fell in love with science fiction and fantasy. Star Man’s son was a futuristic dystopian story, (although it was missing a romance.) I then went to the public library and started checking out every book they had by Andre, probably about ten of them.
When I went to high school, I was pleased to discover the school library had several more of Andre’s books that I hadn’t read. While sitting at a table with a bunch of other students, I had one of her books in front of me. One of the boys mentioned that Andre Norton was a woman, which surprised me (although I pretended to already know.) Later, I found that her real name was Mary Alice. In my opinion, Andre was a much more dashing name.
As the years went by, I continued to read her books, amassing quite a collection by buying them secondhand at garage sales, used bookstores, and library sales. I own most of her 100 plus books, most of them tattered, much-read paperbacks. Since discovering the books of Andre Norton, I read all the science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance tales I could get my hands on. As you can imagine, my house is overflowing with books.
When I wanted to write fantasy, I queried Andre with a short story to go in her Witch World Anthology. She wrote me back that she no longer did the anthology. But that letter was more than a brief statement. It was a real letter, letting me know some of what was happening in her life.
So I replied to the letter, asking questions and telling her a bit about myself. She responded. Thus began a correspondence that lasted the last couple of years of her life. When I made that fantasy story into a book, Sower of Dreams, she read it, made some suggestions, and endorsed it—probably one of the last endorsements she gave before she died.
I wasn’t the only fan Andre wrote to. Apparently, she had a big group of fans and writers she wrote corresponded with. She wasn’t really writing books anymore when I knew her, although she did mention one she sometimes toyed with, but it wasn’t coming together. So her correspondence was where she seemed to channel her writing energy.
The world has come a long way since Mary Alice Norton had to take on the name of a man to sell her science fiction and fantasy. She started writing during a time that science fiction and fantasy was perceived as a mostly male genre. Male authors wrote for male readers. Even coming on the writing scene much later, J.K. Rowling also had to mask the fact that she was a female author, although the truth about her gender came out early on.
I don’t think the women who publish today are asked to change their name to something more masculine. We are lucky. Women like Mary Alice and Joanne Kathleen and all the terrific female fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal romance authors have burst open the gates of what people—both men and women, boys and girls—will read.
What’s that saying about standing on the shoulders of giants?
Most female authors take for granted their freedom to choose the name under which they write, whether real or a pen name. Those of us who started writing and publishing in the last ten years owe a debt of gratitude to who've gone before--the giants whose shoulders we stand on, the women who opened the doors. Some of those women we still have with us, and I’m so very thankful that I can look forward to reading more of their books. Others like Andre (and the recently deceased Anne McCaffery) have passed on, leaving a legacy that I’m also so very grateful to have.
So during this busy holiday season—a time of gratitude—take a few moments to appreciate what we writers have today and give thanks to those who’ve gone before us.
Sower of Dreams
A kingdom invaded.
A warrior princess on the run for her life.
A hero from another world.
And evil god who wants their souls.
Can they join forces to defeat the evil one and win freedom for their people?
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Debra Holland is a three-time Golden Heart finalist and one time winner. She has self-published her Golden Heart winner, Wild Montana Sky, a sweet, historical Western romance, and its sequel, Starry Montana Sky, as ebooks and had almost 30,000 sales in her first six months. She has also self-published the first two books in her fantasy romance trilogy, Sower of Dreams and Reaper of Dreams.
-- Lynda Again
What a great tribute to Andre Norton! I'm sure we all have personal favorites, authors who've touched something inside us that has stayed with us all our lives. For me, it was Andre Norton, Isaac Asimove and Anne McCaffrey...all of them are now gone but, for many of us, they will never be forgotten.
Do you have an author like that? One who has been a personal favorite or unofficial mentor for years?
Have a Blessed Day!