Fantastic Literature: Defending a Dreadful of Dragons

Penny Blubaugh

Melissa Scott is the author of eighteen books, most classified as science fiction. She was asked The Question by a friend of her mother’s after publishing her first novel. “So tell me Melissa, why does someone who went to Harvard write this stuff anyway?”[1]

Emma Bull is the author of six books, short stories and poems, most classified as fantasy. She was asked The Question by her father as her second book was due to come out. “Have you ever thought about . . .do you have any interest in . . .do you think you’ll ever write something that’s not science fiction or fantasy?”[2]

I was asked The Question while interviewing advisors during my second semester at Vermont College. What do you want to write that stuff for?

That stuff, fantastic literature, can provoke more expressions of disdain than almost any genre except for romance. This may be because too many people associate the literature with green, bug-eyed monsters. It may be because elves and trolls, magic and alchemy, are seen as things that couldn’t possibly have relevance in a modern, almost 21st century world. Or it may be because it often breaks the unwritten rule that genre fiction is supposed to be simply light, fun reading. But for those who read it, write it and enjoy it, fantasy — more than any other literature — can set the world on edge, twist and tweak the everyday, and pull out new and fresh perspectives on life. As Emma Bull says in her essay “Why I Write Fantasy”, it transforms the way we see the world by connecting familiar images with strange new ones. “Around the next corner there could be . . .anything. Infinite possibility. Infinite futures. Infinite capacity for hope.”[3]

When taking the long view, all fiction is fantasy. “An invented girl who lives in Brooklyn and an invented elf who lives in Faerie are equally imaginary”,[4]says Will Shetterly. Both are built in the writer’s mind, as are the situations and characters they’ll meet on the way to somewhere, or something, else. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz is as commonplace and realistic as she can be. Her companions on her journey are pure fantasy. But they’re all imagined. Even if Dorothy was based on a real person, readers will probably never really believe that she flew to Oz in a tornado and then clicked her heels three times to come home. This in no way, however, stops people from enjoying the story. Instead, knowing that they’re participating in magic and fantasy with heroes on a mission for good against a truly evil adversary may make them appreciate the story and its artistry even more.

Put these imagined people together — the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodsman, the Scarecrow, Dorothy and even Toto (possibly the bravest of them all) — and they become a blend that’s completely different from either straight realism or pure illusion alone. The blend ends up making a story that’s much different, and stronger, than it would have been if Dorothy had just stayed in dull, gray Kansas and tried to get her dog back from the mean old lady up the road.

The International Association for the Fantastic Arts uses the term fantastic to cover fantasy and science fiction as well as fairy tales, romance, myth, legend, ghost stories and horror.[5] Within these areas are sub-genres that can go on almost indefinitely; mystery science fiction, time travel romance, fantasy horror, ghostly fairy tales, and combinations that may never have been written but that are undoubtedly percolating in someone’s inner thoughts.

The fantastic is the most ancient mode of storytelling. “Fantasy is the oldest form of literature. I mean, the first writings we have are the Gilgamesh legends from Mesopotamia. Mimetic (realistic) fiction is a fairly recent development. I always perceived fantasy as the larger sphere within which realistic fiction operated”,[6]says Harlan Ellison. Still, realistic fiction is currently the genre that garners the praise and the literary reviews. Fantasy is generally regarded as a poor second cousin, the one that lives in the back of the bookstore and has little of importance to deliver. It is, the thoughts seem to go, only fantasy. Nothing touching real life. But, just like Gilgamesh, all fiction, including mimetic fiction, is invented first in the mind of the writer.

Gilgamesh may have been the first of a long line in fantastic literature, but close behind it are The Odyssey, Beowulf, the Arthur tales. These are all magical stories that have survived through time. They’re invented tales that tell people how to deal with the world. They try to explain what’s in the dark, to give out talismans to readers and listeners, so that whatever’s hiding under the bed or around the next bend in the road is kept from getting you and killing you.[7] Fantasy has its word roots securely in phantom and fancy, with a root meaning of making things visible. From Gilgamesh to now, fantasy has given us a road map, opening the safest path out of the forest while also amusing, lifting spirits, and giving writers the chance to make strong political statements and still stay out of jail.[8]

The stories told in fantasy work because they’re based on the old tales that sit, always waiting, in our imaginations. At their core is a “familiar fear or obsession or intrigue, the curiosity about the world around us.”[9] Living as we do now, separated from nature and death, we carry the old fears in the back of our minds, letting them gibber in the dark and in our dreams. Fantasy is still the best way of dealing with them, a bridge to understanding just what we’re hiding from ourselves. “What we feel most deeply can’t be spoken in words alone. At this level only images connect. Story becomes symbol; symbol is myth. And myth is truth,”[10]says Alan Garner.

Contemporary fantasy is generally divided into science fiction and fantasy, more as a publishing and bookselling ploy than for any other reason. But all fantastic literature is ‘what if’ fiction that is often divided into “improbable magic and probable technology”.[11] Using fantastic as the umbrella genre term, all of these forms look at our current situation through a distorted lens and then start to propose alternative solutions to the messiness of everyday life.

But the lines between these arbitrary and often artificial breaks can be very thin. More and more often the literature is pressing at its own confines and crossing over, or crosshatching, in unexpected and delicious ways. In Emma Bull’s Finder Bordertown looks almost post-apocalyptic with the poisoned Red River that’s an addictive trip for humans, the potholed streets and the squatters taking over empty buildings. But the other thread running through here is that of ancient elven magics and the strict monarch-court of Faerie. Bull pulls a similar trick in Bone Dance. Subtitled A Fantasy for Technophiles the book blends a post-holocaust Minneapolis and an artificially created human with tarot cards and magic dancers. In other examples, Native American trickster tales blend with the urban territory of Canada in Charles DeLint’s Newford stories. Psi ability and royal ruling families awash in intrigue are found in Joan D Vinge’s Cat trilogy. And in Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, a time travel experiment goes wrong, leaving the traveler stuck in England during the 13th century plague while in 21st century England traveling bell-ringers are quarantined by a new disease sweeping the country. As Morgan Llywelyn says, “Fantasy is a mountaintop from which all horizons can be seen”.[12]

Garner’s symbol, myth and truth is a perfect definition of the blend that fantastic literature has become. Fantasy operates in the land of myth and metaphor, the land where you can never quite say it, just feel it, instead. It’s this basic feature of the genre that almost assures that it simply won’t reach everyone. Those who read or write fantasy do tend to view the world in different, even mysterious, ways. There are more realists in the world, though, than there are fantasists, and fantasy authors seem to agree that this may not be such a bad thing. Then again, that may only be exclusivity, that peculiar enjoyment of being one of the few rather than one of the many. People who read or write fantasy are often comfortable being alone and involved in their own imaginings.

But why this skewed world view in those attracted to fantasy? Let some authors give their opinions:

Bruce Coville — Fantasy opens a door to internal truths, “letting us look sideways at ideas that may be too powerful to consider head on.”[13]

Harlan Ellison — “If you turn the lens of fantasy only slightly, it reflects the human condition in a much more invigorating way than straight fiction.”[14]

Susan Cooper — Realistic fiction takes you away for a brief time. “You enter it, you live there for a while, you leave again. Perhaps it will alter you; usually it will not. I suspect that the book which takes you into a world apart must also trouble you, at least a little. And the troubling stays with you . . . and afterwards you are changed.”[15]

Neil Gaiman — “Fantasy is a remarkably supple tool. It’s the process of making metaphor real, of taking readers to places they have never been and bringing them back a little changed.”[16]

Emma Bull — “All good fantasy has reality at its heart.”[17]

It’s this heady blend of myth, metaphor and reality that makes fantastic literature so unique, so completely altered from what readers normally find in fiction. But having your world skewed does appear to be an acquired taste. Melissa Scott says that a librarian friend who teaches science fiction and fantasy classes believes that the genre is like olives. It may take time to appreciate the taste of olives: it may take time to appreciate literature of the fantastic, too.

Conversely, some people seem to be born to fantasy. I think I’m one. I never read much in the genre (except for A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, which I read ten times before I was twenty, and I suppose that should have been a clue) until, as an adult I discovered a book by Carol Hill, The Eleven Million Mile High Dancer. I haven’t reread it and I don’t even know if it’s very good fantasy, but I was hooked completely and I haven’t looked back. Yes, I still read realistic fiction, especially in the area of Young Adult literature, but when I need everything to go away, when I need my mind stretched, when I need a place of magic and wonder, I reach for fantasy. It mirrors what’s happening behind my eyes, what’s walking through my head, especially when what’s hiding out is uncomfortable, or hard, or strong. And, if it’s good, it can affect me powerfully. As Cooper and Gaiman say, I come away changed.

Obviously living in this realm of myth and metaphor is too disconcerting for some. But the concepts in the fantastic can prepare readers to live in a real world that always seems to turn out to be more frightening than we’ve been led to believe. (For examples throughout this paper I’ll be referring to four books: Dragon’s Bait by Vivian Vande Velde, with a fifteen year-old girl accused of witchcraft and a dragon-youth who can transform into a handsome seventeen year-old boy; Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, a tale of the homeless of London and the world they’ve built underground in the tube stations; Finder by Emma Bull, a noir detective novel set in the Borderlands, the world between Faerie and the world we accept as real; and Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause, the story of a sexy high-school werewolf trying to find her own place in the world.) How scary, exactly? In Blood and Chocolate Vivian turns into a werewolf every full moon, a transformation with as many erotic feelings as physical changes. This is fine, she’s done it all her life. But now she’s waking up covered in blood, and she knows that the blood isn’t her own. In Neverwhere, meek Richard finds himself on a hero’s quest in London Below, a dark and scary place he’s never known existed, with an entirely new set of rules that he must learn, and learn quickly, if he’s to survive. In Dragon’s Bait Alys, after a sham of a trial led by the church’s Inquisitor, is staked to a pole in an open field, a sacrifice to the dragon that’s been terrorizing the countryside. And in Finder Orient, a runaway from the world trying to start over in Bordertown is dragged into a brutal murder investigation, forced into helping the police because of an alleged murder in his own past.

Fantasy isn’t escapist. On the contrary, it’s a vehicle that lets writers deal with issues of concern in a way that’s slightly removed. This gives readers the chance to enjoy a work on two levels. The writer may simply be passing along a great story, but if the urge to peel away the layers does strike, an important subtext can often be found, one that in other genres could easily come across as a heavy-handed sermon. Finder deals with racism and a deadly virus, striking one group of people in excessive numbers, very similar to AIDS in the gay community. Neverwhere deals with the homeless, the people no one ever notices unless forced to. In Dragon’s Bait the power of the church to control the minds of the people is as strong as it was during the Salem Witch Trials, as is the strength of a mob to influence peoples’ actions and opinions. And Vivian, in Blood and Chocolate is trying to cope with the death of her father, her mother’s promiscuousness and her own emerging sexuality.

Fantasy issues are large ones and the worlds they’re set in, while imagined, are always realistic and moral. The issues explored are us; humans. Elves, werewolves, aliens, shape-shifters, they’re all just us because that’s what a writer has as a model, what a writer wants to explore. Will Shetterly expresses a common desire of fantasy writers when he says, “We write what we don’t know, what we perceive beyond us and hope to understand through the act of writing. We write about the places just past the ones we know . . . We are writing about the borders of our experience.”[18]

Fantastic literature is enjoyed for its off-beat vision of these borders. Myth and metaphor help pull the old images out of our imagination, expressing “most clearly the deepest recesses of the human heart”.[19] And fantasy “shares a boundary fence with poetry”.[20] Once read by all literate people to communicate a sense of wonder poetry, as well as fantasy, builds new worlds and yanks on old perceptions, often with lines and images light as a pencil sketch. Contemporary realistic fiction just doesn’t do this. It misses the wonder because real-life assumptions “aren’t elastic enough”[21]for the metaphors to play. Mimetic fiction is too tied to what might truly happen. The myths aren’t given enough freedom, enough room, to make their magic happen

Fantasy may seem to take you away, but it’s actually bringing you home. Back to the old, collective unconscious images we all store in our minds. The writer’s metaphors, those signals that the reader picks up subconsciously, are put on the page in the first place instinctively, non-rationally. The writer puts them down and, if they’ve done their job well, the reader picks them up and something based on the old tales, but at the same time totally new, emerges. The dragon in Dragon’s Bait changes shape at will but must always return to dragon form before dawn to keep from dying, something that seems impossible when the Inquisitor recognizes and binds the dragon-youth with iron when he’s in human form. The fey of Bordertown, in Finder, mix with the humans, but their cultural differences make this a mix that’s always on the verge of anarchy, ready to explode. The Lady Door’s protector in Neverwhere, the Marquis de Carabas, has adopted his name from the child’s fairy tale, Puss-in-Boots. The werewolves in Blood and Chocolate, the things waiting to grab you out in the dark, begin to do just that to the humans they share their town with, while pretending that they’re just playing a “trick” on cousin Vivian.

“If it’s good” keeps being stressed. That’s because, like every other kind of literature, there’s good fantasy and bad fantasy. Some of the more sloppy fantasy authors seem to think that just because they’re writing fantastic literature anything goes, that they don’t need to be careful. These people tend to change world rules in mid-stream, pulling out cheap coincidences to make their stories work. But even though the fantastic starts with the assumption of a new world, those worlds still need to work logically. Fantasy also needs a strong base of what’s come from the genre before; historical perspectives, or rules, for inhabiting magic lands. There has to be a reason for things to work the way they do, and the writer is obligated to make these reasons clear. Sloppy writers who ignore these requirements are doing a disservice both to themselves and to their readers. They simply feed the notion that the literature is unimportant stuff, meant only for indiscriminating children. This, of course, is a double misconception. Not only is the literature very important, but children are generally much more discriminating in their reading tastes than adults. They’re still able to rise to the wonder of the printed word, the magic of the created land, a skill that’s often lost as we become more rational, and conditioned to conformity.

So, yes, there is certainly poor writing in fantasy, but that’s something that’s equally represented in every other area of fiction. Using romance as a genre example we can find both Jane Eyre and Harlequins. Realistic fiction holds both John Steinbeck and Sidney Sheldon. Young Adult literature has both Robert Cormier and R. L. Stine. In all these cases we have works that serve a purpose but one is good, and one is often bad. Both good and bad literature can be read and even enjoyed, but it’s important for the reader to recognize the difference and to know what they’re reading. Fantasy is no different than any other genre fiction. Generally, in fact, fantasy contains or is able to sustain “highly literate works of contemporary magic, realism and mythic fantasy”.[22]

Fear seems to be an even bigger strike against the genre than poor writing; fear that fantasy corrupts. According to Vivian Vande Velde, some see magic as real, but evil. “God creates miracles; but Satan performs magic”,[23]meaning that the devil is the one behind all those wishes and fairy godmothers. And Bruce Coville says, “One good measure of a thing’s power is the degree to which people fear it. By this marker, fantasy is a powerful literature indeed, as we can see by the almost daily assaults being mounted against it by our current crop of would-be censors.”[24] Coville should know. Since 1993 four of his books have been challenged at least once in school libraries and classrooms around the country; The Dragonslayers because of witchcraft and deception; Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher for not presenting a forthright message; My Teacher Glows in the Dark because of the use of the words armpit and fart; and My Teacher is an Alien for having a main character who solves her own problems. By looking at this list, it seems that what’s really being attacked are ideas that people fear, not necessarily the convenient book scapegoats themselves.

Censorship cases like these may be because of the inherent truth in fantastic literature. People who want to find and follow someone with the “right” and “only” answers to life can find this terrifying. Truth, especially inner personal truth can be very frightening, proving that there really are no right answers for everyone, and fantasy can cut down to the source of our private truths quite ruthlessly indeed.

Fantastic literature is also subversive. It’s the only genre “predicated on the assumption of inevitable change”.[25] Not only predicated on it, in fact, but exploring it with relish, and often exploring fiercely. Change, just like truth, is something that’s often feared. A rational society functioning on control, order and “citizens who know their place has to devalue fantasy.”[26] Fantasy kicks aside preconceptions; makes people reexamine their lives. Orient is forced to do this in Finder when the mysterious plague started by the gene-altering drug that allows humans to look fey, begins affecting the elven population of Bordertown and kills his best friend. Vivian in Blood and Chocolate, trying to live in two very different worlds, must decide if she’s a werewolf first, or a human. In Neverwhere, Richard comes face to face with the reluctant hero part of himself, a part he’s never acknowledged before. And Alys, in Dragon’s Bait, discovers that revenge, something that seemed so right at the beginning, isn’t as wonderful as she thought it would be.

In all these instances fantasy shows itself to be wide open to the human condition, making the exploration of people and community accessible to readers who simply don’t want to deal with mainstream fiction, as well as to those who have minds that run contrary to the accepted rules and norms of society. After writing Finder Emma Bull received a letter from a gay couple, one dying of AIDS. The book, they said, made them realize that they had to enjoy the time they had left with each other. Bull says: “If I’d written a novel about AIDS, would those two readers, already inclined to deny the inevitable, have even picked it up?”[27] Probably not. Why make yourself face a predetermined end, extremely painful in this case, until absolutely necessary? But these readers may have thought initially that this was “just” a fantasy novel, surely safe escapism. Like others, though, they came away changed, surprised at the strength and punch of fantastic literature. Fantasy works on our nerve-endings,[28]opening “unexplained territories of the imagination.”[29]

Fantastic literature can also be used as a tool to lure children to reading, to make an often difficult process easier. The magic inherent in fantasy, including talking animals (The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, and Brian Jacques Redwall series, to name just a few) and the fairy tale templates carried over from early childhood, can make this kind of literature familiar and accessible to those trying to conquer the skills needed for successful reading.

There are rules that anyone who reads for pleasure learns through trial and error. First is the rule of notice. Readers learn, through practice, that there are certain significant details that they must pay attention to if they want to understand the story. The author, by using his or her storytelling ability, drops clues about what, exactly, these details are. Similarly, readers learn that they simply can’t weight everything with equal value or nothing will be important and the story becomes indecipherable, flat and dull. Readers starting with the familiar stories they were read or told as young children already have a head start.

Once these rules are unconsciously learned, more rules are needed for those willing to venture into the territory of the fantastic. If the reader has a solid foundation based on the old tales this shift isn’t that difficult. It just becomes more enjoyable, and more challenging. Readers of fantasy work at their books. Now they not only have to weight the significance of words, they also have to take those noteworthy plot details and construct a totally new world, starting from scratch, just by using clues dropped like bread crumbs along the trail. They not only watch the details, ferreting out the important ones, they also draw on a background knowledge that increases with each piece of fantasy that’s read; again, drawing on the myths and metaphors of long ago, as well as bedtime and preschool stories, possibly from years before. Elves and magic spells in Finder; werewolves in Blood and Chocolate; dragons and witches in Dragon’s Bait; the Beast of the Underground locked in his labyrinth in Neverwhere.

Learning to read fantasy is interactive reading at its best, a co-creation between writer and reader. “My book is only finished when someone reads it, calls it into its final form, as the cascade of thought in the mind”,[30]says Lois McMaster Bujold. Sometimes the characters even keep building long after the book is closed, and when this happens it’s the reader’s, not the writer’s, imagination that’s most fully engaged in the construction. In other words, the book is only the beginning, the blueprint. The reader is the one who builds the final structure.

What, then, can we expect readers of fantasy to be searching for, as compared to readers of realistic fiction? According to Edith Tyson, a young adult librarian at the Warrenville, Ohio public library, voluntary readers are usually girls, but the boys who do read tend to read more. These voluntary readers can be divided into two types. Type A people want to read about themselves, with no surprises: the captain of the football team asks the cheerleader to the prom: the teen with cancer finds inner strength: the new kid in school finally learns to fit in. Everyday problems and struggles, usually with a satisfying ending. Type B readers want to read about anything but themselves. Type A wants a mirror, Type B wants a new world, and this holds for adults as well as children. There are more Type A readers and writers in the world, hence the huge sections of new realistic fiction at the local bookstores and the libraries. But those Type B readers — watch out for them. They read voraciously and eclectically, including non-fiction, fantastic literature, and everything in between in their choices. They tend to stretch their minds and themselves, rarely worrying about the age-appropriateness of what they choose. (Put together a group of fantasy readers from ages 12 to 60 and watch what happens. Age differences will rarely be a problem.) Type B readers are always filling in the blanks, hunting for the lost clues. They learn to use their imaginations in ways that Type A people rarely do.[31]

Fantasy nurtures these boundless imaginations, giving readers a chance to picture a better world. “If you can imagine it, maybe someday you can do part of it. You like to think it gives people something to aim for”,[32]says Suzy McKee Charnas. Echoing her, Ursula Le Guin says, “You don’t get anywhere unless you can imagine something different from the way it is now.”[33] And, more prosacially, Madeline L’Engle believes that a child without fantasy is less likely to have a mind that can stretch to understand abstracts like physics and biology.[34] This crossover is completed when scientists like Carl Sagan, who wrote Contact, enter the world of science fiction. Now we have a story that stems directly from scientific probabilities, written by someone who works daily with scientific thought and the scientific method.

Writers of the fantastic, like all writers, feel that need to tell stories. Their stories just happen to come out in the offset, offbeat world of science fiction, fantasy, myth, fairy tale or horror. When asked The Question, writers responses are all different, but they hold a grain of similarity, too.

Neil Gaiman — “There is no choice involved — you write what you write because it’s the thing in your head that needs to be told.”[35] This from a man who’s been told that his images look like a bad LSD trip.

Annette Curtis Klause –“There’s something in me that yearns for magic . . . I write what I enjoy. . . I’m not sure I exactly chose fantasy to tell my stories. That’s just the way they come out.”[36]

Emma Bull — “I know why I write fantasy — I know it somewhere down below my lungs . . . There’s something I want to get across — to both adults and kids — that just won’t take root and grow in the otherwise fertile ground of realism.”[37]

Joanna Russ — “I began to write science fiction partly because I felt I knew nothing about ‘real life’ as defined by college writing courses (whaling voyages, fistfights, war, barroom battles, bullfighting, et cetra) and if I wrote about Mars nobody could tell me it was (1) trivial or (2) inaccurate.”[38]

Triviality plays a large role in the minds of fantasy writers; trying hard to make sure that it doesn’t rear up and leap off the pages of their work. Susan Cooper says that writing fantasy: “is the loneliest job of the lot, since you have to make so close a connection to the unconscious that the unbiddable doors will open and the images fly out like birds.”[39] This certainly isn’t trivial writing. I’ve had the experience myself, of writing something that cuts so close to the bone that it’s turned into a piece that I still haven’t been able to go back to and really consider where it needs to go, what it wants to be. It tells a certain truth, this piece, one that I think I’ve hidden from for several years, and one that never would have expressed itself in realistic fiction.

Truth is the core of the experience of fantasy, truth for both the writer and the reader. Ursula Le Guin calls fantasy the “beautiful, non-facts”[40]that allows humans to arrive at the truth. Will Shetterly almost repeats her comment when he says, “What matters is the size of a story’s truth. If a story does not say something about what it means to be alive, the writer has failed.”[41] And George R. R. Martin says, poetically, “We read fantasy to find the color again.”[42] The color of truth, the color of life, the pure, rich color that hides in the deepest recesses of the imagination.

Finally, Melissa Scott sums up the whole crazy urge to ever wander into the fantastic by saying fantasy “lets a writer consider very abstract ideas in human, messy and concrete terms. That’s why I write.”[43]

And in the end, that’s why I read and write fantasy. It’s the entering of a completely new, invented world that’s based on ancient themes, themes that draw me back through history to a buried subconscious. It’s the thrill of dropping clues and seeing if others can follow the trail; or the thrill of finding the clues in someone else’s work and following the trail myself. It’s the delving into another’s mind, even one that reminds someone of their last drug trip. And it’s the freedom of soaring in my imagination and coming home a changed person.

Fantastic literature may not save the world, but it can save people from falling into a mundane, everyday existence where nothing ever changes. And that release alone is worth the trip.


[1] Melissa Scott. Conceiving the Heavens: Creating the Science Fiction Novel (Portsmouth: Hienemann, 1997) vii.

[2] Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. Double Feature (Framingham: NESFA Press, 1994) 5.

[3] Bull, Double Feature, 12.

[4] Facts About Fantasy: Fourteen Authors Talk About the Importance of the Literature of the Fantastic (New York: Jane Yolen Books, 1994).

[5] T. A. Shipley, ed., introduction, Magill’s Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy, vol. 1. (Pasadena: Salem Press, Inc., 1996) xiii.

[6] Michael Cart, “What Walpole Wrought; or The Horror! The Horror!,” Booklist Oct 15, 1997: 395.

[7] Annette Curtis Klause, “The Lure of Horror,” Library Journal Nov 1997: 38.

[8] Bull, Double Feature, 7.

[9] Terri Windline, summation, Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: Tenth Annual Collection, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, eds., (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1997), xii.

[10]Windling xiii.

[11] Bull, Double Feature 5.

[12]Windling xiii.

[13] Facts About Fantasy.

[14] Cart 395.

[15] Susan Cooper. Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children (New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1997) 108.

[16] Neil Gaiman, letter to the author.

[17] Emma Bull, letter to the author, 10 September 1997.

[18] Facts About Fantasy.

[19] Facts About Fantasy.

[20] Bull, Double Feature, 11.

[21] Bull, Double Feature, 9.

[22]Windling xi.

[23] Vivian Vande Velde, letter to the author, 6 September 1997.

[24] Facts About Fantasy.

[25] Scott ix.

[26] Bull, Double Feature, 9.

[27] Bull, letter to the author.

[28]Windling xiii.

[29] Shipley xix.

[30] Lois McMaster Bujold, “Mind Food: Writing Science Fiction,” Journal of Youth Services in Libraries 10 (1997): 165.

[31] Bujold 158.

[32] Julie Phillips, “Feminist Sci-Fi: A Brave New World,” MS Nov – Dec 1994: 73.

[33] Phillips 73.

[34]Madeline L’Engle, “Madeline L’Engle,” Women Writers of Children’s Literature, ed. Harold Bloom (Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1998) 72.

[35]Gaiman, letter to the author.

[36] Annette Curtis Klause, letter to the author, 10 October 1997.

[37] Bull, Double Feature, 7.

[38] Phillips 71.

[39] Cooper 115.

[40] Cooper 71.

[41] Facts About Fantasy.

[42]Windling xiii.

[43] Scott xi.

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. . . Finder. New York: TOR, 1994.

. . . Letter to the author. 10 September 1997.

Cart, Michael. “What Walpole Wrought: or The Horror! The Horror!” Booklist October 15 1997: 395.

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Gaiman, Neil. Letter to the author.

. . . Neverwhere. New York: Avon Books, 1996.

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. . . Letter to the author. 10 October 1997.

. . . “The Lure of Horror.” School Library Journal November 1997: 38.

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Phillips, Julie. “Feminist Sci-Fi: A Braver New World.” Ms Nov / Dec 1994: 70 – 75.

Ross, Catherine Sheldrick. “If They Read Nancy Drew, So What?: Series Book Readers Talk Back.” Library and Information Science Research Vol. 17 No. 3 (1995): 201-236.

Scott, Melissa. Conceiving the Heavens: Creating the Science Fiction Novel. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 1997.

Shippey, T. A. Introduction. Magill’s Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy. Ed. T. A. Shippey. Vol. 1. Pasadena: Salem Press, Inc., 1996.

Stearns, Michael, et al. Facts About Fantasy: Fourteen Authors Talk About the Importance of the Literature of the Fantastic. New York: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1993.

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. . . Letter to the author. 6 September 1997.

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