I love how communities are built and how people are linked. So, in the wonderfully organic network of writers who meet one another across vast distances, I can't talk about "Featherweight" and Kari Sperring without telling the tale of SFWA and its Circulating Book Plan.
Shortly thereafter, I found myself with the delightful prospect of editing my first anthology, Lace and Blade. Because the publisher wanted a Valentine's Day release, she agreed to let me do it by invitation. So I sent Chaz an email. The rest, as they say, was history. I not only received a wonderful story ("In The Night Street Baths," reprinted in Wilde Stories 2009), but made a valued friend.
Living With Ghosts won the British Fantasy Award. Her first novel. It's luscious and edgy and romantic and sad. Oh my, can this woman write! So she went on my short list for the next anthology, which by this time would be #3. I had no idea if she wrote short fiction, but I asked her anyway. She sent me "Featherweight." I read,
After the alchemical queen died, she turned into feathers. In life, she had been whipcord and lemons, yet in death she came apart in peace. Her peace--her pieces--floated out into the city she had guarded so long...
One of the deepest pleasures of editing is getting to indulge my own taste, to carefully attend to what strikes such inner chords as to fill me with music. Delightful as it was to read Living With Ghosts, I made my way through "Featherweight" thinking, I asked for this story. She wrote it on my invitation. The feeling is akin to discovering you have acted as midwife to something glorious.
The anthology needed a title and a focus. I thought about romantic, swashbuckling fantasy, and about poetry and heroic quests and the beauty of language, how stories take us beyond ourselves on journeys...where? I kept coming back to this one as a touchstone, the image of feathers drifting through a city and transforming lives. Feathers...dreams...tall tales and myths and bardic chants and sonnets...together they create a very special place in the imagination, neither reality nor dream, but filled with the language of the heart.
The Feathered Edge.