At signings, people sometimes ask me which authors it is that I turn into a fanboy over. Questions like this are one of the things I love about the fantasy and science fiction community—the understanding that reader and writer are cast from the same mold. At that signing, I was the one behind the table—but at another event, I’d be the one waiting in line with my tattered book in hand, waiting to meet my favorite writers.
One of the most important people on that list for me is Jane Yolen, SFWA Grand Master and all-around awesome person. I wrote about her short story collection, The Emerald Circus, last year. (It’s awesome.) And with her releasing a new book this year, Finding Baba Yaga, Tor.com reached out to me with a question: Would I be interested in writing a post about her books?
The answer was an obvious yes, but I wanted to find a way to approach it that wasn’t simply me gushing about her work. (I’m not doing so well on that point so far, I realize.) What could I write other than, “Jane Yolen’s books are awesome, and you should read them all”?
Well, recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the first Yolen book I read: Dragon’s Blood. I encountered it during a very important point in my life, and it burned its way into my memory. It was one of the most imaginative, wonderful, and exciting things I’d ever read—but I read it years before I truly “found” my way into science fiction and fantasy fandom. (There was a personal dark age in the interim where I didn’t do a lot of reading.)