I didn’t grow up on any sort of border; more in the middle of nowhere, in rural eastern North Carolina. If you wanted a life of kudzu, collapsing tobacco barns, swamps, or soybean fields, you were spoiled for choice, but otherwise, the options seemed a bit limited. I grew to love many things about the place as I got older, from the deep woods to the good food, but when I was twelve or fourteen, I didn’t see much beyond the limitations.
But I read about one border: the Border between the mortal world and the land of elves. I clearly remember finding a Borderland anthology in the stacks at the local library, but memory is as slippery a trickster as any streetwise conniver you’d find in B-town, and I suppose I might have actually found a copy in the Waldenbooks at the mall, or in a big box of paperbacks at the flea market, or even among the seemingly thousands of SF/fantasy paperbacks in my great-grandmother’s spare bedroom. Wherever it was, that book provided my first glimpse of the Border: a place where you could leave old lives behind and make new ones. A place where the promise of magic slammed into the limitations of reality, but still managed sometimes to succeed. A place where everything was a possibility—and if that included the possibility of catastrophic failure, so what? Isn’t burning out better than wasting away?