I lived in New York City back in the 1980s, which is when the Bordertown series was created. New York was a different place then -- dirtier, edgier, more dangerous, but also in some ways more exciting. The downtown music scene was exploding -- punk and folk music were everywhere -- and it wasn't as expensive to live there then, so a lot of young artists, musicians, writers, etc. etc. were all living and doing crazy things in scruffy neighborhoods like the East Village.I was a Fantasy Editor for a publishing company back then -- but in those days, fantasy to most people meant imaginary world books, like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. A number of the younger writers in the field, however, wanted to create a branch of fantasy that was rooted in contemporary, urban North America, rather than medieval or pastoral Europe. I'd already been working with some of these folks (Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, etc.), who were writing novels that would become the foundations for the current Urban Fantasy field. At the time, these kinds of stories were considered so strange and different, it was actually hard to get them into print.When I was asked by a publishing company to create a shared-world anthology for Young Adult readers, I wanted to create an Urban Fantasy setting that was something like a magical version of New York...but I didn't want it to actually be New York. I want it to be any city and every city -- a place that anyone from anywhere could go to or relate to. The idea of placing it on the border of Elfland came from the fact that I'd just re-read a fantasy classic called The King of Elfland's Daughter by the Irish writer Lord Dunsany. I love stories that take place on the borderlands between two different worlds...and so I borrowed this concept, but adapted it to a modern, punky, urban setting.I drew upon elements of the various cities I knew best -- New York, Boston, London, Dublin, maybe even a little of Mexico City, where I'd been for a little while as a teen -- and scrambled them up and turned them into Bordertown. There actually IS a Mad River in southern Ohio (where I went to college) and I always thought that was a great name, so I imported it to Bordertown. As for the water being red, that came from the river of blood in the Scottish folk ballad Thomas the Rhymer, which Thomas must cross to get into Elfland.[speaking about the Borderland series she founded and how she came up with the setting. Link to source; Q&A with Holly, Ellen & Terri!]
Terri Windling
It all comes back. Perhaps it is difficult to see the value in having one's self back in that kind of mood, but I do see it; I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were. I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be; one of them, a seventeen-year-old, presents little threat, although it would be of some interest to me to know again what it feels like to sit on a river levee drinking vodka-and-orange-juice and listening to Les Paul and Mary Ford and their echoes sing How High the Moon on the car radio. (You see I still have the scenes, but I no longer perceive myself among those present, no longer could ever improvise the dialogue.) The other one, a twenty-three-year-old, bothers me more. She was always a good deal of trouble and I suspect she will reappear when I least want to see her, skirts too long, shy to the point of aggravation, always the injured party, full of recriminations and little hurts and stories I do not want to hear again, at once saddening me and angering me with her vulnerability and ignorance, an apparition all the more insistent for being so long banished. It is a good idea, then, to keep in touch and I suppose that keeping in touch is what notebooks are all about. And we are all on our own when it comes to keeping those lines open to ourselves: your notebook will never help me, nor mine you.
Joan Didion