It seems for the past few years that every time the beginning of June rolls around, I find myself updating this image with better tech or newer sets or more nicely-made clothes or different hair or whatever. Maybe it’s just sentiment.
If it is, it’s one I embrace. These two characters are where my professional writing career started: the tall dark thoughtful rural lordling and amateur strategist, part-time sorcerer and stubborn seeker after the true Power without which he’ll die young, never learning what he was for: and the short blond bookish Prince-in-exile, hot-tempered and impulsive even when outlawed and on the run, and ever so good at screwing things up…but equally good at (eventually) doing whatever it takes to put them right afterwards, no matter how much it hurts. The plot of the book that introduced them and their world blindsided me over the course of several days in late 1978. It promptly plunged me into two months’ worth of nearly nonstop writing, sold within days to the first editorial team who saw it, and changed the course of my life.
That the culture in which the story took place was both pansexual and polyamorous apparently caused astonishment for a lot of people in 1979. But right then, that wasn’t the main issue for me. I was more focused on the fact that (like other works of mine since) The Door Into Fire was simply a present for a friend; someone who I wanted to have understand—borrowing another fictional character’s line—that being gay, or whatever else they might be along those lines, was absolutely “fine: it’s all fine”.
…And so it has been, and remains. So here they are again, this pair of incorrigible troublemakers: Herewiss (or Dusty, as his friends and spouses think of him, due to a longstanding tendency in his youth to be found “touching grass,” or indeed dirt, as often as possible), and Freelorn (a.k.a Lorn, a.k.a. “Oh Goddess what has he done now??”). And if they carry a message with them, it’s this: If you’re going to marry a prince (or a Ruler-to-be), marry one who looks at you the way these two look at each other. 😊 ...