INTERVIEW: Cinda Williams Chima, author of “The Trader and the Slave”

Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?

This story is a turning point–a business meeting gone wrong between two strong personalities, one a wizard, the other an enchanter. Each is powerful in his/her own way; each is vulnerable, and each is wounded.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

This is kind of a “lost chapter” or deleted scene from my young adult fantasy novel, The Wizard Heir. It was actually a flashback scene between two characters, Leander Hastings and Linda Downey, telling the story of how they met. I’d worked with my Hyperion editor long enough to know that she wouldn’t be keen on including a admittedly unnecessary flashback scene between two adults. Still, it broke my heart to take it out. I love those characters, and my readers seem fascinated with them, too. So I filed the chapter away, meaning to find a way to re-envision it or incorporate it into a longer work. When John contacted me about the anthology, I dusted it off and reworked it as a stand-alone story.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

It’s always hard for me to work in a small space. I’m the author that has two 250,000-word volumes in an unpublished fantasy trilogy stashed away. I’ve written short stories that run 35,000 words. But I’m in a program for that.

Also, the sexual tension in this story was tricky to manage. It’s the beginning of a love story between a worldly and cynical young woman and an older man.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

All of my stories are about transformation, because I am constantly transforming myself.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

The story is set in York, on the British coast, and so I did some geographical research on the location of the story so I wouldn’t get the emails later on.

What is the appeal of wizard fiction? Why do so many writers–or you yourself–write about it? Why do readers love it so much?

I think we all know gifted people; people who exert disproportionate influence over others. For me, it’s all about character. After that, magic expands possibilities and heightens conflict.

What are some of your favorite examples of wizard fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

My favorite fantasy books include a range of magical persons, not all of them strictly wizards.  I favor characters who are recognizable as people. I still love Lord of the Rings; Tolkien created so many archetypes that we continue to see in fantasy today. David Eddings’s books are favorites of mine, as are Mercedes Lackey’s fantasies. In young adult, I like Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief series, Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments, and Kristin Cashore’s Seven Kingdoms series. Many young readers believe that J.K. Rowling invented wizards, but it’s what she did with them that made her books so successful.