At the end of last summer—mid-August—I unexpectedly wrote a short story, “Cold Wind.” It was triggered by heat and brine and music and, especially, art.
When it gets warm here (that is, anything over 70 degrees) we open up the house to the breezes coming up from the ravine. This puts Terri Windling‘s Deer Maiden on permanent display: with the doors open I see it every time I walk into the kitchen to get tea. It’s large. It’s arresting.
I was also listening to Hedningarna’s “Viima,” which no matter what the weather makes me think of snow. In fact it made me think of Riva Lehrer’s portrait of me.
The interesting thing—one of the many interesting things—about this picture is that it’s three-dimensional. Here’s a close-up to show you what I mean.
It’s layered. It shows what lies beneath.
So while it was summer and I was writing endless non-fiction (essays, speeches, blog posts) about Hild, my fiction-making brain wanted to play. One day I sat to write a speech for a trade show and out plopped the first thousand words of “Cold Wind.” Huh, I thought. Look at that. So I wrote the rest. I sold it within a couple of days of writing it and sat there blinking, thinking, What?! Somehow in the space of a few days I’d written, rewritten, and sold a brand-new piece of fiction that I hadn’t even known I was thinking about. (Normally I have a clue. Though not always—another exception was “Song of Bullfrogs, Cry of Geese” which dropped into my head absolutely whole one day on the beach in Florida.) But then I went back to the speech and put it from my mind.
Not long after Hild came out, I saw the art Tor.com had commission from Sam Wolfe Connelly. It catches some of the menace and is still ambiguous enough to not give the game away.
And last week I saw this, a piece by Rovina Cai created in response to the story.
As she says (and if you haven’t read the story skip the next two paragraphs—they are absolutely **SPOILERS**):
The story is about two shapeshifters and explores the concept of predator and prey. There is a point in the story where the perspective changes and the roles are reversed. This illustration captures one of the characters mid-transformation; both physically from woman to deer and from predator to prey. I wanted to subtly hint at a sense of danger, and to play with contrasting elements that leave it ambiguous as to whether this character is good or bad, hunter or the hunted.
And now I would love to see how she imagines the other character, Onca, changing…
But mainly today I’m struck by how art—music, painting, poetry, fiction, sculpture, video, all of it—winds about our lives connecting everything.
Today, everyday, the world is full of unexpected connections.