Like Frank L. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles Of Narnia series, and Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Jane Lindskold’s Over Where novels have someone going on an adventure that starts with a single step…through a portal. Though unlike other portal fantasy stories, Lindskold’s has one major difference, as she explains in the following email interview about the third Over Where novel, House Of Rough Diamonds (paperback, Kindle).
The Over Where series is a portal fantasy in which those who go through the portal are not the typical children or teenagers, but three women, the youngest of whom is in her fifties. I started writing the first book because — as much as I love the more usual sort of portal fantasies — I really never could quite understand why anyone would want to import children to solve their problems.
The smaller part is set in a roughly contemporary here and now, specifically the fictional town of Taima, Pennsylvania. The larger part is set in what Peg Gallegos, one of the three main characters, dubs “Over Where,” as in “over where we ended up.”
And then for people who have read them, what is House Of Rough Diamonds about, and how does it connect, narratively and chronologically, to the previous book, Aurora Borealis Bridge?
House Of Rough Diamonds starts pretty much immediately after Aurora Borealis Bridge — something like a week later.
When in the process of writing Library Of The Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge did you come up with the idea for House Of Rough Diamonds, and what inspired this third story’s plot?
I didn’t. It came to me later.
Inspiration? I wanted to see more of what was inside the Library Of The Sapphire Wind itself. Also, my characters ended up feeling the Library was their home base, but could they keep it?
And is there a significance to the organization being the House Of Rough Diamonds as opposed to being the House Of Rough Rubies or the House Of Rough Emeralds or the House Of Smooth Pumice?
Oh, you want to know? “Diamond in the rough” or a “rough diamond” is a saying that implies great potential, not yet realized.
As you said, Library Of The Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge are portal fantasy novels. For people unfamiliar with the term, what is portal fantasy, and can you please give us some examples?
Chronicles Of Narnia, The Wizard Of Oz, Alice In Wonderland are all classics. Go through the back of the wardrobe. End up somewhere else. Usually because you’re needed to fix some problem or save the world or suchlike. More recently, I loved T. Kingfisher’s Summer In Orcus.
And House Of Rough Diamonds is a portal fantasy story as well, right?
Sure, it’s still a portal fantasy because Meg, Peg, and Teg are from here and go there. However, House Of Rough Diamonds takes place almost entirely Over Where.
You’ve written more than two dozen novels…
Closer to three dozen by now, if you count collaborations, and I most certainly do.
I stand corrected.
Are there any writers or specific stories that had a big influence on House Of Rough Diamonds but not on anything else you’ve written, and especially not Library Of The Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge?
My influences were indirect. I grew up loving portal fantasies, but always had two niggling questions about them: What happened to kids who had great adventures then had to go home and live “normal” lives? And, as I mentioned above, Why always kids? If I needed my world saved, I wouldn’t want to rely on even the most charming ten-year-old or, worse, angsty teen with hormones raging.
Seanan McGuire’s excellent Every Heart A Doorway took on the first question very well. I decided I wanted to take on the other one.
What about non-literary influences? Was House Of Rough Diamonds influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?
And what about your cats? How did they influence House Of Rough Diamonds?
My cats? Their influence was indirect. I knew that if I ended up in another world, I wouldn’t want to abandon my cats, so I figured Teg would be very happy to have her cats, Thought and Memory, show up, even if, like all cats, they pick their own times and places.
My current three cats are Persephone, Mei-Ling, and Roary. Regular readers of my Friday Fragments blog (where I also list what I’ve been reading) often see pictures of them, although sometimes the guinea pigs or garden get cameos.
Mei-Ling, Persephone, Roary
(Photo Credit: James L. Moore)
As we’ve been discussing, House Of Rough Diamonds is the third book in the Over Where series. But is this series an ongoing thing or a set number of books?
“Series” is one of those horrible terms that means too many things. It can be a one story split up in a number of books, but it can also be many stories featuring some linking element: characters, setting, even elements of a complex plot. The Over Where series is the latter type.
Does that mean there will be more trips through the portal?
I do plan to return “Over Where,” and have ideas, but the ideas are still jelling.
Earlier you said House Of Rough Diamonds was not influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games. But do you think Diamonds, and the rest of the Over Where series, could work as a movie, show, or game?
Oddly, Meg, Peg, and Teg have this discussion at the beginning of Aurora Borealis Bridge. If it was adapted for a visual medium like movie or television, it would need really good special effects, since the inhabitants of Over Where are not human. (In fact, House Of Rough Diamonds starts considering just how many types of intelligent life there are Over Where.)
I’m an anime fan, and I wouldn’t at all mind the series as an anime with good character design. A graphic novel would also be fun. And I’m a tabletop RPG player since forever, and I certainly could see this working really well as a game setting, either roll the dice type or video.
So, is there anything else you think people interested in House Of Rough Diamonds should know about it?
Many people wanted to see more of the interior of the Library, and they’ll definitely get their wish.
Finally, if someone enjoys House Of Rough Diamonds, and they’ve already read Library Of The Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge, which of your other series would you suggest they check out?
I really don’t have any set recommendations. If they like the epic fantasy elements, then they would probably enjoy the Firekeeper Saga. If they like the mythic elements, then Changer and Changer’s Daughter (a.k.a. Legends Walking). But I’ve written a lot of books, and I rarely write to formula, so there is probably something for all tastes. My website has a bibliography.