Clarion Instructor Kij Johnson Discusses the Writing Process
Our series of evenings with the instructors of the 2011 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop wraps up on Wednesday, August 3, at 7:00 PM, with a visit from Kij Johnson. The multiple-award winning author and teacher received the Short Story Nebula Award for 2009 for “Spar,” and for 2010 for “Ponies.” She has published two volumes of the Heian trilogy Love/War/Death: The Fox Woman and Fudoki, and a third is in the works. MGSD customers will also have a special opportunity to purchase an extremely limited art-book version of a short story in a bilingual translation, with multimedia art, a really intriguing book design, and links into a closed interactive website. Contact staff for details.
Get information about the fabulous science fiction and fantasy writing workshop at their website
Enter the world of Kagaya-hime, a sometime woman warrior, occasional philosopher, and reluctant confidante to noblemen--who may or may not be a figment of the imagination of an aging empress who is embarking on the last journey of her life, setting aside the trappings of court life and reminiscing on the paths that lead her to death. For she is a being who started her journey on the kami, the spirit road, as a humble tortoiseshell feline. Her family was destroyed by a fire that decimated most of the Imperial city, and this loss renders her taleless, the only one left alive to pass on such stories as The Cat Born the Year the Star Fell, The Cat with a Litter of Ten, and The Fire-Tailed Cat. Without her fudoki--self and soul and home and shrine--she alone cannot keep the power of her clan together. And she cannot join another fudoki, because although she might be able to win a place within another clan, to do so would mean that she would cease to be herself. So a small cat begins an extraordinary journey. Along the way she will attract the attention of old and ancient powers. Gods who are curious about this creature newly come to Japan's shores, and who choose to give the tortoiseshell a human shape.
Kij Johnson has created an achingly beautiful love story, a fable wrapped in smoke and magic set against the fabric of ancient Japan. Johnson brings the setting lovingly to life, describing a world of formalities and customs, where the exchange of poetry is a form of conversation and everything has meaning, from the color of the silks on wears to how one may address others. Yoshifuji is a man fascinated by foxes, a man discontented and troubled by the meaning of life. A misstep at court forces him to retire to his long-deserted country estate, to rethink his plans and contemplate the next move that might return him to favor and guarantee his family's prosperity. Kitsune is a young fox who is fascinated by the large creatures that have suddenly invaded her world. She is drawn to them and to Yoshifuji. She comes to love him and will do anything to become a human woman to be with him. Shikujo is Yoshifuji's wife, ashamed of her husband, yet in love with him and uncertain of her role in his world. She is confused by his fascination with the creatures of the wood, and especially the foxes that she knows in her heart are harbingers of danger. She sees him slipping away and is determined to win him back from the wild...for all that she has her own fox-related secret. Magic binds them all. And in the making (and breaking) of oaths and honors, the patterns of their lives will be changed forever. "The Fox Woman" is a powerful first novel, singing with lyrical prose and touching the deepest emotions. A historically accurate fantasy, it gives us a glimpse into, and an understanding of, the history that shaped the people of one of our world's greatest nations. But it is also a story about people trying to understand each other and the times they live in, people trying to see through illusions to confront the truth of who they are.