Interview with Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

TrollsEyeView I bought a copy of Troll’s Eye View for myself, then once I’d finished devouring it I shared it with my eleven year-old daughter, Danica. I enjoyed the book so much that I intended to ask the editors, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling for an interview here at Niteblade, however, when it turned out that Danica loved it too, I got a different idea. I asked Ellen and Terri if they would mind answering a few questions from Danica rather than me. They agreed, thus increasing their level of awesome in my mind.

Danica: Was editing Troll’s Eye View fun? Why?

Ellen: Yes, because working with Terri is always fun and also because pushing our authors to consider the villain’s point of view and so get them to stretch as writers is always fun.

Terri: Editing Troll’s Eye View was loads of fun. I loved fairy tales when I was a kid, and I didn’t stop loving them when I grew up. I went on to study folklore at college, where I discovered that fairy tales have a long and fascinating history. The earliest versions of stories like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White were much darker and stranger than the Disney versions that most people know today — and the heroines tended to be more active, more feisty, and much more clever. The tales aren’t static; they change from century to century as storytellers re-work them for each new generation. By encouraging writers to re-tell fairy tales in Troll’s Eye View and our other fairy tale anthologies, we become part of a tradition that stretches back to the dawn of storytelling itself. I find that very exciting.

Danica: Ellen, if you could work with Terri again would you? Why?

Ellen: Of course! We’ve worked on many many anthologies together and hope to work on many more in the future. And although I prefer horror to fantasy and Terri prefers fantasy to horror, I think we work well together. Unfortunately, we rarely actually see each other in person as she lives in England and Arizona while I live in New York City. But working together keeps our friendship alive and vital.

Danica: Terri, if you could work with Ellen again would you? Why?

Terri: I’ve been editing anthologies with Ellen for over twenty years, and I hope we’ll still be working together in another twenty — not only because we’ve become good friends after all this time, but also because I have enormous respect for her literary acumen and editorial skills. I think our partnership works because we’re so different: Ellen loves horror and dark fantasy, I love myth and high fantasy; she loves everything quirky and strange, I love everything Pre-Raphaelite and romantic; she lives in one of the largest cities in the world, I live in a tiny English village; etc. etc.. We couldn’t be more opposite — which means we bring a broad range of personal tastes into every project we work on together. What we share is a passionate love of short stories, and a belief in the literary possibilities inherent in fantastic fiction.

Danica: If you could be any of the characters from Troll’s Eye View who would you be?

Ellen: Ooooh. I think I’d like to be Jaundice, the witch’s marmalade cat in Garth Nix’s “An Unwelcome Guest.” I love cats and I think it might be fun to be one for a short while.

Terri: Nick in Delia Sherman’s “Wizard’s Apprentice,” because he knows how to turn into a fox! I’d love to be able to be able to do that. There are foxes in the woods behind my house in Devon, and they are such quick, clever, beautiful creatures.

Danica: Who is your favorite fairy tale villain?

Ellen: Rumpelstiltskin because he’s not really a villain at all. He was cheated by the lying princess who broke her promise. In fact, I think a LOT of the supposed “heroines” are the actual villains –The princess in the
Frog Prince who breaks her word–what is it with these twits?

Terri: The villain who has always frightened me the most is Snow White’s wicked step-mother. Beautiful and cold as ice, the Queen not only orders her huntsman to take Snow White into the woods and kill her, but demands he bring back the girl’s heart and liver as proof — and then eats them for dinner! There are lots of nasty step-mothers in fairy tales, but Snow White’s is the creepiest, hands down.

On the other hand, I’ve recently become a step-mother myself, and so I can’t help but wonder if fairy tale step-mothers have simply had a bad rap….

Danica: I don’t think step parents are all that bad 🙂 Do you write as well as edit? If so, what genre?

Ellen: Nope -at least not fiction. I write the occasional book review or essay.

Terri: Yes. I’ve written fantasy fiction for children, teenagers, and adults, and nonfiction on myth and contemporary mythic arts. I’m also a painter, specializing in imagery based on myth and folklore.

Danica: Thanks  for answering, I really liked the book so please keep editing.

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