Catherynne Valente, “Palimpsest”

Catherynne, taking a break in her office, surrounded by feathered masks and shadow boxes of her creation

Catherynne, taking a break in her office, surrounded by feathered masks and shadow boxes of her creation

It never ceases to amaze me how Peaks Island attracts talent to itself as though it were a magnet, poised two miles offshore, lonely for companionship. The island deployed some form of magic when it convinced author Catherynne Valente and her fiance, Dmitri, to commit to renting a house and moving here without previously setting foot in Maine. “It might have been Stephen King novels that drew me here; I’m not sure, but it’s been a dream to live in Maine,” Catherynne told me over one of Dmitri’s fabulous cups of coffee. You may not have met Catherynne on the ferry yet in the way that islanders do. A prolific author with numerous novels and short stories to her credit, she spends a lot of time hidden away on Central Avenue writing. One of her books, Orphan’s Tales, won the 2008 Mythopoeic Award, an honor shared with none other than the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien, Jane Yolen, and J.K. Rowling (those are just some of the ones I recognized). Shortly after moving here, Bantam Books published her newest, Palimpsest, a fantasy novel which tells the story of Palimpsest, a city that lives somewhere between dreaming, desire, and maps of the city tattooed on the skin of those fated to make the passage (nice YouTube trailer, Catherynne!).

Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente

Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente

When I asked her how she titled the book, Catherynne replied “Palimpsest is a perfect metaphor for a city, the way it is built over and over upon itself.” To launch this book, Catherynne traveled for several months on book tour, most recently returning from the World Science Fiction Society‘s convention in Montreal. The coming year will be a busy one for her as she works on a historical novel based on a retelling of a Russian folktale. If that isn’t enough, she’s also preparing for a November wedding that occurs on the same day that the World Fantasy Awards will announce its winners; her short story, “Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica“, has garnered one of the nominations. Good luck to the rest of us in keeping up with her!

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