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Copyright 2000 Tara K. Harper.  All rights reserved.

Wolf's Bane--Out of a Dream

Wolf's Bane thumbnail: link to blurb, cover

Tara Harper, author of Wolf's Bane (November 1997), Wolfwalker, Cat Scratch Fever, and other SF novels,
gives us a look into her sources, the impetus for writing her latest book,
and her beliefs about the purpose of writing.

I was born in the year of the first manned suborbital hop, and I often feel as if I never fully recovered from that.  And, probably because of NASA more than  anything else, I went into the sciences as a career.  Even now, every new Hubble picture opens up worlds for me. And that is how I think of my writing--as the  chance to see new worlds, distant stars, to discover other people and to explore myself.  How much honesty should a writer express about her own stories--her own explorations?  I don't know.  I do know that I have to write what I hope for, what I fear, what I see and feel; and that my characters reflect those things as much as they express my nightmares--because every story I've ever written has come from one of my dreams.

The dreams begin with music:  a single violin tone or chord from a piano, or a sound suspended in night.  Every texture of the coming dream rises from that music; every voice completes the song of the nightmare that forms in the dark.  First sound, then texture, then image--my life, everything I've experienced or survived, dredged through a few seconds of sleep:  The blinding frustration and impotence of being within another's power; the heart-stopping point of drowning, trapped  in the rocks in the river.  The rage of being unable to prevent the destruction of someone I love.  The instant of terror when the tusks bite down and my leg is in the maw.  Sitting in mission control before a shuttle mission.  Cloning human DNA and staring at that tiny speck of white knowing it is life's design in all its complexity and promise...  I'm not a tourist in life, and my stories reflect that.

Like all my novels, Wolf's Bane is the outgrowth of two things: the dreams I have of other worlds, and my own life here in ours.  Biologies, genetics, astronomy a nd materials science--they create new what-if worlds every day.  And "What if"--that's the greatest question a writer has to ask.  With that, "What is"--that's the greatest statement a writer can make.  It's the one that holds the mirror up to the reader, the one that expands comprehension, expresses the heart, clarifies futures.

Wolf's Bane--it isn't all sweetness and light, this book.  Several people in my life were dying or had died just before I wrote this story, and I found in   Wolfwalker Dione someone who could understand what I felt.  In Wolf's Bane, Dione's grief is too great for her human body.  It pushes her, along with her rage, and finally drives her into the arms of an alien race when her family and friends cannot comprehend what she feels.  It is as though she must look outside her own humanity to find the heart she can no longer see in herself.

Throughout history, we go on, we die or we live, we continue to breathe.  We dream in spite of death.  And that is what Dione must also do, on a different world, in her desperate search for a future.  The power to dream, to look beyond what we have or what we must survive, to what we can create: that is what I hope to harness with this story--what I hope to give my readers.  Worlds have changed since I was born: we've left tracks on the Moon and Mars.   I hope to leave different tracks--in my readers' minds.

[ This article first appeared, in edited form, in the Del Rey Newsletter
Vol. 1, No. 8, Sept--Dec, 1997; This article also appeared in the
Del Rey Internet Newsletter, No. 58 ]

Copyright 2000 by Tara K. Harper

All rights reserved.  It is illegal to reproduce or transmit in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, any part of this copyrighted file without permission in writing from Tara K. Harper.  Permission to download this file for personal use only is hereby granted by Tara K. Harper.r.

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