Happy Birthday, Diana L. Paxson! The woman who created what would eventually become the Society for Creative Anachronism (a society based on reviving the skills of 17th Century England!) and is an ordained Pagan Priestess celebrated her birthday this past weekend. We are lucky to have this woman in the ranks of living female science fiction and fantasy writers. Paxson writes to her interests and is never ashamed of writing ‘genre’ fiction.
Paxson is best known for her Westria series and co-authoring the Avalon series with Marion Zimmer-Bradley (1930-1999). In both series, she worked directly from her interests. Growing up in southern CA, her home became the inspiration for the setting of the Westria series. Paxson later turned her interests in medieval studies and literature into an MA at UC Berkley in Comparative Literature with a focus on medieval literature. It’s no surprise then that the Avalon series is a feminist version of the myths of Avalon and early Britain. I admire Paxson for letting her interests fuel her writing, where she now has written nonfiction books on Paganism.
But what I admire the most is that Paxson acknowledges her inspiration and that she wouldn’t have known it was possible to write (or sell) speculative fiction if she hadn’t known Marion Zimmer-Bradley. As she explains on her website, “a creative writing course in college convinced me I couldn’t write literary fiction.” Yet, because of another female speculative fiction author, Paxson saw that she could write what she wanted and it could do well.
Happy birthday, Diana L. Paxson. May you continue to inspire us to write to our interests. And as we press forward as female speculative fiction authors, who will we inspire?