A conversation with the legendary young adult fantasy writer
Tamora Pierce has written 26 young adult novels set in two universes, helped found a pioneering online discussion board about female heroes, and along the way, set new standards for feminist fantasy literature. From Alanna, the girl determined to become a knight in Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet, to Beka Cooper, the tough young detective in her Provost's Dog trilogy, due to be completed in October, to Sandry, Tris, Daja, and Briar, the four young wizards of the Circle of Magic novels, Pierce's characters are determined to break barriers to do the work they love. And they're by turns persistent and stubbornly resistant when it comes to their own hearts and desires. We caught up with Pierce to discuss methods of fictional birth control, the importance of the families you choose as well as those you're born into, relationships between fathers and daughters, and her first series with a male protagonist.
In your novels, the families your characters choose are often more important than the families they're born into, sometimes because their relatives are dead or emotionally unavailable. Do you think biological families are more fragile than chosen ones?
I am a firm believer in the family you choose. Daine [the heroine of Pierce's Immortals series] has no choice. Her family is dead. She doesn't realize that at first that her parents are alive, they're gods. With Aly [the daughter of Lady Alanna, and the main character in the Trickster books], it's her line of work that forces her away from her family. She would be very happy to go back to them. But she is a spymaster, and spies don't have the freedom to go home the way normal people do because they hold national confidence and national secrets. Their leaders are going to be really unhappy if they take them home for visits. There are circumstances where you can walk away—I'm thinking of another Aly book—but they're not pleasant ones.