A Writer You May Have Missed ...

by Rebekah Jensen (October, 2002)

Wanting a new author to scour bookstores for? Try Anne Logston. She's a good author that you may have missed, and we at RomanticSF do what we can to rectify any gaps in your To-Be-Read stack.

Each of Anne Logston's eleven books have their own story, but can all be described as all highly character-driven with a lot of action. Her characters, especially Shadow, often have a touch of whimsy and sly humor. While still maintaining a light touch, she talks about the consequences of racism, defining your own identity, and what happens when magic becomes mixed up in everyday lives. I've always looked forward to the next Logston and it took me a while to realize that after EXILE in 1999, no new books were appearing. For the reason why, see the next column.

Logston's first book was a fun little book called SHADOW. This book and Logston's next six are set in the land of Allanmere, a land where elves and humans maintain an uneasy alliance. Memorable characters include Shadow - a carefree elven thief, Jaellyn the Unlucky - clumsy and cursed to foul up any magic in her vicinity, and taking a step back in history, Chyrie - the first elf to meet the dreaded humans.

The next four books, starting with GUARDIAN'S KEY, take place in a similar though quite different world - a place where magic rules and ruins lives, and power is found in unexpected places and people. These books are a bit more complex than the Allanmere books, but not heavy-handed. My favorite of these books is WATERDANCE, where a runaway noble, determined to prove that she is more skilled with the sword than with magic, stages a dramatic rescue, only to discover that she has rescued her mortal enemy. They are forced to run for their lives and come to depend on and respect one another.

When I learned of Logston's publishing difficulties, I wished I could do something for her. Perhaps this piece will introduce some new readers to her books (although good luck obtaining her older books for a reasonable price online!) We've seen authors come back strong under a pseudonym or after a long absence before. We can only wish the same happy future for Anne Logston.

Why You Might Have Missed Her ...

by Rebekah Jensen (October, 2002)

You're a writer with 11 published books, you've been on the Locus Bestseller lists, your early works are bid to the skies on eBay -- you've got it made, right? Nope.

Meet Anne Logston and meet the dilemma of the midlist author in today's publishing world.

A midlist author is someone who isn't expected to sell out millions of hardcovers, like Robert Jordan or Anne McCaffrey, but isn't writing media-tie-in or other packaged books, like Forgotten Realms or Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, where the packaging is usually more the selling point than the writer.

Logston didn't produce one novel in 1991 and dissappear, she put out a new novel about every year after that, keeping in the reader's mind and on the bookstore shelves. She developed a small but devoted fanbase. But now her publisher has said that they aren't interested in more books - her numbers don't impress the bean-counters. Very frustrating to both Logston and her readers.

Why should you care? Do you want to only have the choice of Big Name authors or the packaged media tie-ins and nothing in between? The SF genre has a history of being able to support midlist writers, since the readership is so varied and voracious. I'm certain that most readers have a favorite author who started out on the midlist and in paperbacks, authors like Mercedes Lackey, Laurell K. Hamilton, C. S. Friedman, and Jennifer Roberson. Not to mention David Eddings, Guy Gavriel Kay, Stephen Brust, Katherine Kurtz, and so many others. But this is a new era of publishing, where publishers are owned by companies that are owned by companies that don't see books as anything but a commodity, let alone understand the unique nature of the SF readership.

So they next time you're at a bookstore, I challenge you to pick up a new author in paperback. Someone you haven't heard of or someone that you haven't tried for a while, like Anne Logston or the many other struggling midlist writers. If you want to try them without committing the cost of a new book, scan your local used bookstore shelves for those particularly crisp-looking bindings. Read them, enjoy them, support them. Readers and midlist authors of the past, present, and future thank you.


Shadow Hunt

Shadow Dance


Wild Blood

Dagger's Edge

Dagger's Point

Gaurdian's Key




The Interview

Rebekah: One of the things that many people enjoy in your books is the strong romantic subplot. Is this something that you deliberately set up in your story or do you find it evolving from the characters themselves?

Anne: Actually I think it's pretty funny. There are only two of my books that I myself would have called romances -- Firewalk and Greendaughter, and nobody ever seems to call Greendaughter a romance. I think of Waterdance as an antiromance, as in antihero or Antichrist. *g* Odd sort of romance when your intended sticks a sword through your guts. *g* Seriously, I really don't think of any of my books as romances per se. I think of them as evolving relationships between interesting characters, some of whom end up romantically involved, if that makes any sense. As for your question -- well, I generally have some vague idea where a story is going. The characters take it from there, and often in directions I never intended.

Rebekah: How would you describe the kinds of stories you write? What do you want readers to come away with from your stories?

Anne: I'd call them adventure stories. Hmmm . . . what do I want readers to come away with from my stories. I guess, if I had any kind of specific goal in that regard, it would be to make my readers explore a perspective very different from their own. To get inside the head of someone very unlike themselves and challenge their own viewpoints and beliefs.

Rebekah: I sometimes see your books, especially your early ones, catagorized as "teen" or "young adult". Did you have that audience in mind when writing the books?

Anne: God, no. I was actually a little dismayed to learn that some of my reading audience was a lot younger than I'd anticipated. My lawyer's 14-year-old son passed several of my books around his school, and suddenly I have a bunch of young teens calling each other "son of a syphilitic cow" -- I started worrying about parental lynch mobs. *g*

Rebekah: I understand that you are having difficulties with your current publisher, which must be extremely frustrating. It is certainly frustrating for your fans who want to read your next book! Your last published book was Exile in 1999, correct? What is the current situation?

Anne: Right, Exile was the last book to come out, in October of 1999. Ace, which via a series of acquisitions is now owned by Penguin, I think, isn't interested in any more books from me; they just didn't sell well enough, I gather. The market is very difficult right now for mid-level authors and new authors.

My first three books, SHADOW, SHADOW DANCE, and SHADOW HUNT will be coming out as ebooks from www.ereads.com but right now that's still in the works.

Rebekah: On the heels of that, does it bother you that copies of your first three Shadow books are selling for upwards of 90 dollars each through used/collectible markets?

Anne: Bother me? I'm flattered!

I wish like heck I had more copies myself of my first three books. I actually had no bound copy of Shadow Hunt myself until I found one in a used bookstore.

Rebekah: Certainly someone at Ace should be looking at those numbers and thinking it might be a good idea to reprint them ... It's great that the Shadow books are going to be coming out in e-books, those are taking off more and more. Have you thought about the print-on-demand route or a small press like Meisha Merlin for reprints?

Anne: Yes, I wish the resale value of my books would count in my favor, but a publisher can print "bestselling author" on the front of Exile and still say my sales figures aren't good enough, so I guess there's just no understanding it. *g* I haven't explored the small press route, but that might not be a bad idea. I've never considered the print-on-demand or self-publishing route. I don't really want to be involved with the business end of it. I'm just not much of a businesswoman.

Rebekah: As a writer attempting to sell her first novel, I find your situation discouraging as well. :(

Anne: It worries me very much, actually. Right now the market is what I would call very incestuous. The majority of what's being published right now is nothing but reprints of bestsellers by big-name authors. The publishers are definitely going for the sure profit. It worries me that they're choking off any influx of new work. The author base is getting really narrow.

Rebekah: So if you end up publishing under a new name, you will let _us_ know so that we can support you, right? *g*

Anne: Oh, definitely.

Rebekah: Do you have a novel/novels finished and ready for publication? Are they sequels or in a series? Are they all fantasy?

Anne: No, I don't have anything finished and ready to go. I have several partly finished manuscripts and outlines, but quite frankly, to be told after 11 books that my numbers aren't good enough so they're not interested in anything more from me, regardless, I got a bit discouraged. At this point I'm not sure what direction I want to take if, in fact, I want to jump back into the publishing game. One of the problems I had was that I was basically locked into medieval fantasy in the Allanmere universe. While I really love that universe, I did want to branch out into other areas as well, including futuristic fantasy and horror. I'd submitted several futuristic fantasy proposals, plus I had a trilogy mapped out that was in fact in the Allanmere universe, although it didn't link up with any of my previous works until the third book of the trilogy.

Rebekah: Have you thought about writing more Shadow books, either with the character or in that setting?

Anne: I would *love* to write more about Shadow. The one book I really wish I'd gotten an opportunity to write was the story of how Shadow and Donya met.

Rebekah: That would be wonderful!

Anne: My editor felt there wouldn't be much interest in another Shadow novel, especially a prequel. I admit it would be a riskier book, so to speak, than my other Shadow novels because I felt very strongly that at one time Shadow and Donya had had a relationship. So that story would have been very different than the other three.

Rebekah: Your webpage says that you are an avid collector of anything about vampires. Have you written any horror or dark fantasy?

Anne: Yes, vampire fiction is my favorite guilty pleasure. I have a half-finished vampire novel that I couldn't interest my publisher or agent in, so it's languished on the back burner. That one I definitely would have called a romance.

Rebekah: Any favorite authors in this genre?

Anne: Nancy Collins, S.P. Somtow, Elaine Bergstrom, Jeffrey McMahan.

Rebekah: In many of your books, the swordplay scenes and discussions seem especially interesting. Do you fence or have other fighting expertise?

Anne: The closest I've ever come to swordplay was a wonderful opportunity to hack up cardboard postal tubes with a "live" katana at a World Fantasy Convention. But I'm not afraid of research.

Rebekah: Do you have a favorite character out of your books?

Anne: Oh, lord. I suppose Shadow will always hold the Number 1 place in my heart. It's hard to choose favorites. All my characters -- not just my main characters, but villains and all -- hold some part of me. Trying to pick one is comparing apples and oranges. I love Blade, dear little blackhearted thing that she is, so much that despite numerous pleas, I could never write a book about her. Neve is a magnificent brat, bless her. Jael is my Timex character -- takes a licking and keeps on ticking, poor thing. I love them all.

Rebekah: What do you enjoy reading?

Anne: Approximately the same thing I like writing -- medieval fantasy, futuristic fantasy and horror. But the important qualifier for me isn't genre, it's characters. If the characters are good enough, I'll enjoy anything. Oh, and happy endings. I'm an unabashed happyender.

Rebekah: Do you have any must-pick-up authors? Any would-crawl-over-molten-lava-for-their-latest-book authors?

Anne: Most of my favorite authors are either dead or not writing in the series/genre anymore, unfortunately. In the "They write it, I buy it" category are Nancy Collins, P.N. Elrod, Tanith Lee and Storm Constantine.

Thanks to Anne Logston for her time and wish her the best of luck!
Visit her website at http://home.att.net/~logston/.

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