Magic and the Literary Continuum

When I was in grammar school, I discovered science fiction and fantasy. It was a natural obsession for me, since I loved all things fanciful and magical as a child. I used to save up earnings from babysitting and summer jobs to buy paperbacks from the used bookstore at the end of the block on the street where I grew up.

I already loved Bradbury and Tolkien and read everything I could find by Zelazny and Arthur C. Clarke, but the used book store was where I bought my own copies of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and where I discovered Douglas Adams, Heinlein, Le Guin, de Lint, and so many others. I would then carry their paperbacks everywhere, immersed in their worlds.

I devoured Charles de Lint’s Yarrow in junior high, during a time when real life was lonely and seemed hard to bear. Cat, the heroine of Yarrow, enters the Otherworld through her dreams. The story resonated with me on so many levels, and the writing swept me up and inspired me. After that, I read everything by Charles de Lint that I could get my hands on, and I felt at home in so many of his books.

This week, Charles de Lint reviewed my novel, The Silence of Trees, for the March/April issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The review begins:

“Before starting this book, I wasn’t familiar with either Valya Dudycz Lupescu or Chicago’s Wolfsword Press. But I’m happy to have that corrected, because I want to read more of Lupescu’s work…” You can read the rest here.

I thought back to my twelve-year-old self sitting on a swing in the backyard of our Chicago bungalow, reading Yarrow and dwelling so completely in Cat’s dreamworld. Reading Charles de Lint’s review is one of those moments I’ll treasure, like handing Neil Gaiman (whose storytelling I have loved since college) a copy of The Silence of Trees. There’s something so wonderful about being able to share one’s published work with a literary hero. After having lived in their stories, I get to invite them into mine.

In her “Gaga Palmer Madonna” song, Amanda Palmer sings that she’s part of the “music continuum.” I like that image. We are connected to those who came before us and to those who will come after. We are shaped by the books we read, and whether our parts are small or large, when we share our stories with the world, we become a part of a “literary continuum.”

As I write those words, I have this almost comic book image in my head of beloved authors standing behind me and the fuzzy silhouettes of those not yet published in front of me.


Do you see yourself as a part of some continuum: literary, musical, artistic, philosophical, mechanical, etc?