The Company I Keep

We are known by the company we keep.

Here are links to some of my friends who have web sites. I hope
I am worthy of them

Anna Grossnickle Hines — Children’s Author & Illustrator. I first met Anna when she was a student of mine at Centrum Writers’ Conference in Washington State. We became fast friends. She has a sly humor and an enthusiasm I love. She is always willing to try something new.

So after I met Anna, I met her wonderful husband, Gary Hines, when he attended Centrum. He writes, he sings, he acts–and he makes everybody around him feel special. Also he can do more revisions in a single day than anyone I have ever met!

Patricia MacLachlan may write the most spare, gorgeous prose in children’s books, but her writing hides the fact that she is possibly the funnest and most outrageous friend I have. We have known one another since our children were little and they grew up together. (Patty and I did not.) When I am, suffering, Patty is there for me. And when thing are going well, she’s cheering the loudest.

Terri Windling is an original. She is also in the wrong century. She should have lived at the time of the Pre-Raphaelites and been part of the group surrounding William Morris Arts & Crafts movement. A painter, a poet, a novelist, and my wonderful editor–Terri does it all. (Well, maybe she doesn’t sing.)

Gary Lippincott, artist and illustrator, is a towering presence. Really, he’s well, well over six feet tall. And the sweetest and gentlest person imaginable (even though he moonlights as a night watchman!) He makes me laugh. A lot.

There are very few things Joe Haldeman does not know. He amazes me. Always. He lives life fully on every front, and I love to hear what he is doing. He seems to have only one button: Forward. He is a novelist, a poet, a painter, plays guitar, goes on mammothly long bike rides, watches the skies, and eats prodigiously. If I could do all that, I would be the next crowned head of some Mediterranean country.

Jeff Carver was my very first science fiction writer friend, so we are going back decades here. Maybe millenia. He is one of the sweetest and finest people I know. I have never heard him say a bad word about anyone. If I wanted someone to guard my back, I think I’d call on him. We don’t get together enough.

Want a pun? Give Josepha Sherman a call. Uproariously funny–no, make that just Uproarious! When Jo’s in the room, she IS the room. She also knows almost everything there is to know about folklore and Xena. Just don’t ask–or you will be fascinated for hours, even days.

In the last few years Leslea Newman has become a really good friend. She’s now a member of my writing group. (We meet Tuesdays.) And a classier, funnier, sweeter, more hard-working woman is not to be found anywhere around. I adore her.

A number of years ago, I was sent a record by a remarkable young singer named Lui Collins. She wanted to put a poem of mine which she’d set to music on her next album. It was the start of a wonderful friendship. Lui is both fragile and strong, she is both deeply serious and riotously funny, she is sun and moon. Her own poetry–as evinced by her songs–moves me deeply. And that clear spring water voice knocks me out.

I have known Eric Carle and his wonderful wife Bobbi for over twenty years. He is always fresh, funny, charming–and at the same time much more serious about art than many of his fans know. He is also possibly the most organized artist I’ve ever met. His is a friendship I value greatly.

Mike Gassaway and I were in the same high school class, though as we were not in the same clique, we barely knew one another. He was dating cheerleaders, and I was running the school newspaper–you know the drill. Anyway, fast forward some forty years, and we both ended up in Scotland. He married well (a wonderful English woman named Susan), became a painter, they started Syllavethy Gallery near Aberdeen, and we have become great friends.

I have known Kay Kudlinski as her teacher, her friend, her editor, her colleague. At first we lived close by and saw each other often. Now we live further apart and see each other rarely in the flesh, often by email. But I treasure her insights, her caring, her sense of humor. She knows as much as my husband does about the outdoors and it suffuses her writing and her illustrating.

Sue Alexander is one of my oldest and dearest friends. She began as a student of mine (back at Temple Buell College in Colorado) and quickly became a friend, a colleague, a confidante. Our children grew up together, though on opposite coasts. We must have spent thousands of dollars on phone calls! She is the most caring person I know, and has literally given herself away in little pieces, without worrying about herself. But for every piece given, a piece comes back.

A hug from Walter Mayes, aka Walter the Giant Storyteller, can make your day–or crack your spine! He is larger than life. Or rather, life should enlarge to accommodate him. He is a book friend and a conference friend and an email friend. We meet in out-of-the-way places and always have something to say to one another.

Charles de Lint and I have been friends since very early in his career. He once edited a chapbook of mine. I have edited stories of his. We have dedicated books to one another. He and his lovely wife have stayed at my house. And yet he remains a mystery, for he is the greenman and he is Taliesin and he is all those wonderful mythic magic men, part shaman and part goof. That makes him lovable and fearsome and captivating and astonishing–and … you get the picture.

Barbara Diamond Goldin and I began as student/teacher back in the days at Centrum. She worked harder at her craft than just about anyone in the workshop, coming back five and six and seven times with revisions in the course of ten days. Then she moved from Washington State east, landing in the town next to mine, and we became colleagues and friends. Barbara is tender, funny, deeply religious yet outrageously part of the modern world. She makes me blush.

Bob and Debby Harris are among my closest St Andrews friends, and because Bob and I have written five books together (with three more to go, all under contract) I expect we will be friends forever! They are both great companions, wonderful to argue with (we like NONE of the same movies!), and always take good care of us when we are in Scotland. They are my go-to-folks when I have a plot crisis. And I have occasionally gotten to kid sit for them, though their boys are fast outgrowing me.

The Harrises

Bob and Debby Harris

Bob and Debbie Harris with me on a “pirate ship” on the Clyde at the Glasgow World Con, August 2005. Arrrr, Arrrr.

Neil Gaiman is Loki. I am sure of it. And with all those trickster gods, one must be careful about claiming friendship. But I claim it nonetheless. I enjoy his company and that bantering, depth-charging, sudden shifts of perspective we call conversation. He makes me laugh.

Diana Wynne Jones is the dark high priestess of wonderland. She has a throaty laugh, probably attributed to smoking but I like to believe it has to do with her connection to the god of strange humors. Her house has cranky stairs. Life imitates her art, as well it should. I knew her books before I knew Diana. Now I like them equally. Can one be friends with a priestess? One can try.

Emma Bull sings, she writes, she is beautiful, she can make costumes, she is funny, she is brilliant. But I have it on good authority that she cannot catch a frisbee. Thank goodness, otherwise it would be difficult being Emma’s friend! I can’t think of a better dinner companion. Or a finer host.

Milbre Burch and I met at a storytelling festival where she told my “Sleeping Ugly.” If she had told it badly, this anecdote would have ended there. But she was quirky, original, funny, endearing, charming, and challenging. A true friendship started that evening. It has endured through years, marriage, children, a Tooth Fairy outfit (don’t ask) and several moves across the country. I adore her.

Milbre in concert

So he ran for governor of Minnesota and lost. Could have been worse. He could have won. And then he’d have been a pol and how can you be a good friend then? I love watching Will Shetterly get all het up over a subject. Any subject. He’sat turns passionate, funny, anarchic, silly–and, with his wife Emma–a great host.

Steve Brust once threatened to marry my daughter. It was not a threat I took lightly! Imagine, losing a friend and gaining such a son-in-law? I prefer the friend who delights in puncturing posturing while posturing himself. He is outrageous, enormously enjoyable, and a great deal more serious than he wants you to believe.

Beth Meacham and Tappan King, wonderful editors, even more wonderful friends, who are always full of such astonishing conversations, ideas, theories, and stories, that a weekend with them leaves us full up. Yet
still wanting more. Lucky they live in Arizona, or we’d be with them more than they wanted to be with us!

If anyone other than my husband can be called my BEST friend, it’s Bruce Coville. We giggle like school kids, we talk long into the night, we call each other with gossip, with news, with awful things that just have to be shared. He is in turn outrageous, sassy, unpredictable, juvenile, deep, ornery, cranky, silly, passionate, thoughtful, serious, charming, funny, and caring. We also wrote a book together and did not kill one another in the process. (See Armageddon Summer.) By the way, that’s him with me in the photo on the Biography page next to the Company I Keep link.

If the phone rings at 8:30 in the morning, I know it’s Corinne Demas aka Corinne Demas Bliss, aka my wonderful friend. She is the bounciest, bubbliest personality I know with the greatest heart. She’s also a fantastic writer and unable to come to writer’s meeting without bringing cookies, cakes, tarts–you name it. She’s smart, caring, witty, charming–and sometimes exhausting. Keeping up with her is a full time job.

Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden are good friends and wonderful traveling companions. We have gone to the Highlands of Scotland and to Skye together, laughing, arguing, making up things along the way. They are quirky originals, funny, punny, passionate about a wide variety of subjects, particular, peculiar autodidacts of the best kind, always interesting–even when I disagree with them, which is rare–and the best of guests.