From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Tamsyn Muir: To Live Unworried

In this Author Spotlight, we asked author Tamsyn Muir to tell us a bit about the background of her story for Fantasy Magazine, “The House That Made The Sixteen Loops of Time.”

What inspired you to write about a doctor of Medieval Literature and her magical, time-distorting house?

“Sixteen Loops” was actually for my final-week Clarion story, only it started out with a worse title. But taking its separate elements: I spent some of my academic life around the Medieval Literature department, and in my opinion if there is anyone likely to live unworried by their magic house it is someone from Medieval Lit. I love the idea of places with sentience and power, and Dr. Tilly as the type of person who would swap convenience for a magical house each time. The story followed from there.

Rose “supposed the house had liked her out of pure shock.” She and the house complement each other. What quirks does your own place have that make it uniquely yours? If you had the option, would you live in 14 Arden Lane? Why or why not?

I currently live in a ranch-style two-storey house that was built in the eighties, and it’s gorgeous and covered in native Kauri wood ceilings, but its only quirk is that the water pressure is abysmal. You wait half an hour to fill a kettle. However, I wouldn’t swap it for 14 Arden Lane, because 14 Arden Lane would require a horrible amount of commitment. It’s very needy. I get cold feet just with houseplants.

“When the house turned out to be magical Rosamund Tilly just accepted this as fact,” but it took her several loops through time to recognize and accept her love for Danny. Why, do you think some facts are easier to accept than others?

Change is, in my estimation, the most difficult thing to try to come to terms with. Rose is the type of person whose life experience doesn’t change that much with a magic house, but is terrified by what a relationship shift with her best friend represents. Facts that are boring, dull and comfortable are easier than unstable, new and painful. Change is terrible, no matter how small. I personally grieve at each close of the Starbucks seasonal menu.

You are a graduate of Clarion 2010. Can you tell us about your writing before Clarion and about your Clarion experience?

Before Clarion I wrote just to amuse myself. I’d thought about game writing, and I still love interactive fiction. A Clarion grad friend suggested I apply, so I did, and I had one of those Clarion experiences where I finally saw a story as its architecture and not just surface. It was a breakthrough. As well as incredible instructors, I also had the generosity and talent of seventeen other writers who taught me to stop nail-biting and get on with it, and I wish I was back with them all the time. I recommend it to everyone, only I’m sorry that they won’t have the Clarion of 2010, which was legendary. As a tip: Get a tea-making roommate. Mine was truly indispensible.

What is next for you?

Editing. I have a Norse underworld murder mystery that needs polishing and is taking up my current attention. 2011 for me will be the year of short fiction, and I will get on with it.

Jennifer Konieczny hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An alumna of Villanova University, she now pursues her doctorate in medieval studies at the University of Toronto. She enjoys working with fourteenth-century latin legal texts, slushing for Fantasy Magazine, and scanning bookshelves for new authors to read.