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An Interview with Stina Leicht by Cat Rambo

“Stina Leicht’s debut novel, Of Blood and Honey, published by Night Shade Books, was shortlisted for the Crawford Award and has garnered Leicht a spot on the Campbell award ballot this year. The sequel, Blue Skies from Pain, appeared this year. Leicht is currently working on her next book.

You’ve talked about Of Blood and Honey originating in a conversation about cultural appropriation and whether or not Celtic mythology had been strip-mined to the point where it was longer a useful source for story-telling. What conclusions have you come to about that, now that you’ve written a book set in Northern Ireland that draws on Celtic mythology?

By using the original myths and setting them in Ireland, I like to think I was following the example of W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory in my own way. From the beginning it was important for the story to be an Irish one, not an American one. American culture is not Irish culture. That is why Liam isn’t self-actualized and independent from the start. It’s why Kathleen, his mother, is the person she is. The concept that one is 100% in charge of one’s destiny is an American trope. (Fionn mac Cumhaill and Cúchuilann both were pushed around by forces more powerful than they were.)

The absolute necessity of a happy ending is another Americanism. So, while I understand why some readers were frustrated with those aspects of the story, I wouldn’t change them even if I could because I feel Americans should be open to other points of view — or at the very least, exposed to them.

Mind you, I do feel there’s a place for taking a myth and creating totally new things from it. However, fantasy writers owe their source material and source cultures a certain amount of respect. We need to do our homework — much the same as any sci-fi writer would do when writing about technology.” Read more.