I've read my share of introductions and forewords over the years, but in the last few months have been a bit more intimately involved with them, as it were. First off there was the matter of being the subject of an introduction, which was odd, to say the least (still can't get used to seeing myself referred to as 'Roden'). Hard on the heels of that came the writing of my first introduction, for Peter Bell's collection The Light of the World, due out later this year from Ex Occidente Press. Now I'm set to write another one, for Simon Kurt Unsworth's first collection, Black Dogs and Lost Places, due out in September from Ghostwriter Publications. I'm looking forward to the new assignment, and to Simon's collection, which I'm sure will be the first of many.
Not much to report on the Northwest Passages front, except that everything appears to be ticking along, and now it's a lot of hurry up and wait (I expect). I've had a few writers express a willingness to provide a cover blurb for the book, and here's the first one, from World Fantasy Award-winner Zoran Zivkovic, who writes 'Barbara Roden's first collection was a voyage of fascinating discoveries for me. I thoroughly enjoyed every story in it, every new territory. She is indeed a master storyteller.' And here's a snippet from the introduction, by Michael Dirda: 'Northwest Passages is Barbara Roden’s first collection, all but one of the stories having been written during the last three or four years. Yet, as I’ve emphasized, the collection avoids even the least hint of sameyness. One looks forward to each successive story with eagerness, never quite sure what to expect. Yet they all fit unobtrusively together as ten facets of a single and singularly elegant imagination.'
A note about the pictures: the top one, showing the road through the trees, was taken many years ago on the road up to one of the two cabins I describe in my story 'Northwest Passage'. The other one, probably taken at around the same time (c. 1980), shows the cabin in which, in the story, the two boys are living. Known as 'the Bowes cabin' (after the prospector who built it sometime around the Second World War), it's where we generally stayed on our trips to the area: no electricity, no heat (beyond what the fireplace and wood stove provided), and only cold running water piped out of a nearby spring, it was basic living at its most, well, basic. And yes, that's a skull on the wall, to the right of the door and the small window.