“Writing is writing, and stories are stories. Perhaps the only true genres are fiction and non-fiction. And even there, who can be sure?” – Tanith Lee
Born on this date in 1947, Lee was a British writer of science fiction, horror, and fantasy, with over 90 novels, 300 short stories, many poems, and a children's picture book (Animal Castle) to her credit. She also wrote two episodes of the BBC science fiction series Blake's 7 and was the first woman to win the British Fantasy Awards’ Best Novel Award for her book Death's Master.
Lee attended numerous schools as a child, often felt lonely, but said she could “always both find myself and lose myself in books.” A voracious reader, she started writing early and had her first story published at age 21. Her first major success was a children's book The Dragon Hoard, and her first adult book – a massive bestseller that established her in the fantasy genre – was The Birthgrave. Inspired by everyone from Angela Carter to William Shakespeare, Lee’s style has been described a rich poetic prose with striking imagery.
Lee, who died of cancer in 2015, was always encouraging for those aspiring to become writers. “Writers tell stories better, because they've had more practice, but everyone has a book in them,” she said. “Yes, that old cliche.” Her advice was to write with people in mind. “People are always the start for me... animals, when I can get into their heads, gods, supernatural beings, immortals, the dead... these are all people to me.”
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