Mercedes Lackey (born June 24, 1950) New York, New York (also known as Misty Lackey) is a prolific American author of fantasy novels. Many of her novels and trilogies are interlinked and set in the world of Velgarth, mostly in and around the country of Valdemar. Her Valdemar novels form a complex tapestry of interaction between human and non-human protagonists with many different cultures and social mores.
The other main world in which she writes is one much like our own, but also populated by elves, mages, vampires, and other mythical beings. Some of the interlocking series in this world are the Diana Tregarde thrillers, the SERRAted Edge books about racecar-driving elves, and the Bedlam's Bard books, describing a young man with the power to work incredible magics through music. While the SERRAted Edge and Bedlam's Bard series are still in progress, she has declined to write further Diana Tregarde stories because of low sales. Lackey received harassment from a small but determined number of fans over the decision. She claims that the trouble escalated to the point where she and her husband received death threats and were temporarily forced to suspend their fandom activities. She resumed attending conventions by 2004.
There is a Mercedes Lackey fan group on Usenet. The fanclub, the "Queen's Own", is named after Herald Talia's position in her books.
Her earlier Velgarth novels are all solo projects, but later volumes in the Valdemar saga are illustrated by her husband Larry Dixon, and in many of her latest works he is also credited as co-author. Many of her other novels are collaborations. She has worked with fantasy authors Andre Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Piers Anthony, and most recently has written The Obsidian Trilogy with historian James Mallory and a historical fantasy series based on Elizabeth I with romance writer Roberta Gellis.
She places her meeting with science fiction at age 10 or 11, when she happened to pick up her father's copy of James H. Schmitz's Agent of Vega. She then read Andre Norton's Beast Master and Lord of Thunder, and continued to read all of Norton's works - Lackey noted with chagrined amusement the difficulties of obtaining enough interesting books from the public library to sate her passion for reading. She wrote for herself but without real direction or purpose until she attended Purdue University. Lackey graduated from Purdue in 1972.
While at Purdue, she took a one-on-one class of English Literature Independent Studies with a professor who was a fellow sci-fi fan. He helped her analyze books she enjoyed and then use that knowledge. Lackey then encountered fan fiction, which further encouraged her writing. She began publishing work in fanzines, and then discovered filk and had some filk lyrics published by Off Centaur Publications. She submitted a story to Sword and Sorceress, then sold the rewritten story to Fantasy Book Magazine. Her first sale was to Friends of Darkover.
She met C. J. Cherryh through filk, who mentored her during the writing of her 'Arrows' series. During this time, Marion Zimmer Bradley included her short stories in an anthology and Cherryh helped Lackey through 17 rewrites of 'Arrows'. During this time, she claims to have been writing so much that she had no social life at all. She divorced Tony Lackey, and eventually remarried to Larry Dixon.
Mercedes Lackey lives with her husband outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in an unusual house. She describes it as a "2½-story concrete dome with an octagonal wooden shell over it to make it look more like a normal house ... it's round with curved outer walls, which makes placement of furniture kind of awkward." (Valdemar Companion, 68)
She and Larry Dixon have in the past worked in raptor rehabilitation. She often refers to her various parrots as her "feathered children". The afterwords to some of her books refer to rehabilitation and falconry, and it is clear that this interest has influenced and informed her writing. She also enjoys beadwork, costuming, and needlework. She claims, however, to be a "wretched housekeeper, and by and large an indifferent cook" (Valdemar Companion, p 64) Besides this, she does radar-reading during tornado season. She helps support the Alex Foundation
Her favorite book that she has written is By the Sword, and her easiest to write was anything about Tarma and Kethry.
Lackey's dream cast list for her best-known books is as follows:
She shares regular employment of female and homosexual characters as protagonists with Tanya Huff, although she tends to write in a more dramatic and straightforward style without Huff's typically sardonic authorial tone. She claims many aspects of her stories are based on her own experiences.
The latter part of Kerowyn's Tale, By the Sword fills in the events that happen after Arrow's Fall but before Winds of Fate.
These precede the Heralds of Valdemar books, centering on the characters Tarma and Kethry. These characters appeared first in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress series) and were revisited in subsequent short stories. Two of these short stories are woven into the Vows and Honor books as part of a longer narrative. The original Vows and Honor pair of books were linked together with By the Sword (published long before Oathblood) as a trilogy.
The third volume, Oathblood, is made up entirely of short stories in place of a longer narrative. With its publication, nearly all of the Tarma and Kethry stories were available together in a single compiled volume for the first time. The single missing story, A DRAGON IN DISTRESS, was co-authored with Elizabeth Waters and was originally published in the Sword and Sorceress series, volume XII. The story is missing from the compilation novel Oathblood due to the setting of the story taking place in Elizabeth Waters's world, not Mercedes Lackey's Velgarth.
The contents of Oathblood are as follows:
In the books and short stories, Tarma is a sword-wielding Shin'a'in clanswoman. Kethry is a magic-user who carries a sword with unusual properties. The nature of this sword, Need, is explored in later series set in Valdemar. At the time of the Vows and Honor books, all that is known is that it is magic, protects female bearers, and can pressure its owner into assisting other women. The overarching goal for the two women is to accumulate resources enough to regenerate Tarma's almost-destroyed clan. As the titles of the books suggest, emphasis is laid on the importance and consequences of oaths in at least one story from each book. The setting of the books is generally in the lands south of Valdemar such as Rethwellan, although there is a brief sojourn in Valdemar in Oathbreakers. Despite limited time in Valdemar, there were references in the first two Vows and Honor books to the Companions of Valdemar which laid early hints to their nature. The introduction of a fourfold deity (Tarma's Goddess) was something of a novel idea at the time of publication.
Bedlam Boyz is a prequel to Knight of Ghosts and Shadows, detailing the origin of a secondary character in the series.
Bedlam's Edge is a collection of short stories, set in the same universe as the rest of the series but not involving any of the characters from the rest of the books. It includes two stories and an essay by Mercedes Lackey, one story each from Ellen Guon and Rosemary Edghill, and nine from a variety of other authors. When reading the series in chronological order, Music to My Sorrow follows directly from Mad Maudlin.
These books are set in the same real world as the SERRAted Edge books: that is, a real world with levinbolts and elves who drive racing cars. At least one character (Tannim) is seen in both sets of books. The main character, Diana Tregarde, is an American witch, practicing a fantasy version of Wicca; by virtue of her position as a "Guardian" Diana has access to more magical power than many, but she is required to give her help when someone asks it of her. Her magical abilities do not pay the bills, however, and Diana is a romance (genre) novelist in her day job. In the stories, she must protect others from angry deities (Burning Water), vampires (Children of the Night), and a sorceress who intends to remain eternally young (Jinx High). The books were published under Tor's horror imprint rather than as fantasy. At the time of publication, positive depictions of what Wiccans and, more generally, neopagans believed and did were rare. In the mid-nineties, Lackey's books generally and these three particularly were regularly cited as examples of pagan-friendly fiction. ( (1992), (1995)) Lackey has written that she has no plans for further books in the series because they did not sell well (and not, as some fans apparently believed according to her, because she had come under pressure for stumbling "too close to the truth" of some supernatural conspiracy); nonetheless, she incorporated several elements of the Guardian mythos, including the apartment building where Diana lived, into later books in her Bedlam's Bard series.
The character Diana Tregarde first appeared in two short stories, "Satanic, Versus..." and "Nightside", which were originally written for inclusion in the Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic roleplaying game and subsequently featured in the short story collection Werehunter (1999). "Satanic, Versus..." is a humorous, cautionary tale that demonstrates just what can happen when people who don't quite understand magic meddle with it, whereas "Nightside" is a preliminary version of what later became the novel Children of the Night. An agency similar to Bureau 13 appears as an antagonist in a later Bedlam's Bard book.
In the collection "Bedlam's Edge" Lackey notes that she placed the Diana Tregarde world with her SERRAted Edge and Summoned to Tourney world with the intention of forcing anyone who believed Diana Tregarde and the Guardians were real to also have to believe in elves, dragons, and other patently fantastical things.
The unification of Lackey's worlds has had an odd effect: in Summoned to Tourney the main character, Eric, associates elves with "telepathic horses" (as in her Valdemar books) and "Aztec Gods rising in Oklahoma" referring to one of the Diana Tregarde books.
This leads to canon-inconsistency, because Tannim, another character from SERRAted Edge, lives in both worlds, and Eric ends up living in the same building (or one nearly identical to) Diana Tregarde lived in. Eric references what will later become part of his own book series.
Born to Run and Chrome Circle were incorporated into an omnibus called The Chrome Borne. Wheels of Fire and When the Bough Breaks were incorporated into an omnibus called The Otherworld. The books were paired off by thematic content rather than order; thus readers wishing to read the series in chronological order would be advised to read the first half of The Chrome Borne, all of The Otherworld, and then the latter half of The Chrome Borne.
Mark Shepherd's solo books in this series are only thinly connected to the other books, and might more properly be considered a separate series of their own.
This Scepter'd Isle, Ill Met by Moonlight, By Slanderous Tongues, and And Less Than Kind are a prequel series set several hundred years prior to the other books in the series. The first printing of This Scepter'd Isle's first Baen hardcover edition included a bound-in CD-ROM containing ebook editions of that as well as many other works by Lackey and other authors. As with Baen's other bound-in CDs, this CD included blanket permission to copy and share its contents noncommercially; thus it may be found freely circulating in peer-to-peer networks, as well as hosted on the world-wide web The four books are historically based, unlike the other SERRAted Edge books, surrounding Elizabeth I's parentage, birth, and rise to power. The books currently published take Elizabeth to just before her ascension to the throne.
Sacred Ground is a non-series novel in contemporary milieu concerning Native American magic. The main character, Jennifer Talldeer, is a private investigator. She is also Kestral-Hunts-Alone, an apprentice shaman learning modified tribal magic from her grandfather. She is called in to investigate possible sabotage at a local construction site where Indian artifacts have been found. Initially a run-of-the-mill investigation, it quickly spirals into a mess involving an old flame, Medicine and Native spirits running amok and an ancient evil once defeated by Jennifer's ancestor that has come back seeking revenge.
Much like Diana Tregarde, Jennifer is an independent woman and a powerful magic worker who also has mundane problems.
There is no formal connection stated with Lackey's other contemporary fiction, but it fits better here than with her other novels. In her short story After Midnight Lackey insinuates that the novel was an attempt to recover the spirit of the Diana Tregarde novels after the fiasco with a few fans believing the novels were based on real events (http://www.mercedeslackey.com/features_laststraw.html ). However, Sacred Ground also did not sell well, and Lackey took a break from dark fantasy.
The Secret World Chronicle is a series of "braided novels," based on characters and ideas created by Lackey and Libbey in an on-line role-playing environment, transposed into an entirely new setting. Although there are plans to set future works in different eras, Invasion is set in the present-day in a world where "metas" (short for metahumans, that setting's term for superheroes) first appeared during World War II and now play an important role in keeping the world safe. In Invasion, the world is invaded by a mysterious force of armored Nazi soldiers, some of whom are subsequently found not to be human.
While Secret World Chronicle is not set in the same world as the SERRAted Edge and Bedlam's Bard series, it does share certain elements in common with those books; one of Invasion's central characters, Victoria Victrix Nagy, is referred to as a Knight of Underhill.
The first book of The Secret World Chronicle began serialization in podcast form in September, 2006, read aloud by actors Adam Higgins and Laura Patterson. No plans have yet been announced for print publication.with Andre Norton
The Free Bards had their genesis in the story "Fiddler Fair," originally written for an Andre Norton shared-world anthology titled Magic in Ithkar. The Ithkar series did not continue after its second volume, so Lackey rewrote, changed, and expanded the story into a setting of its own in The Lark and the Wren. "Fiddler Fair" may be found in the Mercedes Lackey short-story collection that is also titled Fiddler Fair.