In 2001 John C. Snider wrote 2 articles and conducted an audio interview with Andre Norton for scifidemensions.com a now defunct website. The audio link went dead around the middle of 2014 but the articles stayed in the archives. After some years of trying to contact various John Snider(s) I finally managed to reach the proper one and was able to obtain the interview tape and the pictures that accompanied the 2 articles. He has given us the materials to archive on our website.

 




 

The Lady of High Hallack

An Interview with Andre Norton

by John C. Snider

As appeared on the now defunct scifidemsions.com website ~ June 09, 2001

 

I was fortunate enough a couple of months ago to receive an invitation to visit Andre Norton, the “Grand Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy." The word "legend" is often used to refer to celebrities and other accomplished persons, but few deserve the term as much as she does.

Andre Norton has written, co-written or edited well over 100 novels and anthologies, including Witch World, which was Hugo-nominated for Best Novel of 1963. Her first book The Prince Commands was published in 1934 (to put things in perspective, J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit in 1937). In the early 19505 she entered the realm of science fiction, writing many "juvenile" adventures, including the Time Traders series (reissued last year by Baen Books). Her newest works include The Shadow of Albion, a Napoleonic Era alternative history co-written with Rosemary Edghill, and its sequel Leopard in Exile (released in April 2001).

She lives in a modest ranch home in a quiet neighborhood in Murtreesboro, a sizable town in middle Tennessee just 30 miles southeast of Nashville. Sixty-seven years after the publication of her first novel, she continues to write and to oversee High Hallack, the genre research library she founded in 1999.

Ms. Norton. whom close friends call “The Lady," is a gracious hostess and vivid conversationalist. Her knowledge of genre fiction is encyclopedic, and she can easily hold forth on nearly any related topic. Despite the usual frailties associated with advancing years (she turned 89 in February), she continues to write every day: she’s currently working on three collaborations and one novel on her own. She arises early each day, answering mail, attending to other business, and writing four to five pages of fiction. She slows down a bit in the afternoons, breaking for a nap, and retiring around 7PM for her leisure reading before bed.

The Lady is a fanatic for cats. The residence crawls with no less than nine cats, including a still-spry 22-year-old named Grey. Walls and shelves are decorated with cat prints and figurines. Indeed, Ms. Norton has edited a series of short-fiction anthologies called Cat Fantastic!

She scoffs at modern writers who insist on producing fiction that is nihilistic, pornographic or “blasphemous" (although she is not personally very religious). She insists that fiction should provide readers with a pleasurable escape wherein the hero ultimately succeeds. As to historical novels, Ms. Norton is adamant that writers get every detail right, even if the reader is not likely to know the difference. (She cited one egregious case where an editor was presented with a novel in which the protagonist took a train to Malta!)

Two walls of her office are filled with copies of every edition of every Norton novel, including those translated into foreign languages. The other two walls are crowned with shelves containing her many awards and certificates of appreciation. She writes using a basic word processor, but generally disdains computers (she refers to the internet--capable computer in High Hallack as “Damn Thing")

Larry Kimbrough and Dr. Rose Kimbrough live with Ms, Norton, looking after her and supporting her literary endeavors. Rose is the Assistant Director of High Hallack and an accomplished poet with a PhD in Science Fiction and Fantasy Universes, her collection of SF&F-inspired poems was recently published by Xlibris, Larry is a jack-of-all-trades best known to the world as Zolin the Wizard at the Alabama Renaissance Faire and with the Society for Creative Anachronism. In the cat-run behind the residence, Larry has erected a totem pole, a work-in-progress draped with Mardi Gras beads and kudzu-vine baskets he weaved himself. Visitors are encouraged to take up mallet and chisel to add personal touches to the totem The are a charming couple very much in love and obviously devoted to The Lady.

 021 23Larry Kirnbrough (aka Zolin the Wizard) with Dr. Rose Wolf Kirnbrough and Ms Andre Norton
Photo by Lou Alicea 

 

Ms. Norton was kind enough to be interviewed on tape. We talked to her about her long career, High Hallack‘ and how she stays inspired by fresh ideas.

Aprox; 26 minutes

 

John C. Snider and Ms. Andre Norton
Photos by Lou Alicea 

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High Hallack: The Genre Writers‘

Research & Reference Library

by John C. Snider

As appeared on the now defunct scifidemsions.com website June 16, 2001

 

Anyone who's done research on any complex issue knows that collecting the information can be a pain in the neck. Say you‘re writing a paper on the Victorian Era. Information on Queen Victoria can be found in Biographies. But it you want to see, for example, a map of Victorian England, you'd have to go to a completely different section; or if you wanted information on everyday life during that period, you’d go to yet another section! Traditional libraries, although arranged quite logically by many standards, just aren‘t set up to accommodate that sort of total-immersion browsing.

Another problem, particularly for genre writers, is that universities and other institutions often give genre fiction short shrift - it’s relegated to second class status over traditional "literature."

So how do writers overcome these problems? Andre Norton, the legendary "Grand Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy," has made available her massive library of books, videos and artifacts - the result of seven decades of accumulation.

Ms. Norton, now 89 years old and living just southeast of Nashville, Tennessee in the small city of Murfreesboro, established High Hallack, her genre research library, in 1999. Housed in a building which swallows the entire backyard of her suburban residence, High Hallack (named after a place in her famed Witch World universe) is available free of charge to writers and students doing "genre research."

High Hallack contains a quantity of books that rivals many small town libraries ~ and they're arranged in a way that encourages browsing. The library contains an incredible amount of information on just about anything you can think of - American West and Native American culture, archeology, juvenile fiction, Regency novels, police history and crime detection, military and naval history, African civilization, Asian culture. And that's just touching the surface!

Interested in the Holy Grail? There are whole shelves devoted to histories and novels relating to King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the quest for the Holy Grail

Witchcraft’? There's an entire collection donated by a ninth-generation Wiccan. Protecting one doorway within High Hallack are two authentic 150-year-old witch‘s brooms!

Another section contains the military-related resources bequeathed by fantasy writer Robert Adams (best known for his Horseclans novels).

Is your imagination inspired by art and artifacts? High Hallack is peppered with original artwork. signed prints, statues, models, miniatures and every sort of curio- there for no other reason than to spark the researchers creative fires.

And, of course, there's science fiction and fantasy. High Hallack has a dizzying array of novels, academic studies, non-fiction commentary and biographies going back to Jules Verne and HG. Wells. (Some of the volumes are highly valued collectibles worth thousands of dollars!)

The most valuable resource at High Hallack is "The Lady" herself - Andre Norton, who presides over the library. Her knowledge of its contents (and of genre fiction in general) is quite literally encyclopedic. Ironically, and perhaps due to her modesty. very little of Ms. Norton's works are included in High Hallack.

To learn more about High Hallack, see the article about High Hallack on this site.

 

Around the Library ~ Photos by Lou Alicea

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All material on this page is Copyright to John C. Snider

and Andre-Norton-Books.com

Donated by

John C. Snider
Host, The SnideShow
Twitter: @snideshow