This morning I learned that Tanith Lee has passed away. Tanith had stories in all four of the previous volumes of Clockwork Phoenix. As Anita put it in a metaphor I know Tanith would appreciate, she was part of the spine of Clockwork Phoenix.
Tanith’s story “The Woman” was the very first story I ever accepted for Clockwork Phoenix, back when we were being published through Vera Nazarian’s Norilana Books. With its rich language, sumptuous setting, surreal atmosphere and provocative subject matter, it set the tone for everything that followed.
In Clockwork Phoenix 2, we had the honor of publishing her novelette “The Pain of Glass,” a continuation of her beloved epic series Tales of the Flat Earth.
After the second anthology, I started to get to know Tanith. She picked up on the way Anita arranges the stories in the books so that the themes connect and overlap, and called Anita a genius, words that still move us to this day.
For Clockwork Phoenix 3, Tanith wrote the surreal and haunting “Fold” at my request, and it became the last story in the book. It would have been the final “chapter” of Clockwork Phoenix, had I not chosen to hold a Kickstarter for a fourth volume.
When Clockwork Phoenix 4 passed go, I went to Tanith again. She told me that she was in poor health and couldn’t write something new, but she had an older story she could let me see. That proved to be “A Little of the Night,” a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award, reprinted in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2014. What a pleasure that was to help bring her more award recognition.
I had hopes, if Clockwork Phoenix 5 reaches its goal, of seeing another story from her. I am crushed that this part of the dream won’t come true. But Anita and I agree, if we get to create this new book, then it will be, must be, a tribute to Tanith.
What a lovely thing to do.
I was amazed at how Tanith could write consistently amazing stories, each one lusciously detailed and with tremendous heart. Not a wimp among them.
How fortunate we as readers were to receive those stories, and how doubly fortunate we as editors were to work with their creator.