Catherynne M. Valente's website

As befits a world-maker like Catherynne M. Valente, her blog site is a world unto itself. It's fascinatingly multi-layered and yields several dimesions of delight to a dedicated explorer. It appears to be closely maintained by Ms. Valente herself, and gives an intensely personal view into the workings of her mind and professional life. Her partner, Dmitri Zagidulin, is the designer, and she did the graphic collages you see on the various pages.

To begin with, it's a visually rewarding site - good colours, pleasant layout, and an easily followed menu of options. These may seem like trivial technical details in something intended to be the mirror of a storyteller's soul, but too often a writer's personal site is cluttered with the urge to exploite the "Wow!" factor. Ms. Valente's site is easy on the senses, as lovely and clear as her fiction. Speaking as a reader, I must admit it's a relief to encounter a site that doesn't distract one from the subject. Ms. Valente has made an effort to make her site welcoming and easily used, and I appreciate that.

The blog portion is both intimate and erudite, and genuinely sounds as if one is being privileged to listen to the writer ramble on. Ms. Valente's informal voice is lively and direct, and the enthusiasm she feels for her subjects, her genre and her intellectual world is delightful. You don't feel as if you are eavesdropping, but rather as if a friend has been sending you an extended email. There's a wryly self-depracating humour to it all that is quite charming.

As for content - no expense, as they say, has been spared. She covers a wide range of topics, rich in information and delight.The line-up of links to the left of the main page is particularly well done and user-friendly. It's also extensive, ranging from links to her own works, to subjects of general genre interest, to the works and worlds of fellow-fantasists like Jeff Vandemeer. I'd recommend following the link to Ms. Valente's poetry first of all - if you have only read her prose so far, the beauty of her stern, delicate poetry will be a revelation.

Her blog is here.

[Kathleen Bartholomew]