Child of a Rainless Year
Tor, May 2005
received a starred review from Booklist
Cover art by Gary Kelley
Read a sample chapter
Living Between: Child of a Rainless Year
I have always loved in between places – alleys, dry stream beds, median strips – all those places that are neither here nor there.
Maybe this comes from having been born in Washington, D.C., a place that is neither North nor South, a stateless city that is capital of a nation made up of united states.
Certainly, my fascination with “between” places has been intensified by my ten year residency in New Mexico – a state where, even if I should live my entire life here, I would still be considered by some to be a newcomer.
New Mexico cradles a wealth of seeming contradictions within its straight-edged boundaries. As states go, New Mexico is a among the youngest: 48th out of 50. However, New Mexico has been “discovered” and colonized for over four hundred years, making it far older than the nation that now claims it. New Mexico is officially bilingual – English and Spanish – but many of the residents grow up speaking living aboriginal languages that mean these European languages will always be considered imports.
New Mexico has snow-capped mountains and vast, flat plains. Volcanic cones and rough basalt testify to a violent geological past. Boiling hot-springs remind us how quickly the past can become the future. Both above and below ground there are impossible fairylands: notably the burning dunes of White Sands and the twisting passages of Carlsbad Caverns.
New Mexico is famous both for scientists who labor in the cutting edge facilities of Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs, and for pueblo potters who follow millennia old traditions. Did aliens really land in Roswell? The telescopes of the Very Large Array may someday provide confirmation to the question of whether there is intelligent life “out there.”
Child of a Rainless Year is a novel about those spaces in between. It is about the dichotomy between expectation and reality, about past and present, about parents and children, mothers and daughters, loving and the fear of love. Color weaves through these contradictions, not so much pulling them together as highlighting differences and similarities. Historical events prove to be as important as current events, and even a house has opinions on how things should be done.
Originally, my intent was to set Child of a Rainless Year in a fictional setting, but when I recalled the history of Las Vegas, New Mexico, a town where the mountains meet the plains, where hot springs bubble only yards from icy streams, where the present still struggles with the heritage of the past, I knew my novel had found its home. Paula Angel, the ghost of a woman hanged during the town’s turbulent transition between governmental systems, is said to still haunt the town Plaza. Paula lives, if not breathes, again on these pages.
I think that, on some level, we’re all aware that we live in those between spaces. In Child of a Rainless Year, I let myself walk into that between. During that walk, I discovered wonder.