Corvidae Contributor Interview — Jane Yolen

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Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that I (and Magnus) conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. I’m going to begin with the amazing Jane Yolen because, c’mon, she’s Jane-freaking-Yolen.

Interview with Jane Yolen

Please share a short excerpt from your story/stories:

Part of one of my two poems in the volume:

Postcards from the Abyss
No “Wish you were here,”
no “Having a good time,”
only a sniff of sulfur,
groans from a nearby hummock,
three crows lifting off a limb,
probably laughing at the reader,
but who can tell with corvids.

What is it about corvids that inspired you to write about them? We are a family of birders, and corvids are among the smartest (and sassiest) of birds.

Was there one corvid characteristic you wanted to highlight more than others? Their knowingness.

Do you think you were successful? I can only hope. . . .

If you were a corvid, what would you build your nest out of? Coins and bottlecaps and peacock feathers.

What’s your favourite ‘shiny’ thing? My earring collection.

If you have work in both anthologies, which came first? The corvid or the scarecrow? Corvid first.


As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂


Mr. Yegpie: It would be cool to know where all these stories came from, I mean geographically – like I think I could tell who was from Edmonton and who was from Vancouver! (Where do you live, and did that affect your story/poem at all?)

Massachusetts in the States. Summers in St Andrews, Scotland. Being a birder was more of an influence than where I live.

Mr. Yegpie: I also would sure love to know where they got their ideas from! I caught several familiar references from existing books and mythology and fairy tales; I like seeing people riff off stuff. (What inspired your story/poem?)

I love knowing the venereal (collective) names of animals and birds. One of my favorites has always been “ A Murder of Crows.” So that poem came naturally. “Postcards from the Abyss” is one of the many poems I have written to my birder husband, dead these nine years.

Mr. Yegpie: I think I would like to know what people’s favourite corvid is though; and if it isn’t a magpie, WHYEVER NOT?!? (If they come back with some guff about crows using tools, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY ROGERS BILL. Pffft, crows.) (What is your favourite corvid?)

Sorry—but it’s crows for me. Though I love the look of magpies strutting across my Scottish lawn.

JaneJane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America”(Newsweek) is the author of well over 350 books, including OWL MOON, THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC, and HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODNIGHT. Her books and stories have won an assortment of awards–two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, among many others. She has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She is also the winner (for body of work) of the World Fantasy Assn. Lifetime Achievement Award, Science Fiction Poetry Association Grand Master Award, Catholic Library’s Regina Medal, Kerlan Medal from the University of Minnesota, the du Grummond Medal from Un. of Southern Missisippi, the Smith College Alumnae Medal, and New England Pubic Radio Arts and Humanities Award . Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates. Her website is:

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