This isn’t an article about the relationship between ballads and fantasy literature. It is undeniably a fascinating subject, and I highly recommend heading here to the Endicott Studio archives and reading Terri Windling’s comprehensive essay called, “The Music of Faery.”
My favourite part is where Delia Sherman, when asked why some writers are so attracted to material from ballads, suggests that it is because they provide plots without motivations. This idea stuck with me.
The article was first published in Realms of Fantasy when I was thirteen years old. Thirteen was a big year for me. At thirteen, I read Ellen Kushner’s novel Thomas the Rhymer for the first time and fell in love with her harper and his journey to Faerie.