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Beloved Fantasy Writer Robin McKinley Named SWFA Grand Master

The Beauty author is the 39th Damon Knight Grand Master.

robin mckinley surrounded by her book covers
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  • Photo Credit: Courtesy Robin McKinley

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association announced this week that Robin McKinley has been named the 39th Damon Knight Grand Master. McKinley is perhaps best known for her retellings of classic fairy tales such as her debut novel, Beauty, which has been beloved by readers young and old for over 40 years.

Beauty, published in 1978, was a sensation that made the world of retold fairy tales a rich vein to be plumbed for McKinley and many other writers. Although many of McKinley’s most cherished tales are female-focused retellings, it is hardly her only niche. McKinley’s other works include The Blue Sword, a Newbery Medal-winning tale of Harry Crewe, an orphan who becomes heir to the Blue Sword—a fabled sword once carried by the legendary Lady Aerin—and its prequel, The Hero and the Sword.

In SWFA’s post about the news, McKinley included details that she is in the depths of finishing a draft for a new novel. This will be her first since 2013’s Shadows, a tale spun about a world where both magic and science exist—and are at constant odds with each other.

Whether you take this news as a chance to jump into a nostalgic re-read of Deerskin or a chance to encounter McKinley’s more recent work, perhaps for the first time, one thing cannot be doubted: Robin McKinley’s body of work and impact on the fantasy world makes her a deeply deserving recipient of the title of Grand Master.

The Grand Master award will be officially presented to McKinley at the annual SWFA Nebula Conference.