. . . I call this speech "In Unicorn Skin, or Three Little Rules about Writing" because I've been moving in unicorn skin ever since I was nine years old, when I first envisioned a world people by mythological beasts. The unicorns were my favorites. At the time, I was just young enough and light enough, long-waisted and short-legged enough that I could move about on all fours. I don't mean on my hands and knees. I mean on my hands and feet. I could actually move like a unicorn--be a unicorn--thundering down the hallway at full gallop, whinnying at the top of my lungs.
My joy at this novel form of locomotion lasted only a few short weeks. Too soon, I grew a little taller, a bit heavier, and realized that if I kept at it, I was going to end up spraining both wrists. I felt horrifically cheated to have had my unicornhood stolen from me, been forced to metamorphose back into human form against my will. I began writing Birth of the Firebringer midway through the fourth grade, in mourning for my former four-footed existence, now lost. . . .