Friday, April 30, 2010

Midori Snyder

The Fantasy genre has many writers with different voices that bring unique perspectives to the genre. Every author contributes to the advancement of and expansion of Fantasy. Midori Snyder is an author that combines myth, folklore and fairy tales into her works for stories with strong characters and interesting worlds. She has lived and worked all over the world, which brings a multicultural flavor to her many books.

Her first book was an adult fairy tale Fantasy called Soulstring. It is a story of an evil mage with a beautiful daughter. Suitors must pass tests to win her or are killed if they fail. Magda, the daughter, wants to stop her father. She has great power, but must learn how to use it. This is a book with a tightly woven plot that entertains readers with its many wonders. Ms. Snyder had a good start with this book.

The Flight of Michael McBride is a combination Western and Fantasy. Ms. Snyder mixes Irish and Spanish myths with Western legends, setting the story in the American West. Michael McBride, a half human, half fairy man, flees the fairy court of the East coast to Texas. He discovers he can’t outrun the magic, drawn into the magical struggles of the old West. This is a different story full of interesting characters and an intriguing setting. Ms. Snyder provides a memorably unique story to the genre.

Next, the author followed this book with the Oran trilogy consisting of New Moon, Sadar’s Keep and Beldane’s Fire. This trilogy tells the tale of four women that represented the elements of earth, air, fire and water. One steals the powers of the others to become the Fire Queen and begins an oppressive rule of Oran. Four new women rise up to unite the people against the Fire Queen. Interesting characters and a strong plot makes this an entertaining trilogy.

The Innamorati won a Mythopoeic award for best novel. It takes place in a magical Renaissance Italy, blending Italian and Roman legends with mask making. Cursed people travel to the city of Labirinto to try and enter The Maze to lift these curses. Characters vary such as a poet, priest, actor and mask maker. All the characters seek redemption while they encounter satyrs, sea nymphs, talking masks and other fantastical creatures. Ms. Snyder creates a vibrant world for this story that remains in a reader’s memory for a long time.

Midori Snyder is an entertaining Fantasy author of several books. Many of her books take lace in imaginative worlds and have won awards. The author combines her experiences of living all over the world with myth to provide memorable stories of interesting characters. She is an author worth reading.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Graham Edwards Interview

This is an interview I did with this author a few years ago.

There are many unique voices in the Fantasy genre. Graham Edwards is one of these voices. He has written two Fantasy trilogies with interesting themes and characters. The first trilogy consists of Dragoncharm, Dragonstorm, and Dragonflame. The trilogy tells the story of a changing world through the eyes of dragons. His second trilogy involves a mythic journey along a wall of history. Stone & Sky, Stone and Sea, and Stone & Sun are the books in this series.

DL: What led you to become a writer? Was it hard getting published?

I've always written, from an early age. Eventually I kind of rolled up my sleeves and decided to 'do it properly', which for me meant actually finishing a novel. That was Dragoncharm and it took two and a half years to write, longhand. I sent it out unsolicited and after a handful of rejections it was taken up by Jane Johnson at Voyager. These days it's really tough for a first-time author to get published without an agent. In other respects nothing much has changed - as well as being able to string
words together you have to land them on the right desk at the right time.

DL: Why did you choose the Fantasy genre to write in?

GE: I think it chose me really . It might sound odd but I never really thought of Dragoncharm as fantasy. For me, the story was driven by the characters, who just happened to be dragons. All the trappings of fantasy (and I would say the Dragoncharm books take place in a mythical prehistory rather than a traditional high fantasy realm) were just the life support system I needed to make them breathe. That said, I love the way fantasy can reflect and inform what we naively call the 'real world'.

DL: What authors, Fantasy or otherwise, influence your writing?

GE: I grew up on a diet of science fiction. More recently I've enjoyed reading Robert Holdstock, John Irving, Kim Stanley Robinson and John Steinbeck.

DL: What do you think about the current state of the Fantasy genre. Do you think that many books are too derivative?

GE: I've tried a few of the big doorstop epics but they don't do a lot for me. There is a lot of derivative stuff out there - what I used to know as sword & sorcery - but there's also a lot that, to me at least
, is far more interesting. I've mentioned Mr. Holdstock but there's a host of others like Graham Joyce and John Crowley who are exploring some fascinating territories.

DL: Your first trilogy has dragons as the main characters. Why dragons?

GE: The Dragoncharm series has its roots in Watership Down, which I read at a young age. I thought it might be fun to try something similar using mythological creatures. Somehow it didn't seem a tremendous leap from rabbits to dragons. I think I was probably influenced by the 80's movie “Dragonslayer” too. It was the first time I'd seen a dragon that looked like a real animal rather than a gold-hoarding flight of fancy - okay, she ate the odd princess but she was REAL. I loved the way she lurched around ‹like a grounded bat.

DL: The second trilogy is different. What is it about and where did you get the idea for it?

GE: In the dragon books I touch on some of the differences between history and myth. I wanted a way to explore these ideas more fully; the Stone books are the result. Stone is a world-sized wall in which all the memories of our world are stored - memories of past and future, history and myth. Travelling along the wall of Stone is a little like travelling through time.

The Stone books are an assemblage of many influences - all those SF Big Dumb Object books I read as a kid (Rendezvous with Rama, Ringworld etc); a fascination with time travel and the paradoxes it generates; the fluidity of history. I also began to wonder if altering Stone's database of memories meant you were actually changing history ...
And, once I'd thought of it, the world-sized wall seemed like the best adventure playground ever for getting my characters into all sorts of s àcrapes. Interestingly, Adam Roberts has just used the giant wall concept in his novel On, though in an entirely different way - I'm obviously not the only one fascinated by the idea.

DL: I’m always fascinated with Fantasy that has mythic themes. Do you use themes from mythology in your books?

GE: Actually I plunder mythology in a pretty shameless way. I tend to cherry-pick the things I like and ignore the things I don't. So in the dragon books I have faeries and giants and basilisks (which kill by a glance but bear no physical resemblance to the mythological cockatrice). And in the Stone books I have everything from Russian tree spirits to part-evolved Viking gods.

Myths speak to us in such powerful ways. These are the oldest stories of all. They inform us about human evolution in a way 'real history' can't - in truth the two can't be separated. I once worked on a heritage projec Qt where I was trying to weave together Scottish history and myth. One of the trustees was adamant we should dispense with the mythology altogether and include only what she called 'the real stories'. I nearly resorted to physical violence.

DL: A writer friend of mine said that all Fantasy authors eventually attempt an Authurian novel. Since you live in the country where the King Arthur legend was born, do you have any plans for an Arthurian story? Does the legend influence any of your writing?

GE: The Arthur legend does speak strongly to an Englishman born within spitting distance o ıf Glastonbury Tor. There are echoes of Tristan and Isolde in 'Stone and Sea'. As for an Arthur book per se, I think I'll leave that to the people who do it far better than I ever would. Although I do have this idea about what the Green Knight got up to before he bumped into Sir Gawain ...

DL: What themes or modern day issues do you include in your works that you want to share with readers?

GE: I don't really think in terms of 'themes', just stories. The former must grow out of the latter. Some people have commented that Dragoncharm is 'about' racial prejudice, with its war between charmed and natural dragons and the redeeming message that 'we are all just dragons'. Sure, the issues are there, but they just came along as I wrote the book Û. I'm happy when these things find their way in, because fantasy - in fact all fiction - is at its strongest when it's throwing a new light on the world we live in. But I never set out to make a point - I'm just here to tell stories.

But I do love to make connections with the modern day, or at least with the world we know. Stone and Sun, as well as dragons and magic, has stuff about the 1950's US A-bomb test programme (oh all right, it's not that modern ...). And the dragon books are consciously set in a world that is recognisably ours, even down to specific locations like Meteor Crater and Iceland. I like to have a perceptible thread connecting our world to the fantasy worlds I concoct. Anything else is cheating.

DL: What books or sto ries are in your future?

GE: I took a long deep breath after completing the Stone trilogy. I've got a couple of half-finished novels knocking about, which may eventually see the light of day. But right now I'm working hard to get a new manuscript completed by the end of the year. I hate categories but I guess it might be called a dark fantasy. And there aren't any dragons in it. I'll be posting more details on the website when it's ready to roll.

DL: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

GE: The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. (I can't claim that as my own and I can't remember who said it. But it's the truest thing I know).

DL: Thank you very much for your time.

For more information visit the Graham Edwards Website at http://members.lycos.co.uk/amara

Friday, April 02, 2010

Elves in Fantasy

We imagine sylvan forests of beauty and gleaming cities of delicate architecture. Humans don’t live in these places. They are too beautiful and perfect for us. These glorious places are inhabited by an immortal race of magical beings that hold a fascination in our imaginations. Elves have been a part of our mythology and legends since ancient times. They have become a fixture in Fantasy to the point of redundancy. Their continued existence is assured by many Fantasy authors who find new ways to include them in stories.

Elves come in many shapes and sizes. Some are tall, beautiful creatures beyond description. These beings are warriors and builders of fantastic civilizations. They are aloof, sometimes amoral creatures with different motivations than humans. Some are small statured creatures. These tend to be tricksters or helpers to humans. The common threads among Elven-kind are that they are magical and immortal.

One Fantasy author that writes about elves is Mercedes Lackey. She has brought them into our modern day world in her book with Ellen Guon of Bedlam’s Bard. Elves interact with humans in Los Angeles and San Francisco. They provide the creative inspiration for humans. Two humans, Eric and Elizabeth, help one of the elves to keep another one from enslaving humanity. The authors give us interesting twists on the lives of elves like getting addicted to caffeine.

Another author that uses elves in her books is Rosemary Edghill. She brings them to our world and has a woman from here travel into his world. The Sword of Maiden’s Tears has an elf mugged in a city. A woman helps him to recover his stolen sword, combating monsters in the process. The other books, The Cup of Morning Shadows and The Clo ak of Night and Daggers, move the story into the elf’s world. Ms. Edghill is a very descriptive author and gives her story a strong sense of romance and adventure.

Elves take on more roles in the sub-genre of Epic Fantasy. J.R.R. Tolkien presented readers with a noble, immortal race of elegant beings. He created whole stories and a language for his elves. There are Elrond, Galadriel, Legolas and many other interesting characters in Lord of the Rings. Other authors used his creations to inspire their own elven inhabitants.

Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey have different elves in their collaborations of The Elvenbane and Elvenblood. In these books, humans are the slaves of the elves. Dragons help the humans by providing a rebel leader. Shana, a young half-elven, half-human girl, is raised secretly by dragons to fulfill a prophecy against the elves. These are entertaining books by two good Fantasy authors.

Tom Dietz uses the Celtic stories of the Sidhe in his David Sullivan books. His human characters keep dealing with the powerful elves of Samnildinach and other Sidhe through several books. It starts in Windmaster’s Bane. David Sullivan has the Sight and sees the elves on one of their marches. He eventually becomes a reluctant friend and ally to these beings.

Elves are part of many other Fantasy books. Terry Brooks has them in important roles in his Shannara series. Guy Gavriel Kay has the Lios Alfar in his Fionavar Tapestry. Katherine Kerr has an intere psting elven culture in many of her Deverry books. Tad Williams included an intriguing group of elves in his series Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. The list can go on for a long time. For those that like short stories, there is the anthology Elf Fantastic too.

Readers are attracted to the magical and immortal elves. They haunt our imaginations with dreams of strange beings capable of wonderful creations. Fantasy authors bring bring these aloof, capricious creatures to life in powerful, entertaining stories. You will encounter them in many books and stories by the best authors in the genre. Enjoy them.