Friday, January 17, 2014

Interview with Jennifer Roberson

Jennifer Roberson is the author of several fantasy novels. She wrote the "Chesuli" series about a race of shapechangers that struggle with a race of sorcerers. Her tales of Tiger and Del are told in several "Swprd Dancer" books which are very poplar. The most recent series is "Karavans" telling the stories of people struggling against the living forest Alisanos. In addition she has written several stand alone books and some historical fiction. Ms. Roberson lives in Arizona where she also shows Cardigan Welsh Corgis as an accomplished dog show person. More information about her books can be fun in this article and at her website:

Debbie Ledesma: What led you to decide to become a writer?

Jennifer Roberson:  I loved reading, so it was a natural progression.  I wanted to tell my own stories.  I wrote my first novel when I was 14.

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

JR: It was my favorite genre, but I wrote a western, romantic suspense, and two girl-and-her-horse manuscripts before tackling fantasy.  I loved fantasy and was afraid I couldn't do it justice, but I also enjoyed other genres and decided to try them, first.

DL: How long did it take you to write your first book and how long did it take to get that book published?

JR: The first  two I wrote were Young Adult girl-and-her-horse novels, which never saw the light of day.  Next came my western, which was not published until after my first book was sold.  So it was actually the fifth book I wrote that was published first.  The western and romantic suspense were published later.

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

Nowadays, I have my own voice and don't really have any authors who influence my writing.  Originally it was (in no order) Marion Zimmer Bradley, C.J. Cherryh, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, and Katherine Kurtz, in fantasy.  But I love historical novels, and grew up on Samuel Shellabarger, Anya Seton, and others.

DL: Do you have a favorite character in your books? Which one and why?

JR: Tiger, from the Sword-Dancer series.  He is just so much FUN to write!  He's sarcastic, funny, but also very complex as he matures.

DL: After you fulfill all of your current book contracts, which book or books would you like to write next?

JR: I would like to write another historical.  I have ideas for a couple, but nothing settled as yet.

DL: Your books have been different with Cheysuli, Tiger and Del, and now Karavans. I know you plan to write more Cheysuli books. Will any of them take place after the final book?

JR: At this time, the three new Cheysuli books will be a prequel to the original series, a book about Finn and Carillon in exile, and a book about Keely in Erinn.  No plans at this time to write sequels to the original series, but of course that could change.

DL: With the popularity of urban fantasy, do you think you will ever try your hand in this area? Maybe something that could include your dog show and breeding expertise?

JR: It's a possibility, but I haven't given it much thought because I have five novels under contract and ideas for a couple of historicals.

DL: The TV series "Game of Thrones" has been very popular. Which of your books do you feel would make a good TV series or movie?

JR: They now have the tech to do great shapechanging, so the Cheysuli books could be filmed.  But I've always felt the Sword-Dancer series could be a lot of fun.  It had been optioned at one time for the potential of making a movie (or movies), but nothing came of it.  Probably the Cheysuli novels would make a better TV series because of the dynastic nature.

DL: I'm reading the second Karavans book _Deepwood_. I love the characters and the forest Alisanos. Did you do research for these books?

JR: A little research on the big old prairie schooners and Basque sheepherder wagons, and the yurts of the steppes tribes.  

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

JR: Now and again there are some influences, but I've never purposely involved specific myths--unless you want to call the Robin Hood legend a myth.  I wrote two novels about the legend, with an emphasis on Marian, in LADY OF THE FOREST and LADY OF SHERWOOD.  These are historical novels, though, not fantasy.

DL: What do you think is the important function of Fantasy?

JR: Certainly it provides entertainment and escapism, but it allows for a vast exploration of different themes, time periods, archetypes, and tremendous characterization.

DL: What themes do you find most compelling to include in your writing?

JR: Personal growth.  If your main characters remain the same people throughout a series, eventually the books become boring and the plots predictable.  I like to take my characters on physical as well as emotional journeys.  Lots of self-discovery for my characters.  Also, you can educate a bit as well, if you do it in a subtle and/or entertaining, interesting fashion.

DL: A writer friend of mine said that all Fantasy authors eventually attempt an Arthurian 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?

JR: Actually, I live in Arizona.  8-)  Born in Missouri, but have been in AZ since 1957.  (I did live in London for 6 months.)   I have dabbled with several Arthurian stories, and am considering a historical which will partially involve the Arthurian Cycle.

DL: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

JR: For traditional publishing, it is more difficult today to find a publisher.  But it does still happen; find a good agent, as some houses no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts.  Keep in mind, too, that now we all have the option of independent publishing, with distribution through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets.

DL: Thank you very much for your time.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Movie Review: "What Dreams May Come"

I wrote this review when the movie first came out at the theater. I recently watched it again. The movie is memorable so I decided to share this review again.

"What Dreams May Come" is a fantasy movie about the afterlife, love and redemption. It is a visually stunning movie, winning the Academy Award recently for visual effects. Fantasy lovers will enjoy this different movie about life after death.

Robin Williams plays a doctor who meets the love of his life, gets married and has two children. The family lives happily until tragedy strikes and the children die in a car accident. This brings difficulties to the couple. The mother, an artist, suffers from terrible guilt. Some time later, the doctor tragically dies too. This leaves the movie open for the tale of life after death, grief and eternal love.

Portrayal of the after life in this movie is radically wonderful. There is not the usual heaven of fluffy clouds and angels. A departed soul creates their own vision of heaven or hell through their imagination. William's character creates a heaven from one of his wife's paintings. The film makers created glorious, vivid images full of color and beauty. Other scenes are great too, from images of different heavens to the hells. 

The plot of the movie is a quest. The doctor deals with acceptance of death and finding his children. William's refuses to accept the loss of his wife to her private hell when she dies. He journeys through the afterlife seeking her soul and determined to redeem her from an eternity of despair and guilt. The ultimate theme is that love wins through and hope should never be surrendered.

Viewers will find this movie wonderful entertainment with a message of love and hope in a darkly, cynical age. The portrayal of a non-judgmental afterlife was refreshing without ascribing to any established religion's concepts of the afterlife. I recommend this movie to fantasy readers. Also, this movie is based on a book of the same title by the late Richard Matheson.

If you see this movie, let me know what you think of this movie. Did you like it? Any comparison to the book for those of you who have read it?