Friday, December 25, 2009

Laura Resnick Interview

Laura Resnick is a relatively new author to the Fantasy genre though she has published in other genres. She became part of the genre with her first Epic Fantasy book In Legend Born. Daughter of science fiction author Mike Resnick, she has written many books in the romance genre under the pen name Laura Leone. Ms. Resnick has traveled all over the world, including a recent trip to Africa, and this experience she brings to her books. Many of her short stories have appeared in various anthologies. The second book of her Fantasy series will be split into two books: In Fire Forged: The White Dragon, which will be published May 2003, and In Fire Forged: The Destroyer Goddess. She has a new book called Dopplegangster coming out in Jan. 2010.

Debbie Ledesma: I read your biography on the Internet. What inspired you to start a writing career?

Laura Resnick: I was living and working in Sicily, and my salary wouldn’t stretch to pay off a bank loan I had in England. So I was searching for a second source of income, something that would fit into my schedule. A friend suggested I read Kathryn Falk’s How To Write A Romance and Get It Published. At my request, my parents sent me a copy of the book from the U.S. I read the book, and I thought this seemed like something I could do at my own pace and without spending money which I didn’t have. So I sat down and started writing books, and then started sending out queries. The following year, I made my first sale--to Silhouette Books.

At the time (15 years ago), Silhouette still had a publishing program which was growing faster than its stable of reliable writers. So when they found someone whose writing they liked, and who seemed capable of delivering 2-4 books per year to them, they worked on helping that writer develop. I sold them a dozen books in five years. Throughout those years, I got detailed editorial commentary from Silhouette on everything I wrote, including all the material they rejected. So, from my perspective, Silhouette spent five years paying me to learn my craft. That’s a rare opportunity for a young writer and was a huge asset in my development as a novelist.

DL: Did being the daughter of a SF author influence your writing?

LR: As a kid, I often heard my father say things about writing which I now know stuck with me--craft Äprinciples such eschewing self-indulgence and fulfilling your responsibility to engage and absorb the reader. When I was a teenager, my father paid me by-the-page to type the final drafts of his manuscripts. That’s how I learned to type, and also how I learned MS formatting. I probably unconsciously learned about the revision process, since I was typing from his line edits of his own work and thereby seeing the changes he made as he went along, and seeing how many changes a writer might make from initial draft to final version. I also developed an understanding of how polished a writer’s prose and how well-crafted his story should be before shipping a MS. Perhaps because of that, many editors have commented to me how clean and polished my work is upon delivery.

Growing up in my father’s house also influenced my approach to the
profession. For example, I knew from an early age that persistence and
endurance are essential qualities just for breaking into this profession, let
alone surviving or succeeding in it. So, when trying to break into publishing, it never even occurred to me to write just one book; when I sold my first book, I was already working on my fourth.

DL: What authors have inspired or influenced your writing besides your father?

LR: Pretty much everyone I’ve ever read. Whenever I read a book I don’t like, I analyze why it doesn’t work and what would work instead; this practice has formed a private mental university of self-education which has been an enormous influence on my work. I try to engage in a similar analysis of books which I love, figuring out why they work so well. This has been influential, too, though a much tougher exercise: A wel l-crafted novel often appears deceptively effortless and hides the seams of the writer’s painstaking work, making it difficult even for another writer to discover exactly what makes it so good.

DL: After writing many Romance novels under the pen name Laura Leone, why did you choose Fantasy to write your next novel?

LR: After I’d sold eight romance novels, Marty Greenberg and my father invited me to write a short story for an sf/f anthology they were doing. That went well, so they each invited me into more anthologies. (So I blame my entry into sf/f on Marty and Pop.) Then other sf/f pros started inviting me into their anthologies. I was just doing this for fun, as a relaxing change-of-pace from my full-time career as a romance novelist. Eventually, though, I’d sold over twenty sf/f ⁄ short stories, I’d won the John W. Campbell Award (best new sf/f writer), and sf/f types kept asking me, "When are you going to write a novel?" (I’d reply that I’d written thirteen novels for three publishers, but I’d done it under another name in another genre. I think some people thought I was just making a strange joke.)

Eventually, through a series of coincidences too complicated to explain
(though I blame Jennifer Roberson), I wound up with an agent who specialized in sf/f. After a while, it dawned on me that, considering all these combined circumstances, I should probably try writing an sf/f novel. And that was how it wound up happening.

DL: How is writing Fantasy fiction different than Romance fiction?

LR: Wow! There are so many ways, I can’t even begin to address them here--but here’s a basic summary:

Bottom line, for me, fantasy is about the struggle between good-and-evil,
with the epic external struggle leading us to the internal, personal struggle
whi Óch exists in each one of us. Whereas the romance genre is about two people pair-bonding. I’m always amazed at how often people from each genre seem to wholly misunderstand the other genre and define it by its window-dressing: "Fantasy is about magic and world-building," or "Romance is about sex." Understanding the heart of each genre shapes the whole approach to developing a novel there.

Also, for whatever reason, my story ideas and my personal sensibility tend to be much more marketable in fantasy than they are in romance. That makes a big difference in my artistic experiences (and commercial potential) in each genre. As a writer, I personally find the romance genre artistically restrictive, which in turn affects the quality of my work there. By contrast, I’ve found the fantasy genre artistically UNrestrictive, so I’ve grown by leaps and bounds as a writer during my sojourn here, and I also experience better career growth in fantasy.

DL: Where did you get your idea for In Legend Born?

I used to live in Sicily, and the original idea for In Legend Born arose out of Sicilian history. Anyone familiar with a famous 20th-century Sicilian peasant-turned-outlaw-turned-Separatist, Salvatore Giuliano (active 1943-1950), will recognize numerous similarities between his history and the story which occurs in this fantasy novel.

DL: Your Fantasy books are getting longer, how many books do you think it will be?

LR: My second fantasy novel is almost double the length of my first (which was a huge book), and so I’ve had to split into two volumes for publication: The White Dragon: In Fire Forged, Part One (May 2003) and The Destroyer Goddess: In Fire Forged, Part Two (December 2003). However, far from my "fantasy books getting longer," my next two--Arena and The Palace of Heaven, both
stand-alone novels--will be no longer than the first one was, and perhaps
even shorter.

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

LR: It changes from year to year, as new characters torment me and old characters slide off my radar. My personal favorites today are a couple of characters in my upcoming two-part fantasy novel (The White Dragon: In Fire Forged, Part One and The Destroyer Goddess: In Fire Forged, Part Two). Baran is an amoral, witty, and emotionally unstable sorcerer whose company makes everyone else jittery and bad-tempered. Ronall is a drunken, whoring, cowardly aristocrat who’s horribly out of Ò place and trying to find his place in a world of towering heroes and villains.

What draws me to these characters is their iconoclastic charm, the fresh
perspective they bring to the story by being so out of place in it, and the
mass of contradictions in their behavior which ensures that other characters (and, I hope, readers) are torn between affection and loathing, between empathy and revulsion when encountering them. I’m fascinated by the struggle of inconsistencies, contradictions, and extremes in people, and therefore I like to explore this in characters. Additionally, I love irreverence and have a huge fondness for characters who say what no one else will say.

DL: I’ve read some of your short stories, which form do you prefer, novels or short stories?

LR: I enjoy both. A 1,000-page manuscript (or, indeed, a 300-page manuscript) involves a lot more commitment, sustained effort, and passion than does a 16-page manuscript, so I am much more involved in my novels, they require far more of my focus and effort, and I care about them much more. However, although short fiction is not my primary passion as a writer, it’s been extremely important in my development because it’s afforded me so many opportunities to experiment with things which are uncommercial, odd, or which I’ve yet to learn to sustain over the course of 500 pages, in terms of structure, style, tone, format, voice, point-of-view, pace, etc.

DL: Do you draw from mythology for your themes and ideas?

I would say I draw from life for my themes and ideas. Although mythology is one of the many subjects that I include in my background reading for my work, it’s not a starting place for me, nor is it more important for me than other aspects of my research.

DL: Did your experience of the African trip find its way into your stories?

LR: Yes. I wrote a non-fiction book about the trip, A Blonde In Africa, as well as some articles. My experiences in Africa have worked their way into my fiction in any number of ways, most noticeably a romance novel called Fever Dreams (w/a Laura Leone), as well as several short stories, including, "Amandla!" I’ve written proposals for novels set in Africa but, unfortunately, no one’s wanted them so far. Above all, I’d say that my experiences in Africa changed my writing because they changed me as a person, in the way that all major life experiences change us and our work.

DL: Have current events such as 9/11 and the talk of war with Iraq found their way into your writing or influenced it?

LR: In terms of my plot choices, not yet. Thematically--yes, in the sense that
everything that affects me affects my work. I felt a kind of terrible innocence on 9/11. I watched those planes flying deliberately into the Twin Towers to murder thousands of civilians, and I realized that I have to start all over as a fantasy writer, because I don’t really know anything about evil yet.

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

LR: What a loaded question! I was just saying to another writer the other day, "NEVER attempt to define your genre in interviews, because as soon as it’s published or aired, other writers in your genre will jump all over you to tell you you’re not just WRONG, you’re also insulting, simplifying, or
overlooking -their- work."

So let’s be clear about this: I only speak for MY work. With that understood: I think fantasy’s function is to explore individual and societal moral struggles in a complex, dangerous, and ambivalent world; to explore the challenges of sacrifice in a naturally selfish world; and to do so in a format which respects and evinces the classic traditions of good storytelling--high adventure, high romance, fascinating characters, and
compelling plots.

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

LR: The same advice I always give:

Persistence is the most important quality you’ll need, and probably the one
which you currently underestimate the most.

I’m always amazed at how many aspiring writers who complete one book don’t start writing another. As if (a) their first-ever attempt at a novel will
necessarily be publishable and (b) they have no idea that a writing career
entails writing book after book after book after book. I’m also always amazed at how many aspiring writers, after receiving a rejection or two, simply give up. The first dozen agents I ever queried all told me not only that they didn’t want to represent me, but also that (a) I had no talent and couldn’t write, and/or (b) I was writing the wrong thing and should stop. That was eighteen book sales ago.

DL: What books are you planning to write after this series?

LR: I never talk about any work in public except that which is already sold! This is not "someone will steal my idea" paranoia. This is "if I talk about it before selling it, I will be unable to sell it, and everyone I meet for the next five years will keep asking me about it."

DL: Thank you very much for your time.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Animal Fantasy

Many humans believe that animals have feelings and some intelligence like humans. We anthropomorphize them almost daily in TV commercials, movies, cartoons, etc. Fantasy authors contribute stories in the category of Animal Fantasy. These are stories of animals that can talk, possess human intelligence and are told from the animals’ point of view. Whether cats, rabbits, horses or many others, there are many entertaining books in this area.

One of the most detailed books is Watership Down by Richard Adams. This is the story of a group of rabbits seeking a new home to live in after their old one is destroyed. They survive through several trials that a rabbit might experience. Mr. Adams provides readers with a vivid story of rabbit lives along with their myths and beliefs. He shines a bright light on the rabbit world. The book is a classic of Fantasy and literature.

Cats are popular animals, appearing in many Fantasy books. Author Gabriel King contributes two Animal Fantasies about cats to the genre: The Wild Road and The Golden Cat. These books tell epic stories about cats, their lives, interactions with other animals and the secret wild roads they use. Some of these cats possess magic. Another book about cats is Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams that is very entertaining.

Rudyard Kipling created some very imaginative Animal Fantasies in his Jungle Books. The books contain short stories of talking animals and jungle life in India. Most of the stories revolve around Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves. With help from animal teachers, he learns the way of the jungle, but is constantly torn between the jungle and the world of man. There are other stories too. “Rikki Tikki Tavi” is the story of a mongoose and his fight against nasty cobras. “The White Seal” tells the story of a seal who leads his people to a safe haven from man. All of the stories are vivid and enjoyable.

Another popular animal is the horse. They appear in many books. A well done Fantasy about horses is The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West by Mary Stanton. In this story, the last Appaloosa mare must go on a quest to save her breed. She undergoes several trials to attain her place in the horse heaven. The sequel, Piper at the Gate, tells the story of the mares’s son.

Recently a new animal Fantasy book has expanded into a large series. Redwall by Brian Jacques takes place in the fantastical place of Redwall Abbey. There are several different animals that live in and around its environs. In this first book, a young mouse dreams of being a warrior. The evil rat warlord is the villain of the book. The mouse must accomplish a quest in order to face the rat. Mr. Jacques combines epic Fantasy elements, an imaginative setting and wonderful characters in all of his books. Readers of any age would enjoy his works.

Animal Fantasy is a vital subgenre of Fantasy. The works in this category allow us to see the world through the eyes of animals. It provides a different perspective to our human lives. Whatever kind of animal is depicted, readers will find entertaining works to enjoy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fay Sampson

History is an important subject. Reading textbooks about it can be dull and dry for some readers even though they have an interest in the subject. Some authors take events in history and create fiction about them. A few Fantasy authors go a step further, adding a twist by including fantasy elements. Fay Sampson is a Fantasy author of young adult and Historical Fantasy.

Star Dancer takes place in ancient Mesopotamia. Ms. Sampson uses the mythology of this culture to tell the story of Inanna. The books follows her all the way through to the descent of the under world to confront Queen Ereshkigal. Mesopotamia is brought to life by the author’s realistic descriptions of a timeless mythologica l tale.

Another book explores the clash between pagans and Christians in A Casket of Earth. This is a story of murder and intrigue that a Christian princess finds herself thrust into after marrying a pagan prince. War looms between the two kingdoms until the appearance of a Celtic saint who intervenes. Many complex themes are explored in this book.

Next, Ms. Sampson explores Britain in the Dark Ages through Edwin in The Flight of the Sparrow. Edwin returns from exile to become a king. He is in conflict with his Celtic foster brother. The story is very entertaining due to the author’s in depth portrayal of the time.

Arthurian Fantasy is represented by the Daughter of Tintagel books. Morgan le Fay’s story is told through the eyes of five people. Wise Woman’s Telling is Morgan’s early life through the eyes of a pagan nurse. White Nun’s Telling is the viewpoint of a nun during Morgan’s adolescence and learning of magic. Blacksmith’s Telling switches to a man’s viewpoi nt, speaking of her married years to King Urien. Taliesin’s Telling is another man’s viewpoint of Morgan raising Mordred. Finally, Morgan gives the reader her viewpoint in Herself at the end of Arthur’s life.

The historic period when the Romans were invading Britain and fighting the Celtic tribes is told in the recent book The Silent Fort. In this book, a brother and sister fight against druids trying to take control of the tribe while dealing with the Romans. Though still young, Melwa os wants to be a warrior. His sister Cairenn is about to be married. Both must overcome many dangers to save their people.

Ms. Sampson has written several books for young adults and children with fantasy elements. One group of her young adult novels are Celtic Fantasies. The stories revolve around the character of Pangur Ban, a magical white cat and his friends. Pangur Ban: The White Cat is one of many of these adventure filled tales. A recent book is THEM, which tells the story of rebels trying to overthrow an oppressive regime.

Fay Sampson is a talented author of Historical Fantasy and young adult books. She takes various historical periods, adds some fantasy elements and creates memorable stories of the distant past. Her books contain realistic characters in interesting situations. Readers of all ages will find entertaining tales from this author.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fiona McIntosh Interview

Sorry. A day late, but finally got it here.

New authors are adding their unique takes on Fantasy to the genre all of the time. Fiona McIntosh is a bestselling Fantasy author from Australia. Many of her excellent books have been published in the U.S. since 2005. I thought I would share this interview I did with her a few years ago with readers again.

Debbie Ledesma: First, for readers that might not be familiar with your books, could you tell us about your books?

Fiona McIntosh: I write "great, big, fat fantasies". I'm about to commence my third series and my second series, The Quickening, will launch in the U.S. in early 2005.

My first trilogy is Trinity - an epic good vs bad tale where the lines get blurred at the close of the story with its bittersweet ending. It's the tale of a man's journey to discover his true identity and the reason for his strange, undetectable powers in a time when Inquisitors are roaming the land to stamp out all sentients. This series has many layers - it's about friendship, loyalty, betrayal and redemption. Its brutal and filled with magic. There's a wonderful villain to loathe passionately of course and at its core is a touching love story but the breakneck pace of the prose means readers agree that it is a "rattling good adventure which fulfills all the requirements of fantasy" as one reviewer put it. "Wow! Fiona McIntosh wastes neither time nor words in Betrayal. Not for the reader who wants a sedate, bed-time read - once they open this one up, they'll be hanging onto their hats!" The books comprise: Betrayal, Revenge and Destiny.

The next series is The Quickening, a darker tale with a disturbing magical backdrop. General Wyl Thirsk's life takes a frightening turn following an encounter with a witch at her trial and subsequent burning. Again the pace is relentless as Wyl's woes intensify with the sinister nature of Myrren's Gift. The books comprise: Myrren's Gift, Blood and Memory, Bridge of Souls.

DL: How did you decide to become a writer?

FM: I had no conscious plans to be a writer and yet I learned from my mother just recently that at five years I announced I would write books one day - destiny maybe? Perhaps although I believe I've fallen into thi ¥s new line of work, it's more likely that this has been a lifetime's journey and that I've always been headed towards this goal. This is especially so if I look back over my career because everything I've done has always involved the written word from being PR manager for an international airline to publishing a travel magazine with my husband.

DL: Does writing a travel magazine help inspire your writing or change it in any way?

FM: Yes. I've been trained over 20 years to write short, punchy sentences and I notice that I often fall into this same style in my creative writing. Just habit probably and quite a good one to have. It makes the pace of the tale rattle along and prevents long, rambling prose. Also when you write for any publication which is going to be read by the public, you have to produce work which is not embellished with elaborate, florid language. It needs to be simple and convey quickly the gist of your story Æ, be it a cruise on the Mediterranean or exploring the Pyramids, walking down an avenue in Paris or taking tapas in Barcelona. Sights, sounds, smells, all come into it but user friendly language that everyone from a teenage travel consultant to an old experienced pro of 40 years in the business will understand and enjoy. The same goes for my books. I have readers who are 13 and I have readers who are 83 and they come from all walks of life and all levels of education. I approach my work as a journalist approaches their article in the daily newspaper - everyone must be able to understand it and read it with ease. It is important to me that language never gets in the way of the story. One other point I think which is not connected with the writing itself but the production of the novel. When you work for any periodical, you have been trained to having your work edited from very young editors. I've never been shocked by scr ¨awls in the margin or requests to shift around chapters or delete great chunks from the ms. And deadlines. I'm so used to working to a deadline in magazine publishing that I'm not daunted by the notion of having to create a first draft of a novel in 10 weeks or so. I prefer the pressure of a deadline or nothing gets written!

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

FM: Guy Gavriel Kay is my great benchmark. His work can actually derail me as much as inspire. I read his work sometimes and wonder why I'm bothering to even try and follow this path and on other occasions I just flip through Tigana - my favourite book of all time - and it gives me this adrenalin rush and that I can produce books to charm a wide audience. His is great writing and I just want to keep reaching for a similar richness of world, language, characters and above all, storytelling. The other author who constantly inspires and influences me is Robin Hobb. I adore her work and her characters have kept me company for many years now in stories I've never wanted to end. She wrings out my emotions and the power in her stories just carry me away. Fitz and the Fool have to be two of the best characters in fantasy and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to getting a bigger kick out of seeing her name on my than my own. I should mention the work of Sharon Penman (historical fiction) who has brought medieval history alive for so many readers. She's a great writer and storyteller so I just give myself over to her and she transports me back in time and I can learn plenty from her work.

DL: Why did you choose the Fantasy genre?

I was a fantasy lover anyway. I had read a lot of the other popular fantasy series available and with nothing grabbing my attention I decided that instead of looking for something worthy to read, I would write something I wante ≠d to read. Betrayal was the result. Even after six novels I still feel I have a long way to go to be anywhere near as good as my favourite books and writers but that's what drives me to keep striving. To be honest though, I never really climbed back through the wardrobe in childhood - one I'd crossed into Narnia, I didn't want to return. Fantasy is where I feel most comfortable and I thrive on the fact that I can just let loose with my imagination and make things up as I go along. I'm not constrained by real life. Plus, I can't help but love the traditional European medieval setting and fantasy works so well in this structure.

FM: Are you planning to branch out into other genres?

Yes, but not yet. What would I write? I would love to write a psycho thriller or some crime but I just don't think I'm wired correctly for these genres. I love to read them, of course and because I tend to write without a plan I think I'd be a woeful crime or thriller author. I'm sure you'd have to know the end and be able to work backwards. Most likely I'd tackle a saga of sorts - a bit like a huge family story.

DL: Do you use any mythology sources for your writing?

FM: Not deliberately although in The Quickening I have borrowed from a medieval Bestiary to capture the idea of creatures of myth. I've used them in a similar way to the signs of the zodiac or Chinese calendar. Everyone belongs to one of these creatures depending on when they are born. It's a very small piece in book one but it certainly gives a wonderful insight into the culture of the region of Morgravia. I also definitely draw heavily on the good v evil concept which always form my favourite stories anyway but I'm teaching myself to blur the lines. Guy Gavriel Kay did it brilliantly in Tigana. Until you knew Brandin the wizard, he was a totally evil guy. Then when you met him he was charming and charismatic, he loved the heroine passionately and you felt his keen sorrow at the loss of his son. The magical element of mythology is also something most of us fantasy writers will lean on at some stage, as well as drawing on the stories of gods and mortals. Wonderful stuff.

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

FM: Pure escape Ä would be my first thought. The world today often feels as though it's falling apart - so much doom and gloom and now we live in an age of such terrorism, it's even more frightening. I often want to hide from reality and I'm sure others agree. Where better to lose ourselves than in make believe lands where the violence might be there but we know it's not real ... and some hero, reluctant or otherwise, is going to find a solution and deal with the baddies. Why do we love Frodo, Aragorn, Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, even Arnie? The same reason a lot of us love fantasy - particularly the more traditional ones where the good guys, against extraordinary odds, win out in the end. From childhood we've all listened to fairy stories and this goes back to primitive times when people sat around a campfire and told old stories to keep the culture, language, etc alive. Our he Øarts respond to these tales of great adventure and magic.

DL: Which characters are harder to write, the heroes or the villains? Which of your characters is your favorite and why?

FM: I love villains. They're always interesting and tend to be much easier to craft. You can let your imagintion run riot as to how far you're prepared to let them go. It's obviously important to build a picture for your reader as to what makes this villain tick. He or she can't just be bad for cruelty's sake or for a plot device. Readers like to know what motivates them.

Now it's the heroes who are tricky because they need to be a bit larger than life anyway and they always seem to be doing "the right thing" even if they are a little flawed or dented. It's trying to create a 'real' person who is that driven and that decent that they put their life on the line for others and/or for a cause. You don't come across heroic people in everyday life (even though people like the Salvation Army, etc are!) so creating a hero takes a bit of a leap of faith for the writer and he/she needs to emerge slowly and build into this reliable person whom the reader is going to trust and really care about. Reluctant heroes are the most enjoyable for me to write. I like the fish out of water situation and having to discover what these people can achieve when they're up against extraordinary odds and crisis points.

Favourite character is a hard one. In my first series it was Cloot. I liked his pithy humour, his incredible loyalty and love for Tor and his selflessness. He was the true hero for the trilogy.

In The Quickening, it's very hard not to like Wyl. Of course he's so many people but the person who is Wyl beneath the guises is a courageous, strong-willed young man who is required to live on his wits through terrible circumstances. He has to sacrifice so much. The character I can't help but love a little is Romen Ko‘reldy - he's a man to win women's hearts. A laid back fellow with a sardonic manner. Very cool, quite fatalistic really. I hated him dying (oops that's a spoiler isn't it?).

DL: Do you attempt to influence the way people view society through
your writing, and if so do you believe Fantasy can have an impact?

FM: No, I definitely make no attempt to influence anyone. My books are just really good stories to get carried away on. No one could ever mistake them for driving a message. I do believe fantasy could be used to influence, though.

DL: Does living in Australia influence you in your writing?

FM: Not at all. I love Australia and being an Australian but I've got the colour green in my soul. I like muted, soft landscapes with drizzly weather and mist on lakes. I love meadows and alpine forests, rolling hills and peasanty villages and ale-swilling inns. I like Autumn and Winter, castles, sword fights, the clank of armour and medieval courts.

DL: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

FM: Stop talking about it and do it. There are no rules. Write instinctively.
Write everyday. Set an achievable daily word count which suits your lifestyle.You don't HAVE to know your characters, how your story ends or even where it's going. Just write - and see what happens. Read a lot-know your genre but also read widely outside of the genre you want to write in. You'll learn heaps. Join a writing group/reading group and tune in to what people have to say. You will learn so much from listening to readers and what turns them on about certain books. Mix with fellow writers - published or otherwise - they will inspire and motivate you.
Invest in a really good dictionary and a thesaurus. Pay attention to world around you - notice how a tree bends in the wind or what a cloud really looks like; listen to how people speak and their mannerisms; watch animals, watch documentaries, meet lots of people.

DL: What books or stories are in your future?

FM: Well, my third series has a working title of Percheron and this will have a far more exotic setting than my previous two which I don't doubt will be a challenge. Increasingly I find I want my fantasies to not be brimming with magic wielders (as in my first series) but to have a strong magical element and then rely on a good story of human struggle. Story ideas nag all the time. Percheron has come out the strongest but there's another idea at the back of my mind and all I see is a single scene of a man in a dungeon. That's it - that's all I have and yet it persists and I suspect it will blossom and flourish over the next year or so. G

DL: Thank you very much Ms. McIntosh for this thoughtful interview.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Andre Norton

I wanted to share this article that appeared at a few years ago. This wonderful author died after this article appeared.

No article can do justice to an author like Andre Norton. She is a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement winner and Nebula Grand Master as well as prolific author of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Her career has spanned close to fifty years. In that time she has given readers many contributions to the Fantasy genre for young adults and adults. Her works revolve around young people, animals and accomplishing a goal. Ms. Norton’s books have characters that undergo changes to become stronger. Her themes involve the decent treatment of animals,

Andre Norton is best known for her “Witchworld” series. Witchworld came out in 1963 and exploded into many books. Ms. Norton continued to write in this world to please her fans. The first book introduced a Fantasy world of conflict and witches. A man from our world, Simon Tregarth, travels to this world where he meets Jaelithe. In this world women have the magic and the men are warriors. Together these characters must fight to save their world. Furth ˝er books explore different aspects of this world.

Mirror of Destiny is a Fantasy about a conflict between the human world and Fairy world. A woman, Twilla, wins the king’s lottery and must get married. She must enter an enchanted forest with a warrior and his blind son. The addition of a magical mirror spurs this Fantasy into a remarkable conclusion.

In recent years, Ms. Norton has done many collaborations with other authors. Her talents combine with these writers to produce interesting works of adventure, likable characters, magic and strong themes. Some of the books are:

With Mercedes Lackey, she has written two books in the “Halfblood” series. Elvenbane and Elvenblood tells the story of a war between dragons and elves. In this world humans are slaves, but one rises to help the dragons against the elves.

Ms. Norton teamed with Marion Zimmer Bradley and Julian May for Black Tri ïllium. The books tells the story of three sisters and their quest to save their world. Each writer tells the story of one of the sisters.

Her most recent collaboration is with Sasha Miller. To the King, a Daughter is the first book of a new trilogy. It’s the story of Queen Ysa who fears a rival will take her power.

Andre Norton is a prominent author of the Fantasy genre. Her long career has contributed many entertaining and thoughtful books to the genre for both adults and children. She created one of the most popular Fantasy worlds in her “Witchworld” series. Whether for children or adults, all of her works have interesting characters, strong themes and memorable stories. This article can’t do justice to this prolific wise lady of Fantasy. Seek out her books and travel through her wonderful Fantasy worlds.

Friday, October 16, 2009

“Age of Misrule” Trilogy by Mark Chadbourn

Two strangers witness a horrible murder under a bridge, leaving their concept of reality totally upside down. The world is changing rapidly. Supernatural beings and creatures from Celtic mythology return to the modern world. Society is collapsing under the onslaught. This is the story told in the “Age of Misrule” trilogy by Mark Chadbourn. This series follows five people as they try to save humanity from destruction by the supernatural in these suspenseful Dark Fantasy books, which are set in present day Great Britain.

World’s End begins the trilogy with Church and Ruth witnessing a murder under a bridge. Their search to discover what they saw makes them realize strange events are happening all over Britain and are increasing. On a trip out of town, they are attacked by monsters. A man called Tom saves them from the monsters and a dragon on the main highway. Tom tells them they and three other people have the Pendragon Spirit within them are the champions of the world. Ruth and Church must seek out the other people and four legendary items to foil the evil Fomori plans. All this occurs while they are pursued by the Wild Hunt in a relentless desperation to stop the destruction of their world. This book is gripping and suspenseful to the end.

Mr. Chadbourn does not allow things to slow down in the second book, Darkest Hour. The Fomori plan to bring their god Balor back from the dead. His return would bring around the end of the world for humanity, plunging it into chaos and darkness. Church and his companions struggle to find a way to stop Balor’s return. In addition, they are hunted by a mysterious creature who kidnaps Ruth and cuts her finger off, leaving it behind as a warning. This middle book continues the story of the five people meant to save the world at a break neck pace until the end.

In the final book, Always Forever, the suspense builds toward a final chance to save humanity. The Brothers and Sisters of the Dragon are scattered. Church and Ruth go on a journey into the Otherworld so Church can try to clear the Fomori taint from his blood. This is the only way to get the four sacred objects back to stop the final destruction. Twists and rapid action keep this final book suspenseful until the last confrontation with the god of evil.

The “Age of Misrule” trilogy by Mark Chadbourn is a fast paced Urban Dark Fantasy full of action and suspense. The story of how the world changes when the Celtic gods return creates an entertaining, thought provoking read. Mr. Chadbourn uses powerful themes and realistic characters that keeps readers immersed in the trilogy until the end.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Celtic Fantasy

Hounds bay in the night, getting closer. Horns answer the calls of the hounds. You splash through a mud puddle and scramble up a bank of thorny brush. When you reach the top, you collapse from fatigue. Pain flashes throughout your body. Your lungs burn from lack of enough air. You cannot run no more. Soon you feel the vibrations of pounding hooves approaching. The Wild Hunt is closing in for the kill.

The ancient Celts hold a fascination for us. Very little is known about their true culture and history. We are left with fragments of their mythology and stories, but what is available tantalizes and inspires new ideas. Many Fantasy novels and stories possess elements of Celtic mythology. Writers mine the scant material to create new books or stories of stunning, gritty beauty, powerful themes, mystery and magic. Some of the elements of Celtic Fantasy are pagan religions, the Sidhe, matriarchal societies, druids, tragic endings, the Wild Hunt and many others. Several authors have contributed works to the Fantasy subgenre of Celtic Fantasy.

The Welsh Mabinogion is used by many writers for ideas. It consists of four main stories and several other tales linked to it. In 1970, Evangaline Walton wrote The Isle of the Mighty, a vivid retelling of the fourth branch of the Mabinogion. She followed the success of this book with retellings of the other three branches in The Song of Rhiannon, The Children of Llyr and Prince of Annwn. Other authors used it too. The success of these books encouraged other writers to use Celtic materials.

Lloyd Alexander took elements from the Mabinogion to create his world of Prydain for his young adult series of books. The series tells the coming of age stories of the characters Taran and Eilonwy as they fight against the Horned King to save Prydain. These books can be enjoyed by adults as well as children. They are: The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King.

Parts of the Mabinogion appear in the some of the works of Alan Garner mixing with some Arthurian elements too. The Owl Service retells the story of Llew Law Gyffes and Bloedudd in a modern day Wales. A version of the Wild Hunt appears in The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath.

Guy Gavriel Kay used elements of Celtic myth in his trilogy The Fionavar Tapestry. The three books (The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire and The Darkest Road) weave Welsh myth and Arthurian characters into an Epic Fantasy of memorable proportions. Even the Wild Hunt appears as a force of chaos. (For more information on this author see my previous article.)

Some writers take Celtic elements and create their own Fantasy worlds. Katherine Kerr does this with her Deverry books. Her characters go through several reincarnations to resolve their burdens. She includes elves, dwarves and dragons in her complex world of magic and honor. The first novels in the series are Daggerspell, Darkspell, The Bristling Wood and The Dragon Revenant.

Patricia Kennealy-Morrison moved her Celts into space for her Science Fantasies of the “Keltiad”. In her series, the Celts fled Earth to found a new empire in space. They encounter humans again and begin a new alliance. Her books are full of Celtic and Arthurian elements. The first book in the series is called The Copper Crown.

Other sources for writers have been Scottish and Irish myths and folklore. Deborah Turner Harris wrote a trilogy of a fantasy Scotland that never existed. In Caledon of the Mists, The Queen of Ashes and The City of Exile she weaves the dark tale of a Scotland trying to free itself from an oppressive England. Ireland is the home of a race of elven beings from another world.

Morgan Llywelyn uses Irish myths to tell some of her tales of Celtic Fantasy. Her books have a strong overlay of the supernatural in ancient Ireland. The Elementals is a collection of four stories of the founding of Ireland after the Flood. In The Horse Goddess, she takes readers to the beginning of Celtic history with its strong heroes and heroines. Later books tell of the mythic Irish heroes Finn MacCool and Cuchulain.

Have writers exhuasted the depths of available Celtic material for ideas? Certainly not. New writers like Kate Forsyth and Sarah Isidore are bringing us new books with Celtic elements. As William Butler Yeats said, "none can measure of how great importance it may be to coming times, for every new fountain of legends is a new intoxication for the imagination of the world. It comes at a time when the imagination of the world is as ready, as it was at the coming of the tales of Arthur and the Grail, for a new intoxication." (from "Celtic Myth and English-Language Fantasy Literature: Possible New Directions" by C.W. Sullivan III, Journal of the Fantastic, Winter 1998) As long as there are new visions coming from writers, there will be Celtic Fantasy.

Other Celtic Fantasy Books:

The Witches of Eilannen by Kate Forsyth

The Pool of Two Moons "

The Daughters of Bast by Sarah Isidore

A Time of Omens by Katherine Kerr

A Time of War by "

“The Age of Misrule” trilogy by Mark Chadbourn (see next article in two weeks)

Friday, September 18, 2009

George MacDonald

The Victorian period in England was a strong influence on the Fantasy genre. Many authors contributed memorable works during this time period. George MacDonald was one of the authors of this time. Born in Scotland, he became a preacher, teacher and writer. He wrote over thirty novels, fairy tales and other things. His strongest contributions were in children’s and Christian Fantasy with strong dream images and fanciful in nature. A religious man, he imbued is books with some Christian symbolism that were allegorical in nature. On the other hand, he wrote light stories for children too. C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton and Lewis Carroll were influenced by this author.

Phantastes is one of his adult Fantasy novels considered a classic. It is the story of a man called Anodos. He finds himself drawn into the land of Fairy when his bedroom turns into a forest. What follows is a series of episodic adventures where he gains a Shadow and fights evil. The book is full of vivid dream-like images that are very descriptive and evocative. Anodos’s varied adventures leads to a wonderful book with many symbols that make a reader think about the book.

The first of Mr. MacDonald’s popular children’s books is At the Back of the North Wind. Diamond is a boy befriended by the North Wind. She appears as a woman to him, but can not enter the country always at her back, living at the edge of the world in the far North. He travels through her to the “land of love.” After seven days, Diamond returns to our world to help Victorian London’s poor people. It is a strange adventure with many strong themes.

The Princess and the Goblin followed the previous book. Goblins plot to steal the young Princess Irene for their leader. Curdie is a worker in the goblin mines. He 5learns of the goblins’ plans and how to stop them. Irene uses a magical spider silk thread to rescue the captured Curdie. A fun story of adventure and thwarted plans ensues. This book has many uplifting themes attached to it.

Mr. MacDonald wrote a sequel with The Princess and Curdie. The characters of Princess Irene and Curdie are older. Curdie has grown lazy and complacent. He kills a pigeon belonging to a wise woman. She sends him on trials to get forgiveness after which he becomes her agent. Princess Irene and Curdie then journey to the capitol to save the king. They are helped by pigeons sent by the wise woman. This sequel has some misanthropy and is darker than the first book.

The second adult Fantasy novel of Mr. MacDonald is Lilith. In this book the main character, Mr. Vane, R passes through a mirror into another world. There he finds Adam and Eve guarding the sleeping dead. He turns down their offer and explores the strange world. Lilith appears throughout the story in various forms to tempt him. Mr. Vane must overcome several problems before returning to his world. This book is very complex and full of potent, disturbing images. It is Mr. MacDonald’s masterpiece of Fantasy.

George MacDonald is a classic Fantasy author of Victorian England. He wrote many stories and books that are memorable today. His vivid imagination provided intense dream images to his works. Christian and children’s Fantasy are richer for his contributions. Authors like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll were influenced by his writing. Seek out his works online or in book form if you get a chance. You will not be disappointed.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

On Writing Fantasy: Archetype Cards as a Tool

Half way through writing a story you stop. Inspiration seems to dry up and the story goes no where. A blank page or screen stares at you while you strive to think about something to write. Writer’s block? No. It is just a temporary lack of focus. How to start getting the creativity going? Another aspect for writers is finding something useful for writing exercises. I find Archetypes Storytelling cards a useful tool for Fantasy writing. They are useful for inspiration, writing exercises and combating writer’s block.

Inspiration for writing is difficult to find at times. writers need to find new sources for help. These cards are useful as a source. Drawing different sets of cards for plots, characters and objects sparks my mind to think of new ideas for my writing. The cards are generalized enough to provide something for your mind to focus on and spur creativity.

Another way the cards are useful is for creating writing exercises. Writers, whether beginning or veterans, always need to practice their craft. I use the cards as a means of practicing. I will draw some cards and write a character description or short scene from the ones I draw. Sometimes this leads to a longer piece. They are useful for trying experiments too. The different card combinations lead to some interesting prospects.

Lastly, the cards are useful in combating writer’s block. Keeping your creativity fluid is important as a writer. For those times when you can’t seem to write, playing around with these cards jogs your thoughts. Interesting combinations create intriguing possibilities that spur the mind to life. This can help to break the writer’s block you might be suffering from once and a while.

Archetypes Storytelling cards are a useful writing tool for Fantasy writers. They help with inspiration and ideas, provide writing exercises for practice and help combat writer’s block. The art work on the cards is colorful and good. They are available from the Internet at The site also provides some basic stuff like using the cards online as a tarot and for basic character or objects to write about.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Katherine Kerr

It is a world of magic where characters are reincarnated to live life over for chances at redemption. Deverry is like an alternate Britain of the past with magic, an elven race and warriors. This Fantasy world is a creation of author Katherine Kerr. Each of her books is set in this complex world, telling the stories of realistic characters as they try to free themselves the the wheel of reincarnation for crimes in past lives.

Deverry is a vivid world of a Britain that never existed with a Celtic flavor. There are various lords that live in duns or castles, protecting their lands with warrior bands. Elves inhabit the Western part of the island while dwarves move among the human cities as blacksmiths and in other jobs. The magic is called dweomar, wielded by practitioners of wisdom.

Daggerspell is the first book of Deverry. It begins the story of several characters with intertwined fates throughout the centuries and many rebirths. Nevyn is a magic user cursed with immortality for causing the tragic deaths of two young lovers. He discovers the cycle about to begin again. His quest is to get everyone to find their true destinies in order to break the curse. The book begins when the outcast warrior Cullyn must take charge of his daughter Jill after her mother dies. In their travels, they become part of the household of a noble family where Jill meets Rhodry the young lord. Jill has a strong magical talent but prefers to become a warrior. These characters continue to work out their destinies in three more books: Darkspell, The Bristling Wood, and The Dragon Revenant, which completes the first part of the story.

Rhodry’s story is the next cycle of books in the series as he tries to reconcile his parentage and find the true path of his life. He travels the land as a warrior for hire on his way to visit his father’s people. A Time of Exile begins with Rhodry’s son wanting to rule his own lands but cannot because of his slow aging father. Jill, his former lover, arrives to ask him for help, so he sets out on a journey that will last through A Time of Omens, Days of Blood and Fire, and Days of Air and Darkness.

The next part of the series begins with The Red Wyvern, telling the story of Lillobriga. She inherited her mother’s powers but not her taste for power. Caught up in the court intrigue, she struggles to master her powers without letting her mother find out about them. The Black Raven continues Lilli’s story as she learns about her magic with Nevyn and tries to save the rightful king of Deverry. A concluding volume, The Fire Dragon, takes place during Rhodry’s time, leading to a final confrontation with an evil sorceress.

Ms. Kerr is finishing up the story of Deverry with some new novels. The Gold Falcon opens another chapter of history with the story of Neb and Branna. This time the kingdom is being threatened by the savage Horsekin tribes and a new war begins. In the next book, The Spirit Stone, the Elven Westlands are threatened by the Horsekin and Prince Dar must seek help from allies to save his land. The Horsekin are wrecking havoc on all people and creatures of Deverry. Neb must find a way to save the kingdom as a mysterious island reappears in the third book, The Shadow Isle. The final book in the Deverry series and this story line will be called The Silver Mage. This book should be published in the next few months.

Katherine Kerr created a complex Fantasy world with the Deverry books. Deverry is a world with a Celtic-like culture, elven race and intriguing magic. Ms. Kerr uses the Celtic belief of reincarnation to create memorable characters that must work out intertwined destinies. Each book has an entertaining plot full of impressive descriptions and suspenseful events. Readers will find the books of Deverry very entertaining. More information can be found at the author’s web site at:

Friday, August 07, 2009

Peter Beagle

*The Katherine Kerr article will be posted the next time.

“The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.” (from The Last Unicorn) Thus opens one of the many novels of Fantasy author Peter Beagle. He is a classic author that has been quietly contributing many descriptive, powerful works to the genre for many years. Every one of his books are different, but gives readers memorable characters and stories that stay with you for a long time. He writes in an easy style that conveys many ideas in few words. His books and stories span a vast range of Fantasy worlds in the genre.

The Last Unicorn is a lyrical tale of a unicorn. All the unicorns in the world disappear, leaving one ©female behind. She goes on a quest to find them. Along the way she meets some companions who help her. Schmendrick is a magician. He is not very good with magic and when it works, does not work in the way he intends. Molly Grue is a practical woman with common sense, but believes in legends. Together, they confront King Haggard and his Red Bull. This is a classic book with strong themes and is told in a descriptive prose.

Another book of Mr. Beagle’s has ghosts and ravens in it. A Fine and Private Place is a story of love beyond death. Michael Morgan is a ghost trapped in a cemetary. He fights to maintain his identiy because ghosts forget with time. He meets Laura, they fall in love and struggle to maintain it throughout the book. Mr. Beagle wrote this book at nineteen years of age. It is a moving story of love with a touch of humor. The characters are unforgettable.

A more recent book that demonstrates the author's growth over the years is The Innkeeper's Song. It takes place in a stark Fantasy world where Tikat sees his lover Lukassa die. She is resurected and stolen by a mysterious woman. Tikat goes on a quest to find her. His fate becomes tied up with three cloaked women. The chapters alternate with a different viewpoint character. There is a clever fox too. This book is full of arresting images and interesting characters. It is a memorable story.

Tamsin is a ghost story and coming-of-age tale. Thirteen year old Jenny grows up in New York, but finds herself moved to the English countryside when her mother remarries. Jenny finds herself drawn into a tragic ghost story when she meets Tamsin. She tr êies to help Tamsin and gets involved with ghosts, boggarts, pookas and the Wild Hunt. It is a beautifully written tale with a lot of magic and adventure. Mr. Beagle uses many of the tropes of Fantasy to give readers an enjoyable story with powerful themes.

Mr. Beagle delves into Contemporary Fantasy with his book The Unicorn Sonata. Joey Rivera helps out in a music store in Los Angeles. One day a strange boy named Indigo comes into the shop. He plays haunting music on a strange horn. The music stays with Joey and eventually leads her over the fairy border into the world of Shei'rah. Joey and her grandmother help the Elders or un êicorns against a mysterious blindess affecting the unicorns. This is a good story for young adults. Mature readers can enjoy this story of music and healing too. It is another entertaining book with a wonderful setting and is illustrated.

These are just a few of the many books of this talented author. Peter Beagle writes entertaining, powerful Fantasy books for all ages. He has a vivid imagination coupled with a subtle storytelling style. His books contain memorable characters that explore such themes as love, death, music and many others. Readers will not be disappointed with this author's works. There is enjoyment to be had in any of his books. Many of his books in recent years have been collections of short stories. They are worth checking out.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Interview with David Coe

I did this interview with David B. Coe several years ago. Since then he has written several Fantasy novels over the years. His first books consist of the Lon Tobyn Chronicle trilogy that mixes magic with technology. These books are: The Children of Amarid, The Outlanders and Eagle-Sage. Next he did an Epic Fantasy series called “The Winds of the Forelands” of which Rules of Ascension is the first. followed by Seeds of Betrayal, Bonds of Vengeance, Shapers of Darkness and Weavers of War. The new series he is working on now consists of The Sorcerers’ Plague, The Horseman’s Gambit and the forthcoming The Dark-Eyes’ War, which makes up the “Blood of the Southlands” series. He blogs about writing at .

Debbie Ledesma: How did you become a writer?

David B. Coe: I actually knew that I wanted to be a writer from a very early age -- really as long as I can remember. In fact, several years ago, after my father died, I spent some time going through his old papers and found among them a "book" I had written in first grade, about eagles no less. I pursued this interest in writing through high school and went to college thinking that I would be a creative writing major. During these years I even began work on the skeleton of a fantasy novel that would later become Children of Amarid, my first published book.

Somewhere along the way, however, my parents convinced me that a career in writing was too uncertain and that I needed to pursue a more stable career. I switched majors and ended up going to graduate school in history, getting my Ph.D. Still, what drew me to academics was not so much the research and the teaching as the prospect of spending my life writing history.

As it turns out, writing history doesn't have nearly the allure for me that writing fiction does. After completing my degree, as I began to send out job applications, I also began to write fantasy again. So for a while I was pursuing these two career paths, wondering which one would bear fruit first. I received my first academic job offer and my first indications from Jim Frenkel at Tor that he was interested in Children of Amarid, within twenty-four hours of each other. Faced the choice between a career that didn't really thrill me, and a chance to follow my childhood dream of writing novels, I chose the latter. I've never looked back.

DL: What authors influence your writing?

DC: In a sense, I've been influenced to one extent or another by just about every author I've read. I don't think a person can read something that moves them, either emotionally or intellectually, and not be influenced by it. Certainly many of the fine historians I read during my years in academics have influenced me in many ways, most notably in my world-building.

That said, it's only natural that my main influences would be in the fields of fantasy and science fiction. I've learned a good deal from the wonderful storytellers I've encountered as a reader, not only the authors I mentioned earlier -- Tolkien, Kurtz, McCaffrey, LeGuin, Donaldson -- but also others, like Frank Herbert, Orson Scott Card, Katharine Kerr, Nicola Griffith, to name just a few. Part of becoming a writer is finding your own voice, your own style, and so in that sense I think I'm less influenced by writers now than I used to be. But the two authors whose work I most admire, are George R. R. Martin and Guy Gavriel Kay. They are among the finest fantasy writers in the world today, creating worlds that are incredibly rich and textured, and characters who are interesting and memorable. When I pick up one of their books, I feel that I'm being transported to a different time and place, one that becomes as real and immediate as the world in which we live. As a fantasy reader, I can't ask for any more than that, and as a fantasy writer, I strive constantly to do the same for my readers.

DL: Why did you choose the Fantasy genre?

I came to fantasy the way most writers in the field do, through Tolkien. I read The Hobbit when I was thirteen or fourteen and loved it. A few years later, I read Lord of the Rings and was utterly enthralled. Fantasy became the only thing I wanted to read. I ripped through (among other things) Katherine Kurtz's Deryni books, the first Pern series (Anne McCaffrey), the Earthsea Trilogy (Ursula K. LeGuin), and both Thomas
Covenant trilogies (Stephen Donaldson). It was during the second of Donaldson's trilogies that I realized that I wanted to write this stuff as well as read it. Covenant is a terribly dark character and I know that some people found these books difficult to read. But I found the use of a dark hero so compelling, so new, so different from anything else I'd ever read, and I found the world he had created so fascinating, that I knew I wanted to spend my life creating characters and worlds of my own.

DL: Are you planning to branch out into other genres?

DC: For the moment, I'm very happy writing fantasy. I enjoy the act of building worlds and cultures, imagining histories, coming up with magic systems. So I would guess that for the foreseeable future, I'll stick with this genre. Down the road, however, I'd like to try my hand at some other things -- mystery perhaps, or thrillers. And I have a number of ideas for mainstream fiction stories and novels that I do hope to get to at some point.

DL: I like the use of the hawks and owls in your books. Where did you come up with the idea to use birds for your mages?

DC: My brothers, both of whom are a good deal older than I am, Ùgot me interested in birdwatching when I was just a kid -- six or seven years old. And I've been a birder ever since, some thirty-plus years now. Throughout that time, I've always been drawn to birds of prey -- owls, hawks, eagles. Mostly, I guess because they're just so cool. There's an elegance to them, and a native intelligence, that I've always found very attractive. When I started developing a magic system for my first series, it seemed natural to include these birds in it in some way.
DL: You have a new series called Winds of the Forelands. Tell me a little about the new series and how d âoes is differ from the LonTobyn Chronicle?

DC: Winds of the Forelands is my new four-book fantasy project, and I'm very excited about it. It tells the story of a young noble who is falsely accused of a murder and thus denied his rightful place in the ascension of kings. In trying to prove his own innocence and reclaim his birthright, he discovers a plot to destroy not only his own kingdom, but the neighboring ones as well. The four books revolve around his effort to establish his innocence and his fight against the conspiracy.

I’m having a tremendous amount of fun with this series right now, for a number of reasons. It's straight fantasy, without any of the science fiction crossover elements found in my first series, but it's actually a far more complex story set, I feel, in a far more deeply realized world. Each of the kingdoms I deal with (and there are seven of them in all) has its ´ own unique political traditions and conflicts, so as the scene shifts from kingdom to kingdom throughout the books, the reader finds her/himself in a new place with different rules and different concerns. Also, the magic system is different. Rather than the magic coming from birds of prey as it did in the first series, this magic system is racially based. Either you're Qirsi (the sorcerer race) or you're Eandi (a race very much like us). And so magic becomes linked inextricably with the racial tensions and conflicts that lie at the root of the conspiracy. Finally, the characters in this series are more challenging, both for me as a writer and for my readers. In my first series, there were many characters who could be labeled either "good" or "evil" without too much trouble. The characters in Winds of the Forelands tend to be in that grey area. Good people are forced by circumstance or tragedy to do bad things, and "ba Kd" characters have admirable qualities. It makes for an interesting story.

The first book of the series, Rules of Ascension, came out in March from Tor. The second book, Seeds of Betrayal, is already in production and will be published in May 2003. I'm currently working on Bonds of Vengeance, book three.

DL: Do you use any mythology sources for your writing?

DC: Yes, I do. Part of creating a world that will serve as a setting for a book or series of books, is coming up with history for the world, a religion or set of religions, and a culture and sustainable society. It would be impossible to do these things without founding them on a series of myths and legends, just as the history, religious traditions, and cultures in our own world are based on mythologies and legends. So in creating these myths, I first have to be familiar with the ones in our own world. Prior to beginning the first book, I spent a good deal of time rereading the Greek myths, reading Celtic and Nordic mythology and even looking at some more esoteric sources, like Native American legends and Basque mythology. I learned a tremendous amount and had a good deal of fun in the process.

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

I believe that fantasy -- and science fiction as well -- offers us an opportunity to look at important issues in our own world through a lens that grants us the freedom to look at things in a new light. For instance, as I mentioned before, my new series has a magic system that is racially based. Hence it deals with racial conflict. Well, writing about racial conflict (or cultural conflict or religious conflict, etc.) in mainstream literature is hard to do without offending one group or another. But by creating new worlds and thus changing the lexicon of the discussion, fantasy gives us
the freedom to look at these issues without all the baggage we carry. There are no Eandi or Qirsi in our world -- the issues might be similar to racial issues in our world, but I ‘m not going to anger anyone as I point out injustices.

That, I believe, is one of the great values of all speculative fiction. Remember the so-called "Gay Episode" that was on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" several years ago. It dealt with homophobia in a direct, compelling way, but did so with a new vocabulary that perhaps allowed people to see the issue in ways they never had before.
DL: What themes do you find most compelling to include in your writing?

DC: Different books usually call to mind different themes, but there are certain themes that seem to come up in my writing a good deal. The narrative in The Outlanders, the second book of my first series, centered on the idea of sacrifice, of taking burdens unto oneself in the interest of the greater good. The three main characters in that book -- Orris, Melyor, and Gwilym, all made extreme sacrifices, in very different ways, toward one common aim. This is a theme that also comes up again and again in my new series.

I also like to explore the balance between choice and responsibility, the idea that each time we choose a path in life we must accept that we are responsible for the consequences of that choice. I see this as being tied to the notion cof fate, and how we accept or struggle against the circumstances life throws at us. Writing in fantasy, I have the added fun of giving characters a glimpse of their fate (I do this in all my books really), which complicates the choices they must make and the responsibility they
bear for those choices.

Finally, a recurring theme in my books, one that I find fascinating as an author, is the interplay between loyalty and betrayal, specifically how one deals with divided loyalties. Many of my characters find themselves wedded to a cause (or a person) only to discover that their emotions and needs are at odds with those to whom they've pledged themselves. I think of myself as a very loyal person, and I'm really not certain where my fascination with treachery comes from, but it's real, and it's out there in my books for the whole world to see.

DL: Movies are a different medium. Do you think any of your books would make a good movie? Which ones?

DC: I'd be lying if I told you that I wasn't eager to see all of my books turned into movies -- I think that many authors feel the same way, not only because it can be a wonderful source of income, but also because it would be great fun to see these characters and worlds brought to life visually. This may be even more true now, particularly in the wake of Peter Jackson's magnificent interpretation of the Fellowship of the Ring.

Of the three books in my first series, I actually think The Outlanders would make the best movie. Though it's the middle book of the trilogy, it holds together pretty well on its own, and it could be visually stunning. I also like the idea of having a mage from a pastoral society forced to make his way through this industrial nightmare in order to save his land. I believe it would work well on the screen.

Rules of Ascension would also work well as a movie. It's got many of the elements Hollywood looks for -- romance, mystery, some good battle scenes, and a measure of redemption as it ends. I'd love to see it adapted to the screen.

Finally, I have a short story coming out later this summer -- "Night of Two
Moons" in the Summer 2002 issue of BLACK GATE -- that I think would be a fabulous movie. Quite often, short fiction lends itself to a movie better than a novel, simply because with shorter material a director has more time to bring out the complexities of character and relationships. Too often these elements of a story get glossed over in the rush to make a coherent movie out of a full-length novel. "Night of Two Moons" is about a traitor during a war and his attempts to rationalize his choice as he watches
the people around him being killed. Like my books, it has many of the elements Hollywood wants in a movie, but it's short enough to be translated to the screen without sacrificing too much in the interests of time.

DL: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

DC: Giving advice, particularly on an endeavor as personal and idiosyncratic as writing can be tricky. That said, I do have a few suggestions that are worth what you're paying for them. First off, all the writers I know began as readers, and so for younger writers out there I would say read as much as you can. That's how we begin to learn our trade. We read the work of other men and women and learn what works and what doesn't, what makes a compelling character as opposed to an uninteresting one, what makes a narrative flow and what makes it stall, what elements make a world believable and fun to visit. As we experience other people's stories, we begin to get a sense of how we might write our own, not by imitating, certainly not by stealing ideas, but rather by applying storytelling techn µiques that we see to our own ideas.

I would then say that a writer writes. That may seem laughably basic, but how many times do we see in media the stereotype of the frustrated writer awaiting inspiration. I find that image offensive. It implies that most of the time writers aren't working. They're just waiting for that one magical moment to strike and then--POOF-- out pops a bestseller. By my experience, that's not at all how it works. A writer writes, every day. Some days go better than others, and occasionally you have a day where nothing comes or what does come is worthless. But the important thing is to write. I don't believe in writers' block -- for me (and all writers are different, so I'm not casting aspersions on others) if I'm "blocked" it usually means that I've taken my narrative or one of my characters in the wrong direction. But if I make myself write every day, I never have to wait around for inspiration. Which is a good thing, because that kind of bolt-of-lightning-inspiration doesn't come often enough to pay many bills.

DL: What books or stories are in your future?

I have a feeling that even after I finish the Winds of the Forelands tetralogy,
I'll remain in the world I created for the series to write some more books -- either a few stand-alone books or a new series. It will follow a different story arc. It might even take place at a different time in the Forelands' history. But the world is rich enough to sustain many more books.

I have a few short story ideas as well, and, in fact, my first short story will be published this summer in the Summer 2002 issue of Blackgate. The story is called "Night of Two Moons" and I wrote it as I was developing the history of the Forelands. The events in this story take place nearly 900 years before the first book in the series, but they offer some insight into issues brought up in the books.

DL: Than you very much for the time you spent on this interview.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Arthurian Fantasy

The story of King Arthur, Merlin, his knights and every other aspect of the legend has fascinated and resonated with people for centuries. After Epic Fantasy, Arthurian Fantasy is a large subgenre of Fantasy fiction. Books and stories in this area have some aspect of the legend of King Arthur in them. These books and stories can be retellings of the legend, focused on different characters or elements that appear in the modern day. Many authors have mined the King Arthur myth for stories. Some with great success and some have failed. Arthurian literature stretches back to the time of the Medieval romance. There have been many books in the last fifty years using this material. It seems almost every modern Fantasy author must write an Arthurian novel or story. (I'm no exception, working on a novel now.)

Some of the books tell the story from the viewpoints of different characters or are about different characters. Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley tells the story from the point of view of the women. In this story we get the story from Morgaine and Guinivere with a pagan versus Christian clash of beliefs. This is a complex novel that remains with readers for a long time. Mary Stewart's The Wicked Day gives us Mordred's story through his eyes. The book follows him through his life until the final battle portraying a sympathetic character that had little choice with his life.

We have other books where Arthurian elements and charactrers appear in contemporary times. Excalibur by Sanders Anne Laubenthal takes place in Mobile, Alabama with the quest for Excalibur. Arthur and Gawain are reborn in our world to fight for the possession of the Grail in The Forever Knight by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy. Tim Powers wrote a book, The Drawing of the Dark, which brings humor to a fantasy with Arthurian elements.

One of the most prevalent characters in Arthurian Fantasy is Merlin. The mysterious, powerful magician, prophet and mentor of King Arthur has permeated many books; there is even a TV miniseries about him titled "Merlin” that was made several years ago. Merlin's story is told well in the trilogy: The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart. He appears in many other works such as Kingdom of the Grail by Judith Tarr that includes his as part of the story of Roland.

Arthurian Fantasy also appears in other works. There are collections of short stories in anthhologies like Excalibur and Camelot Fantastic. Young Adult novels also use the King Arthur story. T.A. Barron writes about the teenage years of Merlin in a series of books beginning with The Lost Years of Merlin. A new British TV series called “Merlin” has the characters meeting in their teen years and provides a different story of the legend.

As can be seen, there are many books using the story of King Arthur. An exhaustive list would take pages to talk about so here is a list of a few other book to check out:

The Forest House by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Broken Sword by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy

Merlin's Bones by Fred Saberhagen

King Arthur by Mike Ashley: This is a very good source book with almost everything about King Arthur.

The Dragon Queen by Alice Borchardt

Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw
Kingdom of Summer by “
In Winter’s Shadow by “

The Green Knight by Vera Chapman
The King’s Damosel by “
King Arthur’s Daughter by “

Arthurian Fantasy is large subgenre of Fantasy that continues to grow every year with new books, movies and TV series. King Arthur and the Matter of Britain will continue to live on as long as Fantasy exists as a genre, enriching the story with new views from talented authors. Readers will continue to explore the legend of King Arthur and be entertained by the story for ages to come.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

David Eddings

I’m posting the blog entry early this week.

David Eddings died recently. I was sad to hear of his passing. His loss is a blow to the Fantasy genre. This is an updated article I wrote on him a few years ago.

Few writers of Fantasy have made the New York Times Bestseller list. David Eddings has done it several times. What makes this author so popular? It is his storytelling ability. He writes books full of adventure, realistic characters, action and intricate magic systems with a subtle sense of humor running through his books. His many books are entertaining contributions to the worlds of Fantasy.

Mr. Edding's books are under an overall title for his various series. The first of these was the "Belgariad." It contains five books: Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician's Gambit, Castle of Wizardry and Enchanter's Endgame. This series tells the story of Belgarion, a young boy living with a formidable woman named Polgara. Fantastic circumstances put him and several companions on a quest to stop a fallen god. Belgarion learns to use his magic talents and grows with every new book of increasing complexity.

In his next series, the "Elenium," Eddings introduces us to his character of Sparhawk the Pandion knight. The Diamond Throne finds Sparhawk returning from exile to discover the young queen of Elenia trapped in a crystal. The story continues in The Ruby Knight and The Sapphire Rose in the battle against an old god. These books have a Medieval structure of feudal kingdoms, orders of knights and a young goddess that appears to her followers frequently. There is a subtle streak of humor running thoughout the books that will sneak up on the unsuspecting reader.

Next, Eddings returned to the world of Belgarion for the "Mallorean." This time, the characters are older. Belgarion, his wife and companions pursue the kidnappers of their child through new realms of magic and strange cultures. The five books in this series are: The Guardians of the West, King of the Murgos, Demon Lord of Karanda, Sorceress of Darshiva and The Seeress of Kell.

The "Tamuli" returns to the world of Sparhawk and his friends. They embark on a trip to a distant, foreign empire to battle a dangerous god. Domes of Fire, The Shining Ones and The Hidden City are full of the action, well-developed plots and humor like the previous novels in this world. By the last book, Sparhawk knows and faces his true destiny.

Eddings returns to the world of the "Belgariad's" past in his next two novels. Belgarath the Sorcerer tells the story of Belgarath's life with his wife. His daughter's story is told in Polgara the Sorceress and how she comes to be the guardian of young Garion, future inheritor of the Rivan throne. These two novels fill in an important aspect of this world's history and completes the stories of two popular characters.

Another different book is the Rivan Codex. This one is not a fiction book. It is Mr. Edding's notes and outlines on how he developed the world of the "Belgariad" and "Mallorean." Readers will find in depth material to add deeper appreciation of the novels. Aspiring Fantasy writers will get a good idea of the work that goes into writing a complex Fantasy novel. They will find some good advice for writing Fantasy.

Regina’s Song is a stand alone book not part of any series. This book is different because it is set in the modern day world with supernatural elements. In this story of twin girls, Regina and Renata, one is brutally murdered. Mark the family friend tries to help the survivor cope with her loss. Interwoven through their story are a series of vicious murders occurring in Seattle. Mr. Eddings provides a different book for readers with this story.

A stand alone Epic Fantasy novel can be found in The Redemption of Althalus. The story is set is a world where three sibling gods vie for control. Althalus is a thief hired by someone to steal a magical book. He meets the feline goddess Dweia who keeps him for over two thousand years to lear magic. He must recruit several other people to aid in the quest to find a knife and fight in the coming battle between the god brothers Dewois and Daeva. Mr. Eddings delivers an entertaining story of adventure, action and humor.

“The Dreamers” series consists of four books: The Elder Gods, The Treasured One, Crystal Gorge, and The Younger Gods. This series tells the story of younger gods that come into power to replace the Elder Gods of their world as they wane. Into this mix is added another force of the Vlagh which begins a war of the gods. An exciting and fitting series written by Mr. Eddings that adds to his body of works.

David Eddings collaborated on many of his books with his wife, the late Leigh Eddings. Their deaths silence two great contributors to the genre. Still, readers will continue to enjoy the unforgettable characters, intricate magic systems, complex cultures and adventure of their works for many years to come.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Interview with Steve Erikson

I recently started reading Gardens of the Moon by Steve Erikson, so I thought I’d share this interview I did with him a few years ago.

Steve Erikson is the author of the long Fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen. The first books of the series have been published in Britain. Recently the first book, Gardens of the Moon, was published in the U.S. Mr. Erikson uses his training as an archeologist and anthropologist to give his books a realistic feel and depth. The other books in the series are: Deadhouse Gates, Memories of Ice, House of Chains, Midnight Tides and several others.

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

Steven Erikson: I began with illustrating, thought about comics since narrative seemed to be implicit in my artwork, then finally left the drawing behind and settled for the narrative itself. It was easy getting published with my so-called literary stuff, and very, very difficult getting the fantasy novels landed with a publisher. In retrospect, I have concluded that the literary market (at least in Canada) is far less competitive than genre markets, simply because it is not as tightly bound to sales.

DL: Do you miss working in archaeology and anthropology? Do you plan to work a little in your fields of specialty to keep your hand in so to speak and help with your writing?

SE: I don't think I realised how much I missed field work until this summer, when my wife, son and I volunteered on a dig in Wyoming for a couple weeks; and I suspect we will be doing similar ventures each summer from now on. The dig was sponsored by the US Forestry Service and in conjunction with the University of Wyoming and the site was in the Black Hills, a lithic occupation that had seen use from about nine thousand years ago until just before European contact. The real gift such projects offers is the opportunity to meet people, and I was lucky in this instance to find not one but four serious readers of fantasy (one of them a project director), so we had plenty to talk about. Tack on another project director who was a collector of science fiction books and, as you can imagine, the campfire conversations were enlivening. In terms of inspiring my fiction, most certainly, but then again, I get inspiration from a multitude of sources so it's hardly surprising. Much of one of the themes in Midnight Tides came from a terrific vacation in South Dakota. My son's acquired an interest in paleontology so next summer we'll probably try that.

DL: Do you attempt to influence the way people view society through your writing, and if so do you believe Fantasy can have an impact?

SE: I'm not sure if influence is possible; nor am I sure I want to influence people about much of anything, since that presumes my vision of the world is somehow superior or more complete -- and such conceits affect one's writing in unwelcome ways. There are certain elements that drive my work, however, and they seem to derive from my notions of what it means to be a writer of fiction. In learning to get inside the heads of characters, no matter who they are or what they do, one ends up walking in a lot of shoes, some of them decidedly uncomfortable, and yet, with enough diligence and ruthlessness at work, the most powerful message that hits me as a writer (and, one hopes, the reader, too) is that there is more than one side to things -- to anything, in fact -- and moral judgement can only be reached (if one chooses to do so) once some kind of understanding is achieved of as many sides as possible. Now, that being said, I am no fan of 'moral relativity' wherein one shrugs off, say, female circumcision, simply because it's some culture's tradition to conduct such butchery. Screw that. But the mindset behind such an activity (to extend the example) is always contextual, and it's that context that I find intrinsically interesting. (Which is why I explored it in the fourth novel in the series.)

It's often commented that my stuff is all shades of grey rather than black and white, and I guess that sense comes from what I said above; but that's not the same as saying every character is similarly grey -- the effect is an overall one, rather than a specific one. Most of the characters I come up with have pretty fixed notions of right and wrong, they have a moral centre, in other words, whether consciously recognised or not. But in coming at something from more than one side, the reader is left free to choose which one they'll favour. The thing is, story-telling is, at its root, a form of communication intended to entertain. The subtext stuff, if there is any, generally reflect the story-teller's own obsessions. That probably can't be helped, but it's not the same as saying it's all secret code intended to brainwash the reader.

Is there any way to determine if fiction -- any fiction -- has an impact on the way people view anything? I'm not so sure. Non-fiction, certainly. But fiction is by far much more complicated a thing -- the thesis, whether the author is aware of it or not -- is always buried deep, and may often be contradictory, especially when the writer hasn't bothered thinking hard enough about 'what it all means.' How can any effect be measured? Did the underlying quasi romantic anti-industrial subtext of Lord of the Rings create a generation of Luddites? I don't think so. Yet people like the notion of going back to the land, to simpler, rural times -- at least in the abstract (if it means dumping the SUV and swearing off fossil fuels, forget it) -- and so they conform, in a sense, with the trilogy's moral centre. But LOTR didn't create that sensibility, it simply reflected it, and in a rather simplistic way at that.

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

SE: Hmm. Well, the fantasy genre lets a writer take a metaphor and make it real, and barring magic realist or absurdist fiction (which are, arguably, forms of fantasy anyway), it's unique in that. I am aware of myself doing that all the time, sometimes in an ironic sense, but other times in a far more visceral way. I'm not sure if anybody notices, but that's okay too. Now, is that function important? Who knows -- see my reply to your first question....

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

SE: Not directly, although no doubt some archetypal stuff seeps in. I love the language of myth, and the dialogue it creates (or created) with its audience, particularly the way it can seem entirely alien to our modern sensibilities (as in Beowulf or Gilgamesh), and the way in which we can at times re-interpret a myth and so embrace it under our own terms (as with Homer, for example). For so long the fantasy genre was trapped in the inherent antiquity of myth -- by that I mean it clung to the trappings that, to my eye, seemed of least importance -- feudal hierarchies and archaic diction come to mind as examples -- which quickly became pastiche. In other words, the outward form and cultural source of mythology took on absurd importance, as if to mime the style was to celebrate the meaning. Which is rubbish. It misses the point. So when I say I love the 'language' of myth I don't mean that stuff, I mean everything that's underneath and behind it -- because style, diction and social structure (and the sensibilities it entails) are all context-based and, while interesting in the abstract, not as important as the way in which a myth or legend explores and celebrates the human condition.

Yikes, I'm in real academic mode this morning. Sorry!

DL: Have current events such as 9/11 and such found their way into your writing or influenced it?

SE: I don't think there is a way wherein current events do not reflect upon what someone writes; with some writers it's more direct than with others, but we're all thinking creatures and it'd be pretty difficult to will oneself blind or indifferent to the world. Having lived in England, where security issues were always present regards the IRA, I was to some extent used to the idea of persistent risk. And any reader of history and anthropology can get a sense of social/cultural/religious upheaval and the desperate acts that result. The human mind seems capable of virtually anything, and in a very senseless and tragic way that was made all too clear on 9/11, and yet in the aftermath we saw the other extreme, in the instances of profound courage following the attack.

The human condition is central to all fiction, and for myself, writing military fantasy wherein tragedy plays such a fundamental role, I've spent a long time considering how one gives answer to the most terrible acts undertaken or witnessed, and for me it keeps coming back to the realisation that one rarely has the chance to match the magnitude of the bad with grand gestures of good. Instead, those gestures, of humanity, are always small, subtle, and all the more powerful and, ultimately, more meaningful than what went before. Sometimes a single life saved can in some way give answer to a thousand lives lost. I don't know how or why that is, but thank God it can, or we would all be in deep trouble. Compassion is always personal, and a focus for grief seems essential to healing.

I've not considered whether there's been any direct influence on my writing. Each work of fiction has some sort of emotional context, but that's never clear cut or simple, and often the whole process of identifying and interpreting it belongs solely to the reader. Which is, I think, as it should be.

DL: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

SE: 1. Finish what you start
2. Keep writing
3. Read books on writing fiction that discuss the gritty details of narrative structure and craft. If you don't see words like dialogue, point of view, exposition, theme, plot, psychic distance, diction level, setting, etc. and examples of the like -- find another book. If you see stuff like 'the bliss of talent' and the 'wonders of writing' stay away. Try John Gardner, Jack Hodgins and Stephen King -- all three have written excellent books on writing.

DL: Thank you very much Mr. Erikson.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dragons in Fantasy

Dragons are one of the most popular mythical creatures of the Fantasy genre. They grace the covers of many books and play important roles in them. Fantasy authors use dragons in their works in various ways as villains, heroes or in other roles. They are one of the most important aspects of the Fantasy genre, adding a formidable symbol to the books.

Author Gordon R. Dickson created an interesting, sometimes humorous series of books with dragons. In A Dragon and His George, a man from our world travels to a fantasy world where he ends up in the body of a dragon. In this world, dragons call humans Georges. Jim Eckert becomes Gorbash and must learn ho to use his dragon body. He gets help from other characters as he tries to save his love interest. The story continues next in The Dragon Knight and through several other books.

Tea With the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy is a combination Mystery and Fantasy. The main character is an imperial Chines e dragon living as a human in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a private detective. A woman hires him to solve a mystery and becomes a love interest for him. This book was followed by a sequel, Twisting the Rope.

Author Joel Rosenburg created an interesting dragon character for his “Guardians of the Flame” books. Fantasy role players from our world end up in a Fantasy world of many dangers. During part of their adventure, they free the dragon from being used an incinerator in the city garbage dump. The dragon helps his liberators during the rest of the books.

Some authors create their worlds to revolve around dragons. This creates clashes between the dragons and humans. Richard Knaak does this in his “Dragonrealm” books. Dragons of different colors rule different parts of the realm. Humans have increased their population and want to be free of the more evil dragons. The many books of this series are full of adventure. Fire Drake is the first book in the series, which is very long.

Barbara Hambly invokes the powerful nature of the creature in her books. Dragonsbane introduces a complex story of humans and dragons. Morkeleb has all the characteristics of a dragon from mythology. He is powerful, enigmatic, intelligent and dangerous. She has continued the sometimes tragic stories with other books.

Recently, newer authors have done different things with dragons, adding new dimensions to the creature. Song in the Silence by Elizabeth Kerner tells of a romantic relationship between a human girl and a dragon. Joanne Bertin created a rich world of humans that are dragon shape shifters dealing with unique problems. Dragonlord and Dragon and the Phoenix are the first two books of this series with more to follow.

Many other books have dragons in them as some part of the story, whether as a main character, villain or victim. Dragons are a vital aspect of the Fantasy genre. These powerful mythic symbols will continue to fascinate readers for generations to come.