Friday, December 24, 2010

RA Salvatore Interview

Born in Massachusetts in 1959, Robert Salvatore’s love affair with fantasy, and with literature in general, began during his sophomore year of college when he was given a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings as a Christmas gift. He promptly changed his major from computer science to journalism receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications from Fitchburg State College in 1981, then returned for the degree he always cherished, the Bachelor of Arts in English. He began writing seriously in 1982, penning the manuscript that would become Echoes of the Fourth Magic.

His first published novel was The Crystal Shard from TSR in 1988. Since that time, Robert has published numerous novels, including the New York Time bestselling The Halfling’s Gem, Sojourn, and The Legacy. Robert held many jobs during those first years as a writer, finally settling in (much to our delight) to write full time in 1990. Over three million R.A. Salvatore novels have been sold with many translated into different languages and audio versions. CrossGen will be releasing his latest graphic novel, DemonWars volume 2: Eye for an Eye, later this year.

In the fall of 1997, Robert’s letters, manuscripts, and other professional papers were donated to the R.A. Salvatore Library at his alma mater, Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. When he isn’t writing, Robert attends his three children’s hockey games, horse shows, and fencing events. His gaming group of 18 years still meets on Sundays to play everything from Nintendo 64 to the AD&D game, and even set up its own company: Seven Swords. His hobbies include softball, hockey, and music, particularly a good blast of Mozart while tooling down the highway. He makes his home in Massachusetts, with his wife Diane, and their three children, Bryan, Geno, and Caitlin, their dog, Puddles, and a calico cat named Guenhwyvar.

More information about his books can be found at his web site:

Debbie Ledesma: How long have you been writing? Was it difficult getting published?

R.A. Salvatore: I started writing in 1982. I finished my first novel in the spring of 1983. I wasn't planning on publishing the book; I just wanted something to distinguish me from the other "Social Security numbered" working stiffs. I wanted something my kids would someday show to my grandkids.

Well, friends read it and loved it and said I should publish it. So I tried - and got hammered with rejection letters. That just made me more determined, though. If you tell me I can't do something, I get very stubborn and work hard to prove you wrong. I landed my first book contract in 1987.

DL: Do you find writing books based on role playing games easier to write then your own creations?

RAS: No. In both cases, these are my own creations. In both cases, it's the scope of the book itself, not the amount of world building I need to do or the amount of world research I need to do, that determines the difficulty of the book. One of the most difficu lt books I've written was Sojourn because I had to bring the Drizzt story in line with a previously written work, namely The Crystal Shard.

If you look at my work in the Realms, you'll see that I've spent a great amount of time finding places to stay out of other peoples' way. Icewind Dale is my creation, as much as is Corona of the Demonwars saga. Same with Menzoberranzan - using the mythologies of Gary Gygax and others instead of the real-world mythologies I used in the Corona setting.

Working in a shared world can be frustrating of course, as when things are printed that affect your work and for which you were not consulted. It can also be incredibly rewarding, like when Ed Greenwood and I shared ideas of what Longsaddle should look like.

DL: Do you have ideas for any other books besides your current series?

RAS: At this point, I don't even know where my current series is going! I do hav eon other book that I'm planning to write, but I'm not starting it un Átil next year and I won't talk about it, because when it comes out, it will be under a pen name. I don't want anybody reading it with any preconceived notions.

DL: One of your most popular characters is Drizzt. What do you think readers find appealing about him? Who is your favorite character to write?

RAS: Drizzt is a classic romantic hero. Misunderstood, often wrongly persecuted - sounds like High School, right? Add to that his indomitable spirit and high moral code and his ability to kick some butt and you have someone who offers hope to people who feel powerless.

That's what I think, but I honestly don't KNOW why Drizzt has become such a huge popular hit.

My favorite character to write? That changes all the time. Marcalo De'Unnero from DemonWars would be up there, as would Bruenor and Drizzt. Pikel Bouldershoulder is a blast, but Oliver deBurrows of the Crimson Shadow books takes the prize for comedy, with Pikel and Thibbledorf Pwent coming in at a second-place tie.

DL: How is The Highwayman different from your other books?

RAS: First of all, it's a stand-alone novel. You don't have to read anything before it or after it. It's a book, not a piece of a larger series, and that seems unusual in fantasy these days. This has been my plan since I started DemonWars: I wrote seven books to define the boundaries - magical, social, geographical and political - of the world and now I can go there and just tell stories.

Second, I made The Highwayman>/u> more human-centered than anything I've ever done. There are non-human monsters, but every named character is human, and some, like Bransen, are very, very human. I wanted the book to be accessible to people who don't read fantasy; the book a Drizzt reader can give to his girlfriend who keeps asking him what he's reading.

DL: What authors do you enjoy reading?

RAS: I'm all over the place with my reading. Generally these days I stay out of the fantasy genre altogether. I do enjoy David Gemmell and Terry Brooks.

Currently I'm devouring political books. We've got an important election coming up and I want to be as informed as possible. Right now I'm slogging through the Tom Clancy/Anthony Zinni collaboration. It's slow going.

DL: What do you think are the reasons for the popularity of Fantasy?

RAS: Because the world is dangerous and times are tough and the News makes a point of being depressing ("blood leads") and scary. Because work, for most people, is mundane and boring and overwhelming. Fantasy is the ultimate escapist fiction, and "escapism" isn't such a bad word to so many people.

Also, between Harry Potter and the Jackson "Lord of the Rings" movies, fantasy has been thrust into the imaginations of many, many more people.

DL: Could you give some advice to aspirin æg writers?

RAS: Sure: if you can quit then quit. I mean that with all my heart and soul. If you can walk away from this ugly business, then don't walk, run!

If you can quit, then quit, and if you can't quit, you're a writer. You don't
write to get published or to get rich and famous (because few writers get
published and a tiny speck of a percentage become rich and an even tinier speck of a percentage become famous). You write because you have stories clawing at the inside of your skin, desperately trying to tear free.

Once that question is settled, my advice would be to study the business of
writing as well as studying literature. Go to the library and look in "The
Writer's Market" or "The Literary Marketplace." Find out how to submit your
work, to whom and in what format. Every little piece is important.

DL: What books are you working on now?

RAS: None! I'm on vacation for the first time in 16 years. I'll start a new
Forgotten Realms book featuring Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle later this summer.

DL: Thank you very much for the interview Mr. Salvatore.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Book Review: _The Kingless Land_ by Ed Greenwood

Aglirta is a kingdom without a king. The king sleeps an enchanted sleep hidden by magic. Only the magical world stones can awaken him, and everyone wants them for their own power. This is the main premise of the Adventure Fantasy book The Kingless Land by Ed Greenwood. Its interesting characters, action plot and recognizable themes makes it an entertaining book for readers.

Readers need interesting characters they can sympathize with to engage them in a book. The four main characters of this book are interesting because of their backgrounds and personalities. Hawkril is a tall, strong warrior who does not talk very much, but extremely loyal to his friends. Craer is Hawkril’s friend and has a sense of humor as well as being clever. Lady Embra Silvertree, a powerful s orceress, wants friends, working to keep the band together despite her problem. The healer Sarasper gravitates from gentle concern to a hard man. Mr. Greenwood brings all of these characters to life through their actions and dialogue. They work together to keep the plot moving at a fast pace.

Action is an important aspect of the plot of an Adventure Fantasy. This book has a strong action plot that keeps a reader hooked for every chapter of the book. The action is nonstop from the beginning when Hawkril and Craer break into Castle Silvertree to steal a bejeweled gown from Lady Embra. They get caught in the act by the lady who is a powerful magic worker. She asks them to help her escape from her ruthless father instead of imprisoning them. They flee, hounded by her father’s wizards sending monsters to stop them. Helped by Sarasper, they join together to start a quest for the magic stones to free the sleeping king. Aglirta is a chaotic kingdom run by various barons that are constantly at war with each other. Th e bards have hidden motives too. All of these plot threads are deftly woven together by Mr. Greenwood to provide a vivid, fast paced book that is entertaining.

Themes are important to books to give them meaning and a connection for readers. The recognizable themes in The Kingless Land keeps the book entertaining. Friendship and loyalty are two themes that bind the plot together. Four different people forge friendships under difficult conditions. They remain loyal to each other. Readers can identify w °ith this since everyone makes friends and wishes them to be loyal in their lives. Another theme for this book is the quest. The four main characters search for the world stones to help Sarasper and save Lady Embra from a life threatening problem. All the themes form strong connections for the reader.

The Kingless Land by Ed Greenwood is an excellent Adventure Fantasy for readers. The interesting characters, action plot and recognizable themes make this an entertaining book to read. It starts out with a lot of action and continues throughout the book, making it hard to put down. This is the first of the Band of Four series. Try it out for an enjoyable read.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Interview with Sharon Green

I did this interview with Ms. Green a few years ago, but it still has good information.

Sharon Green is the author of several Fantasy novels full of strong women characters and understanding men characters. She writes many romantic adventure Fantasies that are infused with romance, a lot of action and subtle themes. Many of her books have shapeshifters and other interesting magical systems. Though she writes Science Fiction too, her Fantasy novels are entertaining. Her first foray into Fantasy came with The Farside of Forever about the sorceress Laciel. This was followed by Hellhound Magic. Later, she wrote the beginning of a five book sequence starting with Silver Princess, Golden Knight. These books involve the stories of people that are shapechangers in their cultures and the problems this entails. There have been other novels in between, but her most recent popular series is the “Blending.” The se novels are about a world where everyone has magical powers tied to the five elements of earth, air, fire, water and spirit. Five very different characters must learn to blend their powers into a powerful force to save their world. Convergence, Competitions, Challenges, Betrayals and Prophecy. These books are followed by a new trilogy in the “Blending” beginning with Intrigues and Deceptions, which was published this month. She has new novel coming out in May 2001 that she is publishing herself. It’s called Silver Bracers, an omnibus of previously published Lady Blade, Lord Fighter and new part called The Argent Swords. It is available through her web site at .

Debbie Ledesma: Why did you become a writer?

Sharon Green: I've always been involved with writing, but when I was married I was very unhappy and needed an escape badly. So I began to visualize other places and people, and the need to write about those places and people got me started. I think I ought to mention that my initial efforts were really *bad*. It takes practice - of the right things - for your writing to be readable.

DL: It seems all sorts of things can trigger you into writing. I started one day because I was bored at work. What direction did your first published books take?

SG: My first published book, The Warrior Within, was written in response to something I read - one of the Gor books - that made me hit the ceiling and bounce. I felt that John Norman had missed on all counts: not only didn't he understand that there are women who won't *allow* themselves to be made slaves, he even got the "h ®elpless" kind of woman wrong. The Warrior Within was meant to show what a three-dimensional "helpless" woman would be like, and The Crystals of Midas, my second book in print, showed the other side of the coin: a woman not helpless in the least. “The Warrior” series eventually grew into an effort to show how only you can keep yourself from being "helpless," and even having really strong abilities doesn't do any good unless you have the right attitude to go along with the abilities.

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

SG: I started out as a science fiction writer, which is what I consider
myself. I got an idea for a fantasy so I wrote it, and that became The
Far Side of Forever. After that I was offered contracts only for
fantasy, so that's what I'm now writing. I should mention that I'm also
looking for a science fiction publisher, since I have a lot of unwritten
ideas that don't fit in 7to fantasy.

DL: It was a good thing for readers that you branched out into Fantasy. The definition of what Fantasy is is always under debate. What is your definition of Fantasy?

SG: For some reason the basic, original definition has been lost along the way. The definition I learned years ago goes as follows: if what you write can happen in this, our universe, without changing any natural laws, then you're writing science fiction. If you have to change a natural law in any way at all, you're writing fantasy. For my own stuff, I should add that if it *looks* as though you're changing a natural law, these days it's also considered fantasy.

DL: How do you approach world building in your Fantasy books?

SG: My answer to this question is going to be very unsatisfactory. I've heard the term "world-building" quite a lot during the past years, but have never engaged in the practice myself. I usually start with a character and/or a situation, and then think about the circumstances the two would fit into. That gives me the kind of world my characters and situation need, without having to sit down and visualize a world. The world comes with the package, so to speak.

The most important thing to me is the people who are caught in some kind of situation. How they interact with their world is more important than what the world is; the nicest or most horrible of worlds can be the worst or best environment, depending on what's expected of you in those places. Humans have the ability to cope with and overcome he most trying of hardships, and then trip and fall over something some would never even notice. Most writers seem to use the idea of an ordinary person being thrust into a situation where he or she has to strive to become a he
ro. I prefer to use a hero who runs into something he or she can't handle, something that an ordinary person might have no trouble with. If you're really good and know it, you also know, on a subconscious level, that you'll never find a situation that you can't handle. If you *do* find a situation like that, you just aren't prepared to cope with it. Makes for an interesting story, I tend to think.

DL: I find Fantasies that have a mythic underpinning very memorable. Do you use mythological themes or sources in you books?

SG: Not deliberately, but the subconscious can't be trusted. Mine tends to steal from everywhere and anything, and I have to be careful about making sure I'm not treading on toes that have walked the trail before me. But I'm also one of those people most others won't play Trivial Pursuit with because I tend to remember the most useless, obscure things I come across. I've been exposed to a good deal of mythology, of course, so you never know when one bit or another will surface - usually changed in some way.

DL: Your women characters have changed over the years with your new books. Do you find a lot of gender stereotypes in Fantasy?

SG: There are gender stereotypes everywhere, and I've noticed something strange: if I'm not mistaken, books with "helpless" characters, both male and female, seem to be more popular; the bigger the "fraidy-cat," in effect, the better the sales. I have a weird theory to cover the
trend, but I'm not quite sure how sound the reasoning of the theory is.
The situation links into the very popular "sitcoms" on tv these days, I
think, which makes the theory even more convoluted. If you'd like me to
go into the theor ùy, let me know. It isn't a short explanation.
Other than that, I have to say that my personal taste in characters is
tired to death by the "young, inexperienced beginner" too many people
use as major characters. That kind of character also seems to be part of
the trend toward using the helpless as role models, and I'm afraid I
can't connect to it. I like to see people who already know what they're
doing tackling a bad situation, not someone groping through the time
making it up as she/he goes. The second *can* be entertaining and
riveting, but most writers don't seem to be able to handle the
crossover. Does that make any sense?

DL: Maybe beginning writers have trouble with the second kind of character because they don't feel experienced enough to write them. Tell us about your theory?

SG: To state the theory as briefly as possible, we have too many nonfighters in this country today. Nonfighters can't cope with a situation the way a fighter can, nor should they be expected to... See, I can't be brief. There are two kinds of people in the world: fighters and nonfighters. The fighter carves out of the wilderness a place that people can call home, and then defends the area against anyone trying to take it. The nonfighter then builds on the land and makes the "home" comfortable. Fighters and nonfighters *should* be partners because neither can go forward without the other, but our weird situation in this country has changed that state for the worse. Nonfighters call fighters "warmongers," and fighters call nonfighters "peaceniks" and "wooses." Did you know that after a war, the birth rate of male children goes up? It's an established fact, and shows that Mother Nature is trying to replace the males who were killed in the war. The trend continues until the population is balanced again. Now, think back to how long it's been since we had a war “ ON OUR OWN SOIL. That, I think, is very much a part of the need for a change. We haven't had a war in this country in many years, so Mother Nature thinks we need fewer fighters - and therefore causes less of them to be born. That leaves much too large a preponderance of nonfighters, which explains why our reps in the government are trying to legislate everyone into safety instead of doing something more direct - and more effective.

Now, too many of the nonfighters are unhappy with their jobs and their lives. They're afraid to lose their job because they don't know if they can get another, so they swallow down their unhappiness and don't dare to say "boo" in their places of work. But when they get home they watch sitcoms, because then they can laugh at the fools in the program WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT BEING SAFE. The fool on the screen can't hurt them, and certainly can't take their job away. They can't tell fools off in their lives, so they laugh at the fools on dtv.

To extend the idea, the nonfighter reader can most easily identify with the helpless character. They know they would be just as helpless in the same situation, so identification is easiest. Phew! Does any of that make sense to you? There's more, but I won't go into it now.

DL: That is very interesting. So, how do you come up with characters? Which are easier for you to write male or female characters?

SG: To take the second part of your question first, females are easier for me to write than males because *I'm* female. I've had enough close male friends in my life to have learned that men and women may look at the same thing, but they're not *seeing* the same thing. I don't understand the male point of view more than distantly and from the outside, so I have to fake it as best I can. My male fans sometimes tell me if I'm doing a good enough job, and I've been told that I'm getting closer...:] Now, how do I come up with characters... Sometimes I have the character first, and then think about a situation that will give her/them the most trouble. Sometimes I have a situation, and think about what kind of person would have the most difficulty with that situation. But then, sometimes the two come together at the same time, and all I have to do is write it down.

DL: What authors influenced your writing?

SG: The very first s.f. book I ever read was at the age of 12, and the book was Wild Talent by Wilson Tucker. The book grabbed me so hard that the fact I couldn't understand what was going on didn't matter. After that I started to read juveniles, went through them fast, then continued with more adult fare. (Ahem) After having been exposed to most of the writers of the day, my favorite was - and still is - Robert Heinlein.

Even back then I noticed that Heinlein didn't just tell a good story - with a writing style that to this day I can't copy - but he also included excellent advice for living. For instance, I picked up what I consider my most important rule of life: honor is an individual thing. It doesn't matter what anyone else in the world does, you're responsible only for yourself. If you lie a znd cheat and steal, what you're doing is announcing to the world that you can't get what you have *without* lying, cheating, and stealing. Even if no one else in the world is honest, that doesn't matter. Only what you do matters, so whether or not you behave honorably is entirely up to you.

Wow. I'd never had things explained like that before, and I knew Heinlein was right. I decided to live my life as honorably as possible, and also try to show characters who do the same. In addition I also try to pass on what I consider good advice. And, hopefully, tell a good story at the same time.

Over the years, I've realized that what Heinlein said was that we need heroes. We don't have enough heroes in our culture, so I do what I can to add to the numbers.

DL: We certainly need heroes now. Do you think September 11 will change the genre? Has it affected your writing?

I think people will just go back to their old ways of looking at things as September 11 fades in their memories. Too many people still think that trouble will disappear if you ignore it, which is what made the trouble to begin with. But fearful people don't understand that point, and truthfully they shouldn't have to. It's something that fighters ought to be facing, not non-fighters, but we have too many non-fighters around these days due to the lack of wars in our own country. Are you aware of the fact that after a war more boy babies are born than girl babies? It's an established fact; nature is trying to correct the imbalance that death in war brings. It's my theory that the same happens with fighter and non-fighter kids. If there are wars, more fighter babies are born. If there are no wars, more non-fighter babies are born. Since we've had no wars in our country in a very long time, the number of fighters in our popul Íation is way down. September 11 will likely change that, but not in time to do much good. Seeing tv commercials against "violence" gets me very upset. The various stars come on and state that there's never a need for violence. Excuse me? What world do they live in? You might want to hope that violence will never be necessary, but in the real world violence is always there and waiting to pounce. The only way to cope with that is to be prepared, not pretend it will never happen. I raised my sons (fighters, like me) with the attitude that's proper for fighters: you don't start it, but if someone else does the starting you do your best to finish it. One more comment and I'll get off the soapbox. Isn't it about time that people were told the truth about school - and "otherwhere"
- bullies? Bullies aren't fighters; they're non-fighters who are being hurt elsewhere, probably at home. If you hurt a fighter kid, that kid will get even with you even if he or she has to wait until you sleep or he/she grows up. If you hurt a non-fighter child, that child is too afraid of you to do anything to you, so he/she looks for someone weaker to pass the hurt along to. A true fighter will never pick on a non-fighter; there's no challenge in besting someone who doesn't want to fight in the first place, and the only name you get from that isn't a nice one. If we make sure to raise our fighter kids in the proper way, no non-fighter will have to fear them. Right now our fighter kids are being penalized for being what they were born to be, and that's a recipe for trouble if there ever was one. As far as my writing goes, it will stay the same as it's always been. I've been on this soapbox for quite some time.

DL: There are a lot of books by authors like Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Goodkind, etc. that are popular. Do you find a lot of the Fantasy books hitting the bestseller lists derivative? Do you think they’re helpful to further the field?

SG: Most of the books that are really popular aren't derivative, but are new ways to look at old ideas. The only problem is, once something becomes popular too many editors want the same kind of thing rather than something else. Experienced editors know better, of course, but there are a lot of newcomers in the field these days. And what furthers the field is anything so well done that you can't put it down. That kind of book is welcome no matter what story line it has.

DL: The Harry Potter books have brought a lot of young readers into the genre. What do you think of this? Is it helpful to the genre?

SG: I haven't read the Harry Potter books, but anything that makes kids stretch their imaginations is a Good Thing. And once they're past the simple beginnings, they will probably move on to more mature efforts. I think that's what the Star Trek people are trying with Enterprise this season. The only problem with that idea is the much-too-PC characters and scripts being used. I watched the series with high hopes, but have since given it up. No one in their right mind would appoint an overgrown boyscout to command a star ship, but that's what's been done with both Enterprise and Andromeda. Too bad, too. They both had lots of promise.

DL: Movies are a different medium, but do you think any of your books would make a good movie?

A number of my books would make good movies, and apparently someone in Hollywood agrees with that. My agent there is working with a producer who wants to do Haunted House, my first Harlequin Intrigue, as a tv movie. It's the best mystery I've done so far, so I hope it does get made into a movie. After that I mean to try to interest them in The Far Side of Forever, which is a fantasy. The book is very visual, so it ought to translate really well to the big screen.

DL: What books will we see from you in the future?

That all depends on which proposal is bought next. I have a couple of science fiction ideas going around, a couple of fantasy ideas, a mystery, and a mainstream serial murderer novel.

DL: Thank you very much for your time. We’ll all look forward to your future endeavors.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Robin McKinley

Fairy tales are an important part of the Fantasy genre. They play a part in many Fantasy books and are part of its history. Many authors use fairy tales as a springboard for their stories, either as retellings or using their elements to write new books to capture the interests of readers. Robin McKinley is one of these authors. She is an imaginative author of revised fairy tales and two Epic Fantasy books. Her characters are realistic, the stories memorable and descriptions vivid, providing readers with deeply unforgettable books.

Ms. McKinley’s first book was Beauty. It is a strong retelling of the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast.” The book follows the original story closely, but the author deepens the characters with r ealistic motivations and flaws. Beauty is a strong, practical young woman that develops a friendship with the Beast that grows deeper as time passes. She explores the magic of the castle to learn how to help the sad creature. A dramatic story is created by the author’s descriptive talent for bringing fairy tale worlds to life.

Her next book is a collection of short stories. The Door in the Hedge contains four fairy tale stories. Two retell the fairy tales of “The Princess and the Frog” and “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” The other two are the author’s works told in fairy tale style: “The Stolen Princess” and “The Hunting of the Hind.” They are all told in Ms. McKinley’s unique style, breathing new life into some original fairy tales.

The author ventured into Epic Fantasy with the next book The Blue Sword. Her Fantasy world is called Damar. Harry, the main character, is a young woman who comes from a sedate culture. She is kidnapped by the king of Damar and taken to a harsh desert kingdom where she discovers her magic, finds the legendary Blue Sword and becomes a warrior. This is a story of a mystical land full of magic and destinies. Ms. McKinley fills the book with memorable images with her writing.

Her next book was the second Epic Fantasy novel The Hero and the Crown. It is a prequel to the previous book, taking place hundreds of years earlier in the land of Damar. Aerin is the daughter of the king. She has a painful childhood, facing the death of her mother and treated as an outcast by the people. With the Blue Sword and a special ointment, Aerin becomes a renowned dragon slayer. This is a powerful book with strong themes. The author won a Newberry Medal for this book.

The Outlaws of Sherwood was a bit of a departure from Ms. McKinley’s usual stories. She adds a vivid texture and realistic struggles to the characters of the Robin Hood legend. Though not a Fantasy, the story is given interesting new twists with feminist themes included. The book has romance and a lot of adventure. It is very entertaining.

Next, Robin McKinley turned to an adult fairy tale with a dark edge with Deerskin. Princess Lissar grows up with the same beauty as her dead mother. Her father abuses her throughout her childhood which ends in a sexual assault. Lissar flees her home into the woods. She spends a long time to find a new life, but without the traditional fairy tale ending. This book is not for children. It is a disturbing read that deals with the hard issues of child abuse. Ms. McKinley does an excellent job of telling a difficult story.

The author has branched out in recent years with other books. She has a book with vampires called Sunshine. The world has been taken over by vampires. Sunshine, who works in a bakery, is kidnapped by vampires and held captive with a vampire named Constantine. She uses her magical powers to free herself and Constantine then they flee. Together they strive to save the world from the control of the vampires. This is an interesting, entertaining different book by the author.

Her latest book uses Pegasus from Greek mythology set in another world. Pegasus is the story of a princess bonded to her Pegasus. The two species live in uneasy coexistence on their world. Special speaker magicians are the only ones who can communicate between the two species until the princess and her friend come along. Their ability to talk to each other threatens the status quo of the world. This is a beautifully written new book to the author’s body of work.

Fairy tales are an important part of the Fantasy genre. Readers of all ages have been exposed to fairy tales and enjoy them. Robin McKinley is a Fantasy author that retells fairy tales, creates new ones and writes Epic Fantasy using her imaginative talent. Her books add depths to the characters that live in vivid settings. She incorporates modern day issues and important themes in her books. More information can be found at her site:

Other books:

A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories

Rose Daughter

Spindle’s End



A Knot in the Grain

Friday, October 29, 2010

_Sometimes the Magic Works_ by Terry Brooks

This week’s article is a review of a book by Terry Brooks about writing. I thought I would share this review again since Nanowritmo is coming up. Enjoy.

Ever wonder where writers get their ideas, or how do they write books? Many people believe writing is easy and they can some day write a book too. Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks is a book that can answer these questions. The book is a combination of an autobiography about the author’s writing career and advice on writing books. Readers will get fascinating insights about the author. Writers will find a lot of good information about writing books.

Terry Brooks is a veteran Fantasy author with many books to his credit. He burst into the Fantasy genre with The Sword of Shannara and went on to publish several other books in the genre over the years. Once a lawyer, he became a full time writer after the success of his first book. In Sometimes the Magic Works, Mr. Brooks talks about the successes and failures in his career along with lessons he learned about writing and the publishing industry.

The opening chapters talk about Mr. Brooks’s early years. He explains how he was not all there, meaning he does a lot of daydreaming. This plays a lot into his writing. He talks of the importance of writers having to be in the real world and in whatever world they imagine to write about for their books. Another chapter covers his story about how publishing a book is partly luck. Readers learn that writing something is a major drive to a writer to produce works of enjoyment for the reading public as well as for their own pleasure.

Later chapters talk about the ups and downs in an author’s career. Mr. Brooks covers this with his experience with Hollywood in being asked to write a novelization for a movie. The entire experience is eye opening and leaves him frustrated. He learns excellent lessons that aspiring writers can heed for their careers.

Many other chapters provide valuable information for aspiring writers. Mr. Brooks covers the importance of outlining for some writers and thinking your novel or story completely through to the end before actually writing. He talks about beginnings and endings of novels. Talking about his time spent with his grandson, he tells the reader about the precious lessons to be learned from the imaginations of children. Writers should remember these lessons for their own creativity.

Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks is an enjoyably helpful book. Readers of Mr. Brooks’s books will learn some interesting things about this author’s life and career. Writers, whether beginning or accomplished, will gain considerable information about writing and the publishing industry. This small book is packed full with good information, humor and insights about writing. I highly recommend this book to Fantasy readers and aspiring writers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review of _Lord of the Isles_ by David Drake

A thousand years ago, an island sinks into the sea by magic. One sorceress saves herself by traveling to the future by her magic. She ends up on the island of Haft, setting dangerous events in motion. This is the beginning of an Epic fantasy series begun in Lord of the Isles by David Drake. Mr. Drake has written many books in both the Fantasy and Science fiction genres. His books are full of action and plenty of lively events. This book is entertaining because it has an action plot, interesting characters, and a grand setting.

Books of any genre need action in their plots to draw a reader into the story. Some Epic Fantasy books start out slowly, taking many chapters before the action begins. Lord of the Isles has an action plot that begins right away. Tenoctris, the sorceress from the past, is washed up on the beach of Barca’s Hamlet. Her presence triggers events that will change the lives of four young villagers. The King of the Isles’s rule is in jeopardy. His queen practices dark magic again st him. Magical forces are building toward a dangerous confrontation. Mr. Drake takes all of his plot threads and weaves them into an action story. Chapters change to different viewpoint characters as he tells the story of each character from their point of view. Each chapter leaves a character on a cliffhanger, adding to the suspense. Action is a major part of each chapter.

Another entertaining factor of the book is the interesting characters. Four young people have their lives change rapidly. They come from a small village of sheep herders and fishermen. Garric reads poetry while herding sheep. He discovers new fighting abilities after leaving the village. Cashel, Garric’s friend, grows with a new magical talent. His quiet strength helps him through many difficult situations. Sharina is the daughter of murdered nobles and embarks on a dangerous trip to her new destiny. Ilna is drawn into darkness with her talent of weaving. The hermit Nonnus is a loyal protector of Sharina with a dark past. All of these ch aracters have flaws and grow throughout the story. They contribute to the entertaining pleasure of the book with likable characters going through challenging events.

Finally, the book’s grand setting adds to enjoyment of reading it. The setting is a strong piece of world building. Mr. Drake created a world with a vast history and interesting cultures. This world is made up of islands that form one nation with a king. One of the intriguing cultures is the Floating Folk. They are tribes of people that live on :boats tied together on the sea. Wherever the currents take them, they go around in a yearly cycle. The Folk hunt whales for their food and building materials. Islanders live in cities that are thousands of years old, which the author makes you see with his vivid descriptions. This book’s descriptive setting brings the story to life. It helps increase the book’s entertainment high.

Lord of the Isles by David Drake is an entertaining Fantasy because of its action plot, interesting characters and grand setting. David Drake is an excellent Fantasy author with a good imagination and who creates an impressive secondary world. He delivers a gripping Epic Fantasy that is the beginning of a new series. I recommend this book to readers who love action and intrigue. Be sure to check out the other books in the series.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Mermaids in Fantasy

They roam the seas of our imaginations. Half woman, half fish, mermaids are mythical denizens of the ocean. Their presence in our myths reflect our continued fascination and fear of the mystery of the sea. Mermaids, mermen and other mer-folk vary in their appearances in myths and folk tales. Some are helpful, saving lives. At other times they are dangerous, luring humans to their deaths with siren songs. Mermaids appear in Fantasy too in a variety of media.

One of the most famous stories of a mermaid is the fairy tale of “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Anderson. The mermaid falls in love with a human prince. She trades her voice to have legs on land, but can not tell the prince of her love. He marries another woman and she ends tragically like in many fairy tales. This story has inspired several retellings in different forms. Authors such as Charles de Lint use it to add a different twist to the story. Walt Disney Studios made it into a popular, animated musical movie a few years ago, though much of the power of the story is removed by this treatment.

Mermaid’s Song by Alida Van Gores is an Epic Fantasy of an undersea world. The Balance has been stable for years, guarded by the Seadragons. Now only two are left while evil is rising to destroy the sea world. A Between must be chosen to serve the dragons to help restore the Balance. Once the chosen were the Merra, but they are few in number due to an ancient betrayal. Elan is the young mermaid who must find her destiny and save the world. This book is a fascinating story of the ocean with magical creatures and a very different heroine.

Another book with mer-people is Poul Anderson’s The Merman’s Children. In this book the world of Fairy and humans interact closely. Four children of a merman seek their destiny by searching for their father to get some answers from him. It is a story about their lives and the destruction of Fairy at the end of the Middle Ages in Europe. They are persecuted by humanity as magic vanishes from the world. The author writes a strong tale of love and sorrow in a plain, but vivid prose. There is a powerful sense of poignancy in the book.

Mermaids have been the subjects of some popular movies too. Like Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” “Splash” was a funny romantic comedy some years ago. The mermaid fell in love with the character played by Tom Hanks. She follows on to land with some amusing scenes throughtout the movie. There is an old black and white movie about a mermaid also. “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid” tells the story of a middle-aged man that finds a mermaid. He keeps trying to hide her from his wife and friends with many funny results.

Mermaids and their brethren are found in the mythology and folklore all over the world. Fantasy authors have used them to tell interesting stories of magical undersea worlds. Whether helpful or drawing people to their deaths, they express the human fear and awe of the mystery of the ocean. There are web sites where you can find more information and stories of mermaids. Go explore the undersea worlds.

Web sites:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Poul Anderson

Many years ago I attended a Science Fiction convention and was touring the art show. There were few people around as I stopped in front of a particular painting that caught my eye. Moments later, a man stood next to me telling me his opinion of the art work. I turned to give him my opinion and saw the name on his badge. It was the author Poul Anderson. We chatted a few minutes, then moved on our separate ways. Sadly, Mr. Anderson passed away last week, leaving two literary genres bereft of a talented, imaginative author. Though primarily a Science Fiction writer, Poul Anderson made several contributions to the Fantasy genre too. He created many vivid Fantasy worlds with memorable characters and themes.

Mr. Anderson used Norse mythology for some of his Fantasy books. It is prevalent in The Broken Sword. A human is taken by the elves and replaced by a changeling of half elven and half troll heritage. The human is brought up to handle iron which the elves can’t handle. His changeling counterpart longs to be human. Both are betrayed by their respective worlds that sets a battle in motion which will destroy worlds and the gods. Into this mix comes Scafloc, the hero with a sword that demands blood. This is a bloody story that reads like the old sagas. It is a classic, but reads fast and does have some minor flaws since this is one of the author’s earlier books.

Three Heart and Three Lions is another of Mr. Anderson’s stories with Norse elements. Holger Carlson is an engineer from our world. After a bullet grazes his skull, he wakes up in a Fantasy world where he is expected to be a hero of prophecy to stop the forces of Chaos. Holger is helped by a swan maiden and Hugi the dwarf. Holger must figure out what his part is in this this world of Charlemagne’s paladins. It is a light Fantasy with likable characters and the usual themes of honor that appear in many of this author’s works.

In A Midsummer’s Tempest, Mr. Anderson used Shakespearean and Arthurian elements. Shakespeare’s plays a re historical chronicles of fact in this Fantasy world. Railroads have been built two hundred years earlier than in our reality. Oberon and Titania of Fairy become involved in the war between the Royals and Roundheads to help the King. Along with the Fairy folk, denizens from Arthurian legend get involved too. This book is full of a lot of action and humor that readers can enjoy.

The Merman’s Children is a serious tale about the Merfolk and humanity. It revolves around the themes of Paganism, Christi anity, having a soul and the conflicts of these issues. Four children, half human and half Merfolk, must grapple with their heritage while searching for their Merman father. This is one of Mr. Anderson’s most poignant books. It is filled with descriptive images of life in the sea. Characters must answer the question: Is it worth giving up the sea in order to gain an immortal soul?

Poul Anderson is gone, but he left many entertaining good books for readers to enjoy. He wrote many adventure Fantasy stories with a strong sense of honor and compassion. His characters have many touches that make them human, memorable and likable. Readers have a lot to mourn in the loss of this talented author that wrote in two genres. For me, I will always remember a quiet gentleman that shared his opinions and conversation with me one afternoon at an SF convention art show.

NOTE: Many of these books are out of print, but should be available at used bookstores.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Meditations on Middle-Earth

J.R.R. Tolkien influenced many fantasy authors with his works. One book that explores this influence among writers is Meditations on Middle-Earth edited by Karen Haber. It contains essays written by various Fantasy authors about how Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings affected and inspired them. The book is interesting not so much because it is about Tolkien, but that it provides insights on the various Fantasy authors and how their careers were shaped by Tolkien. Readers will discover several interesting essays in this book.

Fantasy author Raymond Feist would like to consider Tolkien the grandfather of the Fantasy genre. He feels that Tolkien helped create the publishing of Fantasy books with Lord of the Rings. The book influenced Feist as a reader and a writer. As a reader, he felt Tolkien appealed to him with its sense of adventure and a complex world. As a writer, Tolkien gave Mr. Feist a start with idea s that led to the creation of his Fantasy world of Midkemia. He feels Fantasy authors owe a debt of thanks to Tolkien for his grand creation.

Another author inspired by Middle-Earth is Charles de Lint. This author feels that Tolkien woke up his sense of wonder. What impressed him was the Story, with fleshed out characters and good themes. He believes few Fantasy books do that today. There needs to be a balance between imagination and reason as Tolkien believed. A Fantasy book needs a strong story and interesting characters to touch the hearts of readers. Mr. de Lint practices this in his writing.

Tolkien’s influence stretches to women authors too. Robin Hobb’s essay talks about growing up in Alaska and Lord of the Rings making a strong impression on her. As a writer, he raised the bar for her to make writing Fantasy a challenge for her. She learned that a Fantasy story can have depth. Ms. Hobb’s essay is interesting and thoughtful. It has wonderful insights on how Tolkien’s work sent a generation of writers on a quest.

One of the most interesting essays is by Orson Scott Card. In “How Tolkien Means,” he talks about how literary critics and scholars miss what most readers understand in Tolkien’s books. Tolkien felt that stories need to be experienced, not decoded. He wants readers to enjoy the story and not worry about symbols. Mr. Card goes on to elaborate on this point for the rest of the essay. This is a very interesting, thoughtful essay that Fantasy readers will enjoy.

In “The Myth-Maker,” Fantasy author Lisa Goldstein discusses why Lord of the Ringsis so powerful a work. She thinks it is because people have a need for myth. Tolkien fed that need with his poetic language and mythic rhythms. He provided an epic experience for readers at a time it was needed. Ms. Goldstein gives a clear, concise viewpoint on Tolkien’s works.

Meditations on Middle-Earth edited by Karen Haber is an interesting book of essays. Various Fantasy authors write about how Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings changed their lives and influenced their writing. Fantasy grew as a genre thanks to Tolkien’s book. He speaks to something in every reader through story, language and mythic patterns. This is an informative companion piece that will enhance a reader’s understanding and enjoyment of Tolkien. Try it out.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Liz Williams Interview

Liz Williams is a science fiction author of several well received books. She writes books that mixes science with some fantasy elements, but takes interesting looks at different societies. Ghostsister takes place on a colonized world where the humans have a psychic link to the life on the planet. One woman doesn’t have this ability, so is treated as an outcast and protected by her brother. Empire of Bones takes place on Earth in a future India. A dying woman is offered to be saved by a visiting alien, but at what price? The Poison Master is the story of a woman who is a master of poison making and alchemy trying to get her sister back from strange aliens. This author’s books are very different to the science fiction genre, but very interesting.

Debbie Ledesma: How did you get started as a writer?

Liz Williams: I wrote on and off for years in a kind of desultory way - my mother was a writer, so in our family it always seemed to be a perfectly acceptable thing to do. However, most of my twenties were taken up with academic work and I did not really begin writing in any kind of committed way until I was in my thirties. I began by sending short fiction off to magazines and was lucky in that I broke into the professional market fairly swiftly, with a sale to InterZone. After completing my first novel, The Ghost Sister, I secured an agent and the book was sold about a year later.

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

LW: Le Guin, Vance, Tanith Lee, Bradbury - hey, steal from the best! I also have a great affection (combined with no small degree of irritation) for the Beat writers and people like Lawrence Durrell.

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

LW: I think it chose me. Whatever I try and write has weird elements in it - it's just the things that have influenced me and the way that my imagination

DL: Your book Poison Master mixes some fantasy elements with your story. Was it difficult to mix these elements in the science fiction story?

LW: No, because I always describe myself as a science fantasy writer. I don't use many hard SF tropes - I tend to concentrate on sociological and cultural elements - and there is more leeway in crossing genres. I think that this is somethi ång we are seeing more and more of these days - Alaistair Reynolds, for instance, employs a number of Gothic elements in his SF; China Mieville uses technological aspects in his fantasy writing. Authors like Chris Priest and Graham Joyce have always had a very cross-genre appeal and I have a lot of regard for that. Besides, I don't like being put in a box.

DL: Do you do a lot of research in science for your books?

LW: I try to keep up with developments in science, but because they're science fantasy rather than hard SF I make a lot of stuff up. I think I get away with it!

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

LW: Eleres in The Ghost Sister, because he's basically a younger, male version of me, and Ari in The Poison Master. I love creating devious men.

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

Not at the moment but these things often t çend to happen organically, rather
than being planned.

DL: How do you view SF as a vehicle for social commentary?

DL: It can be an immensely powerful vehicle for social comment (Orwell is an obvious case in point), but I don't think it should hit people over the head with it. Fiction with a Message (TM) is always annoying.

DL: I agree fiction with a message is annoying. How do you incorporate social commentary into your works?

LW: I try to slide it in under the radar. But my own view of politics and
society is constantly changing - I'm definitely left of center politically,
but there's so much that is problematic with fixed positions that I prefer
to remain ambivalent. I'd rather ask questions than try to answer them.

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

LW: Not really - obviously I have values Ë and views, but I'd rather present these as an emergent property of my fiction rather than using what I write as a means of preaching to people. I'm more interested in exploring ideas through my work and perhaps not coming to any very solid conclusions. I am still figuring out where I stand in a lot of areas and that's a lifelong process.

DL: Some recent criticism of SF states the genre is dying or has become stagnant, thus losing readers. What do you think about the current state of the genre?

LW: I think it's actually pretty vibrant at the moment. There are a lot of new
and interesting people coming onto the scene, a lot of mixing and matching with genres. I find media SF pretty stagnant (as opposed to media fantasy), but that' Ês been the case for a long time.

DL: Do you think SF movies and tv series helps the genre or gives the public the wrong idea about what the literature can be?

LW: The tropes of SF are now familiar to the mainstream, but the mainstream remains very sniffy about SF - it does the classic double-bind of marginalizing it and at the same time acknowledging it as populist. There is an awful lot of really bad media SF, but then there's a fair amount of poor media detective genre, for instance. If people take the trouble to look for the good stuff, they'll find it, but I'd say that a lot of the things you see are off-putting.

DL: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

LW: Work, work, work. Read lots. Don't give up (never surre nder!). Keep sending work out even when you think it's going to kill you. Research markets and above all, be as professional as you can.

DL: What books are you writing for the future?

LW: I have another novel coming out with Bantam in the US in the fall, titled Nine Layers of Sky, which is a contemporary SF novel (again with fantasy elements) set in Central Asia. It's due to come out in the UK with Tor Macmillan. At the moment, I am writing a novel that is provisionally entitled Banner of Souls, which is about a far future solar system and a girl who can travel through time. Lots of Oriental elements and much of the book is set on Mars.

I have a sixth novel on the backburner, which will be set in the same world
as The Ghost Sister, and this will be - cheerily - all about death and loss. I have recently lost my partner and this will inevitably emerge in my fiction. After that, I am hoping to do a sequel to Nine Layers of Sky. )

DL: Thank you very much Ms. Williams.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Barbara Hambly

A long time ago male authors dominated many genres of books including Fantasy. Some women authors had to use male pseudonyms to get published such as James Triptree who was really Alice Sheldon. Today, women authors hold their own with the men. There are many talented women Fantasy authors. Barbara Hambly is one of them. She has written many memorable books set in imaginative worlds of her own creation. Her characters remain with readers for a long time. All of the books span a range from Epic to Historical Fantasy.

The first series started with Time of the Dark, which became the Darwath trilogy. Ingold Inglorion, a wizard from Darwath, draws two young people from our world to his world to fight a menacing force of Darkness. Gil is a woman from our world who becomes a warrior and Rudy, an artist, becomes a mage. They explore the great fortress of the Keep of Dare in order to discover the secrets to defeat the Dark. The other two books in the trilogy are: The Walls of Air and The Armies of D aylight. Ms. Hambly wrote two other sequels that take place five years after the trilogy. Mother of Winter has the characters face new problems after the defeat of the Dark. They are threatened by a disease that destroys crops as the ice slowly moves south. The plot is resolved by a quest to a giant mountain known as Mother of Winter. The next book, Icefalcon’s Quest, takes place two years later. Ingold is away on a trip and dangers affect everyone else. This leaves Icefalcon to follow a dangerous mage and save a young boy. Ms. Hambly adds two stunning books to this fantasy world.

Another series is The Windrose Chronicles featuring the mage Antryg Windrose and Joanna, who is from our world. These books are set in a time approximate to the Industrial Revolution. The Silent Tower introduces us to Joanna as she is kidnapped across the Void the the empire of Ferryth. There she meets Antryg and along with another wizard, Caris, helps to defeat the evil intentions of the wizard Surkalin. I ˇn the next book, The Silicon Mage, Joanna travels back to the empire of Ferryth to help her friends defeat Surkalin once and for all. Finally, Joanna and Antryg live in California, but are dragged back across the void in the book Dog Wizard. These books have realistic characters involved in intriguing stories. Stranger at the Wedding takes place in the same world but tells the tale of Kyra. She is a young woman with strong magic talent. When she goes home for her sister’s wedding, she finds great danger and threats to her family. This is a nice addition to the other books set in a fascinating world.

Two of her Historical Fantasy novels are set during World War II and known as the Sun Cross. The Rainbow Abyss tells the story of the wizard Jaldis and his apprentice Rhion as they try to get to our world to answer a cry for help. Their world fears wizards and want to destroy them. The Magicians of Night tells a powerful story of the Holocaust. Rhion is trapped in Nazi Germany. He wants to get back to his world to find out what happened to his fellow wizards. Some Jewish prisoners help him to get back to his world. The characters are very realistic. Ms. Hambly does an excellent job of bringing a tragic part of world history to life.

Barbara Hambly has written Fantasy books with dragons too. Set in her world of the Winterlands, Dragonsbane is a classic of the genre. John Aversin the Dragonsbane and his wife Jenny Waynest receive a summons to a kingdom to slay the black dragon Morkeleb. Fearing for her husband’s life, Jenny makes a deal with the dragon. The author creates a remarkable character in Morkeleb that makes him seem what a real dragon would be like. The story and characters of this book appear in three sequels. Jenny Waynest and John return again in ¨ the next book Dragonshadow. This time they face demons who control other mages and dragons through their trapped souls. Ms. Hambly explores the theme of how power is a strong temptation to people in this book. Knight of the Demon Queen begins with a threat to Jenny and John’s son Ian. John owes a debt to the demon queen and must do it to save his son. Finally, Dragonstar completes the story of John and Jenny as John awaits execution. Jenny wants to save him as they find out who their allies and enemies truly are in this riveting conclusion.

This author explores other other cultures with her deft story telling. Bride of the Rat God is set in turn-of-the-century Los Angeles and has a lot about Chinese culture of the time. Christine is a movie star. She sets off supernatural events by wearing a necklace. This declares her a bride to the rat god. The problem is she does not want to be married to this Åancient Chinese demon god. This book is an interesting addition to the author’s various works.

Dark Fantasy is represented by two books about vampires. Those Who Hunt the Night is the story of Dr. James Asher who is hired by Don Simon Ysidro, the leader of the vampires of London, to find the murderer killing the vampires of the city. He must do this to save his wife Lydia. In Traveling With the Dead, Lydia asks for help from Don Ysidro to save her husband. They follow James Asher throughout Europe discovering trouble to everyone involved. These books add interesting views from this talented author.

Sun Wolf and Starhawk are two of Ms. Hambly’s interesting characters. Sun Wolf is the leader of a mercenary company and Starhawk is his partner. The Ladies of Mandrigyn introduces Sun Wolf trapped by women who want him to train them in warfare. He refuses so they hold him prisoner. His second in command, Starhawk, comes to rescue him. In the ensuing plot, Sun Wolf discovers he has magic power. Their next adventure is The Witches of Wenshar where they travel to a desert city to find someone to teach Sun Wolf how to use his powers. They find a lot of intrigue in the city and must resolve things before moving on. The Dark Hand of Magic finds Sun Wolf and Starhawk reunited with their company. Unfortunately, something is killing members of their company and they must find out what is going on. These characters are very interesting in their relationship and Ms. Hambly tells intriguing tales about them.

One of her most recent books is Sisters of the Raven. The book takes place in a city where magic is deser gting men, but women are gaining the magic power. Raeshaldis is the main character with the strongest talent among the women. They must band together to save the Yellow City from a plot that would plunge it into civil war. Danger lurks throughout the city, destroying the Raven sisters who are the only ones left to summon rain and bring precious water to the desert city. Part Fantasy, part mystery, this is a strong addition to the many of works of the author.

Barbara Hambly is a highly talented Fantasy author. She is the creator of memorable characters and Fantasy worlds. Her books span the range of Epic to Historical Fantasy. Dragons, vampires and many other characters are described in detail, bringing them to life. Ms. Hambly uses vivid images in her books to keep the intriguing plots moving along. Readers will find her books entertaining and worth reading.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fantasy Books I'd Like to See on TV or at the Movies

The entertainment industry has taken an interest in recent years in the Fantasy genre. More films are being made from Fantasy books that are popular with the public. Many of these movies are based on young adult books like “Harry Potter,” “Narnia” and the “Twilight” series. These films are entertaining and okay, but there are other more interesting and adult fantasy books films could be based on. We have seen this with the recently defunct “Legend of the Seeker” TV series based on Terry Goodkind’s “Sword of Truth” books. The HBO cable network is currently in production with a series based on George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. This article will deal with Fantasy books that I would like to see made into a TV show, miniseries or movie. So here is my wish list.

First of all, I would like to see a "Wheel of Time" series or movies. I admit it's a long book series, but it has much to offer. Such a complex story would be difficult to do as a movie or miniseries. It would be better as a long term TV series over several years like the "Babylon 5" science fiction series. This series would have something to attract viewers of all kinds such as adventure, romance, intrigue and many other things.

Patricia McKillip's books would make wonderful movies for viewers. Her lyrical, , vivid, image filled works would translate wonderfully to the screen. We could follow Morgon from the Riddle Master trilogy on his quest through many strange lands. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld would expose general viewers to a wonderful story with powerful themes. Any of her books would make good movies.

Another writer's books I would like to see made into movies are those of Robert Holdstock. His Mythago Wood books would be powerful movies with a dark edge. Viewers would be treated to mythic tales of a primal forest and its effects on the troubled characters that venture in there. These works portray psychological themes in a deeply imagined Fantasy world.

For Urban Fantasy lovers, Charles de Lint's books would be good as films. We would see denizens of Fairy interacting with humans in cities whether American or Canadian. These interactions could be interesting and/or dangerous. It would add a touch of magic to our reality by making the world seem more than our perceptions can conceive. Or a series based on the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs or Kate Daniels books by Ilona Andrews would have plenty of action, romance and interesting characters for people.

Returning to Epic Fantasy, other books I would like to see as films would be by authors Melanie Rawn, Mercedes Lackey, David Eddings, Andre Norton and C.J. Cherryh. All of these authors works would make great entertainment. They would be full of action, adventure and great characters.

These are just a few of the books on my wish list I would like to see. If I went on, this article would become very bulky. It is good to see the entertainment industry taking an interest in the Fantasy genre. With new strides made in special effects, making such films is no longer in the realm of impossibility. We should all look forward in the years ahead to some fantastic entertainment.

What books would you like to see made into a movie, TV series or miniseries? Start a discussion. I would be very interested in your responses.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Finnbranch Trilogy by Paul Hazel

I'm going on a trip, so the post is early. Enjoy.

In the 1980's a new Epic Fantasy trilogy was published. "The Finnbranch" by Paul Hazel is a rich Fantasy of deep thoughts. Blending Celtic and Nordic mythology, readers have a dark story of tragic characters, imaginative settings, descriptive language and mythic themes. The books follow the story of Finn through his quest to reclaim his birthright.

The first book, Yearwood, starts in a mountain fortress with a boy who knows nothing abut his father or his own name. Since his mother won't tell him anything but his name, he goes on a search for his father. His journey takes him through a twisted path of talking crows, living stones, witches and selkies. Honorable men follow him on his quest. Dark and disturbing, there is incest and a terrible conclusion, but the story continues in the next book.

Undersea continues Finn's story through many further episodes. In this book he travels to the past and meets his mother as a girl. After suffering attacks, Finn flees in a boat. He suffers death and is reborn as his son Lugh. On his next part of the journey he meets two companions and travels through the undersea kingdom of the dead. Interspersed are episodes from the future when he is king of his land. This book deepens the themes. There are wonderful descriptive passages of incredible images. At times, the story is convoluted and can be confusing. It is worth reading at a slow pace. The book leaves readers ready for the final book.

The last book is Winterking, continuing Finn's story in a strange modern world. A man named Wykeham is the main character who is very mysterious. He moves through this world hiding the truth about his life. Other characters are drawn to him that sets off a fantastic series of events that concludes Finn's journey of birth and rebirth. The blend of Native American and Celtic myth in a strange alternate America gives this book a vivid impact and conclusion to the trilogy.

Paul Hazel is a Fantasy writer of wild fantastic images and evocative language. With the "Finnbranch" trilogy he contributed an outstanding addition to Epic Fantasy. His use of different mythologies and a capable knowledge of writing technique gives Fantasy readers an incredible experience. Though his books are out of print and he hasn't written anything new since Wealdwive's Tale, his works are worth seeking out for a powerful reading experience.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Diana Paxson

Creating Fantasy worlds that are realistic and stimulate a reader's sense of wonder requires special talent. Fantasy authors possess this ability to a large degree. Diana Paxson is such an author. She writes many books and stories of Fantasy including the subgenres of Historical and Arthurian Fantasy. Her works possess rich detail, realistic characters and intriguing themes that gives readers memorable voyages in unique Fantasy worlds.

One of Ms. Paxson's longest works is a series of books set in her Fantasy world of Westria. It is a future California after nature and magic rose to destroy our technological world. The books follow several characters as they strive to bring balance to the new world's problems. The books in the series are: Mistress of Jewels (a combined Lady of Light & Lady of Darkness), Silverhair the Wanderer, The Earthstone, The Sea Star, The Wind Crystal and The Jewel of Fire.

She collaborated with fellow author Adrienne Martine-Barnes on the "Chronicles of Fionn Mac Cumhal" books. These are Celtic Fantasies based on the Irish mythic hero. The series consists of Master of Earth and Water, The Shield Between the Worlds and Sword of Fire and Shadow.

Delving into Historical Fantasy, she has produced works of rich detail and fantastic elements. The White Raven uses Celtic material to tell the tragic story of Tristan and Isolde. Told by the character Branwen, Ms. Paxson gives readers a sad tale of love and triumph in rich vivid details.

She writes stories from other sources too. The Serpent's Tooth is based on Shakespeare's "King Lear." The story takes place in fifth century Britain when Leir conquers the tribes of Britain and fathers three daughters from three different queens. Cridilla, Leir’s youngest daughter, is exiled. When her father’s kingdom starts falling apart, Cridilla returns to help her father. Ms. Paxson adds another interesting book to her body of work.

Another group of books by Ms. Paxson uses Norse mythology. Her “Wodan’s Children” series follow several characters from Norse and other materials through several stories of magic and battle. These books are intriguing Historical Fantasies that present an interesting world. The first two books are The Lord of Horses and The Dragons of the Rhine.

She stated once in a panel at an SF convention I attended that every Fantasy author must attempt to write an Arthurian Fantasy. Her latest books are her contribution to the Arthurian mythos. The Hallowed Isle is split into four books: The Book of the Sword, The Book of the Spear, The Book of the Cauldron and the forthcoming The Book of the Stone. They tell the story of King Arthur using historical periods and what is know about cultures of that time.

She collaborated with the late Marion Zimmer Bradley on several novels set in the world of the book Mists of Avalon. Many of the books are prequels or sequels to this book following the changes of Britain before and after the time of King Arthur. The books in the sequence are: The Forest House, The Sword of Avalon, The Ravens of Avalon, The Lady of Avalon, Priestess of Avalon and Ancestors of Avalon.

Recently she has returned to her world of Westria with The Golden Hills of Westria. This books takes up years after the last series to follow characters that have aged or their children in a new tale of magic and adventure. The book contains the author’s usual powerful storytelling and interesting characters.

Whether it's a future world of magic or a historical period with fantastic elements, Diana Paxson provides readers with thoughtful adventures. She brings her fantastic worlds to life with vivid descriptions and sympathetic characters. She is a writer worth checking out for a new experience. Readers won't be disappointed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

On Writing Fantasy: Online Writing Classes

Sorry for the delay of the article this week. Here’s my article for online classes on writing.

Summer is a time of year that can give people some free time to pursue other things. Writing is a profession that takes time, perseverance and knowledge. A writer must constantly pursue research and learning of new subjects to help generate new ideas and feed their imaginations. This is even truer for Fantasy authors that create whole new worlds for their books. Online classes are a good way to learn new knowledge for research and increase a writer’s creativity. Classes come in a variety of subjects, are reasonably priced, and self paced for a writer to gain new knowledge without a lot of time consumption. There are several places on the expanding Internet to take these classes.

A free site for online classes is Suite University ( Divided into several schools, classes can be found in topics under religion, writing, literature, etc. These classes are taught by knowledgeable people who know their subjects. The classes can be taken as an individualized self paced version. A wide variety of subjects helps writers find information they can use in their writing. For instance my class on Fantasy Literature can help Fantasy writers learn about the different subgenres. My class is found at:

Virtual University is an online class company ( that has been around for a long time. They have classes in the areas of computers, self help, general interest and others. They have been expanding their subjects recently. One new class is on Screen Writing. The classes are taught by knowledgeable people, some with Masters degrees. A lot of information can be learned in a short time. The courses on forensics and serial killers are informative. This is a good site to learn new things.

Another good site for online classes is Course Bridge. Designed for adult learners, they have classes of general interest, spirituality and useful ones on writing. Fantasy writers would especially find the class on Medieval castles helpful to their writing. New courses are added all the time. Their courses provide a lot of information for a fair price. This site is found at: I teach a class on Fantasy Writing here too at:

Some writers have their own classes that they develop and teach. Holly Lisle is a Fantasy author with several published books and years of experience in writing. At her web site can be found several classes and resources to help aspiring writers learn the craft. Her Thinking Sideways course is popular and helpful. Many of her writing E-books are informative too. Her site can be found at:

A site of interest for writers is Fathom. This is a site run by several colleges like Columbia University that used to have online classes. The site ( is now an archive, which contains information in several different subjects. There is a lot of good information to learn for ideas.

Writers must seek new knowledge to help their creativity and bring their stories to life. Time is important to writers, which is devoted to writing. They do not have time to travel for classes. Distance learning through online classes is a boon for authors. Classes can be taken from home or anywhere an Internet connection is available. Learning new things helps in the writing process by providing more knowledge and ideas for writers. Online classes will continue to help writers expand their experience for powerful new stories.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fairytales in Fantasy

Fairy tales have been a part of most people’s lives during their childhood. These type of tales are a part of every culture. Writers began collecting and publishing fairy tales as early as the 16th century. Familiar names associated with fairy tales are Charles Perrault, the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. These men made fairy tales available to everyone. In recent times, fairy tale retellings have become a vital part of the Fantasy genre, recreated by authors of many talents.

A different take on the tooth fairy is told by Graham Joyce in The Tooth Fairy. Set in England, this is the story of a young boy named Sam and some of his friends. He wakes up one night, encountering the tooth fairy. This begins a long, convoluted relationship between the boy and a dangerous, violent creature over many years. Mr. Joyce creates a dark fairy tale in a complex coming-of-age story of three young people and a creature from our darker side.

Beauty by Robin McKinley is an excellent retelling of the “Beauty and the Beast” story. Ms. McKinley brings the characters to life with vivid descriptions. Beauty is a strong young woman that goes to live in the castle of the Beast in place of her father. She finds a magical place full of wonder and a troubled Beast. Dealing with things changes both characters by the end of the book. The author is a master of bringing fairy tales to life.

Charles de Lint is a master of Urban Fantasy, infusing magic into modern day city settings. Jack of Kinrowan is a fairy tale set in the Canadian city of Ottawa. Jacky Rowan develops the Sight which draws her into a battle between two factions of Fairy. Made up of two earlier books, this one is highly descriptive with likable characters and entertaining plots. Mr. de Lint uses the elements of fairy tales to bring a created city to magical life.

A Scottish ballad fairy tale is the basis for Ellen Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer. Thomas is a wandering harper who meets Elspeth when he stops for an evening. Later he is captured by the Queen of Elfland. Returning to Elspeth after seven years, Thomas can only tell the truth. This creates a difficult situation for their relationship along with the separation of years. Ellen Kushner is a masterful storyteller, using vivid prose to give a magical story a powerful depth.

Orson Scott Card provides a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” in Enchantment. The author mixes the fairy tale with Russian mythology to tell a different story. An American college student is pulled into the ninth century to live out a Russian Fairy tale. He and the princess must battle with the witch Baba Yaga to find happiness. Mr. Card is an excellent story teller, bringing a wonderful fairy tale to life.

Winter Rose is by author Patricia McKillip, a highly talented author of the genre. Two sisters have their lives get entangled with Corbet Lynn when he returns to rebuild Lynn Hall. His family is under a curse from a past indiscretion. The practical sister Laurel falls in love with him. Rois Melior is wild with a touch of magic. Drawn to Corbet too, she tries to unravel his past in order to save her sister. Ms. McKillip creates an entertaining fairy tale with her imaginative talent, adding another classic to her works.

The Porcelain Dove by Delia Sherman is a mixture of Historical Fantasy and French fairy tales. Told through the eyes of a chamber maid, Ms. Sherman creates a strange, magical chateau existing in the pre-revolutionary era of France. The chateau is called Beauxpres and located in the Jura mountains. At this place, no one ages and the servants are nearly invisible. There is a curse on the family, which sets off a quest to find a porcelain dove in order to destroy the curse. Readers will find an entertaining book, rich in detail, from a highly talented author.

Fairy tales have been a popular entertainment throughout human history. Fantasy authors are taking fairy and folk tales from around the world, and retelling them in new ways for modern readers. The books mentioned here are just a few in this category. There are many entertaining books for adult readers and young adults too. Other possibilities includes an anthology series edited by Terri Windling. For more books check out the list at:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Anne Bishop

Epic Fantasy books tend to be the largest number of books published in the genre each year. Some critics say that most of the books are derivative with not much difference from previous books. Newer authors to the genre try different things to give a fresh view to Fantasy. Anne Bishop is one of those fairly new authors. She writes Epic Fantasy with elements different from the standard and not what readers would expect. Her books have intriguing characters, different settings and unexpected plots.

Ms. Bishop sur prises readers’ expectations with her first trilogy The Black Jewels. Not the usual Fantasy, these books tell the stories of demons and humans that are part of the dark realm of their world. Daughter of the Blood tells the story of Jaenelle, a young woman with power. She is prophesied to become the next great Queen. Jaenelle is taught by Saitan who rules Hell, but must avoid the machinations and attempts on her life by a high priestess and others. In the next book, Heir to the Shadows, Jaenelle must recover her memory after a traumatic event that nearly destroys her. Finally, Queen of Darkness has Jaenelle in charge of her realm, but still facing a final conflict to rule in peace. The three books are now available in one volume.

The Invisible Ring is a stand alone novel set in the same world as the previously mentioned trilogy. In this book, Jared is the pleasure slave of a vicious queen. He murders his mistress out of desperation and flees. Eventually he ends up with a mysterious queen known as the Gray Lady. His new life proves dangerous as he goes against the enemies of his new queen in order to help her. Ms. Bishop provides another exciting look into her vivid world of dark magic.

Ms. Bishop’s next trilogy, Tir Alainn, takes place in a new Fantasy world. This world has witches who guard the roads into the fairy realm. These roads are fading out of existence due to a vicious Inquisition destroying magic. The Pillars of the World begins the trilogy with the story of Ari . She has a fairy lover and is unaware of his background. Her magic has her caught between two worlds as the Inquistion closes in on her. The story shifts to two new characters in Shadows and Light. A bard and a muse, Aidan and Lyra, try to thwart the evil Aldolfo from further destroying magic. They must find a Fae that will listen to them and help them. In the last book, The House of Gaian, Adolfo tries to destroy all the magic in the land one last time. He wants to do this by destroying the wellspring of magic. Witches, humans and Fae must band together to stop him from this folly. The author gives readers an entertaining series with strong women characters, adventure and romance.

A new book set in the first world the author created will be coming out soon P. Dreams Made Flesh Is a collection of four stories that explore some of the characters from the first trilogy in greater depth. Jaenelle returns with her lover Daemon in a story where another blood witch tries to break them apart. There is a character study of Saetan as he deals with his pregnant wife’s family. Two other stories round out this new book done with the author’s vivid style and dynamic storytelling.

Anne Bishop is a powerful recent author in the Fantasy genre. She brings to life her various Fantasy worlds with vivid words and a dark edge. Her books are full of adventure, romance, strong women characters and some intense themes. Readers will find her many books interesting and entertaining. Some of her books are not for young readers. They contain violent and explicit sex scenes, so parents should be aware of this.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Midori Snyder

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 16, 2010

Graham Edwards Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DL: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

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

DL: Thank you very much for your time.

For more information visit the Graham Edwards Website at

Friday, April 02, 2010

Elves in Fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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