Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sick of Reading the Same Story...

I haven't posted in awhile because I and then my son got sick. I read a lot while I was trying to get better and realized how bored I am with certain fantasy novels. I remember being younger and willing to read everything that came out. But now that I'm older I am much more selective. Writers - and I'm one of them - need to continue to read, however, to ensure that we are not rehashing the same old story. This happens a lot - a quest, a boy, a sword (or ring or artifact), a companion, a hardship (or 2 or 3), a love interest, a big battle, and success. I've just told the plot of many, many stories I've read through the years.

It's easy as a writer to write the story I mentioned above. Sometimes our first fantasy novel love was a story just like that and of course we want to LIVE the story through writing it. I've been there and done it. It was never published - now that I'm older I can see why though at the time I thought I had written the book to end all books. ;-)

Writing something new is not easy. However, there is inspiration all around us. The news is ripe with story lines that could be translated into a fantasy realm. Heck, some public figures already act like characters out of a story. Seriously, though, to keep the genre alive we must come up with new topics, new ideas, new stories.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Raistlin vs. Snape

Why is it that as I read Dragonlance I always wanted Raistlin to be good? And when I read Harry Potter I wanted Snape to end up good? I guess it's just my nature to always hope that people are not beyond saving.

Raistlin was changed after his experience becoming a mage - though he had the beginnings of arrogance before he went in. His brother was unfailingly solicitous - even going beyond to save Raist. And Raist held it against him - hating to have to rely on someone beneath him. It was only Caramon's love that got Raist to change at the last.

Snape was arrogant from the start too. He loved Lily and the only reason why he did not allow Voldemort to win was because he loved Lily - no one but her.

Sure the common theme is Love. But Raist started from wanting to help - not realizing the pitfall that absolute power always brings. Snape was always arrogant, proud, rude, and mean. While Raist was saved - was Snape? According to J.K. Rowling when she was asked about Snape finally proving he was good - she was shocked. She said that she never wrote him to be good. And she also said that without Lily to spur him on, Snape would not have cared one whit about Harry Potter.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

My First Fantasy Novel...

Many people remember things like their first kiss, their first home run, their first date.... While I remember those too, I think that one of the firsts that really stands out in my life was my first fantasy novel. It was, *drum roll*, Dragons of Autumn Twilight - of the Dragonlance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Man, was I blown away. I had just been introduced to Led Zeppelin - not the headbanging Led Zeppelin, but the thoughtful myth-oriented Led Zeppelin. I had my walkman on and late into the night I read fist Autumn Twilight and then the other two in succession - crying when Sturm died, laughing with and at Tasselhoff. Wow, those were amazing times. I never realized there was literature out there like that. And I began reading everything like it that I could get my hands on.

There have been certain books that I remember so strongly - and others that just fade into nothingness. But there is nothing like the first. What was yours?


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Who should live and who should die?

As I read fantasy novels, I find that my mind is divided between enjoying the stories and looking at the craft of the authors. One fascinating thing that I always consider is who the author chooses to kill during their stories and why. I personally have a real problem with an author who kills someone for effect without moving the story forward. For example, I've read stories where it is apparent to me that the author is trying to manipulate my emotions for no greater purpose than to see if they can do it. The effect of the death within the story is minimal. It doesn't advance the story one bit.

The author I'm thinking of as I write this is Katherine Kurtz. She tells an amazingly detailed tale in her Deryni stories. I love the way that she makes her characters come to life. But at the same time, many of the deaths that she throws the reader's way to me seem contrived. Now I know that Zan will disagree with me but he is out of town today as I write this so I get to have my say without him. Yippee!

Seriously though, I have a hard time reading her novels because I do feel manipulated. When a reader invests a lot into a character, if their death does not serve a greater purpose or at least move the story forward then it feels contrived.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fantasy Times Podcast is Up and Running

Introducing our first Fantasy Times podcast. The topic of this one is the top three reasons why J. K. Rowling has made such a success with the Harry Potter series. Enjoy!


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Knee Deep in Harry Potter

No - I'm not giving anything away. I know that people are reading feverishly to find out who lives and who dies. I am one of them. I do want to make an important point, though, as I take a break from the book. I was at a Barnes and Noble with over 2,000 other souls on Friday night just waiting for the stroke of midnight and my turn to purchase "the book." When midnight came, I with my husband, two nieces, and a nephew, were about 200 people back, but still luckily in the cool store (unlike the other 1500 who were outside in the heat.) When the first book was sold, buzzers went off and people began cheering. Each time someone walked by with a book in their hand, everyone was cheering and clapping. It was an amazing sight. Now I ask you - when have you ever, EVER heard people cheering for a book? I do not think I have ever heard it happen. What an amazing phenomenon. And it's all over....

Thursday, July 19, 2007

True Confession: How I Fell for Fantasy

Okay. So I'm a young kid - 10 I believe. And my Mom and Dad decide to buy me a new "game" for Christmas. Little did they know what they had begun. I opened the box to Dungeons and Dragons and a new world seemed to open to me like nothing I'd heard of but like I always wanted to exist.

My brother had played. He was home from college. He decided that he would try and play with his kid sister and his parents. Needless to say, it didn't work. I bought in, but they never did.

He left and I was left with the basic rules and adventure. I knew it back and forward.

And then my parents heard rumors and news stories about someone who had taken the game too seriously and kids who got killed. That put an end to their acceptance of fantasy.

But what's ironic is that when I look back to the very beginning I realize that one of the main reasons I loved fantasy at all was because of my Mom who became the most adamant against fantasy. She was the one who loved Camelot and all things King Arthur. She was also one of the greatest readers I've ever known.

In the end, my love for fantasy could not die. More on that later....