Virginia Woolf Two For One Special (I couldn’t decide on one, so I had to choose both)! 🙂
Virginia Woolf Two For One Special (I couldn’t decide on one, so I had to choose both)! 🙂
Writing high fantasy is not for the hobbyist. It takes perseverance, cleverness, and lots of dedicated time.
I’m currently completing the second phase of world building for a high fantasy series that’s been haunting my waking and dreaming hours for quite some time. About three years actually. Adara Trosclair, for whom this blog is named after will make her appearance in the second book. I see main character in this first book clearly. She’s not like Adara, who is charismatic, sweet, and girly. Lethe, on the other hand, is bitter, snarky, resentful, and will most likely be an unlikable character. But that in no way means that readers will be unable to relate to her. Anyone who has lived on this earth may have acted like this guy:
in some way, shape, or form. Even for a day. 🙂
But then again, maybe Lethe is more like this:
And the entire idea behind this book — once a tiny seed — is now a mighty oak tree. Lol. Well, in my mind currently. For the past several days I’ve been working on my fantasy world’s distinct parts:
I also want my high fantasy idea to be fresh and to question and maybe even provide answers to current issues in the real world. Issues like racism, sexism, and bigotry.
At first, I totally agreed with this quote from Tolkien. Fantasy is a great way to escape! However, escaping and being distracted is so easy and it’s not worth it. Yes, we all need a little break every now and then (that’s why I play video games and do Zumba Fitness), buuuuuuut, ignoring important issues in the world isn’t a solution to the world’s worldly ills (yes, yes, yes, I know I used the word world three times in that one sentence).
I’m considering whether or not the book would fit the Young Adult age group and if so, what kind of pitfalls must I avoid? For instance, is it okay for the two main characters to engage in sex? How violent and bloody should the sword and sorcery scenes be? And what about expletives? My husband and I are fans of Dragon Age and the rating for this RPG is “M” for mature audiences due to sex (your main character can ROMANCE other characters), violence (lots of blood — I mean LOTS), and other suggestive themes. And as I continue plotting away, do I consider my book having a dark tone like Dragon Age? HECK YA!
I wouldn’t mind kids similar in age to my oldest son who will be seventeen soon reading this book. But younger than that? Wow. Just wow. Makes me feel uncomfortable.
As a child, I loved fairy tales and I also want to incorporate them into my high fantasy books. My favorites are the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Little Match Girl, and Rumpelstiltskin.
Regarding Tolkien’s quote, I agree more with the spotlighted quote of the day. I don’t need to escape. I want to understand.
Octavia Butler has been called the Queen of Sci-Fi and with the worlds, themes, and characters she has created and written about, the title is well-deserved. She unfortunately died on February 24, 2006. Due to the white male dominated world of science-fiction I had recently learned of her existence a few years ago. A few years too late.
My first taste of Butler was “Wild Seed”, a unique science-fiction novel about two shapeshifters — Doro and Anyanwu — who are drawn to one another in a bizarre dance of love, desire, and fear. I relished in the descriptions, the characters, and the settings (African jungle and United States of America).
I’m grieved with her loss and wonder what she would be creating and writing today at the age of 70.
Now that she is gone, perhaps the gatekeepers sense a giant, yawning vacuum hungry for a replacement. Unfortunately, genius such as Butler’s is irreplaceable. But, the gatekeepers can only try. After all, the science fiction genre is still dominated by white men. Yes, there are authors such as: Le Guin, Doris Lessing, C.L. Moore, Zenna Henderson, Madeleine L’Engle, and C.J. Cherryh. Alas, this list doesn’t deserve a tally mark ( maybe a brownie point) when these authors are also all white regardless of their gender.
Recently, authors like N.K. Jemisin (and I’m certain several others who I haven’t learned of yet) have earned top awards and made it to the nation’s best-seller lists in the science fiction and fantasy genres.
Butler’s genius and success in a male dominated genre is inspirational. But, I’ll take her advice below and follow her where it truly counts:
I just learned about this event today and wish I could have attended.
The above quote by Walter Dean Myers, a children’s book author and best known for young adult literature reveals a lot about the way I started to feel when I realized that a lot of the books I read didn’t reflect me in a society that claimed to be diverse and tolerant. Myers died on July 1, 2014. And his books are still relevant to the lives of African-Americans. In fact, his YA book, “Monster” is being made into a movie.
As you may already know, I’m a xenophile. I absolutely love learning about different cultures, languages, and people! So, it’s no mystery that I grew up loving to read. Reading was (and still is) my gateway to other worlds and food for my ravenously curious mind. One series in particular that I enjoyed reading during my preteen years was “Sweet Valley High”, which focused on two blonde hair and blue-eyed twins named Jessica and Elizabeth. I don’t recall encountering any girls or boys of color within those pages. Besides, the main focal point was on those two twins who were as different as night and day. I loved the often good plotlines. Looking back, some were silly and over-the-top dramatic!
But, come on. It was high school, right?
Yeah, I really did love reading. And when my mother noticed that there weren’t a lot of books that featured characters that looked like we did (dark brown skin) or even came from cultures like ours – (Caribbean/West Indies) she got worried. My mom’s a wise lady. She started giving me books by Mildred D. Taylor. When I got older, she moved onto introducing books with more complex issues. I cried while reading both Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and “The Bluest Eye”. In my high school’s Honors Reading classes, we were assigned to read “Beloved” and to analyze the characters’ motivations. I had no problem realizing that Sethe couldn’t simply be written off as a villainous character. I was hooked! I continued reading the remainder of Mildred D. Taylor’s series about the Logan family’s struggles and accomplishments.
Now, back to Myers’ quote. My mother saw a voracious need in me that I couldn’t see. She saw that I needed characters to relate to. Characters that I COULD relate to. Sure, following the antics between twin sisters is entertaining, but the world of Jessica and Elizabeth from Sweet Valley High was as real to me as Barbie in her Malibu home.
A lot of my students, Latinos and African-Americans are turned off to reading at a young age, and who can blame them? When you analyze the fact and consider that there aren’t many books that reflect their people in a realistic and beautiful way the reasons aren’t so hidden or hard to understand. And let’s not forget authentic as one of the necessary characteristics for diverse books.
The publishing industry knows that people want more diverse books. The rise in Indie authors who circumnavigated the gatekeepers is testimony to that. However, these gatekeepers choose to give us these “gifts” in a manner that cheats us of good, authentic tales. For example, most diverse books that I’ve encountered and enjoyed reading are written by non-POC people (“Full Cicada Moon” and “Seraphina’s Promise”). Regarding “Seraphina’s Promise”, I wondered how different the story would have unfolded if it had come from a Haitian person’s point of view?
Also, both of these books are written in prose. I love poetry. I truly do. But why do these authors have to resort to writing such deliciously complex stories in prose? Did the editors or publishers think that boxing the story within the often pedantic poetic style would somehow give the illusion that the stories were more . . . dare I use the word — authentic? Soulful? Real? Organic? That prose would magically inject these stories with a je ne sais quoi that often only people who have experienced can personally write. Think of “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker. I find it hard to believe that a non-Black person could write that book with the same results.
Now, don’t get it twisted (as my students sometimes say). As a Black woman who has written about a 19th century, peach-skinned (well, when he’s been fed the right amount of blood) British vampire and aristocrat I’m not going to be a hypocrite and say that white women or men can’t write from the POV’s of nonwhite characters.
However, if the publishing industry thinks that this practice of exclusively having white people tell the stories of nonwhite characters is okay or is an answer to the desire for diverse books, then that’s ridiculous and needs to change.
It’s almost as if the publishing industry (which is a part of the “media“) want to keep the White Savior myth alive. For example, in the movie Hidden Figures, which tells the true story of three brilliant Black women who were the brains behind one of the greatest NASA operations in history, the director Theodore Melfi fabricated a scene for emotional effect that perpetuates the white savior myth perfectly. You can read more about it here.
Readdressing Myers’ thought-provoking question: What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?
The message isn’t a good one and any answers I have will most likely become another blog post. I live in a country that seems to embrace the message of diversity and inclusion when it suits itself. I’m glad that there has been a rise in diverse books. I’m glad that untold stories and histories of all peoples are being shared. Now I have a question:
According to the documentary Dark Girls: The Story of Color, Gender, and Race (which everyone should watch no matter how much melanin their skin possesses) deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color – particularly dark skinned women, exist outside of and within the Black American culture. And based on my own experience growing up as a little black girl in the United States of America, I can attest that this phenomenon is shamefully and painfully true.
The reality of this secret (which is no longer much of a secret) and the disgust and anger that I feel about color and race in this country didn’t arise within me until a conversation came up at work in the teacher’s lounge.
I know. I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering what the hell I was doing in the teacher’s lounge, which is often called a cess pool of negativity and where teachers congregate to eat, complain, and vent their unhappiness about school board policy, students, parents, and anything else that pops up. And I ask myself, “Monique, what the hell were you thinking?” Well, I’m trying to be more sociable and when you’re an introvert that often appears to be an extrovert, you have to swallow your fears, your shyness, and grin pretending that you enjoy being amongst people that sometimes make you feel uncomfortable. Besides, when you’re told that you’re as sociable as Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes, and you don’t realize that the comment is actually an insult, your efforts at “fitting in” increase exponentially.
Basically, the conversation came up when another teacher shared the horrible news that a 14 year old girl had been raped by a 16 year old boy in one of the local middle schools. Another teacher had the audacity to express that some girls this happens to aren’t “completely innocent” of being assaulted and that their behavior had something to do with the assault. In other words, he blamed them for being raped.
Dr. Who, would you kindly give us the use of your Tardis so we can manipulate time. You know, so that way readers who didn’t see the offense in the above remark can reread it. The rest of us who realized this utter stupidity the first time have bloody eyes.
Well, I’m done with trying to “fit in”.
I’ve been mocked as a “defender of justice”. I’ve been stupidly and unfairly asked to explain WHY things happen in Black society or culture as if I’m the spokesperson for said culture. And politely, I’ve told these people where to take themselves. I’ve been downright PC.
Well, I’m done with being politically correct, damn it!
I’m going to tell it plain in this “rant/epiphany”.
ALSO, just because these young girls LOOK mature on the outside does NOT MEAN THEY ARE developmentally ready FOR SEX! The phrase “if there’s grass on the field means play ball” is the outcome of a twisted and perverted mindset. The appearance of sexual maturity does NOT give a man (or woman) the right to even entertain the idea of having sex with children. Do I really live in a nation of damned perverts!? If this person had the sense to think about what’s going on inside the minds of these brown-skinned girls (which is also happening now to peach-skinned white girls) then he’d realize that the media has not only oversexualized children, but also brainwashed girls into thinking that their only worth is in their bodies. There is MORE GLORY in these beautiful children than spreading their legs for some f-ing pervert! And how can it be clear that he’s not bringing this destructive mindset into his classroom to the students he teaches on a day-to-day basis. It makes me sick!
I need to take a breather.
*Drops the microphone*