One of the fasting-growing subgenres of fantasy is the fairy-tale retelling, which has spawned a number of popular books and a slew of indie fiction. One of the biggest criticisms of these stories, however, is how little is left to tell: since everyone knows the story, there’s no real surprise left to uncover for the readers (and isn’t narrative drama one of the true hallmarks of the novel?). To make it work, an author has to take a familiar story and treat it like a myth that can be transported to different characters and lands and help us see something about our own world through the ‘old’ frame. Most re-tellings, frankly, feel a bit like literary exercises, a chance for the author to stretch their wings even though they have nowhere in particular to go. We might even enjoy the trip, but once we’re there, the book is instantly forgotten and we can only remember the original tale—which, frankly, taught us a lot more to begin with.
Sunday, December 10, 2017
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Of all of Austen’s novels,
(1814) gets precious little attention—and far too
little love. Why? Actually, I’m somewhat at a loss myself, since I’ve always
loved this novel and decided to re-read it after 8 or so years to make sure my
judgment is sound. In fact, I recently re-read all of her novels, and taught
most of them, too, with unparalleled delight. Nothing is more fun that taking a
group of college students through the wonders of Jane Austen’s quicksilver
prose, her devastating yet subtle
satire, and her effortlessly character arcs. But I had never taught Mansfield Park , largely because it’s on the longer side for a
novel most people seem to dislike. Yet if you take a step back and look at some
of the basic elements of the novel, you can’t help but wonder why this isn’t
hailed as her greatest novel, or at least the most beloved. Mansfield Park
Monday, November 13, 2017
Every writer—if you’ve written long enough—knows this moment: the moment where you’re watching a movie, or perhaps just reading a book, and there it is. Your story. Your idea. Your character. Your dialogue. Not that it’s been stolen from you, but you both lucked on the same source of inspiration; they just beat you to it.
For me, it was a situation—a humorous moment that two characters found themselves in, which led to very awkward dialogue that made the situation even funnier. And I had imagined it all. Some contextual details aside, it was more or less the same scene, with quite similar dialogue, though with a slightly different conclusion. My story—almost my words. And now I couldn’t use them. Or I could, but it would forever be in the shadow of the previous work, which would lead to a profoundly guilty conscience.
Monday, October 30, 2017
Here are the plots to three novels: can you tell which are fantasy novels?
* The son of a twisted duke is killed in a bizarre accident, and his innocent fiancée finds herself a prisoner of a haunted castle, pursued by the duke himself. Only the strange, twisting corridors of Otranto can save her now, where statues cry bloody tears and giant helmets exact their unholy revenge.
* A sailor is shipwrecked on an island and wakes up to find that ant-sized people have captured him. They dub him the “
” and force him to do various menial tasks (like saving the entire
kingdom with his own urine), until, terrified by his potential power, decide to
kill him and parcel off his body to various parts of the kingdom. But the “ Man Mountain ” has other ideas... Man Mountain
* Two knights are captured in battle and thrown into a dungeon for life. Through the bars, they glimpse a garden outside tended by a beautiful woman: both of them fall madly in love with her, and vow eternal hatred on the other, since only one can lay claim to her heart. Eventually, one night is pardoned while the other manages through subterfuge to escape. Once free, the second knight prays to Mars to assure him victory, while the other prays to Venus; both god and goddess grant each one success in love and battle. This causes quite a debate in
Olympus, and Jupiter has to stand in judgment as to which lover will live
with the maiden—and which will die in defeat.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Check out Sam Reeves reading Chapter One of The Dark Backward (my new book) on his You Tube channel. Sam is known for being the voice and brains behind The Rabid Bookworm which not only reviews books but often performs them for his viewers. Today, he took time to read the first chapter of my book, allowing Hildigrim Blackbeard to finally speak out in a clear, bold voice. Thanks so much for honoring my book, Sam!
Click on the link to watch (it's about 9 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNlKLtGcISA&feature=share
Thursday, October 19, 2017
The romance of writing is that sudden flush of inspiration, when a story, character, or idea grabs hold of your entire soul until you have to rush to your paper or keyboard and write it down. “Romance” is the correct word to use, too, since it’s not hyperbolic to call it a love affair. Sometimes it’s merely a crush, but at other times it’s truly love at first sight: a woman whose eyes make you dream of being better than you are, or a man whose voice gives you goosebumps when you imagine him speaking your name. Anyone who writes can relate to that feeling, after having written five or six pages in white-heat, when you look up from the page and think, “my god, I’m actually a writer! I’m in the middle of writing a book!” The whole world makes sense, or at least you do, as you float through it, no longer seeing a distinction between the world outside your door and the one in your mind. It’s all grist for the mill, raw material to construct the elaborate castles and cathedrals of your imagination to stand for all time.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
You can download my first (and newly revised) novel, Kill the Cutpurse! on Amazon today and Thursday. All you need is a Kindle or a free Kindle app to read a short, fast-paced novel of humorous epic fantasy centering on a trio of thieves who are comissioned to steal the largest clock hand in the kingdom...and end up dismantling the very gears of the thieving community! Check it out in the link below: