Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - Linda LaRoque

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?
Linda: It’s fun to write outside the box, let your imagination soar. My time travel stories allow me to visit two time periods in one story and enjoy both. It’s important to remember though, that if you’re taking your readers back in time, you must stay true to that historical period. Thankfully I enjoy research.

Amber: What are the differences between Western time travel and fantasy?
Linda: The world building of a western time travel is based on facts about the old west. In fantasy, the only guidelines concerning the created world are ones the writer places on himself/herself.

Amber: How is writing time travel different than historical fiction?
Linda: Writing time travel is very much like writing historical fiction. The destination, if in the past, must be carefully researched. Nothing takes a reader out of the story faster than false information. With stories set in the future, the writer as free reign, but should make their future world as realistic as possible.

Amber: Why do you think readers love fantasy?
Linda: I think readers love fantasy because it allows their imaginations to run wild. If you can suspend the reader’s belief, you can take them to places where you’d never be able to take them otherwise. Because it’s all make believe, it’s okay to have green people, a village of elves, sorcerers, and magic.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
Linda: Probably. I imagine if I liked to read a genre, a few other people out there would too.

Linda LaRoque is a retired teacher who loves West Texas, its flora and fauna, and its people. Her stories paint pictures of life, love, and learning set against the raw landscape of ranches and rural communities in Texas. She is a member of RWA, her local chapter of HOTRWA where she serves as president, NTRWA and Texas Mountain Trail Writers. 

Visit Linda's blog for short stores, recipes, writing tips, vacations, writing workshops and guest author blogs.  
Leave a comment to enter her monthly book drawing. 

Visit Linda's website and read the first chapters of her books:

Fated lovers suffer the agony of loss 
only to be reunited to fulfill a greater plan.

She won't let an innocent man hang 

Linda's Contest!
Leave a comment for a chance to win
a choice of one of 
Linda's ebooks or short stories.
Contest ends September 4th

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - C.K. Green

Welcome C.K. Green, author of YA fantasy!

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?
C.K.: In my years growing up in Southern California, I think my world was inundated with fantasy—from fairy tales to Disneyland. It’s a good thing, isn’t it, to stave off life for just a little bit and get lost in a world of fancy.

It all started with my mother. I wouldn’t exactly call her an advocate for the fantasy novel. But together we watched all those great MGM Technicolor musicals and danced together in the living room. That was my entrance into the world of fantasy. This was followed by reading fairy tales from the true Cinderella story, Little Mermaid and even The Wizard of Oz. In high school, I added to my reading those great fantasy creators like David Eddings, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman and R.A. Salvatore. (If you’ve never read these authors, get to the library and check them out.) One of my favorite books of the fantasy genre would have to be The Princess Bride. You say, you’ve seen the movie. That’s great. It’s a good movie, but reading the book is an experience. Trust me! All of these stories and authors influenced me in my need to write fantasy—to get lost in another world.

Amber: Why do you write YA Fantasy?

C.K.: I write in the genres that I read. Under my real name, Cindy K. Green, I write romance in many sub-genres. Fantasy was the one genre I had yet to attempt. I imagined a hero who was part Robin Hood and part Scarlet Pimpernel who came to bring justice to the world. Of course, this is a completely different book than I want to tell you about today.

Until about six years ago, I taught middle school and read a whole lot of YA fiction. I especially liked the funny ones with a spunky heroine who tells her story with a quirky sense of humor. It only made sense to take a stab at writing my own.

I’ve written a few YA stories, but Struck by Conscience is the first I actually sent out into the world. In part, it’s just a regular teenage story about life and loves. But on the other hand, it’s also a fairy story as my heroine was born with a Fairy Guardian who is with her 24/7. I was greatly influenced by all the fairy tales I’d read as a child mixed with modern day YA novels. This fairy is a representation of the adult influence in all teen’s lives. They may not like it, but they have the words of their parents ringing in their ears even when they are far from home. In this story, the heroine actually has her fairy with her and she wonders what it would be like if she could face life alone. Of course, when she faces just such a scenario she isn’t sure she’s ready. Just like growing up.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one else read it?

C.K.: Just like anything else I’ve written, the answer is YES. Of course! Writing isn’t just about the accolades and rewards because they are few and far between. I, like many other writers, write because I must. If anything, I like to read what I write. I like to write for my sisters who always rave and therefore are not exactly great for critiques, but I have fun entertaining them. When you have a story in your head that wants to be told, well then, it must be told.

Amber: Tell Me More About Yourself.

C.K.: To be short and sweet: I'm a mother to two boys, a wife to my sweetheart, a teacher to my children and a writer to all who will read. I spend my days cleaning house and teaching school while wondering when my fairy godmother will arrive and return me to my rightful place. Supposedly I was born in California, but I've since transplanted to North Carolina. I love history, reading, photography, Period Dramas, and spending time with my kooky family. My stories are fun with a touch of romance. I aim to make you laugh and stir your heart.

Find out more about C.K. Green at her website or her blog
Struck by Conscience is available for the Kindle 
on Amazon or other e-book formats.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - Susan Blexrud

Welcome Susan Blexrud, author of romantic urhan fantasy!

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?
Susan: I think in this post apocalyptic world (I’m referring to 9/11) that everyone wants an escape, and they want to know who the villain is. Will he get blown to smithereens or transformed by love? Fantasy makes us forget our woes, and that goes for the writer as well as the reader.

Amber: What are the differences between "romantic' urban fantasy and paranormal romance?
Susan: If I had to choose, I’d pick urban fantasy as my preferred read because I enjoy the secondary characters and world building as much as I do the primary romance. In paranormal romance, the relationship between the two main characters rules, and though I find nothing wrong with that, I prefer the broader appeal of urban fantasy. That said, what I write is really contemporary romance with paranormal elements. And I DO love happy endings!

Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?
Susan:To sum it up in one word…escape. I think the key to good fantasy is to make the world you’ve created believable to the reader. Nothing is more satisfying to this writer than to have a reader tell me she could have sworn she saw one of my characters at the dry cleaners or at Starbucks. Plunking paranormal characters in the everyday world is fascinating.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
Susan: Sure. Even as a published author, the monetary reward is so minuscule that you have to get your jollies from the written word. The thrill of creation is what keeps me going.

Amber: Thanks, Susan for visiting Wordshaping. Love Fang sounds like so much fun!
Susan: Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Amber. 

A sexy vampire with an infected fang falls in love with his dentist. Dental drills whir and hearts pound as this unlikely pair struggle to find happiness.

Susan Blexrud is a multi-published author of paranormal fiction.
Her books are available in e-book format and print from 
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise, 
and All Romance E-Books. 

Susan Blexrud's Contest!
Leave a comment for a chance to win an ecopy of Love Fang!
Contest ends August 21st!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - Laraine Herring

Welcome Laraine Herring, magical realism author and professor of creative writing.

Amber: Why did you choose the magical realism for your new novel Ghost Swamp Blues?
Laraine: It’s easy for me to write magical realism because it’s the way I perceive the world around me. I didn’t choose to write Ghost Swamp Blues in magical realism. I just can’t seem not to write that way. I have very few pieces of fiction that do not contain elements of magical realism, and even my creative non-fiction essays are magical in some way. To me, everything is alive. I even name and create personalities for my appliances, and people who follow my blog know that I have a small green stuffed monkey named Keezel who travels with me, and even performed the wedding ceremony for my husband and me at Ocean Beach in San Francisco! I’d have to be a writer or else I’d be labeled crazy!

I appreciate the sense of wonder that magical realism provides, and I think of time as a loop rather than a line, so it’s very easy for me to create a story that emphasizes the continuity of time and place (whether through “ghosts” or other elements). Accepting the marvelous as commonplace helps me continue to see the world through eyes of wonder rather than through fixed and rigid concepts, and this helps me as a writer to continually be amazed, to continually see the world with soft eyes, compassion, and an eye toward possibility rather than predestination.

Many people are familiar with Toni Morrison’s Beloved or Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude, but they may not consider Salman Rushdie, Isabel Allende, or Laura Esquivel when they think about magical realism authors. There’s a wide range of authors writing contemporary magical realism novels. I’d encourage you to check out some of them. I love teaching magical realism, too, in part because it tends to throw students out of their comfort zones. I often start with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ short story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” I love the responses, which usually range from “I don’t get it” to being quite angry with the author. Rarely do students have this kind of visceral response to fantasy (Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, for example). They grew up reading Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Ursula le Guin, Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling, and they’re perfectly content letting their spirits escape into the pages of another world.

Amber: Why do you think readers love fantasy?
Laraine: I think fantasy literature is more accessible and therefore more popular because the reader clearly knows how the "rules" of his or her own world differ from the "rules" of the fantasy world. There’s the world of the book, and the world of the reader, and they don’t intersect. Monsters, demons, shifts in time and place, time travel, fairies, ogres, vampires, and all sorts of extraordinary elements can be fascinating on the page because they don’t play by the rules of the reader’s “real” world. Magical realism literature, on the other hand, forces the reader to consider (the reader doesn’t have to accept the premise, of course) the possibility of the extraordinary elements present within his or her own world. That shakes people up sometimes.

Amber: How does magical realism differ from fantasy?
Laraine: The primary differences between magical realism and fantasy writing, to me, lie in the world of the story. In magical realism literature, the world is this earth. In fantasy literature, the world is altered in some way, or we have a completely different world altogether. The fantastical elements are perceived as out of the ordinary, whereas in magical realism, the magic (the extraordinary) is treated as ordinary and accepted, not something to be afraid of, amazed by, or figured out. It’s just what is. The supernatural is as valid as the natural in magical realism, and to me, that’s extremely exciting to explore through story.

Amber: As a creative writing professor, what mistakes do you think fantasy writers make?
Laraine: I have read many students’ attempts at writing fantasy. Many more students try to write fantasy than magical realism, and I think that’s due in a great part to what they’ve read. People tend to write what they like to read. The biggest mistake I see unique to the fantasy genre is students focusing far too much on the extraordinary elements and on world-building at the expense of the characters. They are enthralled by the fantasy world, the naming, the gadgetry and even the languages they can create within it, but they forget that they need compelling characters with clear, multi-layered desires to inhabit those worlds.

The same thing occurs with writers of historical fiction. They’ve often done so much research on a place and time that they want to put it all in because they find it fascinating, forgetting that the reader, ultimately, is reading to follow a character’s journey, and that journey needs a solid driving question and a layering of desires and obstacles to compel the reader forward. Tension in fiction is created not through complex worlds, but through the potential for multiple outcomes to a given character’s desire. Where one chooses to place that character, whether on a planet in outer space, under the earth, or in Santa Fe, serves to enhance that characterization and to provide its limitations and possibilities. The world, although an integral part of a story, is not the whole story.

Amber: Thanks Laraine for telling us about magical realism. And I loved your book and highly recommend it to readers who love fantasy, history, the South, or just a good story.
And my copy of The Writing Warrior Discovering the Courage to Free your True voice has just arrived. I know I will like it as much as I loved Writing begins with the Breath.

Laraine Herring holds an MFA in creative writing and an MA in counseling psychology. She directs the creative writing program at Yavapai College in Prescott, AZ. Her most recent books are: Ghost Swamp Blues; The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice and Writing Begins with the Breath: Embodying Your Authentic Voice. Find out more at her website.

Laraine Harring’s Contest!
For a chance to win a signed copy of Ghost Swamp Blues
Email Laraine e-mail with your request,
and in the body of the e-mail, 
tell her what you love about fantasy or magical realism.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - C.J. Gabriel

Welcome C.J. Gabriel, author of Western fantasy
Amber: Why do you write Fantasy?
To answer this question simply; I write fantasy for the same reason I read it (and for the same reason I believe many other people read it as well): to escape the mundane and commonplace. The need to mentally slip out of real-life once in awhile is human, most all of us feel it on some level at one time or another. I believe that fantasy writers just put those mental meanderings down on paper and create a story that many others can relate to. In a lot of ways, Fantasy is just a more cultivated, channeled form of day dreaming.

Amber: Why did you chose the Western genre?
C.J.: I chose to write Western Fantasy (with a little horror, paranormal, and romance thrown in) do to growing up with a father that watched western movies like a religion. Clint Eastwood and John Wayne films stocked our video shelves. We’d watch a western almost every night…and most nights; two. I’d sit, my eyes glued to the TV screen, as I watched The Duke’s characteristic saunter, or heard The Man Without a Name’s soft, gravelly voice. I thrived on every second of wild gun-fire-fist-fighting-saloon-girl-wooing-and-cattle-stampeding “cowboy action”. It was the perfect day-dream fodder, those movies, and inevitably my thoughts would wander as I watched. I’d change the storylines in my mind…add new characters or imagine what would happen if the characters reacted differently to each other or the circumstances they found themselves in.

However, it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties, that I began to day-dream the paranormal factoring into the western setting. I was watching “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” (a favorite) and during the scene where they’re digging for the gold in the graveyard, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if they accidentally dug up something other than the money? What if a demon showed up about now…or a werewolf, or even a dragon? That’d be a cool twist. The cowboys have to fight for their lives with something other than a revolver!” The idea stuck. My first attempts at writing such stories didn’t fare well, mostly because I would lose interest in the storyline or the plot just didn’t get the way I wanted it to.

Then one day I decided to begin writing a western in a normal context. A woman, living alone in the wild Wyoming Territory and hiding from a past crime, is visited by a stranger who is wounded and on death’s doorstep. She decides to help him and soon finds herself in the middle of a hornet’s nest. Her guest is being pursued by common outlaws, but as the story progresses, and the character’s lives are put into one perilous “Wild West” situation after another, it starts to become clear that gun-fights and showdowns are the least of their problems. A six-hundred-year-old demon is loose and looking for something he’s lost…and the one person that can destroy him forever.

I love this novel because it is everything I would want to read in a story. I understand that not necessarily everyone will like “To Stand with Angels” the way I do, but I wrote it based on something that moved me as a writer.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
C.J.: When that muse finds you, I don’t think it’s smart to ignore it! I would write this version of fantasy even if no other living person read it or liked it because it’s my story. And I have to tell it.

Amber: Tell me more about yourself.
C.J. I'm the mother of two beautiful children and the lucky wife of one amazing man, I am truly blessed in more ways than I can count. Next to writing, I love all things outdoors, from camping to sledding (although, for me, Winter is the best time of year to stay inside and read...or better yet, WRITE!)
Born and raised in Montana, one of the last of the true "Cowboy States", I have always had a deep love of the beautiful rivered valleys and majestic mountain-scapes. Since childhood, I have been inspired by the Old West, so I decided that I wanted to write a series of books that take the supernatural element and entwine it with the raw grit and guns of Western Era.

My cowboys are rugged men with tarnished pasts who've stayed alive by sheer dint of will and skill with a revolver. The ladies of my novels are spirited souls, endowed with supernatural powers...some for Good and others for Evil, but with their beautiful faces and lusty spirits, sometimes it's hard to tell who's who.
I hope that those who read my work find themselves lost in a world of romance, suspense and horror beyond their wildest imaginations, and want to turn around and read the book again just as soon as they've finished it!

Find out more about C.J. Gabriel 
To Stand with Angels
is available in print,
for the Kindle and other ebook formats.