Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I Write Fantasy -Trisha Wooldridge

Welcome Trisha Wooldridge, fantasy author who writes fantasy with help from her faeries! 

Amber: Why do you write fantasy? 

Trisha: I've always loved fantasy.  It most likely started with unicorns, because, since they were magic, they were more likely to show up in my back yard than an actual horse, and their powers would let me hide it from my parents and somehow keep it on my $1 a week allowance.  I would also be able to ride a unicorn despite being a klutz who wanted to cry every gym class due to aforementioned super-magickal powers.

 If you think about it, though, most of children's programming - and I watched only Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood - were contemporary fantasy.  You had friendly monsters, talking animals, a train to take you to an entirely different universe, all in familiar neighborhood or city settings. And if you did the right thing and learned everything you needed to learn, good things would happen.

 On some days, I write fantasy - particularly contemporary fantasy - because I'm still looking for those fantastic experiences in my everyday life.  I keep a faerie garden, for example, with herbs, statuary, and shiny things just in case they might show up (or have, I just haven't been deemed worthy to see them yet.)  Other days, I write fantasy even though I'm cynical and have lost some faith, but the thought of inspiring someone else to live a better life, be happier, feel a sense of catharsis, and touch something magical makes it real on a psychological and emotional level.  And then there are the days when characters just show up in my head and won't leave me alone until I at least take notes about their stories - which, of course, happen to be pretty fantastical.
Amber: Why Faeries?

Trisha: Like with my own mixed relationship with fantasy, faeries mean many things.  Some days I believe that there are physical beings we call faeries.  Other days, faeries are just powerful metaphors for how we relate to the environment beyond our understanding. 

Regardless, they are still real in the sense they affect our relation to the world around us, our psychology, our spirituality, our emotions - and even our physical bodies.  Faeries are powerful.  And they have so much potential!

In ancient times and in current ancient beliefs, they are manifestations of elements and nature.  Another set of beliefs, surviving over a thousand years, is that they are the angels who took no side in the War in Heaven - angels, dewinged, cast to live beside humans but without the soul.  Yet another way humans see faeries are the beings that cause the unexplainable: why an infant colics for no reason, why a WW2 plane or car just stops working, why that important email just disappears from the inbox.  

 Faerie fill in the spaces between humans and the world in which we live - and those spaces are infinite.

Amber: What are your favorite fantasy novels?

Trisha: At the top of my fantasy novel list would be Neil Gaiman's American Gods because I love the mythos and the accountability of humans who brought to life their own powerful beliefs, breathed them life… and now must answer to those beliefs.  Other novels I could read over and over would be Mercedes' Lackey's SERRAted Edge and Bedlam Bards series.  I adored J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, and I'm also a fan of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series.

That said, some of the most influential fantasy came during high school where I devoured all of the high fantasy, D&D-esque pulp of Forgotten Realms and DragonLance novels.  I still love them; they were my gateway drug - the peanut-butter and jelly experiments that got me into Joy of Cooking.  While I've found I love contemporary/urban fantasy most, there's nothing like the comfort of escapism that those high fantasies delivered.

 Amber: Why do readers love fantasy? 

Trisha: There's at least a certain level of escapism for almost everyone, I believe, and a certain desire to touch a little magic within the mundane.  Ghost hunting and snapping pictures of faeries draw a lot of people who, like Mulder of the X-Files, just want to believe.  There's a lot of SF/F crossover in fandom, so there's a desire to believe in something.  Or at least imagine the potential of magic, otherworldlieness, anything but the dredge - if not abuse - that a lot of us go through on a daily basis.
And while there are dystopic fantasies, most fantasy has a certain level of justice.  The good, the smart, the kind ones get rewarded.  The victims see relief and abuses returned upon abusers.  The evil are punished - often quite more severely than we can do in this world.  In a fantasy book, there is promise that a quest will be fulfilled, a problem solved, and balance restored.  In real life, those awful patrons abuse their server or store clerk or service representative, and damnit if they don't get their free meal, return exchange, or whatever the hell they want, while the person who suffers their abuse might get docked in pay, lose their job, or some other injustice.  The bullies at school?  Come reunion most are still bullies in jobs that reward their awful behavior with fabulous pensions.  In a fantasy book, they either learn their lesson or they might get dragged into a version of Hell.  Fantasy makes up for what life may never - and may never be able to - deliver.
 Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it? 

Trisha: Absolutely!  I have reams and reams and notebooks and art pads of stuff that may never ever be seen by another person.  In my head, I've got more storylines than I can ever get down on paper.  Of what I can get down, not all of it is publishable.  Some is very private to start with - but I have to write it down.  I need to experience that magic of the story flowing from my head into my fingers and onto the page. 

Of course, for all I know, it may be unearthed in another century… or the faeries are reading over my shoulder.

Amber: Thanks for being my guest on Wordshaping.

Trisha: Amber, once again, thank you very much for having me!  I love your blog, and I love what you're doing to help promote fantasy writers.  :)  Thank you!

Trisha J. Wooldridge is a freelance writer, editor and educator from Auburn, MA and a member of the Broad Universe Motherboard.  Her experience ranges from Dungeons & Dragons Online to animal rescue public relations.  She writes about food, wine, horses, haunted locations, education, and she interviews bands like Voltaire, Within Temptation and Nightwish.  Her novella, "Mirror of Hearts,"  was at FANTASY GAZETTEER, and short story, "Party Crashers," co-authored with Christy Tohara, in the EPIC Award winning BAD-ASS FAERIES: JUST PLAIN BAD (Marietta 2008, Mundania 2009), with a second co-authored short story in the EPIC 2010 finalist BAD-ASS FAERIES: IN ALL THEIR GLORY (Mundania 2010).

 More about Trisha and her Writing:

are anthologies put out by the excellent Mundania Press.  I'm so honored to share the pages the wonderful group of writers in each book.  I'd also love to say that working with the editors of the anthologies was an excellent lesson in writing, and lead editor, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, who has taught me so much about promoting oneself and one's books.  She and the other editors have even put together a website for the series: with a lot of Easter Egg type extras for anyone who stops in.

 She has also published a poetry chapbook of the speculative and fantastic, which includes the urban fantasy epic, "The Unicorn and the Old Woman."  Get the chapbook, "The Unicorn and the Old Woman" from her website.
For anyone interested in my musing and writing tips (along with some horse-adventures since I haven't gotten my own unicorn, yet - but I do have a horse!), feel free to peruse my blog:

She also hosts a podcast for Broad Universe that often features fantasy excerpts from women writers.  November featured Dragons & Magical Beasts, December featured a theme of Light overcoming Darkness, January will feature Faith and Fear, and February is Romance!  Listen in at

Trisha’s Contest
Leave a comment for a chance to win a pdf
of one of her stories"Late Gate to Faerie"
from the 2011 EPIC award-nominated  
Bad-Ass Faeries 3 anthology.


  1. Love this interview with Trisha! I especially liked that she keeps writing, for herself, for publication, for an audience. It's great advice to just get everything down on paper!

  2. Enjoyed the interview very much. You can tell Trish enjoys her craft and it's refreshing and inspiring to read her responses. Great job!

  3. Trish, I thought it was already well-established that devils, not faeries, intercept those vital e-mails... ; )
    Excellent interview.

  4. I write to keep the faith, too, Trish. Maybe with my younger self. Maybe with my own childhood visitors. :-)

  5. You're of the best things about writing fantasy is that you have a chance to see the magic that is in the mundane world...and, of course, to escape into it a little!

    Lovely interview!

  6. Hi, love the ideas you present here, Trish. You are an inspiration to all of us who write fantasy. Quite right, fantasy is a secret path to the better world we want to inhabit.

  7. Hi, Trish. Great interview. I love how you pull fantasy into everyday life instead of some other world that we can't ever touch.

    And I always wanted a unicorn, too.