Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What lies beneath the surface of a story...

I blame my high school advanced English teacher for making me reach deeper into the themes of my novels.

In class, we read a charming story about a group of rabbits forced from their home. I totally believed in each of the furry characters, and although it’s been some time since I read it, I still remember the struggles and trials the little rabbits had to face. I thought it was a charming fantasy story meant more for older children rather than adults.

And then my English teacher made us look at Watership Down from an entirely different perspective. She pointed out the comparisons of the rabbits’ characters with tyrants from history; with politics and heroics and freedom and struggle from slavery.

All from little rabbits seeking a new home.

Ever since then, I could never look at a book in quite the same way. My childhood story of Alice in Wonderland became a graphic look at the inherent perils of a monarchy and how ultimate power can often corrupt.

I will admit that I still read stories just for the pure enjoyment of them. It is my escapism, and although I appreciate and uncover many themes as I read, it’s not something that overly concerns me.

Except with my own writing.

My primary goal is to provide a story that transports readers from their own life for a time, which allows them to enjoy an adventure and a romance that excites them and satisfies them in some way, and ultimately, makes them happy and hopeful when they close the book. I write to entertain. I do not profess to be a literary novelist by any means.

But drat that perspective I was taught.

I wrote a fun series about an England where the titled gain their power from degrees of magic, and underneath lies the question of whether one man has the right to feel superior to another because of a genetic line of sorcery…or an accident of birth. I wrote a hero who can shape-shift into a lion but who possesses no other powers of magic and is treated with disdain by society because of…his lack of magic? Or the beast that he becomes? Don’t all men have a beastly nature they fight against every day? A heroine has her magic stolen from her. How many children have their rights stolen from those who are supposed to protect them? And another heroine whose nature is split into two, the bad part of her loosed as a separate being. What would we accomplish if we discarded the morals that bind us? What damage would we cause?

And in my December release, BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS, magical power is given to those who can ingest a drug that taps into undiscovered areas of the mind. It includes a monarchy where the drug is pronounced illegal so they can supposedly protect the citizenry--but ultimately control the power. And even worse, knowledge is made available to only certain members of society. Because knowledge is power.

And in the first book of my new series, THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER, I explore the degradation of slavery, where THE ELVEN LORDS consider humans as little more than animals. Fantasy? Historically, certain members of our society have been called the same because of their religious beliefs or the color of their skin. And in the first book, I created a hero who is forced to bury that which makes him human in order to survive. During Hitler’s reign, how many people were forced to do the same? And how many people, like my heroine, fought to find and uncover the inherent goodness in people?

Throughout all of my books there is one abiding (major) theme. That true love can not only bring out the best in people but also allow remarkable acts of bravery. And ultimately has the power to save the world.

I hope readers enjoy my books for what they are: compelling escapes into new worlds, sexy fun with characters to fall in love with, and new adventures to experience. But for those of you who were taught to look at novels with a different perspective: welcome to my secret world.

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