Renee Writes

Posts tagged YA Fantasy

Author Spotlight: Girls of Dirt (Dirt, Series Two) by C.C. Hogan

Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! Today I have fantasy author, C.C. Hogan, returning with Book One in Dirt Series Two, Girls of Dirt! He’ll also be sharing his wisdom on dealing with social issues in fantasy, but first more about C.C. …

Short, dieting, cook, lives in own sad world and drinks too much wine. Damn; must be a writer!

LOL, and that’s all he has to say on that…

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About the Book

It is five hundred years since the events of series one. The world has been ruined by petty wars and the dreams of Pree and Farthing have been forgotten. The population is smaller, trades less often and is poorer. Even the dragons are thought of as only children’s stories; they probably never existed.

But on the beautiful Isle of Hope, Silvi Farthing is seventeen, a cheese maker, living on her own and about to be rescued by an incredible creature from her own family’s forgotten past; Be-Elin, the dragon.

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Keep reading for a guest post from the author:

Dealing With Social Issues in Fantasy

Just because I am writing a story set on a world that does not exist does not mean I cannot deal with issues that we face in our own world in our real lives. Unless a writer decides to leap into the complete unknown and create an imaginary world that is unique, and that is a rare thing, there will be correlations between their fantasy land and their own experiences. Generally, this is seen as a good thing since many readers like to be able to recognise characters and situations in some form or fashion so they can relate to them.

When I was planning the Dirt Saga, I made the conscious decision to make it as close to our world as possible without it actually being our world at all. I wanted all the characters of whatever species to be believable, almost as if it would be no surprise if you encountered them walking down your local high street. This meant imposing limits on characters. Dragons are big and can fly, but they don’t breathe fire or live in damp caves; they have communities and families like we do. Magicians might do things that we cannot do, but they do not wave wands or pick up and hurl rocks across valleys; their abilities are more subtle and vague. And of course, all characters can face problems in their lives because of the culture.

Series two of Dirt, which is now available, features several female lead characters, both human and dragon, and the main lead is a young woman called Silvi. In series one, I talked about issues such as slavery, inequality, poverty and so on, but having a mainly female-led in series two cast allowed me to address sexism head on.

Silvi Farthing is not just a young woman, she is also a lesbian. Although I do not make a huge deal of her coming out or deciding on her sexuality, it is there in plain sight and some accept it and some do not. We do not know a huge amount about her younger life, but there are hints that it was more abusive than she easily admits to and this is at least partly responsible for the strong, independent streak that drives her through the story.

When addressing any problem in any type of tale, it helps to have something to compare it with; my situation must be bad because over there I see someone whose life is better. In real life, this is not always clear cut. Sexism as we see it today has to be compared to centuries of history that says men are superior to women and therefore what women suffer is not sexism. It was unforgiveable even back then, in my mind, but it was the status quo and we still have to fight that today when making arguments for equality; look at the women in some towns in the USA who not only think they SHOULD be subservient to men but also support Trump and have no issue with his terrible comments. This is sometimes joyfully referred to as dealing with dinosaurs. In a fantasy, you have the opportunity of inventing a comparison that does not exist in our real life and is therefore less ambiguous.

In Dirt, dragons are my perennial good-guys. They live hundreds of years, think friendship is more important than family, don’t have nations, borders, or the subsequent wars, don’t lie, and have no sexism or any other bad isms. If they were human, they would be unbelievably perfect and would not work, but because they are a species that do not exist, as long as I make them realistic, give them humour and tempers, I can get away with it. So, when Silvi is attacked by some men because she is a lesbian, although she is rescued by a dragon, the dragon is confused. Such violence is unknown in her people and she does not understand it. Oh, if that were so amongst humans too!

Fantasy is the perfect genre to address many issues that plague our world. It allows the writer to work with interesting metaphors and similes, whether that is using inter-species contact to portray racism or fantastical cultural structures to portray ageism and sexism. In Star Trek, they used the character of Data to ask logical questions about irrational human ideas; it was a little clunky sometimes, but worked quite well. Probably one of the best examples is George Orwell’s Animal Farm which used farmyard animals to explain the danger which was Stalinism. Of course, you can go the other way like Mervin Peake did with Gormenghast, and have a set of characters none of whom you would invite to dinner!

I wouldn’t advocate that a writer must deal with difficult social issues, but certainly it can be an opportunity that is hard to resist. In the end, a fantasy is only set in a fantastical environment; the story is still one about people of some kind or other. People create societies and sometimes those societies stink. Humans have managed that in every society they have ever built, right up to and including today. So, if you feel that there is an opening to perhaps raise an issue from our own world in your created world, go for it. It will add depth to your story and will resonate with readers.

I will leave you with an excerpt from series two of Dirt. Silvi is sitting on the ground and next to her is the vast Bren-Hevvin. Just his head is much bigger than she is, and his body wouldn’t even fit on the cover. This is not about sexism, but about war, yet another important issue. There has never been a dragon on dragon war; their culture is so different to ours that there has never been a reason for one.

“Dragons don’t want to go to war, do they, despite your dreadful jokes. It is not in your blood. I see it in your eyes sometimes.”

“You do? What do you see? I don’t think you want to go to war either, but you do.”

“I didn’t want this war, you are right. But there is a difference between you and me; between humans and dragons. When I look into Hal’s eyes, when we are planning and realising the consequences of our plans, I see his hatred of war, but I see a tolerance of it. He knows we have no choice, and he understands that however terrible, it happens again and again and is part of our existence. War makes sense to him, even if he abhors it.”

“And what do you see in my eyes?”

Silvi turned and looked up into the big, soft, face of the Draig Mynyth Coh. He was not beautiful like a desert dragon or a sea dragon, but he had a face you could love. Even when he was angry she could happily hug his face if she had long enough arms.

“When I look into your eyes, I not only see a hatred of death, dear Bren-Hevvin, I see puzzlement and confusion. You don’t understand war in any way whatsoever; it mystifies you. You only know that they happen and humans start them. I have seen the same in every single dragon I have ever met.”

Dirt is a fantasy saga by CC Hogan. Series two is out now as an eBook on Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other stores. The series starts with Girls of Dirt and includes a recap of series one.

Weekly Fantasy Fix: Remember When Fantasy Was Just Fantasy?

 

I can remember going to the fantasy section of the book store and all you’d find was mainly sword and sorcery type fantasy. It wasn’t even known as sword and sorcery back then (or at least I never heard it referred to as that) because it’s what everyone expected fantasy to be.

As fantasy picked up in popularity again, people’s interests broadened and now fantasy encompasses so much more. Now there are so many subgenres out there, I don’t think I even know them all. Here are a few I do know:

Dark Fantasy – traditionally this subgenre combined elements of fantasy with horror, but more recently it also includes fantasy with darker themes.

Epic/High Fantasy – includes a life or death struggle between good and evil, has many characters and a vast world, and generally is written in series or even multiple series.

Sword and Sorcery – the typical medieval style story with lots of magic… and sword fighting.

Urban Fantasy – these take place in our own world, but they involve fantasy themes, such as magic and mythical beings.

Paranormal Fantasy – very similar to urban fantasy, and usually go hand-in-hand, but these speficially are stories about vampires, wereworld, shapeshifters and other similar mythical beings.

Science Fantasy – this one is really a mix of science fiction and fantasy. It’s fantasy that takes place in the future or uses futuristic technology.

There are tons of others… far too many to name here. And it can get really confusing when looking for something new to read. It’s even more confusing for us authors who are trying to decide where our books fit in, as most books can probably fit into several of these categories.

So, what’s your favorite fantasy subgenre? Or are you like me… wishing it could just go back to simply being fantasy? Tell me about it here!

 

Also in this issue:

  • Sneak Peek of my March Short Story
  • Fantasy Author Spotlights
  • Demon Hunt on Sale
  • Fantasy Book Spotlights
  • Awesome Book Deals
  • Tips for Autors: The Writing-Job-Life Balance (video)
  • Free Promo for Authors
  • And more…

Read the Full Newsletter

 

Get 3 Free Books From 3 Great Authors!

Blog Tour: Call of Hywilkin by Missy Sheldrake

 

Today I’d like to welcome, Missy Sheldrake! I’m excited to be helping her spread the word about the new book in her Keepers of the Wellsprings series: Call of Hywilkin, which will be released on Amazon March 3! There will be more about the whole series below, but first I want to tell you more about Missy.

Missy Sheldrake is an author/illustrator who has been conjuring images of fairies in one form or another since she was very young. The wind in the trees and the rich scent of forest earth are her most treasured sources of inspiration, and on most mornings you will find her wandering the wooded paths, dreaming of the next adventure she hopes to put to the page.

Missy was born in Connecticut and attended Western Connecticut State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Art with a concentration in painting and illustration. Even then, in her free time, she was writing. She moved to Northern Virginia several years ago and lives there now, on the outskirts of Washington D.C., with her true love and their son. She published her first novel, Call of Kythshire, in March of 2015 and intends to keep writing as long as the fairies allow it.

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About the Series

I’m so excited to announce the fourth book in my Keepers of the Wellsprings series: Call of Hywilkin, which will be released on Amazon March 3! If you haven’t read the previous books yet, read on for a quick crash course on the series.

When I started writing and illustrating this series, I really wanted to tell a story that was rich with fantasy, but not overly dark or mired with war and violence. I wanted to show the light side of fantasy: the cheerful, magical, uplifting side which I always drink up whenever it emerges in a story, and which always seems to be so fleeting in fantasy tales. I wanted to tell a story that would capture the hearts of young and old alike. Don’t get me wrong, my books aren’t void of conflict and evil. There is mild violence and not-so-mild wickedness, but it’s those moments in my stories which are the fleeting ones. In the pages of my books, you will find fairies, Mages, Paladins, Elves, Dreamwalkers, Princes and Princesses, and even dragons. You’ll travel through a world rich with magic and wonder. You’ll make new, unforgettable friends.

In Call of Kythshire, you’ll learn all about Cerion, a seaside kingdom which has celebrated peace for over a century. You’ll meet His Majesty’s Elite, a guild that is the right hand adventuring team of King Tirnon Plethore, and you’ll join Azi Hammerfel, a young squire who has grown up within the guild’s halls, through disappointments and triumphs. By her side is Rian, her childhood friend, an Apprentice of the Mage Academy. You’ll meet Flit, a fairy from Kythshire, who is as tricky as any fairy you might imagine, but has a depth of character and a sense of purpose uncommon for a typical fairy. You’ll see her world unfold, and feel the evil threat of Sorcery that looms, waiting to destroy it. You’ll learn a little about the Wellsprings, but not too much–their existence and workings are a well-protected secret. (Click here to read an excerpt from Call of Kythshire.)

In Call of Sunteri, you’ll meet the strong-willed slave boy, Tib, who makes his first appearance as he escapes from the grips of Sorcery in the desert continent of Sunteri. He has help crossing the vast oceans to reach Cerion, but he doesn’t realize it at first. A mysterious being speaks to his mind, controlling his thoughts and making suggestions to ensure his own survival. In the meantime, Azi has been given the task of escorting the Prince of Cerion and his wife-with-child to the lakeside Kordelya Castle as the prince faces suspicion and ridicule after the events of Call of Kythshire. But a darker force emerges from the Dreaming, whose wicked intent is to use any means necessary to escape its prison and claim the magic of the Wellsprings for his own. In this book, you’ll see the devastating effects of the overuse of magic, and what it does to the Wellsprings and the creatures who thrive around them. (Click here to read an excerpt from Call of Sunteri.)

In Call of Brindelier, a dark force looms, more powerful and destructive than any threat Azi and her guild have yet faced. You’ll follow Celli, a scrappy street fighter, as she is enticed into the grips of a powerful Sorcerer. You’ll watch Tib come into his own as he sneaks through the streets of Cerion, uncovering the darkness while also working on a mysterious project. You’ll follow Azi on a quest set by Princess Margary to find proof of Brindelier, a city in the clouds which is the key to all of the Wellsprings in the Known Lands. But Margy is not the only one interested in Brindelier. A dark force has been gathering, poised to claim it for their own. Control over the Wellsprings hangs in the balance. (Click here to read an excerpt from Call of Brindelier.)

In Call of Hywilkin, Azi and Rian find themselves on an urgent quest to Hywilkin, a harsh land of ice and snow reigned by heartless men with no trust in kindness or beauty, and a cruel intolerance for magic of any kind.

Lurking in the far corners of the world, the Sorcerers of Dusk threaten their quest, weaving darkness into their hearts and minds. In Brindelier, they lure Tib into their dangerous plots as he investigates the conspiring shadows of the city.

Appealing to a Keeper of a Wellspring for an offering is no easy feat—especially in Hywilkin, where access to the abandoned magical Source remains forbidden. The Champions of Light must prevail, or Brindelier’s All-Source and all of the Known Lands will fall forever into the grips of Sorcery. (Click here to read an excerpt from Call of Hywilkin.)

This series is appropriate for all ages, but I recommend 13 and up due to some violent themes. There is no sex, swearing, or excessively graphic violence in the Keepers of the Wellsprings. Throughout the series, you’ll encounter daring sword fights, violent magical moments, and a few quick deaths.

 

 

Keep reading for a sneak peek from Call of Hywilkin:

“Aaaaaziiiiiiii,” Flitt sings my name just above a whisper. Before I can do it on my own, her tiny hands push one of my eyelids open. I try to squint and blink as she grins at me, her nose nearly touching my eyeball. Her sparkling skin assaults my vision in the darkness of Rian’s room and makes my open eye water.

Careful not to wake Rian, I extract my hand from his and nudge Flitt away.

“What?” I push to her, yawning and nuzzling back into my pillow. “It’s the middle of the night.”

“Yeah, so what are you doing in here?” she asks. The light behind my eyelids fades slightly and I feel her settle on my shoulder. Even in my mind, I can hear the hint of disgust in her tone. Without thinking, I push myself away from Rian in the bed so we’re no longer touching. Flitt and I hold our breath as he stretches and turns so his back is to us and he’s facing the wall.

“That’s better,” she pushes.

“I was sleeping, Flitt,” I complain with a soft groan. My head aches. I consider ignoring her and snuggling up to him again to try and go back to sleep, but now that she’s here, that’s pointless. When Flitt wants something, it’s best to just let her do what she’s going to do.

“I want to talk to you. Come with me!” she says, tugging my hair.

“Where?—”

She doesn’t let me finish. I feel myself falling away from the bed and the warmth of Rian lying beside me, and I squeeze my eyes closed as she pulls me through the Half-Realm. We land on a soft bed of moss and I curl into it, knowing without looking that she’s brought me to her grotto in Kythshire. The trickle of the little waterfall and the chimes tinkling in the willows have a dream-like quality to them, making it easy to pretend I’m still sleeping in Rian’s room with his arms snug around me.

“Wake up!” she chirps, darting around me. “Come on!”

“Why?” I groan again and sit up with a scowl. “What’s going on?”

“I missed you, that’s all,” she twirls prettily in front of me and flutters her wings, and I blink rapidly to adjust to her brightness.

“Wh—?”

“Ah, ah! My turn for a question!” she giggles.

“Nooo,” I fall back into the moss and cross my arms over my head to shield my eyes. “Not that.”

“Come on!” She lands on my elbows and I bat her away. “Azi!”

I yawn.

“Azi!”

“So ask it, then!” I growl into the crook of my elbow.

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