Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Muse on Holiday...

Home again.

I smiled to see familiar crows fluffed and grumpy on their cold branches. Not so very different, after all, from the bold and curious grackle birds of Yucatan,  who called me to feed them with high pitched shrieks—a sound exactly like the rapid release of air squeezed from a child’s balloon.

Yup. We’ve traded the sight of the high-soaring frigate birds over the Gulf of Mexico, for our beloved bald eagles—the humid air wafting from jungle and marsh, for the cool, clean scent of our northern ocean.

As we pulled in the driveway at home, I saw our heather in its full amethyst bloom and sighed.

 Did being on unfamiliar earth challenge me when it came to my writing? Am I so very rooted to home? When the El Norte wind blew around the sharp, stone angles of the beach casa—I heard voices unlike the forest songs at home and I stumbled in my thoughts. I am an intruder here—I struggle not only with the language, but its alien earth.

Perhaps because my WIP is based in the land I have always known, whose voices are those of  evergreen rainforest giants and the northern Pacific Ocean. 

I think perhaps I should have started to write something new—about the ancient Maiya, the land of underground rivers and sonatas, where the jungle trees trail their roots thirty feet downward to the surface of the water. 

I will be better prepared, next time.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I love Gerard Butler (Actor), but this movie....

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Oh my.
 I love the actors who were cast in this film…Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman amongst others, however I spent much of it in irritation, or cringing, at the heavy-handed symbolisms and obvious tweaks of sensitive (particularly American) nerve ends.

The foreshadowing: a shot of the White House taken along the barrel of a static display cannon; the Washington Monument is grazed by the enemy aircraft, and then smoke billows and the structure collapses in a visual flash-back to the 9/11 tower. The inevitable symbolic image of a torn and battered American flag drifting to the ground.

I dislike being so obviously manipulated into “feeling” certain emotions.

And plausibility…I’m no military strategist and have no knowledge of how these things are organized, however, I was jolted by the apparent fact that an alien, unidentified bomber-type aircraft managed to get so close to Washington before the interceptors arrived to challenge it—and were promptly shot down by the invader, I may add.

The invasion force of 40 or so, had killed every FBI and marine guard at the white house in a matter of 13 minutes (strangely, only our hero thought to dive for cover behind a column—the other agents poured out the door and stood firing their hand guns at the enemy until they were all mowed down)…and long before any additional military support could arrive.

Then we have our hero…Gerard Butler in his character of FBI agent, Mike Banning, proceeding alone in the increasingly ruined White House, rescuing the president’s young son and killing off the baddies as he works his way to where the president is held captive. Almost I could hear him saying to chief bad guy, xxxxxx, “yippee-kai-yeah, Mother F----r”.

There is excitement, however, and with certain misgiving I’d rate it a 3/5—if you can just roll with it and overlook the things that almost drop it to the comic book “superhero vs. bad guys” genre.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


How is it that an upbeat, naturally optimistic person like myself, sometimes chooses to write Dark Fantasy or even Horror—where do these thoughts and images come from.

I believe we draw from our own fears. Fears we think we've hidden so well, because we're grown-ups after all, and we're pretty good at repressing/ignoring these terrors in the bright light of day until something makes us feel vulnerable—goes scrabbling across the floor in the dark...

When creating fiction, we tap into the shadowy depth of our psyche when writing on the Dark Side.

Stories can take us to scary places, be it physically or psychically. Since the times of myths and legends,  it’s been human nature to desire to shuffle forward and spit into the abyss, never knowing what we’ll arouse…all the better, though, if we can live the experience vicariously from our favourite reading chair. 

Anything I write has a speculative element in it—epic fantasy, magic realism or paranormal—I love to stretch boundaries that way—does that makes my darker pieces more “dark fantasy” than horror? That precise boundary is always blurred... My own stories tend toward female protagonists struggling against the constraints or conditions around them, who become empowered by either the revelation of an alternate side of their psyche or an actual channeling of some potent force/ entity. The victims in these stories are usually characters that I, and I expect my readers also, will little mourn. There’s something cathartic about doing them in…who hasn’t imagined themselves strangling that obnoxious petty bureaucrat, or arrogant and insufferable boss?

So what dark thoughts do scare me...Possession by Evil. The thought of being compelled/driven against one’s will (or possessed by evil) horrifies me. I’ve toyed with the theme of possession more than once. The antagonist in my novel is a Mage who uses mind control for his own ends; my protagonist has some defences against this and is horrified that one would so abuse their power, their gift. She sees the evil that can be done. There’s types of imprisonment beyond physical confinement. Perhaps that’s why I find circus’ disturbing too…bears in tutus, etc—the distortion of a creature’s natural behaviour.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Why do Writers choose to write Fantasy?

Fantasy is what I love to read—so writing what I loved to read was a natural. When I started reading fantasy in the eighties( C.J. Cherryh, Elizabeth Moon, for example), I soon discovered that fantasy was one genre in which I could be sure to find strong female protagonists.

Some readers of this blog may not be aware that there was a time when it was rare to find strong female characters in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Author Eileen Kernaghan remembers:

“…later (late 60’s) I discovered Phyllis Gotlieb’s lovely “Sunburst”, with its teen-aged female protagonist, and Joanna Russ’s hard-bitten professional assassin Alyx…what a thrill to stumble across them, and what possibilities they opened up for women writers!”

Eileen has gone on to write eight novels, poetry as well as non-fiction and she has received multiple awards for her Science Fiction and Fantasy.

 I enjoy world creation, even if it’s only an “alternate earth” such as the setting in my book, Elanraigh: The Vow. You write your own laws and set your own boundaries.  I’m very drawn to portraying beasts of power, such as the grey wolf of Elanraigh, as thinking, intelligent creatures that can, at will, communicate with a chosen human. (This undoubtedly stems from the many times I’ve been convinced my cat was staring at me with great emotive intent…feed me, pet me, provide me warmth, I possess the keyboard…type around me…). I love the unexpected that can always happen in a fantasy—be it a sentient forest or reptilian humanoids.

I asked other speculative fiction writers what drew them to the fantasy genre. Results poured in from my writers group and blog buddies, and not too surprisingly, they shared much in common.

One author writes,  “I like to write fantasy because I’m not restricted to real life situations and physics.”

This is interesting to consider because even in the writer’s created world, its beings will have emotions based on the writer’s own spectrum of knowledge acquired through the writer’s experience. Our human reality and our dreams will shape our fantasies, and of course, this is why our readers can connect with and care about the characters and their story.

Author Dina Rae writes paranormal using the mythology of differing religions: voodoo, witchcraft, angels, demons, etc. Whereas author Linda Hays-Gibbs prefers to weave her “what-ifs” in a specific historical era. Other authors tell me they are interested in exploring the human spectrum of morals and values…there just happen to be past-humans (i.e.: ghosts) in the picture.

I feel that in today’s mechanistic society we are so often watchers who feel impotent to change or challenge the world around us. In our fantasies we can create heroes who through courage, or just plain perseverance, will right wrongs and make a difference. All Fantasy and Paranormal authors crave the freedom to set their own parameters, and then love to have their readers join them there.