Friday, October 15, 2010
I'm super excited to have YA author Janice Hardy here today. Janice is the author of THE SHIFTER and its newly released sequel, BLUE FIRE, part of the fantasy trilogy, THE HEALING WARS. I love, love, love Janice's blog and if you have never checked it out, you're missing something special. She's always giving great advice, often using her own work as examples. And she graciously allows me to repost her blog posts on Inkwell.ning.com (with links back to her blog, of course) in order that Inkwell members won't miss her great advice. Check out her website when you have a chance and don't miss these great reads. Oh, almost forgot. Janice lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel.
And now, I give you author Janice Hardy. (APPLAUSE)
Changing the World One Word at a Time. Kinda.
Every event I do, someone usually asks me if I’m trying to say “something profound” with my books. The “something” changes per asker, but it’s always along the lines of a grand theme, political statement, or a commentary on the way the world works: Is the Healers’ League a metaphor for the health care crisis? Is the pynvium a symbol for oil and how our natural resources are drying up? Are the war orphans a statement on kids struggling with working or single parents?
I always say no, and this seems to surprise folks.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be one of those writers with “something to say,” but my goal when I sit down to write a story is to tell a great story. I want to whisk a reader away and wrap my world and story around them and give them an opportunity to lose a few hours in literary bliss. The same things good books have always done for me.
However, I know that inspiration comes from everywhere. I don’t think it’s possible to write a story without the reality of the outside world creeping in, even on a subconscious level. So while I don’t plan for a greater meaning, or for anything I make up in my troubled fantasy world to be more than me causing trouble for my characters, I’m not surprised that some readers read more into it. I draw from what’s around me, so naturally current events might influence me. Same as current events influence readers.
And that tickles me to no end.
Because we find meaning all around us, same as inspiration. A topic we’re thinking about or struggling with suddenly pops out from the most unlikely places and gets us thinking. Our minds are looking for these connections so we can make sense of things. And one great way to explore an idea is to read about it or something similar.
By creating conflicts in stories, authors can give readers excuses to think about things in an abstract way. It’s a lot easier to debate a topic when it’s part of a fantasy world, or a made up town, or happening to pretend people. It’s safe. There’s no judgment. You can try on a strange idea and see how it fits. Some ideas will resonate with you, others will wig you out, but that’s okay. Stories open up a dialog—be it with yourself, your family, or your friends. And talking about stuff is good for the soul.
Which is maybe why authors love delving into tough topics that make people think. Because we’re also trying to figure things out, and through our stories, we get to be part of those conversations. And if one of those people goes on to change the world, well, maybe something we wrote helped make that difference.
Books are like that. Once they leave our imaginations they create imaginings of their own.
About BLUE FIRE: Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.
Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.
Buy Blue Fire here.