Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Historical Magic Makes for Great Writing

Author Kathy Fischer-Brown
by Kathy Fischer-Brown

When I decided to give a complete overhaul to an old story I’d started some years ago, I took a leap of faith. I have a few other books out there, all of them historical novels. My first stab at what is now The Return of Tachlanad started out as a straight medieval book set in the twelfth century during a civil war (often referred to as “The Anarchy”) in England. The characters included a lady married to a lord, who is off fighting for one of the sides (I don’t recall which), their daughter who is sent off for her safety and who later disguises herself as a boy, an old man (a monk in this case), a cruel usurper, a reluctant love interest, and a murdered abbess. It sat for nearly 25 years unfinished and kind of vague in its identity. Until the characters ganged up on me and insisted I write their story as an epic fantasy.

The Return of Tachlanad
While I never attempted to write one before, I am a big fan of the fantasy genre and I counted on my experience as a “world-builder” in creating believable historical settings to guide me in breathing life into this alternative universe. (I will add that it was more fun than I ever imagined.) Starting out, I wanted to avoid the common genre archetypes found in a lot of fantasy fiction these days (elves, orcs, dwarves, and “dark lords,” to name but a few). So I drew on my knowledge—and lots of research—of actual peoples and cultures and endowed them with other qualities.

In creating the characters that populate the book, I combined elements of our world and its historical past with those from my imagination. The creatures known as Skaddock, for example, physically resemble primitive hominids that roamed the earth in prehistory, but with a Stone Age skill set. Milith people, while having many traits common to elven types, share certain “aboriginal” cultural attributes, among them a matrilineal social structure and coming of age rituals. Nortlunders are a mosaic of ancient Roman and Viking cultures, with their violence and lust for conquest. The Lothrians are a mishmash of Celtic and ancient Britons, including some of their myths, legends, and druidic hierarchy. All with a bit of a twist.

The Partisan's Wife
Magic, is a strange power, and nearly always a component of fantasy fiction. While it exists in the universe in which my book is set, I tried to anchor it in a physical world, where Nirmanath, “the current of life,” is a tangible force, and things like the casting of auras, astral projection, potions that can cause amnesia and the ability to invoke invisibility are possible.

As with every author, the primary goal in writing a book is to create an entertaining story about likeable (and unlikeable) people dealing with adversity, love and hate, people the reader wants to cheer on—or boo and hiss at—people who undergo physical and emotional changes. A story about the human condition. I hope I’ve succeeded.

Follow Kathy on Facebook, Twitter, and check out her Website for updates on her new novels in progress.

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