I’ve talked before about how an author needs to check what their book is saying. Even if you write without any intention of having a message, there may be one, and if you look at it carefully, what you’re saying, suggesting or inferring might not be particularly healthy. In adult writing, it maybe doesn’t matter so much (though I’d prefer it if all authors were socially responsible), but in YA writing, it is extremely important because your works are going to a naïve and often impressionable audience. I’m not going into sex and violence here, but into something much more subtle - beliefs about the nature of things and about what is appropriate behavior. Love and sexual attraction is a common theme in YA, and exploring these things is one of the exciting things about growing up, but what if we pick up misguided ideas about it? If we read many books with the same point of view, why wouldn’t we assume that that point of view was correct? The ‘Twilight series’ had a lot of good things in … [Read more...]
The best fantasy illuminates reality & highlights truth.
The best fantasy is real. This might sound like a contradiction in terms but it’s not, simply because fantasy must be believable or it won't quite work. That doesn’t mean that the fantasy can’t be wildly outrageous and bizarre, it can, but the characters have to act and react like people, and cause and effect must operate logically and consistently within whatever world the author has created, or it simply won’t work. That’s what I mean by ‘real’. Characters have to do things for clear reasons and in line with their motivations, otherwise the story won’t make sense. And if those characters, be they automatoms, walking plants or whatever don’t have humanlike feelings and reactions, or at least ones we can understand and feel for, we just won’t care about them, and if we don’t care, we won’t engage with the story. But, the very best fantasy goes even further than that. It illuminates reality and highlights truth. That’s what gives books what I call ‘guts’ or ‘soul’. Beneath the fantasy, … [Read more...]