October 2016: Fantasy, the Search for Understanding

Not too long ago, I came across a TED talk episode about the genre of fantasy.  It featured Terry Brooks, the awesome author that wrote The Shannara Chronicles, now a super awesome TV show on MTV.  He talked about why he wrote fantasy.

He started writing fantasy way back when fantasy authors didn’t really get the respect or “Wow” factor we get now.  What with Lord of the Rings being an epic movie and Game of Thrones shaking everyone’s belief of what is right and wrong (I mean, who else is whooping every the seemingly “bad guys” get their well-deserved revenge?), it’s no wonder.  Both stories are widely known, even by people who aren’t fans of the genre.

But back in the day, that wasn’t the case.  And when Mr. Brooks was asked what he did for a living—to which he answered that he was a fantasy writer—his answer was usually received with an uncomfortable silence.  A silence that screamed, “Fantasy?  Seriously?”  And so Mr. Brooks felt the need to explain why he wrote fantasy.  He gives a very compelling explanation.

In a nutshell, fantasy, but really fiction in general, is a place in which we, as authors and/or readers, can explore complex themes and issues in the safety and comfort of our favorite reading nook.  Complex themes and issues that therapists usually have the hardest time accessing with their patients.  How’s that for mind-blowing?

Reader or writer, think about the stories you read/write?  What are they about?  What are you drawn to the most?  What are the common themes? It may explain a bit about you, but more importantly it can tell you about what you wish to understand more about.

I for one have always been drawn to very internally strong protagonists.  Both male and female, though I will admit I am especially drawn to strong female protagonists.  This is even clear in my own writing; I have not one, or two, but four strong female protagonists in my story.  And I know why I’m drawn to them: I have a burning desire to be as strong as I can be on the inside.  Like most spacy/nerdy kids (oh, man, was I a space cadet as a kid), I was bullied mercilessly in my youth (so sad, I know!).  And while I got over it as I got older, the trauma lingered, resulting in a need to be strong enough to fend off any future bullies.  Because bullies exist in all walks of life, unfortunately.

On a happier note, I love the genre of fantasy because it’s just plain ol’ fun.  In the fantastical world of fantasy, that magical unicorn that I hope will one day show up at my doorstep after riding the most magical rainbow on earth is real.  And his name will totally be Bob.  What do you guys think?

Food for thought, my darling readers.

You can watch Terry Brooks talk about why he writes about elves here.

Please, feel free to post your comments below.

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