Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why Write Fantasy? by Charlotte Henley Babb

At some level, all fiction is fantasy, and at some level, fiction is true. It's the willingness of a reader to suspend disbelief that makes a story work. Fantasy requires a bit more suspension, and like a bridge, that suspension needs a good bit of structure.
Since the fantasy comprises things that are not seen in mundane reality, at least not for most people, the challenge is to make the differences in the fantasy world seem normal, at least to the characters. One reason for the Gulliver's Travel trope, told by  the stranger in a strange land, is so that the newcomer can think and comment about the weirdness of the world.  The natives don't notice their own normal.
The newcomer also inadvertently breaks taboo, stumbles into a problem that he or she does not even see, but which causes turmoil for the natives. This works on any real-world setting as well, with the colonial trying to assimilate the natives, or the Yankee trying to fit in with her Southern belle neighbors.
The otherness of fantasy makes it fun. Magic works. Dragons abound, whether virile and dangerous or powerful and snarky. Humans as a sentient race are not alone, though they may be seen as second class by other races—elves, dwarves, trolls, and the list goes on. Fantasy is always about finding out who you are, deciding to do what you think you can't, because the fate of the world depends on you. It's a bit narcissistic. But isn't it fun to pretend for a few hours that what you do matters that much?
The challenge of fantasy is to do something different with the same tropes. You can get an insight to our Euro-centered culture by seeing how we write about the other races of fantasy—tall is good, light is good, short is funny, ugly is evil. So consider a wisecracking elf, a philosophizing dwarf, a troll who works as an exotic dancer. Put them in the modern world, where no one still believes, and they keep out of sight or they work the street, recognized if not accepted. If the character uses magic, then it's likely to make the task harder, or to attract someone bigger, stronger and more magical to be an opponent
It's not that anything goes. The fantasy is to put one or maybe two changes in the culture and see how the stories develop for the characters you have. Who uses magic, and what does it cost? How is it learned? What are the effects? What can be done, and what can't? The most important decision is what difference it makes to the main character and how it helps or hinders him from reaching the goal.
For funny fantasy, parody of the tropes of princesses, fairies, dragons and such are all is easy and fun to write. But the job is still to sketch out the differences in the world, to break into the new normal, and find that twist that lets the character connive or finagle to get out of the difficulty that she is in.

Title: Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil
Series: Maven Fairy Godmother, Book 1

Author: Charlotte Henley Babb
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Muse It Up Publishing Company
Pages: 279 / 101k words
Purchase: MuseIt Up | Amazon | Smashwords | B&N |

Book Description:
Maven's new dream job--fairy godmother--presents more problems than she expects when she learns that Faery is on the verge of collapse, and the person who is training her isn't giving her the facts--and may be out to kill her. Will she be able to make all the fractured fairy tales fit together into a happy ending, or will she be eaten by a troll?

A Handsome Prince (Excerpt from Maven Fairy Godmother) 
As she entered the Twilight Lounge, Maven transformed into Biker Trash leather, complete with a tattoo on her shoulder—“Trolls need love too.” The handle of her wand peeked out of the calf of her right boot.

At the bar, Maven straddled a black fatboy motorcycle that rose to the occasion. She didn't question how the Twilight Lounge knew what a motorcycle was.

Belle handed Maven a mug of some golden, frothy liquid without comment on her persona.

“What I wouldn't do for a beer,” Maven sighed after knocking back the mug's contents. She hoped it wasn't hemlock. Belle did not seem pleased to see her.

“What good is it to work in a place where you grant wishes for a living, but you can't get a beer when the job is done?”

“This is Faery, not Heaven,” Belle said, slapping the bar with her polishing rag.

Maven leaned back on her buddy bar and propped her boots on the gas tank. She fished her wand from her boot and held it to her ear to listen for the stories from her clients. She could not get a clear signal.

“Is this seat taken?” A Handsome Prince stood beside Maven. He smiled, sure of himself from his raven coiffure to his velvet-clad tush.

Maven looked up at him, a bit disoriented. “No. Take it.” She pulled herself back together, remembered where she was and how she looked. Whoever or whatever it was taking her away from Vivienne and Daisy, it was not a prince. “Take it somewhere else.”

She sat up and swung her leg over the bike facing away from him. She held the wand to focus back on Vivienne, but now the picture was unclear. The impostor prince blocked the signal.

“You must not be from around here,” The Prince said. “I have never seen anyone like you before.” He sat on a gilded throne.

“Just imaginative,” Maven said. Next time she'd be a harpy or a warthog. She didn't know how close it was to midnight. She didn't have lot of experience being hit on in bars in Mundane, especially not by enchanted un-Princes. “I am just learning how to turn people into frogs.” Maven smiled, but not sweetly. She aimed her wand pointedly. “Would you like to be my first attempt?”

The Prince transformed himself into a large slimy Frog with golden eyes, perched on a lily pad. “So, you like amphibians?”

“I'm all out of wart repellent.” Maven slid off the Harley and strode out of the Twilight Lounge, not stopping to change her garb. Maybe the short walk would let her think in peace.

 About the Author:

Charlotte Babb began writing when she could hold a piece of chalk and scribble her name--although she sometimes mistook ""Chocolate"" for ""Charlotte"" on the sign at the drug store ice cream counter.

When her third-grade teacher allowed her access to the fiction room at the school library, Charlotte discovered Louisa Alcott and Robert Heinlein, an odd marriage of the minds. These two authors have had the most influence on her desire to share her point of view with the world and to explore how the world might be made better. Her current favorites are Terry Pratchett's Discworld and Shelly Adima's Lady of Devices.

In the meantime, Charlotte has fallen prey to steampunk and the gears are turning...corset, bustle and magic, oh my! She brings to any project a number of experiences, including work as a technical writer, washing machine gasket inspector, cloth store associate, girl Friday, and telephone psychic.

She has studied the folk stories of many cultures and wonders what happened to ours.Where the stories are for people over 20 who have survived marriage, divorce, child-rearing, education, bankruptcy, and widowhood?

Charlotte loves Fractured Fairy Tales and writes them for your enjoyment

Author Website | Book Site | Facebook (Author) | Facebook (Book) | Twitter: @charlottebabb |