Monday, September 10, 2012

Guest post - Rowena Cory Daniells

Rowena Cory Daniells is the author of “The Last T’En” and “The King Rolen’s Kin” trilogies and of the stand-alone novel “The Price ofFame”. She recently released a new trilogy, “The Outcast Chronicles”, published by Solaris Books, also the publisher of “The King Rolen’s Kin”. I have the pleasure to host Rowena for a guest post in celebration of the release of “The Outcast Chronicles”.

How I discovered fantasy...
by Rowena Cory Daniells

Before I knew there was such a thing as genre, I loved fantasy.  The stories that had the most power for me were the stories of magic and wonder. Every fairy tale contained these elements: witches who tricked children, grumpy goblins who made bargains and kind woodsmen. And it seemed that every fairy tale contained a clever child who outwitted the evil. I was always looking for those stories.

I grew up in a sleepy seaside town in Australia. TV in those days was black and white, and full of middle-class American stories. But there were some gems. I loved Bewitched. If it had been possible, I would have grown up to be Samantha. My favourite episodes were the ones with dithery Aunt Clara and naughty little Tabitha.

Then, one afternoon, I watched Jason and the Argonauts. Ray Harryhausen brought to life gods and goddesses, and battles with skeletons and harpies.  Before there was CGI there was Harryhausen. I didn’t identify with the females in the story, so far as I was concerned I was one of Jason’s crew, fighting alongside him. I was there for the adventure.

Around this time I also watched Forbidden Planet, robots and monsters! And the most amazing thing was the revelation that the monster was a product of the father’s subconscious. (Sorry, spoiler). I loved the way this turned my understanding of monsters upside down. I loved the way it stretched my mind.

I was always looking for things that gave me that visceral thrill of discovery and adventure. Naturally, I read everything I could lay my hands on, which wasn’t much. So desperate was I for reading material, that when my parents bought my text books I would read them all in the week before school started. And still I wanted more.

More adventure, more stories of amazing wonder.

And then at seventeen I discovered Tolkien and Asimov:  fantasy and science fiction. Finally, I’d found the mental head space where I felt most comfortable. But I was still living amongst people who thought going to the footy on a Saturday was the highlight of the week. Nothing can describe the sense of isolation you feel when you’re alone in a crowd. It wasn’t until I went to Melbourne that I met SF fans and discovered people who could talk about the things I found fascinating.

Nowadays, you can find like-minded people on the web. Nowadays, we have pop culture events where 25,000 nerds turn up to celebrate comics, TV shows and movies, books and games. Nowadays we geeks are mainstream.

But it was very different when I was growing up. Back then, if someone had told me that I would one day write books that swept readers away on fantastical adventures I would have been flabbergasted. Although I loved writing stories, I had never considered myself an author. They were wondrous creatures who didn’t exist on the same plane as the people I saw around me.

Now I write the stories that I once longed to read. I write about people who face terrible choices and discover things within themselves they never realised were there. And I do this in a fantasy setting because an invented secondary world allows me to set up the most challenging of scenarios to test my characters. In The Outcast Chronicles I test Imoshen and Sorne, and make them question the very foundations of what they believe.

I hope readers find their stories as compelling as I did while writing the books.

Catch up with Rowena on Twitter: @rcdaniells
Catch up with Rowena on GoodReads

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