There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Fantastical, Yet Subtle Inspiration in “Reign” November 9, 2013

Filed under: Inspiration — thereanddraftagain @ 9:02 pm
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I am most definitely the kind of writer that gets inspiration from things like music and television. Seeing the way two characters interact gets the wheels in my head turning, and sometimes actors’ portrayals can be such inspiration to me that I end up “casting” them as one of my characters. Music can change entire story lines for me, but that’s for another post.

Today I want to talk about the surprising inspiration I’ve found in the CW’s new show “Reign.”

When I first started watching this show, I expected nothing more than a period piece with teens, but it has been so much more. The show centers around Mary, Queen of Scots, as she joins the French court to be better protected by the marriage treaty promising her marriage to the future king of France, Francis. But things are never as easy as they seem, and though she fled to court to be safe from the English spies trying to kill her in order to easily take over her country, she finds herself surrounded by spies, danger, and political intrigue. The worst enemy she has is the one closest to her–Queen Catherine. Catherine has been told by her trusted adviser Nostradamus (ring any bells?) that Mary will bring about the death of Francis, and the Queen is willing to do whatever it takes to thwart this prophecy.

The supernatural element to this show is pretty subtle, regardless of having a prophet at the side of the Queen. Nostradamus is also a healer and a scholar, so there’s much more to his role on the show than spouting off ominous and vague prophecies. There’s also the so-called “castle ghost” who goes by the name of Clarissa. Clarissa is obviously quite taken by Mary, and constantly helping her thwart her enemies and solve the mysteries surrounding the people who plot against her. Clarissa is just girl with a sack over her head (a sure sign that she isn’t a ghost so much as probably horribly disfigured) who lives in the shadows of the castle, moving unseen through the hidden passages and easily spying on everyone, but her presence adds a sad layer of mystery to the show.

But the biggest source of supernatural inspiration and intrigue for me so far has been the Pagans in the woods. There’s so much going on there, and Francis’s half-brother Sebastian is involved somehow. I can’t wait for it to all play out and to get more on this. I draw a lot of inspiration from Celtic legends for my books, and the fact that they’ve been referred to as Druids in the story really excites me.

The fantastical elements of this show are played out very subtly, which I really enjoy. It’s such a change from shows like “The Vampire Diaries” and “Merlin” where the supernatural is front and center. The supernatural in this show only serves to add more layers to the magic that is already happening between the characters.

Image from buddytv.com

 

And, boy, is there magic. The chemistry between these actors is just phenomenal, and the stage presence they have alone is awesome too. Especially Sebastian, played by Torrance Coombs.

I’d like to think his draw isn’t just from his drool-worthy looks (and my tendency to fangirl out), but from his screen presence as well. He tends to steal every scene he is in, and I think a big part of that is that he is always in character and his character is always reacting somehow, giving you the impression that there is more to this bastard-born young man than meets the eye. There’s a love triangle brewing as both Francis and Sebastian begin to fall for our dear Queen Mary, but it is definitely a slow burn, which is refreshing to see.

I’m all about a character driven story, and “Reign” definitely falls under that category. If there was no love between Mary and the brothers, it wouldn’t be as enticing to me even with the hint of supernatural elements. But this show has the whole package for me: romance, intrigue, hints of magic and prophecy, and suspense. It makes me want to drop my WIP and go back to my fantasy series. So if you are finding yourself lacking in the inspiration department, I would highly recommend it.

 

Gaslamp Fantasy September 25, 2013

Hi everyone,

This post was inspired by Kate’s post on Dark Fantasy. Much like her, I have a favourite Fantasy sub-genre: mine is Gaslamp Fantasy. The name was coined in 2006 by webcomic artist Kaja Foglio to differentiate her work from steampunk fiction. Gaslamp Fantasy is what I write, and what I love to read.

What is “Gaslamp Fantasy”?

Gaslamp Fantasy (also known as Gaslight Fantasy or Victorian Fantasy) designates stories set during the 19th Century, from the Regency to the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. It is a sub-genre of both Fantasy and Historical fiction, and it comprises elements from both genres.

How is it different from Steampunk?

The main difference between Gaslamp and Steampunk is that Steampunk is technology-focused and Gaslamp is magic-focused. Also Steampunk will often favour adventure when Gaslamp will focus on a mystery.

What books are examples of Gaslamp Fantasy?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004)

The Magic Most Foul series and The Strangely Beautiful series by Leanna Renee Hieber (2009-now)

The Sally Lockhart Quartet by Philip Pullman (1988-2004)

Temeraire (aka His Majesty’s Dragon in the US) by Naomi Novik (2006)

The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray (2003-2007)

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (2012)

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (2013)

So tell me, have you heard about Gaslamp Fantasy before? Is it a sub-genre you enjoy reading? Let us know in the comment section below!

EM Castellan

 

Historical Fantasy July 6, 2013

The inspiration for this post came from my recent attendance at the HNS (Historical Novel Society) Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. Fantasy is my passion, in reading and writing, whether it’s urban, epic, or dark—especially dark—but I have a very special place in my heart for historical fantasy.

Think The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray. These are richly vivid depictions of our past, woven throughout with threads of magic that are completely believable. I never doubted the existence of another realm in Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty, or that Tuala was a child of the Good Folk in Juliet Marillier’s The Dark Mirror.

Books like Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, The Smoke Thief by Shana Abé (I don’t care if they shelve it romance, it’s about DRAGONS!) and Chime by Franny Billingsley have captivated me with their vibrant historical settings. There are a number of sub-genres within historical fantasy, like classical (based on Greek and Roman myths–YAY!), medieval, and steampunk, which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I also love alternate histories, like the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey.

Funny enough, I have a WIP I refer to as my steampunk-alternate history-dark fantasy. Which genre of fantasy do you enjoy the most?

Incidentally, I met Stephanie Dray at the conference and she’s absolutely lovely.

Happy reading! Kate

 

Fantasy Subgenres December 5, 2012

Welcome Fellow Fantasy Writers!

So you’ve written a fantasy novel? That’s awesome! But what sort of fantasy novel did you write? Epic? High? Gritty? Arthurian? What exactly is Arthurian anyway? Well, this post is supposed to help! Below is a list of fantasy subgenres and what they are. Find out what sort of fantasy you wrote!

 

Alternate World(Portal): Fantasy occurring in a world parallel to our own. Often a primary piece of world building is, or should be, the portal the main character uses to get to and from our world to the fantasy one. Think C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia or Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.

 

Arthurian: Novels set in the time period of King Arthur, often having to deal with either Arthur himself or members of his Court. Think of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow or BBC’s Merlin ( which is an awesome show you should watch and this isn’t my minor Colin Morgan obsession).

 

Contemporary: Fantasy set in modern times that in very familiar settings. World building primarily includes the idea that magical creatures are walking among us. Think Neil Gaimen’s novel Neverwhere.

 

Dark: Fantasy subgenre that shares elements of horror or thrillers. It also will typically have a very gothic feel. Think The Black Jewels Series by Anne Bishop.

 

Epic: This genre is as big as the name hints. It deals with the human journey, the creation of philosophy, and it really digs into the human condition. Everything from the main character to the villain to the armies are big. Typically hinges on some sort of world destruction. Think Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien.

 

Gritty: One of our contributors, EM Castellan, specializes in this, so I asked her what the genre meant to her! She says, “the setting is still imaginary worlds. But instead of relying on complicated magic systems and weird creatures, these stories show us a world in shades of grey, where the characters are as flawed as we are, with the same emotions and reactions. These books touch on concepts which echo in our real world. The trend was started by Glen Cook’s Black Company series in the mid 1980s. Then George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series followed in the mid 1990s. And in the last ten years, this subgenre has grown exponentially, with authors such as Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, K. J. Parker, Mark Lawrence, Steven Erikson and Brent Weeks.”

 

High: This subgenre of fantasy typically tries to play with the tropes of the genre. It uses Elfs, dwarves, swords, journeys, and magic, but tries to turn those tropes on their heads. Think The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

 

Historical: A specific time period in Earth’s history is turned into your personal playground for fantastical elements. Think A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray or The Princess Bride by William Goldman (also a book worth reading and its definitely not because I know all the words to the movie version…)

 

Urban Fantasy: This is where fantastical elements or creatures are in common, and well known, urban areas such as New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. Think Sanctum by Sarah Fine.

 

So there you have it, a basic break down of most fantasy genres. The genres can, of course, be more nuanced, but these are the primary genres agents and editors see. So, if you think you’ve written a novel in one of these genres, great! I would read some in your genre, revise, send off to beta readers, then write that query!!

Good Luck and Keep Writing!

Jessy 🙂