CSFF Blog Tour – Your Favorite, Day 2

Because of my hesitation to declare a “favorite” I was tempted to turn one post into a “what is YOUR favorite” questionnaire or poll, but that’s probably cheating. For certain it would be a cowardly dodge.

I wish I’d thought to do what Jason Joyner is doing in his posts (here and here)—a count-down to his favorite. I wish I had the rich history of fantasy as a child, like Donita Paul had, so I could list out my favorite children’s books. I wish I’d thought to use one of my favorites to discuss good writing technique as Thomas Clayton Booher did with Blaggard’s Moon.

But here I am, left to my own devices. So I’ll devote today’s post to my favorite piece of Christian speculative NEWS.

Certainly one of the much talked of pieces of news is Kathy Tyers, author of Firebird, signing with Marcher Lord Press, but that’s not what I have in mind. Rather, this piece of news, which is actually news that news is coming, involves a much less known author. In fact, let’s see how many hints you all need for this one.

(1) CSFF featured a novel by the author connected to the piece of news I’m about to share (the news that news is coming).

(2) The work is the first in a YA fantasy trilogy

(3) about two of four brothers

(4) and a portal into another world

(5) opened by a viking runestone.

(6) Threads of Arthurian legend run throughout.

(7) The world in which the brothers find themselves, Karac Tor, is in deadly peril.

(8) Each brother discovers a unique power in this world,

(9) one that may help them against the dark forces

(10) stealing names.

(11) The third unpublished book in the series is tentatively titled The Song of Unmaking.

(12) The second is Corus the Champion.

(13) That one was canceled by the publisher weeks before release because of a change in direction away from fiction.

(14) The author himself is a him.

(15) He experienced the tragic death of his first wife

(16) and began writing fantasy for his four sons.

(17) Later he remarried a widow with four children of her own.

(18) Among his fantasy influences, the author mentions Patricia McKillip, Stephen R. Donaldson, Ursila K. Leguin, Madeline L’Engle, and Lloyd Alexander.

(19) His last name rhymes with figs.

So have you figured it out yet? How many clues did you need?

I’m referring to D. Barkley Briggs and his Legends of Karac Tor trilogy which started with The Book of Names.

And now for the news. This from an email and Facebook message Dean sent out:

Against all our collective wishes, the series seemed to die, and part of the dream died, too. Or did it? Die…or delay?

Hold on to your magic runes, friends! Adventure still awaits us all in the Hidden Lands. I have big news coming. Your patience and prayers will (hopefully) pay off very soon. Stay tuned…

So there you have it—news that news is coming. And it’s my favorite current piece of Christian speculative news.

Be sure to check out what other tour participants are discussing regarding their favorite Christian speculative fiction (links are at the end of yesterday’s post).

CBBT – Wayfarer by R. J. Anderson, Day 2

Shortly after the CSFF Blog Tour for R. J. Anderson‘s first novel, Faery Rebel: Spell Hunter, I lent my copy to a friend who writes YA fantasy. She’s even written a faery story though it hasn’t found a publishing home. I knew she’d be interested in reading a story about Knife and the faeries without magic.

When our next writer get-together drew near, I asked for the book back because a couple other people were in line to read it. Lo and behold, my friend had started it, but her target-audience daughter snatched it up and devoured it instead. In fact, my friend reported how on pins and needles said daughter was, waiting for Wayfarer.

Thinking that I’d be through with the Children’s Book Blog Tour (I got my dates wrong), I’d said I would pass along my ARC in exchange for the first book. Oh, woe! I feel like I’ve disappointed this eager reader!

But here’s the point. Too often when I’m doing reviews, I lose sight of the target audience. I formulate my opinion based on my likes and dislikes, my expectations and interests, my writing style preferences. I try not to, but it happens. Then I encounter the raw enthusiasm of a reader in love with a new world she’s discovered, and I realize, as much as I may have liked Wayfarer (and I DID), it pales in comparison to the joy a target-audience reader will experience.

Stories like the ones the talented R. J. Anderson has written spark something in young readers, I think. They stretch the world and make all things seem possible. They create mystery but also throw down the gauntlet of becoming to those moving toward adulthood.

A young person can grow to be selfish, using others and protecting self, or he can grow to be sacrificial, helping others and giving himself away. Anderson paints the contrasts clearly and even paints the risks of sacrifice accurately. Good choices aren’t necessarily happy choices. They usually cost.

But when a character a reader loves makes the good choice, somehow that reader, especially that young reader, is ennobled. Suddenly, the idea that sacrifice and selflessness can be achieved and will make a difference seems like an idea for today, for now, for the young as much as for the old.

That’s when stories take on power. That’s when they become much more than entertainment, much more than enjoyable.

That’s the kind of book I believe Wayfarer is.

See what others on the CBBT circuit think:

Special thanks to HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, for supplying me with a review copy of Wayfarer.

Fantasy Friday the Thirteenth

I suppose there is some poetic congruity in writing about fantasy on a day some people look at through their myopic lenses of superstition. 😀 Of course, in my view, fantasy has nothing to do with superstition and everything to do with truth. That truth is delivered in story form and requires a bit of mining to be uncovered is all the better!

But I’m straying from my intended subject. Some of you may have seen the press release posted at CSFF and at Spec Faith announcing a second Christian fantasy book tour, this one to take place on the West Coast with twice the number of authors. Since I’m on the West Coast and a Christian fantasy writer, I’m excited about this week-long event. Already the media is lining up to cover it.

I have to mention, however, that a discussion in an email group I belong to brought up an issue I think the tour illustrates—fantasy in the CBA is still primarily the property of the young. Of the eight authors participating in the tour, only one can be said to have written primarily with adults in mind. I’m referring to Sharon Hinck in her Sword of Lyric series. Some, to be sure, are marketed to both youth and adults. For example, I’ve found Donita Paul‘s Dragon Chronicle books on both YA and adult shelves, sometimes in the same store.

Perhaps because of Narnia, adults have no qualms reading books marketed for younger readers. And certainly young people have no qualms reading books aimed at adults. I remember being taken aback the first time I saw one of my junior high students reading Tolkien. But why not?

A good fantasy stirs something in all of us. We recognized the good and evil struggle as familiar territory, but it looks so much clearer in a fantasy setting, so we gain perspective, consciously or unconsciously. A good fantasy challenges us to rise to the occasion, to see our existence as part of the larger plan, our role as significant to the gains and losses. We want to be that hero or heroine.

A good fantasy also doesn’t sugarcoat the dangers. There is a White Witch deceiving, dragons hoarding, Black Riders stalking. But in the same vein, a good fantasy points to the fellowship, the sacrificial Lion, the way in and the way further up and further in. These are truths that we recognize, whether eight or eighty-eight.

One writer decrying the paltry number of adult fantasy titles in CBA stores mentioned the lack of subplots in children’s fiction, making those stories less desirable to adults. I suppose this is a valid point. The structure of a children’s book or even a YA might be a little more simplistic. So the question I’m wondering is this. Do CBA fantasies target youth because this is where the buyers are or because the writing suits this audience more?

Well, I feel like I’m just getting warmed up. More fantasy discussion to come, I believe. 😉

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