One of my quirks is that I always remember at least one dream. I don't mean always as in once a week, I mean once a night. Some nights I'll remember up to four or five separate dreams, but it's always at least one. I know not everyone remembers their dreams, so one piece of advice is to keep a pad of paper right next to your bed. When you wake jot down a few quick notes, and then look at what you wrote a week later.
This method is wonderful for kickstarting inspiration. Dreams are a fertile ground for creativity, where are muse wanders free to dream and create whatever it will. The novel I'm currently working on, as well as the one after, are both inspired by vivid and different dreams.
So I ask, where will dreams lead you?
On New Year's Eve, Rachel and I finally got around to watching Inside Out. I LOVED the film. While it wasn't a kid's movie at all, I felt like I was back with the old Pixar, the people who kept coming up with new, original ideas, like Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles. For a long time, I've been wondering if Lasseter's team had just run out of ideas. Why are there so many Cars spin offs? Finding Dory? Are you kidding? Pixar was the one house with all the new ideas, at least at first. I was thrilled to watch that movie, and felt a glimmer of hope.
Then, on New Year's Day, Rachel and I watched another Disney movie, the new Star Wars film. Not only was the movie almost completely the same story and structure as Episode Four, what really depressed me was all the previews. We sat through twenty (I kid you not) previews, and I only saw ONE trailer that looked interesting- and even that was for a new Star Trek film, hardly a new idea or concept.
The strangest thing was how every "new" movie we watched a trailer for is a spin off or remake of an old idea. Tarzan, The Jungle Book, Batman vs Superman (which looks like it might be the dumbest movie ever), and even a new Independence Day. I know making movies is an expensive business. Yet, it's sad to see when even the newest Star Wars film plays it safe. Phantom Menance proved that any Star Wars movie would've made a fortune, no matter what. However, Abrams played it safe by sticking to old ideas, old plotlines, and almost ridiculous moments of pandering to the fans. "Hey let's all pause and remember this moment. And now look, the holographic game's still there, and here's the band from Episode Four, let's remember that, etc..."
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie, and just like every other sucker paid good money (even enjoying it in IMAX and 3D). Still, I'm dissapointed at how few original films I see coming out of Hollywood these days. Every other action movie now's a new superhero based on a comic book. How many films are either complete remakes, or only go into production after the books become wildly successful? Film is an art form in its own right, and I applaud the makers of Inside Out, and do hope to see more original films in the future.
Fantasy writing is supposed to involve creating wonderful new ideas, taking dreams that defy description and bringing them to life. There are no real rules in fantasy: if the author can dream it, they can write about it.
Why then, is the predominant mystical creature found in so many fantasy stories, including mine, a creature that's not new at all? Why do writers and readers continue to flock to dragons? What is it about these creatures that has inspired mankind for thousands of years?
The most common answer given, is that there once were giant winged creatures with razor-sharp teeth. Dinosaur bones littered the continents long before man learned to walk upright. Imagining early man encountering a dinosaur bone, or even a whale bone washed ashore, and it's easy to envision tales of great monsters. Dinosaur skeletons likely inspired stories of both fear and awe. David E Jones, in his book An Instinct for Dragons, actually claims that dragons are an amalgam of genetically inherited fears of predators, which early cultures mophed into a single, terrifying beast.
Dragons exist in the early mythologies of nearly every ancient civilization, from Ancient South America to Ancient Babylon. They are part of a shared human evolutionary pattern, and now part of our shared fanasy enjoyment as well. Many of the most popular fantasy epics, including the Hobbit, the Dragonriders of Pern, Game of Thrones, Inheritence, the Wheel of Time, Harry Potter, and the Narnia books, all use the idea of dragons.
My spin on Dragons was to create a species that was the orignal reapers of souls. In my mind, no species fits better than the ancient idea of Dragons. And yet, Dragons are not villains in my novels. Dragons, as will be discovered in book three, are just as complex as humans, with their own quarrels and issues.
Perhaps dragons are so popular in fantasy because they conjur up the same feelings of terror and awe our ancestors once felt. Perhaps they tie the reader to the distant past in a more concrete way than any other imagined creature could. And let's face it, in the end, dragons are cool.
Our holiday card to friends and family. We kept it a secret from social media until this week. We're working on our first joint project. It's truly exciting, and something that will change our lives forever!
Remember this guy? Many fans have compared The Scythe Wielder's Secret to the Harry Potter novels. As both a YA Fantasy author and a fan of the Potter world, I was excited to hear that 2016 is a HUGE year for JK Rowling's wizard creation. In fact, this will be the biggest year for Potter fans since Deathly Hallows.
In July, the wizard world of Hogwarts, Harry, and the Ministry of Magic makes it's stage debut with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This is a two-part play, two separate live performances meant to be seen either in a single day or on consecutive nights. The story is set nineteen years after the books, and has been usig the following tagline:
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
The casting notice for the leads made waves on social media when Noma Dumenwezi, who is black, was cast as Hermione. Rowling insists the character was never solely intended to be white, although critics have argued that this is possibly another reinterprataion (such as when Dumbledore was announced to have been gay, a description not noticeable in the novels).
My take: mixed. I think it'll be interesting to see a stage adaptation of the characters, but from a story point of view, this sounds like an extended epilogue. The absolute WORST novel I read in the past decade was Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, There's no way the story will be as involved or as interesting as the original books, and to separate it into two separate shows sounds tedious, even for a lifetime live theatre person such as myself. Will I see the show if it comes to America? Of course. Will I rush to London to be one of the first ones in line- no way.
Then, in November, a new trilogy of movies begins. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an original movie by Rowling, set in New York 70years before Harry's birth. Warner Brothers have said that the movie series will be "at least" a trilogy, with possibly more films, and that the books are inspired by Rowling's book of the same name.
My take: optimistic, with a caveat. Story-wise, I'm excited to see an original story inspired by Rowling's original world. I'm curious as to what the wizarding side of New York looks like. The trailer doesn't reveal much, hinting at a Pandora's Box type story. The hesitation I feel about getting too excited are that the story's based on a book that's a textbook, no story at all. With that in mind, creating an original plot's fine, or even an original trilogy, but Warner Brothers hints that they might extend to a longer series of movies. This is concerning. It reminds me of Peter Jackson's treatment of the Hobbit, which should NOT have beeen extended to three movies.
As a fan of the Potter world, I am excited to see Harry's resurgence in 2016. As a YA Fantasy author myself, I'm especially hopeful that the increased interest in Potter will lead to an increased interest in YA Fantasy in general. We've been in a long period of YA dystopian hype, so perhaps the pendulum is swinging back towards fantasy.
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year's. This past year was a fantastic year for me, and hopefully 2016 will be even better. Enjoy every minute, and take the time to make this upcoming year a wonderful one.