There are certain things that only work if other certain things are correctly placed. For me, the newsletter happens to be one of them. Whether it’s because of technical issues or a general lack of interest, it doesn’t seem to be a thing gathering enough attention to warrant the effort. For right now, I’ve decided to pause that particular project. But there are too many things kicking around my head to just do away with the personal stuff that I wanted to do with it!
So I’ll return to blogging here, and so I don’t feel pressure to finish a blog post by a certain time, I figured this blog will have more spontaneity than TMC. To start us off, I thought it would be cool to answer a personal yet relevant question.
What are your favorite kinds of stories?
It would take me several minutes to recount every single novel that had a positive influence on my person. I’ve read my fair share of great books throughout my reading career. The Graceling series, as you might know, was one of my absolute favorites growing up. I’ve dedicated three posts, one for each book, on The Mad Chronicler. Simply put, though, what I loved most about these stories were the raw characters put in difficult situations, and the nontraditional romance plotline that went against most of the other MC-pairings I read.
They were stories I read over and over again, and it probably says something about the quality of the writing and the characters when I say that my favorite element of narration was lacking in these series. While I’ve read my fair of science fiction (mostly, YA dystopian), I’m otherwise a hardcore fantasy novel lover. My favorite thing about the genre, as you might know if you read my home page, is that there are endless possibilities. I think the genre is really open because any potential questions you might have about the real world, you can easily explore in a separate, contained environment. You can ask questions as flippant as “how would life be different if people could fly?” like I’ve been doing in my world-building exercises of TMC’s Princess in the Tower posts. Or you can go for more serious, societal questions like “would life be much different if women held more power than men?”
For me, fantasy was born and bred out of the what if question, and I will fall in love with nigh any story that attempts to tackle an untraditional world view. The allure of fantasy comes from the novelty of the impossible. So while you’re talking about dragons and elves and magic swords and the like, you can also spend some time developing a world that challenges the status quo.
Recent novels that have impressed me were ones like Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows or Rachel Hartman’s Tess of the Road. Bardugo’s setting was heavily influenced by the structures of our own world, but two things set it apart. First, her first Grishaverse series — Shadow & Bone — wasn’t set in your traditional European medieval monarchy, but was instead inspired heavily by medieval Russian governance. Secondly, even though each culture felt beautifully familiar, they were each also distinct enough to feel entirely belonging to the world Bardugo had built. In essence, Bardugo spun words into a tapestry one could step into, Chronicles of Narnia style. I loved it.
Tess of the Road called me in a different fashion. Some narratives talk about Social Issues so smoothly that you just have to fall in love with them. The freedom to discuss things that otherwise feel like problems that don’t belong to you is utterly breathtaking. The novel not only made a case for very realistic adventure stories when adventuring as a woman, it also showed flippant arrogance over “lesser” people, and the rewards of respecting someone who most might otherwise disregard. It’s beautiful. It’s artistic. And it’s important.
So, to put it simply, my favorite kinds of stories are fantasy, purely because of how beautiful and sublime it can be to slip into a world that is entirely not my own, to fall in love with characters who are bred from circumstance and feel just as real as you or me. And, of course, it’s always nice to pretend that you’re entering a place that’s full of possibility as, with the turning of the page, you fade from a world that feels rather lacking in the same.