Something Expansive

What author set off that spark of inspiration for your current Work in Progress?

I don’t know that there’s one particular author who set off the inspiration for my WIP. I’d been reading a lot of young adult and middle grade fantasy of various types, and really what drove me to work on this story was the wish to write something expansive. Not “epic” necessarily… but definitely expansive.

If I had to point fingers, though… I think I’d have to single out Shannon Hale.

Despite what I just said, I’m really not much of a reader of fantasy. There is very little of it out there that doesn’t give me the urge to roll my eyes… especially high fantasy. Unless you’re J.R.R. Tolkein or Brandon Mull, you can keep your dragons to  yourself, thanks. And fairies? There was the occasional brilliant book (Lament and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater) but mostly they seemed like a thinly veiled analogy for teen angst, which I didn’t care for. And unless it’s Harry Potter, don’t even talk about wizards.

But Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl reminded me of the fantasy that I loved—had always loved. Fairy tale magic. Subtle, natural magic. Magic like the whispering of words on the wind, or later on in the series, of the language of fire and water. The Goose Girl also had this wide, sweeping landscape and crossed whole nations. It had castles and communities and class-action suits. Okay, not exactly that last one, but close enough—a group of people who were fighting for equal standing, for recognition.

Shannon Hale’s world was so real that I felt like I’d been there, maybe in a dream. I wanted to create something like that. A dream-memory-worthy world. That sure sounded expansive to me. I didn’t want to retell a fairy tale, though. Too many people were doing that… or just about to do that. I wanted to write my own fairy tale. It’s one I’ve fallen dearly in love with, with elements from many of my favorite stories throughout folklore, but I’d like to think with my own special twist.

Other inspirations for my WIP include things like Willow, The Princess Bride, and The Polar Bear King, a movie that I loved to death when I was a kid. I wanted my world to stand alongside worlds like these… quietly magical, wonderfully alive fantasy. Even Robin Hood has had its influence here and there.

Another thing all these worlds have in common? The hero in the story isn’t quite what you’d expect. Sad girl, pirate, misfit… There’s a lesson in a lot of these stories that strength can come to anybody who stands up and fights for it. That’s something I wanted to write about, too. About extreme conditions, extreme need making even an outcast into a hero.

Wish me luck with it.

13 thoughts on “Something Expansive

  1. i agree with you that there is limited antasy that comes togreatness. a matter of taste i suppose. but the characters of substance make the book. (pls forgive typos, wp didnt let me see what i was typing…)
    great spark story!

  2. Oh my gosh, I didn’t think there was anyone else on the planet who had even seen The Polar Bear King, much less loved it. I still have the VHS of that movie, and it’s been one of my favorites since I was a little kid. The inspirations for your WIP are all wonderful! 🙂 Best of luck!

    • Hi J! Yes, I LOVED the movie when I was a kid. Scissors that did the opposite of cut, the whole idea of the kids being “invisible” and everything… so cool. Really captivated my imagination as a kid.

      Thanks so much!

  3. Baaugh, I’m drooling with interest. That’s a good (albeit possibly disturbing), thing. I love natural magic. Gabriel Garcia Marquez and other modern authors have coined this kind of nuance “magical realism.” Instead of using talismans or jumping around pointing sticks and screaming in latin, everything is stated subtly and frankly. It’s a style I love.

    Although admittedly the sticks and poor latin are also enjoyable XD

    • Thank you so much!!! I have heard Magical Realism, and I guess I’m tempted to call it that, but I just read a definition of that where it was all modern day stuff… but I guess that’s was just one person’s definition. It’s a style I love, too, and I’m excited that readers are out there for it! 🙂

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