Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Teatime Ten: Interview Series

It is with great pride that we announce that on every Tuesday, beginning in September, we'll be hosting "The Teatime Ten," a series of interviews with your favorite authors, bloggers, and up-and-comers!

Keep an eye out for the first interview with none other than Margaret C. Sullivan, author of The Jane Austen Handbook and There Must Be Murder.

Join us next Tuesday, September 6, for the kick-off of "Teatime Ten!"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Author Interview

The Upper Kingdom:
Guest Interview with Emily Snyder!

"Today I'm happy to welcome Emily Snyder (my fellow author at Girlebooks.com) to The Upper Kingdom.

Be sure to read her interview, because she is one of the most interesting and entertaining people that I've ever met and an extremely prolific and versatile writer."
Read the full article here!

Thank you so much, Farida! And make sure you show my lovely interviewer some love by visiting her blog, or by checking out her novels at Girlebooks: the Regency Margaret's Rematch and the fairy tale Almendra!

Friday, August 26, 2011

On E-Books and the New Art

Last night, I had a wonderful conversation with my household sister, Annie, who is a fabulous author and lyricist, and who knows more about current events in the publishing industry than I do.

The conversation turned to e-books, since Niamh and the Hermit and Charming the Moon are both scheduled for conversion...and Letters of Love & Deception (previously titled Shards of Ivory) will soon debut in e-book format.

And yet...and yet...Borders closed.

I must confess that I do not own an e-reader and am a little reluctant to do so - even as I'm sure that once I have one, I'll love it as much as I first hated cell phones, and now love them; and hated texting, and now use it; and thought internet on a cell phone redundant, and now...! A picture, I trust, is forming.

What interests me, though, are the possibilities that this new medium possesses. "Form dictates content," is a good motto and too rarely followed. To put it another way:

Every time you change the form,
You change the art.

An e-reader may be used initially merely as another means of conveying words - but so does speech, and so do newspapers and blogs, and swears at your alarm clock in the morning (with the instruction manual you never read), and "Do you like me, check yes or no" notes passed in third grade, and the sides of cereal boxes. But newspapers took on their aesthetic format for practical purposes. Blogs likewise. Scripts for the stage look different from scripts for the screen, because the art conveyed is different.

The tragedy of print, in my humble opinion, is that through the ease of moveable type et al, we've forgotten the art of the novel. Illuminated manuscripts delved more fully into what a bound book could be, and why it should be cherished. Of the books currently being printed, only Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (especially the ambitious Unauthorized Autobiography, complete with reversible dust jacket!), and volumes like the various Ology books begin to make an aesthetic case for the printed word.

I'm an advocate of "outdated arts" - theatre, opera, and bound novels among them - but I am excited by the prospect of this new electronic art (which requires a better name than e-book or e-reader, which is too practical to get the proper creative juices flowing!). So, I wonder...

What, aesthetically, can an e-book do?

  • First, it seems strange to me that so few of them are still in greyscale. However, like orange-toned monitors, I presume this will change fairly quickly.
  • Once the conversion to color happens, authors and artists are free to include a whole variety of different "looks" for their texts - with pictures, perhaps with embedded video, app-like moving flash elements, as well as:
  • Various "extras" - rather like the DVD/Blu-Ray version of a book: interviews with the author, "commentary" from the author, direct links to dictionaries or thesauri or encyclopedias, links to forum and social networking sites to discuss the book in real time, playlists that can accompany the book, etc.
  • The author, too, will have the opportunity to include more interactive elements, or worldbuilding elements. I'm thinking especially as a fantastist here, since we tend to create our own encyclopedias for our worlds - the majority of which rarely sees the light of day, and yet which is some of the most fun that fantasy affords as its own aesthetic.
  • This element of connection to the internet will/can make time-released elements - similar to the serialized novel, or modern Easter eggs - also a possibility.
  • I'm sure there are many more possible uses, which I hope you will add in the comments! I'm equally sure that several of these ideas have been implemented in some form or another already. What concerns me is that authors begin to make use of and explore the whole range of possibilities available to them through the new medium of e-books, rather than merely using it as another (cheaper) form of getting their stories out there.

    For myself, my dear friend Annie said: "Well, then, what you should definitely add, Emily, is the music for Niamh. Because I can read it, and I can vaguely remember what it's supposed to sound like, but I'd love to have it play when I reread the book."

    Annie...here's one of those songs (acappella version by my sister and I, as part of a birthday present for my Mum).

    Enjoy! And leave a comment below. Where are we going next, in this brave new world?

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Happiness is...

  • Math for Actors performing in Great Bend High School, Great Bend, KS in January 2012 and...!

  • Charming Princes also performing, same bat time, same bat place!

    Have a great time, Great Bend thespians!

  • Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Letters of Love and Deception

    Today, I did a quick photoshoot with my sister, Julie Kersting, for the cover of the upcoming Austenesque short story anthology, Letters of Love and Deception (formerly known as Shards of Ivory. Below is not the photo we're using...but a pretty outcome of the shoot!

    Saturday, August 20, 2011


    So, I just noticed that one can put quotes from one's novels on Goodreads, and since so many lovely reviewers have listed their favorite quotes from Nachtsturm Castle, I listed them here. And would be so awfully delighted if you "liked" them, too!

    Speaking of which, if anyone would like to take two seconds to post a review on Goodreads or on Amazon I'd be ever so grateful! (And Mr Darcy will look at you this way: pictured.)

    As will Mr Tilney, who greets you here:

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    I refound...

    ...this picture which I took in Boston. The End.

    First Sentences and Theatrical Encores

    Before I head off to edit Shards of Ivory, I thought I'd direct your attention to:

  • Fun and Games Friday: Can you match the first few lines of these various Austenesque books to their titles? (Bonus points for those who figure out the rather obvious first line of Nachtsturm Castle!)

  • The Geneva Theatre Guild is going to show an encore performance of their summer tour of Charming Princes on September 24, 2011!
  • For those who love monster mash-ups

    ...and for those that hate 'em...

    For today's laugh, (and in honour of just completing my first monster mash-up for Shards of Ivory: Austenesque Short Stories) make sure you check this out! You can enlarge it and scroll down. I've never seen *sniff* such a lovely *sniff* set of wedding pictures! *sniff sniff*

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Paging Mr. Tilney

    Somehow*** I missed Margaret C. Sullivan's delightful blog writing for actually from Mr. Henry Tilney himself!

    As a devotee of Da Man (although just a humble acolyte compared to the High Priestess, Ms Sullivan!), it simply cannot be missed.

    The good reverend may not be accepting queries anymore, but you can read what he wrote to others. And, of course, make sure you check out everything at the Austenesque Extravaganza this month!

    (And check out this delightful Da Man petit four as well!)

    ***The reason I missed the post originally is that Mr. Tilney deigned to answer questions at the same time as Mr. William Shakespeare had my full attention with Gaudete Academy's production of As You Like It!

    I missed his good humour, but he missed Bill's - so all's fair in love and tea.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    The Play's the Thing

    I've been woefully behind in my videography, in part because my computer crashed earlier this year, but in larger part because - since finding myself in the surprising position of being the proverbial starving artist this year, I've been up to my ears in work!

    The good news is that I finally managed to get a single-camera version of A Comedy of Murders up on YouTube for your viewing pleasure! The play is a pastiche of those great Agatha Christie novels...if an audience member came up and objected to the ending.

    It was first suggested to me by my brother, Peter, after we saw Shakespeare in the Park, Comedy of Errors here in Boston. As we were waiting on the common for all those silly people to clear out of the parking garage (rather than waiting in a stuffy car in the stuffier garage with them), we sat on a park bench and came up with improbable situations for possible plays. This one stuck.

    Thanks go as well to my father, that bastion of suggestions, who - when I asked him for possible means of murder - came up with suggestions like "death by explosion" and "death by decapitation." When I laughed but objected to those, my father then proceeded to explain how it could be done technically.

    And thanks most of all to the cast, the Sophomore Class, who performed A Comedy of Murders this past May 2011, and did a splendid job! It's a big ensemble piece, and it needs a little revision, but mostly it's a lot of fun killing off a bunch of people.

    Especially killing off the ingenue.

    A lot.

    It's been a busy year. And since I'm a list kinda gal, this is what I've been doing since August 2010.

    May-(Ending in) August 2010:
  • The Taming of the Shrew (Directed)
  • August-November 2010:
  • And Then There Were None (Director)
  • September 2010-March 2011:
  • Tartuffe (Directed: Full Play for November, Cut Version for Spring Festival Competition)
  • October 2010:
  • Little Shop of Horrors (Sound)
  • October 2010-May 2011:
  • Advanced Musical Theatre Class (Teacher/Director)
  • October 2010-
    December 2011:
    Scrooge: The Musical (Actor: The Spirit of Christmas Past)

    November 2010
    -March 2011:
    South Pacific (Vocal Coach/Sound)

    January-February 2011:
  • Curses! (Directed & Wrote)
  • No Boys Allowed (Presented as part of Curses!) (Directed & Wrote)
  • Crying Wolf (Also presented with Curses!) (Directed & Wrote)
  • January-April 2011:
  • Heirs & Errors (Directed & Wrote)

  • April-May 2011:
  • A Comedy of Murders (Directed & Wrote)
  • April-May 2011:
  • As You Like It (Directed)

  • As well as performing at teacher's recital at the Performing Arts Center of Metrowest in Framingham, MA on Valentine's Day, February 2011.

    I also had the opportunity to write:
  • St. Peter & Grandma stories (Theatre for Young Audience Plays, performed at Vacation Bible School June 2011 - see right)
  • Turn to Flesh (A 10-minute iambic pentameter play about the death of Medusa - not yet performed)
  • To the Dark Tower Came (A 30-minute verse play about the death of Childe Rowland - submitted to the Thornton Wilder Playwriting Competition through Playscripts)
  • And revising Act II of Cupid and Psyche (For a reading in Boston at the Factory Theatre in Feburary 2011)

  • I was also blessed with several performances of my plays:
  • The Nancy Curvin Playground Players performed Charming Princes sixteen times this summer, between July to August, 2011 in Geneva, NY!
  • Charming Princes also performed in Crown Point High School, Crown Point, Indiana (Feb. 2011), Holton-Arms School, Bethesda, MD (May 2011), and Fauquier Community Theatre, Warrenton, VA (June 2011)
  • Wallace's Will, meanwhile, performed at Berkmar High School, in Lilburn, GA (May 2011)
  • Math for Actors performed internationally in Christchurch, New Zealand June-July 2011)
  • Math for Actors also seems to have placed second at the Regional Humorous Duet Acting Forensics and Debate meet, representing Buffalo Grove, Buffalo Grove, Illinois (Feb. 2011) (I should probably contact Playscripts about this....)
  • The Passion Play, which is not yet officially published, performed by special arrangement in Dublin, Ireland (April 2011)

  • All I can say is...PHEW!!!

    Literary Irony

    Nancy Kelley, who's been posting the wonderful series on Building Your Own Austenesque Novel on her blog, Austen Aspirations, tweeted this beautifully ironic image of Nachtsturm Castle:

    Classic juxtaposition of fact and fiction.
    ~ Nancy Kelly

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    An Austenesque Authorial Adventure!

    Or: What I Did On a Tuesday in Bath Marlborough
    A Photo-Journal by a Giddy Authoress

    A former student of mine had alerted me that Nachtsturm Castle had been seen at Borders - the very place where I'd revised the novel in 2009, and written so many plays.

    So, I asked if it would be all right if I signed them, and they brought me to the backroom and put stickers on the books that some crazy lady had scribbled on the title page. ;P

    And then, much to my delight and surprise, they put the novels up on a column! (Which meant I saw people actually pick up the book and buy it.) Hurrah!

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    A Spirit of Rejoicing

    Today in the Catholic Church is the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary (that is, Mary being taken soul and body into Heaven). Now whether you're Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic, aetheist, or "dunno" there's something beautiful to be learnt from today's Gospel reading:


    (Again, if this is not your faith - read on! Look at it as fantastical history, if you must.)

    So, in today's Gospel, the Virgin Mary, having just said "Yes" to the angel who asked if she'd bear the Messiah, goes out "in haste" to her cousin Elizabeth who, although waaaay past menopause, is pregnant with John the Baptist. What are Mary's first words to Elizabeth?

    "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
    my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
    for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.

    From this day all generations will call me blessed:
    the Almighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is His Name."

    We're accustomed to all these events happening together. We read them in our minds in a funereal way that takes all the life out of them. But think about it all from Mary's point of view:

  • Mary, a Jewess, agrees to carry the Messiah
  • She becomes pregnant, although she has not known man
  • In so doing, she's risking everything: her parents' trust, her fiance Joseph, the approval of her society - to carry the Christ she willingly risks exile from all who know her and all she's known.
  • In fact we learn that when Joseph finds out, although by law he should have had Mary stoned, he plans to "divorce" (break off the engagement) Mary quietly - until he, too, is visited by an angel
  • Think, though, what heartbreak and confusion Mary's parents would have felt - and how would Mary tell them?
  • Think, too, of Joseph and his shock and apparent heartbreak
  • And think that Mary, who by the grace of God was sinless (remember, I'm Catholic!), would by this grace-filled action be thought of as a whore; she who was sinless by God, would be thought sinful by man

    In such circumstances, I'd be tempted to throw myself a pity-party and constantly bug God with "Why me?!??!!?" Even while giving Him lip-service about trusting in His word.

    Not Mary.

    Mary rejoices. Mary proclaims. Mary praises God for His mercy and favor!

    And what favor! St. Theresa of Avila (one of my favorite saints) once got thrown in the mud while she was trekking from one convent to another to bring them back to the faith. Muddy, wet, humiliated, probably aching all over, she complained to God: "Why did you let this happen? I was doing Your work!"

    He replied: "Theresa, this is how I treat all my friends."

    She, wonderful woman, replied, "Well then, no wonder You've got so few!"

    We've all got troubles. Finances, jobs, parents, children, just general doubts and confusions. Personally, I tend to be worse than St. Theresa with such minor things as a little mud. But I hope I can be more like Mary - who suffered along with her Son through His trials - and still "proclaimed the greatness of the Lord" and REJOICED!
  • Sunday, August 14, 2011


    Today's Austenesque Twitter Party was a grand success! If you missed it this Sunday, you can still check it out every Sunday in August at 4 p.m. EST. I highly recommend you do!

    Fortunately, you can visit the above link to see what was twittered about today, or you can check out Patrice Sarath's blog for more information! (My personal favorite part was the idea of Deulling Col. Fitzwilliam!)

    And as always, all thanks must go to Meredith at Austenesque Reviews for hosting the August Austenesque Extravaganza! There's still more August left...don't miss out!

    It was also hinted at some exciting news from Girlebooks.com and yours truly! Yup, you can keep an eye out for a collection of Jane Austen short stories, coming your way in the next few months.

    Shards of Ivory
    Austenesque Short Stories including:

  • A Very Persuasive Correspondance
    What were the devious Mr Elliot and Mrs Clay conspiring during the events of Persuasion? An epistolary novella.

  • Miss Bates' Something Blue
    Why was Miss Bates Miss Bates for so long? We glimpse the corners of her earlier life and a love long lost.

  • Several short stories examining "what if" all of Austen's villains met...or her sprightly heroines...or all of her lovelorn heroes...or all of the girls who didn't get their man...or all the dowagers in their cattishness...and all of the knights who wisely repair to the club! AND...!

  • Pride and Paraliterature
    Lizzy and Darcy are enjoying their happily ever after...when they find themselves rewritten in torrid romances, multiple typoes and monsters from the deep. Can they survive the paraliteraturists love to regain happily ever after?
  • Austenesque Extravaganza!

    Don't forget to join the Austenesque Extravaganza...today at 4 p.m. EST on Twitter! Just put #Austenesque into your post and join the fun!

    In honor of the event (and some exciting news from Girlebooks.com) I've also worked on my author website. Or follow one of the links below to that page!

    Hope to see you there!

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Author Interview

    Many thanks to Vincent Lowry for the Q&A!
    Check out his blog at: Rate My Book!

    1) What is your name and bio?

    My name is Emily C. A. Snyder, a theatre director, playwright and novelist, who has a yen for the language of Shakespeare, Dickens and Wilde, and the unknown authors who passed down our fairy tales.

    2) What is your book title, synopsis, and where can readers find it?

    My most recent novel, Nachtsturm Castle is published through Girlebooks.com, who provides wonderful e-and-paperback books of books by the gals for the gals.

    Nachtsturm Castle: A Gothic Austen Novel is a sequel and pastiche of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. Happily married Catherine and Henry Tilney set off to the Alps for a long delayed honeymoon. Catherine, having grown up in Austen's novel, therefore refuses to believe anything extraordinary or Gothic can possibly be real. But as the Tilneys' stay at Nachtsturm Castle proves, sometimes the fantastical becomes reality!

    Actually, a recent reviewer, Jeffrey Ward, probably summed it up best:

    Moonlight! Castles! Ghosts! Storms! Secret trap doors! Suicide! Grave yards! Mistaken Identities! Carriage accidents! Gypsies! Hauntings! A kidnapping! Purloined letters! A duel! Swooning! Wild Pursuits! Demonic possession! A disputed inheritance! Three romances! A ransacking! Ancient curses! A stolen will and testament! Dank subterranean passageways!

    Multi-talented Emily C. A. Snyder has managed to pack the above list (and more) into the 139 page Nachtstürm Castle, a sophisticated Gothic fantasy sequel, taking up the further adventures of Henry and Catherine Tilney where our divine Miss Austen finished the last lines of Northanger Abbey.

    Read full review

    Nachtsturm Castle is available through Girlebooks.com and Amazon.com, in e-book and in paperback!

    3) Where do you come up with your ideas?

    Terry Pratchett said that ideas sleet through the multiverse and there are some people whose brains just attract a lot of celestial detritus. I think I'm one of those. It's harder not to come up with new ideas. Ideas aren't the hard part; getting ideas down in a satisfactory manner in a reasonable amount of time is the hard part!

    However, the germinus for Nachtsturm Castle was, to be frank, the desire to help Austen prove her point that Catherine had difficulty with issues of what to believe and what not to believe. I love Austen very much (I think Persuasion is divine), but Northanger Abbey - being her first novel, and therefore not as formed as her later works - seemed fair game for paraliterature. Besides, the set-up to mirror the original, the opportunity to make fun of and pay homage to the over-purpled prose of Gothic literature, and my own pleasure of returning at least in word to Austria (where I spent a very happy semester with the foothills of the Alps five feet out my window) proved irresistable. Moreover, I was going crazy at a desk job. (A good reason to write a novel if there ever was one!)

    The idea for Niamh and the Hermit came from my college professor pointing out that man cannot stand sustained beauty in this fallen world, and my own love of inventing fairy tales. Charming the Moon which takes place in the same world, are two folk tales about how the Sun and the Moon returned to the sky. I told those stories to my youngest brother when I didn't want to read him Goodnight Moon for the umpteenth time...which was often. (Good book! Just not for weeks on end.) You can read more here!

    4) What books/authors do you like to read?

    Paula Volsky and Teresa Edgerton are the two authoresses who have shaped my views on fantasy the most. I truly think Paula Volsky's Illusion to be the best and most detailed fantasy ever written.

    Terry Pratchett - if he writes it, I will read it. Numerous times. Again.

    For classics, I like Austen, Chesterton, Lewis, Dante, Wilde, and Shakespeare, with a side of Sayers (the perfect mystery writer).

    I'm also a fan of non-fiction: Chesterton, Lewis, Aristotle, and several current Catholic apologists. If it's a good book pertaining to Shakespearean performance, or the history or theory of theatre, either as a source document (Brook's "The Empty Space") or as commentary, I'll read it, underline it, and write a dialogue in the margins!

    5) What's your next writing project?

    I'm taking a break from playwriting for the nonce, since I wrote and either directed or had performed seven original plays since January 2011 (phew), but in novels I'm working on another Twelve Kingdoms piece, about the fall of the princes to the ShadowQueen. Originally, this was the longest of the stories I told to my brother to get him to sleep, and it was called Tamerin and Isllel for the main characters: the last of the princes, and the princess who saves him. ShadowQueen is a better title. However, I've had those seven plays and thirteen-ish performances and my novel writing schedule has been out of whack.

    I'm also figuring out how best to write/present my epistolary fantasy, The Sable Valentine, which includes maps and newspapers and diagrams and all sorts of fun stuff, and which can be previewed here!

    And there's good news for my Austen paraliterature likers: I've got another novel to revise, called "Presumption" based on the romance between Col. Fitzwilliam and Maria Lucas from Pride and Prejudice!

    Anyone who wants to specially request something, and then to bug me about it, is more likely to receive a finished product. So...nudge away!

    Q&A with Emily

    What's that you say? You've always wanted to have a Q&A with Emily about books, about plays, about where rubber bands come from? (I've actually been asked the latter in sincerity. Nor is that the weirdest thing I've been asked. Being a schoolmarm is a two edged sword!)

    Two out of three ain't bad, so please do join me anytime at Goodreads Discussion Board! I'd love to see you there!

    Performative Writing

    This is from a Goodreads discussion - join in the fun over there! Or check out the Nachtsturm Castle discussion board!

    I've been thinking for a while that the sort of writing that works best for me (aka Gets Me To Finish Writing the Bloody Thing) is what I'll call "Performative Writing."

    The idea behind it is not dissimilar to how people used to write novels: one chapter a time for a daily or weekly newspaper. Dickens wrote that way; Hugo wrote that way. It seems that Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maude Montgomery both wrote that way if not for newspapers, then for their families. None of these authors would agree at all with Adams' blithe: "I love deadlines. I love the sound they make as they whoosh over my head." (A line later cribbed by the screenwriters of Pirates of the Caribbean 2.)

    Performative writing today takes place most often in fanfiction and paraliterature, on message boards and blogs, but the result is the same: because there is an audience immediately reading, commenting, reflecting, guessing, criticizing, and otherwise egging the author on to Finish the Bloody Thing (FBT) just through the audience sitting there expectantly...the Bloody Thing is Finished.

    I like Performative Writing. However, I've only ever been able to do so with Jane Austen paraliterature. I do wonder, though, whether it would be interesting...or profitable (a girl's gotta eat!) to return to Performative Writing with original work, too.

    I'm of half a mind to see if something can be done - through apps or .pdf or something with one of my more sprawling novels, "The Sable Valentine," which is an epistolary fantasy, set in something between Regency-Victorian Europe. You can read the first bit of the first volume here: http://sablevalentine.blogspot.com/

    Naturally, the second best thing to Performative Writing to FBT is an actual deadline. But considering that I just passed and then had to postpone indefinitely a deadline, I think that for someone with a theatrical bent like myself, Performative Writing trumps deadline.

    Beginning thoughts which will now FBT now!

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Thoughts on writing "Christian Fantasy"

    Recently I was asked a few questions, and I thought I'd post my answers here. Please share your own thoughts!

    1) What does it mean to be a Christian author?

    2) How do you show God's love in fantasy writing?

    3) How do you keep from sounding judgmental of non-Christians in your writing?

    4) What makes a novel "Christian fantasy" (if there is such a thing)?

    5) How do you explain to other Christians that writing fantasy literature is not sinful?

    6) Why did you decide to write fantasy?

    7) What is the worst thing a Christian writer can do when writing fantasy?

    1) For me, being a Christian author (to be glib) is simply to be an author who is Christian. I've found that when you (any fiction author) sets out to expound upon philosophy/theology FIRST, without any particular care for plot and character, the book is doomed to fail. Christian authors, in their fervor to preach (a good thing), have an unfortunate habit of not relying either on themselves or on Him to allow His truths to shine through plot and character. Christian authors tend to bash religion into every paragraph, making it unbearable. BUT, no matter what one's faith, what one believes always shines through.

    2) God's love is God's love no matter what the worldbuilding. Fantasy authors have fallen into the trap of using pantheons because it's a quick way to worldbuild, and pagans have jumped on that to preach their beliefs. For me, I have one world which knows the Gospel truth and so it isn't an issue; the characters are very open about their Christian faith. I also have another world which is purposefully set up with a pantheon (and a weird cult, and a bunch of other religions), because I wanted to show how those religions aren't the fullness of truth. They still experience Providence, but don't know what to call Him.

    3) I think it helps to be non-jugemental (a good question!) OF PEOPLE in general. We judge actions, not souls - that's His job. As authors, therefore, we love our characters, flawed as they are, and allow the audience to judge their actions. Example, the folks who are in the weird cult in one of my novels: there are those who are just trying to live their lives, and then there are also those who are embracing the bad actions the cult implicitly encourages. They are judged by actions, not by faith.

    4) Same thing that makes "pagan fantasy," or in Orwell's case "Mormon fantasy." It's the same as question one: your personal beliefs seep through. Pagans writing fantasy are hardly glib when they describe "the goddess" (or whatever). They're sincerely attempting to promulgate their worship. Aetheists such as Pullman literally kill God in their novels. Belief shines through. Christian fantasy is fantasy written by Christians with a Christian outlook. Some characteristics include encouragement towards understanding of God the Father, Son and Spirit, the sense of stumbling towards redemption, and the use of suffering as transfigured by grace.

    5) In this case, it helps me personally to be a Catholic, since our tradition goes back waaaay far and includes those who've written pretty much every genre. But for Protestant Christians, and even worried Catholic Christians, the hesitancy typically springs from a misunderstanding of the use of "magic" in fantasy novels. Unfortunately, there's this belief that "you are what you read," hence if you read about magic in fiction, you will attempt to do magic in real life, which is a bad thing because it does spring from a demonic source.

    The best I can say is that first, most readers - even young ones - generally understand what fiction is, and that the whole pleasure in reading fiction is that it isn't real. If a parent is worried, they should have a conversation (mostly for their peace of mind more than instructing a child) with their children about reality and fiction, and magic in both. The medievalists and renaissance writers, if required to mention "magic," would either show its demonic or tricky qualities (the sidhe court, the witches in Macbeth), or would make a point of saying that the "magic was not damnable" (As You Like It), i.e., that it's fictional.

    If the person is willing to listen more, I'd explain that "magic" in fantasy novels is often science misunderstood, or natural to a certain creature (e.g., healing properties of alicorn) and hence not worrisome to humans, or bound by rules which means bound to be only in the fictional world *anyway.* Moreover, for myself, I still argue that the creation of a fantasy world is not dependent upon "magic," in the same way that science fiction IS bound upon science. However, I'll admit that "magic" - or rather, the impossible - is half the fun of fantasy, and that's why we read it.

    Regardless, "what if" is not sinful.

    6) I just think in terms of fantasy - always have. My earliest make-believe games were based on fairy tale motifs - orphaned princesses, evil witches or queens oppressing the former, dolls come to life, Robin Hood (although one might argue that isn't fantasy). Peter Pan was my childhood sweetheart for YEARS. Fantasy is the complete realm of imagination, since one even builds the world, sometimes justifying new rules of physics, let alone constantly playing with biology and chemistry, and all sorts of fun stuff. I like what Tolkein said about fantasy, that people criticize fantasy as "escapist" literature, which isn't laudable...unless one is escaping from a jail. Chesterton also put it well that fantasy follows the ordinary hero, who is able to recognize his world as extraordinary BECAUSE of who he is. Modern novels are based on insane characters in our hyper-sane world. Fantasy constantly frees us to escape both inward and outward at once.

    7) The worst thing any writer can do is to write a dreadful novel, full of awful prose and worse plot, half-a-dimensional characters, and phrases that make me giggle at their placement (e.g., "He turned his back and kissed her"). So the worst sin a Christian author can do is write a terrible book. The second worst thing he can do - and Christian authors are prone to this - is beat the audience over the head with Bible quotes, or sudden sit-downs in the middle of a scene in order to have a conversation about theology, or the obvious redemption story, or black and white characters. You'll note all these authorial sins will result in the cardinal authorial sin of writing a bad book.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    All Things Austenesque!

    Look no further than For the Love of Austen: Henry Tilney's Heroine: A Northanger Abbey Vignette!

    As an added bonus, you can fill out a form at the end to win a FREE copy of Nachtsturm Castle!

    And make sure you follow all of the Austenesque Extravaganza! I'll be at the Twitter party on Sunday, August 14 - so make sure you're following me to join in the fun!

    For those of you who want to jump into the world of Austen, may I suggest as well checking out Austen Aspirations: Build Your Own Austenesque Novel: The Set-Up. If you like National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), why not make August your Austen writing month?

    Last, but very much most, if you're not already a member of The Republic of Pemberley, then get thee thither to join in the largest gathering of Austenites on the web!