Today I get a chance to welcome Shea Berkley to my blog. She is the author of The Marked Son. This is the first in a young adult fantasy trilogy that I recently read and enjoyed. Let me step aside for Shea's post:
Do you know what I love about writing fantasy? Creating creatures. Okay, it’s like I’m a kid with nightmare issues sometimes, but on the whole it’s really fun. There are the traditional creatures: ogres, trolls, faeries, elves, dwarves, witches and wizards. Nothing truly crazy in any of them. They’re great for getting certain jobs done. Ogres wreak havoc on villages. Trolls terrorize travelers. Faeries have been known to enslave others. Elves may kill you on the spot. Wizards and witches just might allow whatever is chasing you to catch you and eat you. Sounds fun, huh? It is!
But then you have the odder creatures, like sirens and sprites, dragons and griffins, mermaids and minotaurs. Sometimes these creatures are bound to one area like water, the air or fire or even a particular place. They often have little wiggle room for growth. They are what they are. That’s when you can get a bit more creative. You can have them be human sometimes and a siren other times. Or the dragon isn’t just a fire breathing monster but an intelligent creature that has more sense than its human counterpart. Both of these options have been done several times in fiction.
What I like to do with all these creatures is to take what’s expected and twist that expectation. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. Many times in fiction, if you stick too closely to the traditional fantasy elements, people will say the author didn’t try to make the story fresh enough. I say that all depends on the creature’s job in the story. I love traditional characters, so I try to mix in the traditional with the “purely plucked from my mind” creatures.
People love creatures they can understand, and when you use traditional characters, there is an instant understanding of how they work. So when you tweak that expectation, you’ve got to have a really good reason and a logical approach for making a creature do something against type.
Honestly, as a reader, I’ll always give the author the benefit of my imagination and let them tell their story without imposing my expectations on the plot. I want to be taken on a journey of discovery. I love surprises. Don’t you?
The firsts in my story are the traditional Fae characters. I didn’t give them wings, but I did give them a new slant. My Fae can’t lie. It’s impossible for them. Taking away that one aspect of life we all take for granted caused certain things to happen. Also, it begs the question, who is nobler, those who can’t lie or those who can but chose not to lie?
If you want to know more about The Marked Son or get it touch with me, go to: Facebook / SheaBerkley.com / Goodreads / RubySlipperedSisterhood.com
Check out this excerpt from The Marked Son to get a taste of the book:
I was eight the first time I saw the girl.
Mom freaked when I told her, said I was letting a girl terrorize my dreams, but I didn’t get it. They were
dreams, not nightmares. I don’t remember ever waking up afraid. Not back then. So when the dreams kept
coming, year after year, each one more vivid than the last, I held onto them like a skydiver clutching his
ripcord. No way would I let Mom take them away from me.
It’s been years since she’s asked me about the girl, but lately Mom’s been curious. I tell her I haven’t had
a dream in awhile. She eyes me like I’m lying.
So what if I am? I may not remember everything about my dreams when I wake up, but I do know when
I’m about to have one. My scalp tingles, like tiny bugs zap, zap, zapping along my skin. The darkness
behind my lids turns smoky. I’ve tried to pull away at that point but it’s no use. I don’t fight it now.
Instead I sink into the thick air and come out the other side into a world that is nothing like the one I
Yet, it’s familiar.
Tonight, the smoke fades, and the girl appears in a thin, white gown. I’m lying in a meadow surrounded
by deep woods, one hand tucked behind my head—shirtless and shoeless and wearing a pair of old, ratty
jeans. I can hear the TV I left on fading in the distance until the sound of the meadow fills the air.
She’s suddenly beside me, beautiful beyond words, her long, dark hair spilling over her shoulder as she
bends to touch my hand. Her cool fingers rest more like mist than flesh in my palm. The rough corset
she’s wearing cinches the fabric snug to her hips. She’s got a definite Victorian vibe going, but it suits
her. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it.
Her violet eyes darken, revealing the silent plea that carries a hint of desperation, and she tugs, urging me
to get to my feet. She wants me to run, to escape. In the last two weeks, we’ve tried, running so long and
so hard that we’re sure we’ll never find our way home again. We’ll be lost together forever. It’s what she
wants. It’s what I need. But it always fails. We eventually wind up back at the meadow.
Tonight, I’m content to pull her down beside me, lie in the soft grass, and stare at the sky. Our fingers
intertwine, our shoulders touch. We’ve both gotten older since the first time we met. There have been
years when we rarely saw each other, but lately, our time together has intensified. There’s a feeling of
impending doom that wasn’t there when we were younger, as if this perfect place of dreams is about to
shatter, and we’ll never see each other again.
There’s so much I want to know. Why do I only dream about her when I need her most? Am I insane? I
don’t ask. I’m afraid to. I want her to be real, just a few months more, maybe a year. Then I’ll grow up
and cut this strange, imaginary cord. I can’t lose her smile, not yet, or her lips against my cheek—one of
her butterfly kisses that’s gone before it’s begun. Her silence has never bothered me before. Tonight, all I want is one word.