“So what’s your book about?”
This is the question I dread. I realize that I will have to come up with a blurb eventually that encapsulates the whole thing in one or maybe two paragraphs. Its required when you submit a manuscript for publication, from what I understand. When I’ve finished this thing, to my own satisfaction at least, I’ll tackle that. In the meantime, I’ve been more-or-less dancing around the question. Not just because I don’t know how to explain it, either.
Because I’m paranoid. Someone will steal my idea.
Now first off, its pretty bloody hard to steal someone’s idea like that. Even if I were to say exactly what the premise of the book was, and you were to take the idea, there’s no way you would come up with the same exact book that I’m writing. The characters would be different, the dialog would be different, the descriptions would be different, it would be an entirely different book.
And it’s not like major, well-known authors are out searching through little known blogs like mine looking for new ideas to steal. Chances are that if someone without the creativity to come up with their own idea was going to steal mine, they’re relatively unknown and heretofore unpublished as well.
So I need to get over this particular fear. Especially if I’m going to garner any interest in this book at all.
Its finished enough that I feel comfortable sharing at least the bare bones of what I’m working on now. A little bit at a time, of course, and not the entire book…because I really would like to see it published one day. One way or another. Granted, I’m not likely to be the next Mercedes Lackey…but I would like to see my name in print on a book spine.
If you’re working in the fantasy genre, there’s three common ways to get fantastic. Either historical/mythological fantasy, or your story is set in another world where these things are “normal,” or your character trips into a portal of some sort and is transported into another world.
The portal concept is ancient…and can be traced back to the most ancient of fairy stories, where the hero is taken “under the hill.” Even some Biblical stories could be looked at this way, where the prophet is taken into heaven and sees visions of the different angelical creatures. In “modern” fiction, this goes at least as far back as Alice in Wonderland, and is a main theme with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Thomas Covenant series, and even the beloved Harry Potter where it may not be an accidental portal, but there is most certainly a portal between our world and that of witchcraft and wizardry.
There is one other, less common theme. I’ve seen it used on occasion, especially in the “Arthur returns” kind of plot lines, and in more humorous fantasy fiction. This is the theme where they come here. In the humorous fiction, this is often where the worlds have already collided and you’ll find mythological creatures in amusing and awkward situations. You know…vampires in charge of blood banks. That sort of thing.
Ok, I’m going to jump a little here, but you’ll see where I’m heading in a minute. postapocalyptic fiction. I’ve never been big into it because, well, the whole nuclear holocaust was pretty scary to me as I was growing up. In high school, I really did believe that if I had a child, they wouldn’t live into adulthood because there was going to be a nuclear war and we were all going to die. Silly, I know now…but I was young and impressionable while shoes were being waved about overseas. However, now that I’m older and I’ve lived through that…I find I’m able to entertain the thought. As in find it entertaining, not worse than any horror movie.
In most postapocalyptic fiction, you don’t see the downfall of humanity. Ok, if it’s a nuclear thing, there’s no point. One minute fine…then boom…then post-apocolypse. *shrug* Not much to show, is there? You will see it more when there’s nice virus or something killing everyone off.
Some fantasy books will imply that their brand-new-shiny worlds are the result of some sort of apocalypse that mankind has already lived through…which is how the new creatures–and world–came to be. But you don’t see mankind’s struggle. They take place sometimes hundreds of years later. This doesn’t include Sci Fi where you might find out that the new world was created as a result of the crash of a space ship of some sort. Different subject. (Fantastic example of this: the DarkOver LandFall series by MZB.)
Following me so far? I know I’m rambling…but I’m getting there…;-) You get to see some of my stream of consciousness, how I came up with this crazy idea of mine…lol.
Ok. So we’ve got fairy portals and apocalypse. Fun, eh?
Now let’s look at the human mind. Once upon a time, I heard a story. How it was relayed to me was a bit of an exaggeration…as these things often are when they’re passed around like this. The game of operator is as true now as it was when I was a kid! Anyway, it goes like this…when the Conquistadors landed in the “New World,” the original inhabitants couldn’t see their ship. They saw them rowing to land in their tiny little row boats and wondered how they had come so far in such tiny little boats. They didn’t understand, couldn’t believe a ship as big as that existed; and their minds translated it as being a mountain or an island. They couldn’t see it for what it was.
Like I said, this tale is only partially true; there is a grain of truth in it. But it is true that our minds cannot see what we cannot believe. We block it out, explain it as something else. I don’t know exactly why; survival maybe? At any rate, I began thinking…
What if they were always here? If we stopped believing so we stopped seeing.
This would explain the occasional whack-job or even incredibly bright person who thinks they’ve encountered fairies, aliens, elves, or whatever. (I know a very nice, very sane lady who claims to this day she’s seen a fairy. I believe her.)
Let’s kick this up a notch. We don’t see because we don’t believe. We don’t believe because we don’t see. We’re in a jaded society, a society that needs concrete, scientific proof before we’ll actually accept something.
Add CGI to the mix now. Because of CGI, completely believable dragons, unicorns, centaurs, angels, flying horses, medusae, elves, dwarves, and everything else imaginable are now believable. We’ve seen them. Sure, they were on movie screen, but we all know that the younger mind is more flexible than the older; we’re raising a generation that will believe because they have seen.
Now let’s make that a portal. Only its a portal going the other way. Now they are here. Some of them won’t be any bother at all…others could be hazardous to human health. Some we can defeat; some we can’t. Some will get along with each other; some will not. There will be battles–human against creature, creature against creature, human against human. Water sanitation is affected by naiads, mermaids, undines…salamanders attack power utilities and natural gas lines are destroyed. Mass destruction, starvation, panic, gang wars, creature wars and so much more fun.
I’m beginning the story where it should, at the beginning, in a city, before reality breaks apart. By the end of the first book, they know they can’t possibly survive in a city. There’s no new food sources, sanitation is completely impossible, water difficult to find, and the gang wars for power and resources are out of control. Their only hope is to risk traveling from the city to the rural areas…knowing that creature activity is going to be worse once they get outside the city.
And of course, there are no cars. The gremlins got those.
Paranoia confronted. Maybe next time I’ll start getting into the characters a little…