Christine Haggerty on the Dragon Tempest blog tour

The Dragon Tempest

Christine Haggerty is my guest today on the Dragon Tempest blog tour. You can read an excerpt from her prize-winning story The End of Everything here. She very obligingly wrote a short article about one aspect of fantasy writing. Here is her take on urban fantasy as a subdivision of fantasy.

Placing Urban Fantasy

Last summer, I sat on my first panel at Salt Lake’s first FantasyCon. The topic, prompted by a last-minute mediator, was whether or not ‘urban’ fantasy was still fantasy, and if so, where ‘urban’ fantasy fit in the genre.

Before Amazon divided genres into little pieces, urban fantasy fit easily under the more general category of fantasy. It involves magic and creatures and typical fantasy genre tropes. By definition, urban fantasy most particularly uses the simplicity of a familiar modern setting rather than the grand world-building required in epic fantasy. Think City of Bones vs. Wheel of Time.

The greatest advantage of urban fantasy is that it functions as a sort of entry-level fantasy genre. I teach high school language arts and work with students at varying levels of reading interest and ability. If I hand a kid a hard copy of Sanderson’s Words of Radiance and ask him for a report, the kid figures he’s done his weightlifting for the day and never even cracks the book. There’s nothing familiar on which to build an understanding of the elements of fantasy. However, if I hand a kid a copy of Fablehaven, he has the familiar setting of this current time and place on which to build a beginner’s understanding of magic and magical creatures.

The advantages of urban fantasy are:
1. World-building is easier to construct for both the writer and the reader because most of the contextual elements are modern and familiar.
2. Magic has a physical basis in the real world, and the reader can see how the magic system affects familiar, everyday objects.
3. Magical creatures are set side by side with human characters who have the same world-references and history as the reader.
4. Readers with limited imaginations can more easily insert themselves into the story because the new elements are mixed with familiar elements.

Urban fantasy, epic fantasy—regardless of genre, we writers have one primary goal: entertain our readers.

Christine Haggerty

Christine Nielson Haggerty grew up in rural Utah with three brothers, a sister, several chickens, a goat, and an outhouse. She always loved the escape of fantasy and the art of writing, and her passion for life is to craft stories of strength and survival.

As a former high school language arts teacher and a black belt in karate, Christine has found a niche in combining those skills to help authors write effective fight scenes.

An award-winning young adult author, she is now launching her dark fantasy fairytale novella series The Grimm Chronicles.

You can visit Christine’s blog here:
http://www.christinehaggerty.com

and catch up with her here:
http://www.amazon.com/Christine-Haggerty/e/B00H1YLN4A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1386542302&sr=8-1
https://www.facebook.com/ChristineHaggertyAuthor
@chaggerty99

Christine has several books available:

The Grimm Chronicles: Pretty Things
The Grimm Chronicles: One, Two, Blood on my Shoe
The Plague Legacy: Acquisitions
The Plague Legacy: Assets
Standard Issue

which you can find by visiting her Amazon page.
http://www.amazon.com/Christine-Haggerty/e/B00H1YLN4A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1386542302&sr=8-1

The author hot seat

To kick off my foray into the world of the author interview, I’m pleased to invite an old friend and fellow sufferer of Authonomy, Kate Jack. We swapped notes about fantasy writing before we ever tried to get published. Then we swapped rejection letters. Now we swap notes about promotion.
kj
J: Kate, we know you write fantasy, and very good fantasy too. Could you tell us a bit about your work, its setting, and what provides your inspiration.
K: The first book in The Silver Flute Trilogy is called Land of Midnight Days. It’s a dystopian urban fantasy, set in a city not unlike my home town of Liverpool. The main protagonist is called Jeremiah Tully, who is a half Elwyn, half human musician, and to top it all, mute. The story takes the reader on a whirlwind journey, as Jeremiah tries to find out who he really is, and what purpose his musical gift holds.
The inspiration for the book came from staring out the window at work, at the famous art deco Littlewoods building. I remember thinking it would make a good scene for a story. I mulled the idea over for a while, gathering together other locations, such as Allerton Hall, a local mansion house, now converted into a pub/restaurant, and bombed out church, St Luke’s, in Liverpool city centre.

J: I was always struck by the originality of Jeremiah, your main character.
K: When I first thought up the character of Jeremiah, I wanted to make him a musician, but wasn’t sure what instrument he would play. Then one day I was listening to 70’s rock band Jethro Tull – and wham! That, and the Littlewoods building, gave me the impetuous to write the book.

J: Did you try to get agents/publishers interested? I’m told they can be very useful when it comes to marketing and promotion.
K: I did the usual rounds of agents and publishers, and came close to a publisher wanting to take the book on, but they pulled out. As for agents, it’s easier to get an interview with God than it is to interest them in your work. Regarding marketing, well unless you’re a best seller, publishers don’t really get involved. However, they’re quite a few eBook sites that will promote your book free of charge, or for a small fee.

J: Have you found any consumer resistance to your chosen genre?
K: Not really. Urban fantasy is now becoming a recognised genre.

J: I’m glad to hear you’re not tearing your hair out and asking: what am I? like some of us. You say that the burden of promotion almost always falls on the author. How do you get the word out?
K: I follow any links I find on Facebook for promotional sites such as: eBook soda, Awesome Gang, and so on

J: If you were to direct the public towards your novels, whose fans would you solicit?
K: Probably Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files. He also writes urban fantasy, with a touch of mythology thrown in for good measure.

J: Finally, is there any advice or experiences you’d like to pass on?
K: Don’t give up. It’s very easy to become disheartened, because writing is so competitive. Also, don’t rush your work, polish it until it shines. Nothing irritates me more than misspelling, bad grammar, and most of all the incorrect use of the words, “your” and “you’re. “ My experience as a writer has ranged from extreme highs, to the utter depths of despair. That said, if you’re not prepared to weather these storms, don’t become a writer.

I think we’d all agree with those words of common sense. Thank you, Kate for introducing us to your writing. You can find Kate’s books here:
http://goo.gl/M1w6M6 (Land of Midnight Days)

gloaming cover
http://goo.gl/jxGS4Z (Through the Gloaming)

read my review of Land of Midnight Days here

and catch up with Kate here:
http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/KatrinaAnneJack (Facebook page)
http://katrinajack.weebly.com/ (Website)
https://twitter.com/kateannejack

Book review: Land of Midnight Days by Katrina Jack

Land of Midnight Days is a story without the usual fantasy tropes, and the familiar elements (elves, ogres) are altered in such a way as to appear completely original creations. The hero is a lonely, mute boy, whose sole possession and tenuous link with an unknown past is a silver flute. The setting is out of the ordinary too. There are no orderly Hobbit-type Shires, desolate howling deserts or leafy, elf-filled forests; this is a mucky, violent, industrial city.

These are perhaps the story’s greatest strengths. The city is a character in its own right, ever-present and menacing. The underbelly of our large cities with their gang violence and underground economies becomes in this story the reality for everyone. There seems to be no escape from the street gangs, the despair, and dirt for the apathetic population. Into this grim, monochrome setting is introduced Jeremiah Tully, an engaging, intelligent waif-like boy who, as a half-breed, is an object of revulsion even in this city where nobody seems to give a damn about anything. Katrina Jack doesn’t clutter the storyline with explanations about the history behind her world. She doesn’t need to; we can all understand prejudice, and know it doesn’t need a reason.

This was my favourite aspect of the book, the atmosphere of indifference and menace, in which Jeremiah’s blundering search to find out who he really is seems doomed to failure. Circumstances push Jeremiah out of his fragile nest and into the maw of the city, and as he searches for clues that might lead him to a link with his lost family, the reasons for his very existence start to appear. The clues lead to real people and the action takes off into surprising realms.

If I were to make a criticism of this magical story, it would be that the introduction of the other characters in the second half occasionally seems rushed. Zebediah takes form gradually (and very surprisingly!), but the others appear already made; credible and original, but for that very reason I would have liked a bit more background about them. The action moves into a higher gear, and the intimacy of Jeremiah’s perspective has to take a back seat. But this is YA, there is a limit to the amount of introspection a younger readership will tolerate, and the action is very well done, ending with a fabulous, demonic tableau.

Land of Midnight Days is the kind of story that stays with you, and I am looking forward to reading the next instalment. From what we know of Katrina Jack’s world, we can be certain it isn’t going to be all beer and skittles.

See Katrina’s blog for details of where you can buy this wonderful book

Copy of midnightdayscover