Monday, January 28, 2013

Travelling Fantasy Blog Tour: Hero and the Quest -- the hero in stasis

Perhaps it’s the Judeo-Christian virtue of endurance. Perhaps it’s my own life. But my characters have never really wanted to go on a quest. Often they end up on one. Because the genre requires it, because the story requires it. But, for the most part, the quests of my heroes is the quest of a happy home. Home, as they have found it, is a burden to them and they generally want to leave home in order to find or create a better home — far from their own tribe or clan.

I haven’t read up on the hero’s quest in a while so I’m not sure why the hero generally leaves home. Maybe I’ve fallen into the requirements of the trope without knowing. After all, the hero’s quest is such a part of our culture. The prince must depart his land, fight dragons or ogres, marry a woman from another clan, then bring her happily back.

I will say, though, that my characters tend to be heroes of endurance. Whether women or men, they are mired in stasis — usually by well-meaning parents or clans. It is as if, my muses are not so much concerned with the quest but with exploring the brief imprisonment the hero endures. In most fantasy books, the hero has his little encounter with the jail/dungeon/dark prison then he moves on. In my books, the enduring of the dungeon is the entire novel. The hero or heroine is mired in waiting. This waiting involves hope, remorse, existential questions to God, deadly routine, and the determination to hold on to their personality, character, and/or will.

Thus, the quest is to leave the state of being mired and to return to a normalcy the typical hero takes for granted. To merely have a happy home. Perhaps that is why many of my characters are princesses or wives in unhappy marriages or damaged children of kings and warriors. Men and the healthy have a certain freedom that women, the sickly, and young children do not. 

There are moments when they seem to have an apparent chance to leave their dungeon —whether by suicide, flight, or concession to the powers that be— but their love for another character, hope in Divine Intervention or a possible change of  mind of their prisoner, or a holding on to their will prevents them from leaving.  I suspect this kind of  hero stasis can only be understand by those readers who, like The Godfather’s Don Corleone, are constantly being reeled back in —-in spite of every attempt to flee the clan.

So my new soon-to-be published novel, The Constant Tower, is not for happy middle class kids who want an adventure in order to grow, but for kids in bad neighborhoods, poor kids who wish to run away from home, kids who don’t want to be in clans, women married into hateful clans. Folks who just want to be happy with the normal.   The Christian worldview of battling for a regular life in the face of suffering, sickness, and the fact of others controlling our lives changes the Hero Quest trope a bit -- because of that Christian virtue of Endurance. 

This month's host is

Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections. His story, "The Boy on McGee Street," is forthcoming in Queer Fish 2  Please go to

The members of the travelling blog tour are:

Theresa Crater has published two novels, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moonand “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website at

Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See:

Deborah J. Ross began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with Jaydium and Northlight and short stories in Asimov's, F & SF, Realms Of FantasyY and Star Wars: Tales From Jabba's Palace. Now under her birth name, Ross, she is continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy The Seven-Petaled Shield, forthcoming from DAW. She is a member of Book View Cafe. She's lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, plays classical piano, loves horses, and is active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.

Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, science fiction writer and the author of the Immortal series, The Switch II: Clockwork (books I and II), Grandmere’s Secret, and Colony. She has been published in numerous anthologies including: Steamfunk! and Genesis Science Fiction Magazine. Contact Valjeanne at and

Chris Howard's a fairly creative guy with a pen and a paint brush, author of Seaborn (Juno Books) and half a shelf-full of other books.  His short stories have appeared in a bunch of zines, latest is "Lost Dogs and Fireplace Archeology" in Fantasy Magazine.  In 2007, his story "Hammers and Snails" was a Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Fiction Contest winner.  He writes and illustrates the comic, Saltwater Witch. His ink work and digital illos have appeared in Shimmer, BuzzyMag, various RPGs, and on the pages of other books, blogs, and places. Last year he painted a 9 x 12 foot Steampunk Map of New York for a cafe in Brooklyn. Find out everything at You can also find out more about Chris at   at and also at

 Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies.

Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her first novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.  

Friday, January 04, 2013

Thoughts on guilt after seeing the film "Cassandra's Dream"

oooh, a funny thing today
i was in bed stuck, sick, watching the dvr
and i watched a little english indie flick called "Cassandra's Dream."

It was basically about two brothers who murder someone and one of them feels guilty
and it dawned on me again how guilt is something we don't see a lot in crime dramas
punishment for a crime is often external.

The cops get the bad guy, the divorce court gives alimony, etc
but the culprit's guilt for a murder or for adultery is never shown.

And i really think there are more people who feel guilty, about the sins they commit, than we know. Perhaps most humans hide guilt nowadays really well. Or they don't know how to recognize their guilt. Maybe we live in a world where folks don't understand their discomfort is really their guilt...kinda like the way some folks don't understand the peace they feel in church or in a park (when they have no cell phone service.) So they think the peace is boredom or discomfort?

Cain had guilt (guilt and punishment being the same word in Hebrew)
Lamech had no guilt
  because Lamech had been immunized by accepting grace (Cain family history and all.)

But when one sees the literature of the 19th century
Crime and punishment etc..or Madame Bovary. Or Anna Karenina. Or even some Freud stuff in the early 20th century. 
We see so few movies and shows where we see the guilty adulterer or the guilty theif or the guilty murderer feels guilt from within. The culprit just shoots his glock or murders...or cheats on his wife and gets a new mistress and moves on. (Every once in a while a Michael Corleone pops up...but that doesn't happen much in gang movies or American drama.) It just makes me wonder. Because I'm thinking that people are perhaps more simple than Hollywood and other film folks pretend we are.

Or of this generation seared in its conscience by the whole "grace" thing? Even if one isn't Christian, there is that idea of God being all understanding and loving and willing to forgive? human nature so easily changed and changeable?
Okay, within a few generations from Cain to Lamech... there was this change of dealing with guilt. Lamech took God's act of grace and kinda ran with it, the way a lotta folks in the US or the Christian church take the idea. So God would be showing how we humans deal with grace. God's gracious kindness to Cain creates a Lamech. But only with Lamech, I think.
Funny how Adam and Eve then Cain then Lamech deal with grace and guilt
and blame
but the film got me thinking.....we as writers...
It makes me wonder if hollywood is polluting folks in such a way that folks actually feel they feel no guilt when they do a crime...only to be terribly surprised by suddenly feeling the guilt of their murder or adultery?

Just pondering....

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