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.
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 http://theresacrater.com
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: www.andreakhost.com
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 http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and www.vjeffersandqveal.com.
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 http://the0phrastus.typepad.com/ You can also find out more about Chris at http://the0phrastus.deviantart.com/ at http://the0phrastus.livejournal.com/ and also at http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com
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.