Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Extending the Life of Your Fantasy Worlds

Like the way Stephanie Laurens avoided series fatigue in the latest of her Cynster family books -- Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue. Yeah, the Cynster books are romances featuring aristocratic alpha males and head strong females. Yet, only a few of the books in the series fall off the edge of the story line into the cliche-bogs.

How does Lauens keep pumping interest into her series? She builds interesting characters within the romance parameters [cliches], and then, mines characters from previous books for new pairings. I started reading Laurens after I had heart surgery, and the story lines were just simple enough -- with an adequate mystery thrown in -- I could follow them. Yeah, her books tend to be multi-genre even though not marketed as such. 

Laurens' twist on the romance formula hooked me not only because of her admirable craft skills, but because she knows her constructed late-Regency world as well as Georgette Heyer did hers. I hate it when Regency writers throw in Victoriana or other anachronisms. If I want to read about a Victorian world, I'll read Anne Perry's two series and/or the classics.

Why read the Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue? I let several of Laurens recent books slip by without buying because I was focusing more on fantasy and YA. When I noticed this book, I saw the younger females were getting their chance at a Season, and I wondered what could go wrong. Well, Heather Cynster gets kidnapped because of a family vendetta, setting off the chase and romance. Funny, just realized Laurens romances often are coming of age [aka YA] stories.

I get a little tired of Laurens odes to "love", but I can always skip over them. I'm sure lots of readers grove on them.

Good News for Me:
Just read that Karen Marie Moning is writing a sixth Fever novel  and more. The new one will feature an interesting secondary character of her Fever novels, which feature MacKayla battling the evil fae, and a scion of her Highlander novels. 

It must be the anthropology dose I got in college, but I love revisiting worlds that I enjoyed in previous novels. I found the announcement blog interesting because Moning bristles about protecting her world's integrity against publisher norms.

You can bet you'll be getting a review of the book someday.

The Writing Life:
How much time do you spend building your worlds and characters?

For the last three-four months, I had been building background for a science fiction world. The idea has haunted me off and on for years, maybe over a decade. Gave up on it again, though I have pages of background in my files. Couldn't come up with any focused characters to take the place of the vague place-holders. Another way of saying this: I have plenty of societal conflicts but no personal ones.

Now I'm constructing a grimorie, of all things, to do a non-Half-Elven story based on a short story I wrote in my never-never-California world. I might as well get some use out of the thousands the old man spent building his library. Besides, I don't have to worry about due dates and library fines.

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