Please check out my upcoming Golden Coffee Cup and the following Opportunity, but to create meaningful work, we have to get the fire within burning. The answers to our writing journey are threaded through our life journey. On this journey, we find the themes that we circle around and explore in our stories. Most of us find that we spend our entire career revealing these heart-felt themes.
Talented fantasy author Janet Lee Carey is here today to share some of her insight into how we move the inspiration of our life into the fiction that we write. Janet is the author of many books including STEALING DEATH, THE BEAST OF NOOR and its sequel THE DRAGONS OF NOOR. Today we’ll be taking a close look at how Janet’s real life passions and interests connected with and inform her newest fantasy novel THE DRAGONS OF NOOR. This blog is in celebration of her newest book.
The natural world is a huge force in your work, please suggest some practical ways that you draw strength to create from the natural world.
I’m lucky enough to live by a lake where I can watch the morning mist rising over the water. The lake changes moment by moment. I look down to read a paragraph and when I look up again the light has gone from gray to rose, new birds have flown in. I’m constantly thrilled and challenged by the fierce beauty of the natural world, so it’s not surprising that it’s central to all of my fiction. When writing new scenes I try to let the setting speak. For this to happen I have to get out of the way and let the natural surroundings say what needs saying in the story at that particular moment. Everything the story needs is right there in the scene.
Describe the how and why of the moment the kernel of an idea was formed for THE DRAGONS OF NOOR.
There were two parts to the original vision. One came from a daydream I had years ago where I saw children stolen by a wild wind.
Children fly when worlds are shaken,
Now the children are Wind-taken.
Seek them there, seek them here, before the children disappear.
The first few lines of the poem above came early in the writing process. Sometimes poems arrive like signposts. It’s my job to follow the signposts into the story to see where they take me.
The second kernel had to do with an image of the ancient forest toppling down through some mysterious blight. Funnily enough the question, “Who will speak for the trees?” raised by Dr. Seuss’s book THE LORAX, accompanied the vision.
These two images collided in my mind. I knew the loss of the ancient trees and the wind-stolen children were connected somehow, but I didn’t discover the internal story map right away. I had to write the first draft to understand the connection.
Caution: allowing the imagination elbow room and writing discovery drafts leads to a lot of cutting and revision down the pike. Still I wouldn’t write any other way.
Trees, it’s all about the trees. In THE DRAGONS OF NOOR, the azure trees are dying, connections between worlds are severed, heroes must rise up and save these connections, could you share some stories of how trees have inspired you and how they made your way into your story?
I grew up under the towering California redwoods, and I mean under them. The ancient trees dwarfed us. I think this gave me a unique perspective growing up. I felt there were older living beings around me -- that I was a small person in their world. Because of this I see all the manmade structures, our houses, buildings, bridges, as necessary to our survival, but I also feel we are building on ancient terrain.
The forest was a presence. I felt the trees surrounding me walking to and from school. I also read fantasy books up in the boughs. In ON STORIES C.S. Lewis says “[the reader] does not despise the real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all the real woods a little enchanted.” This was certainly my experience. The books I read made me see the redwood forest with a deeper appreciation.
Some seedling thoughts I discovered writing THE DRAGONS OF NOOR.
Trees play an essential role in the human psyche. Our bodies, hearts, and brains need their silent majesty, green boughs, and shade.
Trees are rooted in humankind’s childhood. When we cut them down we sever ourselves from our wild past and chop down our most ancient playground.
The tree deya, Evver, says to Hanna as they part ways:
~Feel the ground beneath your feet as you walk. Heart to root; remember the ones who hold you up.~
You’re sending donations to PLANT A BILLION TREES as part of the celebration of the release of THE DRAGONS OF NOOR, could you explain why you’ve chosen to support this organization and what it means to you?
Of course! I knew when the book came out I’d be looking for just the right outreach to celebrate. The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees is the perfect fit.
Plant a Billion Trees goal is to restore one billion native trees to Brazil's highly endangered Atlantic Forest over the next 7 years.
Nature Conservancy says, “Tropical forests are the lungs of the earth, filtering out ten million tons of car-bon dioxide from the atmosphere every year. Every day these valuable trees help reduce global warming.”
Readers who want to help restore the forest can check out the “Giving Back” page on my website, or go straight to Plant a Billion Trees campaign page.
Local Seattle area readers are welcome to join THE DRAGONS OF NOOR Book Launch Party at Parkplace Books in Kirkland, Oct 23rd 7-9 pm.
Thanks for the great questions, Molly. It was a pleasure to visit Seize the day today.
In lieu of this week's doodle, here are some lovely trees to inspire you on your journey.
credit Tom Carey
Sometimes I go about pitying myself
And all the while I am being carried across the sky
By beautiful clouds