04-20-19 – In Praise of a “Bad Pick” by Linda Lovely and Robin Weaver

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Balancing Fantasy and Reality

by M. L. Buchman

So, I'm a participant in a fantasy book bundle that launched just a few days ago. And before I wander off to the "reality" of my thoughts on romance that this triggered, I'll first take a moment to talk about where the thoughts came from.

The Myths and Legends Storybundle (https://storybundle.com/fantasy) is an awesome collection! Monk's Maze is one of my early books, but it's one I'm still very proud of. Frankly,  I'm a little startled to be included in such a lofty crowd of fantasy authors.

And that's what got my thoughts churning (if you're still with me rather than off buying that fantastic, limited time bundle--just 2 more weeks then gone forever). If you didn't jump right over, please go there and just look at the covers, even if you don't read fantasy. Myths and Legends. Fantasy. Gods, dragons, magic carpets...and then scroll down until you see my title. It will leap out at you.

Go ahead,,,I'll wait.

See what I mean?

Why does it stand out so much? Because it's the only one with a realistic cover image--a person rather than a drawing. That is what got me thinking about what I write and how I write. That image is true to the story. It's set at the end of the Second Dark Ages. During the First Dark Ages, the monks were the once who preserved art, music, and literature. In the Second, I had them move off planet to preserve technology. Upon their return, humanity has moved on in several ways. And one piece that the monk brings back is the key to a Druid maze of power. It throws control over the shape of the future into one woman's hands. In this story, she must come to face her own power and find a solution that is uniquely hers. (Even back then I was writing about strong women.)

So, even writing fantasy, I stay very realistic in every way I can...at least every way that fits the story. Yes, there are swords and magic, but there are also politics, romance, and hours of research on things like the view of Edinburgh from the tower's battlements and I even made a trip to the lonely island of Iona from which Christianity swept over the Celts back in the 700s CE in a single decade, converting all of Scotland (as if by magic it happened so fast--an observation which gave me one of the core elements of this story).

I do the same with my romances. I have a number of military fans who tell me they are fans because I got it close enough to right that they can feel it. I even wrote a paranormal romance title (The Sum Is Greater) and managed to make it military romantic suspense in a very, down-and-dirty, realistic world.

Another phrase that comes to mind as I think about this is "The Art of the Possible" from the musical Evita. I want everything in my books to be possible or at least to seem that way. When I wrote about the Devil in my Deities Anonymous series, she's merely the Devil because she got the update and delete privileges on the Universe's computer system, while God was given the create privilege. Of course, if they had gotten along, the Universe would probably be a much neater place than it currently is.

I have friends (a number of whom are in that fantasy bundle) who live out in wild, wacky, fantasy worlds that I love to wander through...those aren't me as a writer. I think that's important to know about yourself. Maybe you're someone who straddles the fence. And sure, sometimes I take a walk on the weird and silly side, but there is still a deep realism to even my more fantastic stories.

Magic Realism is perhaps the best way I've heard to describe it. (Of course, there are a number of variations in how writers interpret that.) For me, Magic Realism means that it could absolutely be happening all around you and you couldn't tell. Not the dangerously overlapping worlds of Harry Potter and us muggles. Rather that I have no way to know if there is one seriously cool computer program running the universe, so maybe it is. Or maybe, St. Columba converted the Celtic hordes to Christianity not with his great piety and political savvy, but rather with the power of a lost Druid's Maze of Power, buried beneath the depths of Iona, Scotland, just waiting to be rediscovered and change the course of history.

...I have mentioned before that I love this job, right?

Booklist has selected his military and firefighter series(es) as 3-time “Top 10 Romance of the Year.” NPR and Barnes & Noble have named other titles “Top 5 Romance of the Year.” In 2016 he was a finalist for RWA's RITA award. He has flown and jumped out of airplanes, can single-hand a fifty-foot sailboat, and has designed and built two houses. In between writing, he also quilts. M.L. is constantly amazed at what can be done with a degree in geophysics. He also writes: contemporary romance, thrillers, and SF. More info at: www.mlbuchman.com.


Judith Ashley said...

Yes, Matt, you have mentioned you love this job and for us lucky readers it shows!

M. L. Buchman said...