Chickens, Eggs and Fantasy

I've been reading several of Dianne Lynn Gardner's Ian's Realm series recently. If you click on the links you'll find my reviews of 

The Dragon Shield has only just been released (this guest post is part of its celebratory tour), and I've even been lucky enough to learn some secrets of the upcoming Rubies and Robbers. As you see, I'm hooked. So I'm delighted to welcome Dianne to my blog with a guest post today, where she answers my question about which came first, the present-day Ian's Realm (where Deception Peak and the Dragon Shield take place) or its wonderful background history and mythology (told in the wizard stories). It seems I wasn't the first person to ask that kind of question, so, over to you Dianne, and welcome.

Someone asked me in an interview just recently, “which came first-the chicken or the egg?” I thought it somewhat peculiar that the age-old riddle popped up in a book interview. I immediately responded, “The chicken!”

Shows how my mind thinks!

Now that Sheila has asked me to talk about the Realm and the writing of its mythology and history I have to laugh. Naturally you would think the history would come first. However, I’m finding myself writing backwards.

The very first Realm story was called The Dragon Targe. It is no more. Why, you ask? It needed so much explanation and history that by the time I had written the book before it, (Deception Peak), The Dragon Targe no longer fit. Only parts of the story remain as the second book in the series The Dragon Shield.

Once the third book, Rubies and Robbers was completed, and Cassandra’s Castle in its first draft, I realized there was more to this world than what I was allowing the reader to see.

Where was the magic? The myth? The mystery?

I knew the Realm possessed these things but I hadn’t told the reader about them. Where did the phantoms in the caves come from? What is the origin of the dragon and why do the Meneks worship it? 

And what are the Songs of Wisdom, the northern winds? Where does the Dragon Shield get its power? And the dagger…what about that?

Ah, so many budding questions were just waiting to bloom into stories!
Hence, I stirred the bottom of the pot and A Tale of the Four Wizards rose to the surface.

I’m thinking that when Sheila asked me to talk on the subject of background mythology and history in a series, she might have visualized me in my study with years worth of notes and maps, jotting down outlines on parchment paper stacked high to the ceiling.

No. Not me.

Probably most authors start at the beginning. I know one gentleman who, like J. R. R. Tolkien, has written his story’s history, myths, languages, legends, charts even songs well before beginning his novel. It’s taken him six years.

I’m not that methodical nor am I that organized. I’m certainly not that patient!

However, I don’t believe there’s a right way or a wrong way. After all, Lewis didn’t write his Narnia series in order. And look at Star Wars!

My method, odd as it may seem, comes from writing. The more I write, the more I have to write, and that’s my motto. I’ll be writing a novel and introduce a character that has a colorful history. Well, there’s another book!  When Cassandra’s Castle is published (that story happens quite a few years after Ian’s adventures in the Realm) we’ll be going back in time again and find out what happened to Reuben’s son, Abbott. Why? Well, because he’s the father of someone important in a later book. And it happens that Abbott’s story is well worth telling.

When my Realm collection is written and done (if ever), I’ll let the librarians put them all in order. 

Thank you so much Dianne, and I am really looking forward to learning what happened to Abbott. One thing I really love about the stories is you never belabor the links between them. There's something really satisfying for me, as a reader, to see something and think "Oh wow! That's neat!" without the author painting arrows all around. I like that you respect your readers, and I think that's part of why I love your books so much. And I like that you're working backwards--it gives the reader a feeling of exploring and discovering a much-loved place at the same time as the author. Thank you so much for visiting my blog, and I hope you'll be back when Rubies and Robbers or Cassandra's Castle come out.

Find out more about Dianne Lynn Gardner and Ian's Realm here:


DLGardner said…
Thanks so much for this great prompt! I enjoyed being on your blog and you bet I'll be back! if you'll have me!
Anonymous said…
Love the covers. Thanks for sharing! I'm always happy to see a Fantasy post. :)


Sheila Deeth said…
Of course I'll have you Dianne! Just let me know when. And I love those covers too, and the pictures inside.
Unknown said…
Thanks for sharing Dianne with us, Sheila. Didn't know about much her books until now. Having just been converted to Fantasy, I now have hers to look forward to.

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