Lynne Stringer – Verindon

In the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, some of us have too much time, others are run of our feet. We all have a part to play. With so many of our normal entertainments no longer accessible – it’s a great time to read, read, read. Over the next couple weeks or months, I plan to interview a number of fantasy or science fiction authors to help you discover some fabulous new reads.

From dragons and elves to space ships and blasters, our second interview is with YA science fiction author, Lynne Stringer.

Interview with Lynne Stringer

Share three things that people may not already know about you.

I didn’t finish high school. This is the one that surprises people the most. School and I didn’t gel. I learn better on the job, so to speak.

I don’t like sport or games. I never have. I just don’t find them interesting.

I like big, unusual words like sesquipedalian and slubberdegullion. A sesquipedalian is someone who uses long words. A slubberdegullion is a slovenly person.

Those two words are beauties. I might just be a sesquipedalian too, lol, though pronouncing either of them might be a challenge ;). What favourite books, movies TV shows have inspired or influenced your writing. In what ways? 

I grew up watching Star Wars and Doctor Who, and both inspired my love of science fiction. I love superhero movies. E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial is my favourite movie ever. More recently, the Twilight saga inspired me to take up the pen after many years away from writing fiction. I enjoy stories that take me away from everyday experiences.

Doctor Who and Star Wars were childhood staples, along with Star Trek for me as well. Which (perhaps little-known) authors were your best reads in the last couple of years?

Juliet Marillier is one. She writes fantastic fantasy books. Veronica Rossi is another. I love her Under the Never Sky trilogy. Another one is Jeanette O’Hagan! If you haven’t read her books yet, they’re great. 🙂

Ooh, I like your choices. I will definitely check Mariller and Rossi out. You have a YA romantic space opera series, the Verindon Trilogy, published by Wombat Books/Rhiza Press. What do you love about writing in this genre? Are there any challenges?

I love the young adult genre because the characters in that age group are going through a lot emotionally which I find interesting to write about. I also love science fiction and anything that pushes the boundaries of the normal. It’s more interesting for me than reading a contemporary work of fiction.

There is something fresh and immediate about young adult stories. Both YA and speculative fiction explore exciting new frontiers. The first novel of the Verindon trilogy has an interesting premise. How did you come up with the idea of the trilogy?

I got the idea when my husband and I went on a holiday to the Sunshine Coast here in Queensland, Australia, where I live. For some strange reason, he loves laughing over cheesy pickup lines, and he was telling me some new favourites he’d heard. I was trying desperately to think of one, but the only one I could think of was a guy saying to a girl, ‘You are the only reason I was put on this planet’. Not exactly a brilliant one!

While I was thinking about it, I imagined a guy saying this to a girl, and she said, ‘Yeah, right!’ Then, to my surprise, he turned to her and said, ‘No, you are the only reason I was put on this planet.’ And I realised he meant it literally. I started to think, ‘Why is that? Why would he be here only for her?’ I spent all the time on our holiday starting to develop the story that became The Heir.

Brilliant. You have also written a New Adult Contemporary drama, Once Confronted.  How did writing this book differ from writing the Verindon Trilogy?  Would you consider writing other genres or for other age groups?

I had to do a lot more research for Once Confronted as I had to make sure it conformed to reality, particularly in the areas of social work and working with at-risk children, as I had no experience with this. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder element wasn’t a stretch for me, as I’ve suffered from it myself as the result of an armed robbery, so I could write about that from my own experience. But the other elements required a lot of work. I’m not much of a person for research. I find it hard.

There are constraints writing about the real world. I think your research paid off. You mention that Madison in Once Confronted had a similar and confronting life experience. Are any of your characters like you? In what way and how are they different from you?

Sarah Fenhardt from my trilogy is probably the most like me. She has similar insecurities and strengths and looks like me as well. All my characters, particularly my female protagonists, share something of me, though. Vashta, the protagonist in my latest book, The Verindon Alliance, tends to react without thinking at times. I definitely have this tendency.

What have been the joys and challenges in being a writer? Could you imagine not being a writer? If so, what would you do?

I love putting worlds I have created out there for people to enjoy. It’s especially wonderful to hear from them when they love them as much as I do. That’s the greatest thing about it. The hardest thing is trying to get word out about my books, as well as dealing with bad reviews, which are always hard. 

I’m a professional editor, which means I get to help people improve their books, so I would devote my professional time solely to that if I didn’t write.

It is hard to get our books seen by a wider audience, but so worth it when fans get in touch. Patience and persistence are great qualities in writers. And helping others improve their writing is a worthy goal.

The exciting news is your upcoming release, the Verindon Alliance from Rhiza Press. Tell us more about it and when it will be launched. 

The Verindon Alliance will be released on Friday 1st May 2020. I am holding a book launch on Facebook Live on Saturday 2nd May 2020. The video will be on my Facebook author page after that date if you can’t tune in to watch it on the day, so make sure you check it out.

The Verindon Alliance is set several hundred years before my trilogy, back when the planet Verindon didn’t have much more technology than we do on Earth. In the story, the two humanoid species on the planet, the Verindal and the Vendel, are at war and have been for centuries, but Princess Vashta of the Vendel realises that there is a new threat that comes from somewhere else. When members of her race won’t listen, she allies with Brandonin, the heir to the Verindal throne. Together they have to fight against their own races and against time to defeat this new enemy.

Sounds exciting. I love your cover and I’m really looking forward to reading a new book set in the Verindon world. Thanks Lynne for talking about your fabulous books today.

Why not check out Lynne and her books on her author page or on Facebook, Twitter,  Amazon and YouTube etc. And don’t forget the launch party on 7am, 2 May (Brisbane time).

And There’s More

And just before I go – a quick reminder that the Under the Mountain boxed set will be at low, low price of 99c USD for just one more day. And as a special treat, I’ve reduced the next book in the series, Shadow Crystals to 99c USD. Grab the both while you can. 🙂

See you soon with another author interview.

Jeanette



Kasper Beaumont – Hunters of Reloria

In the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, some of us have too much time, others are run of our feet. We all have a part to play. With so many of our normal entertainments no longer accessible – it’s a great time to read, read, read. Over the next couple weeks or months, I plan to interview a number of fantasy or science fiction authors to help you discover some fabulous new reads.

Interview with Kasper

The first interview is with Kasper Beaumont, the wonderful author of the Hunters of Reloria fantasy series, and the Hidden Angel paranormal series. Not only does Kasper write cracking good books – by day she is a superhero working tirelessly in Infection Control to keep us safe from the dreaded virus.

Welcome Kasper. Good to have you on Jeanette O’Hagan Writers. Can you share with us three things that people may not already know about you.

  1. I don’t like beans, more precisely, they don’t like me.  Don’t worry, I make up for a darth of beans with an oversupply of chocolate.
  2. Two of my children have red hair, the other one must have been switched at birth  (just kidding, she’s a super cute lil blondie).
  3. I like to crochet in my spare time.  Spare time is a rare commodity, so that’s on the odd occasion I’m in a waiting room.

Hmm I wonder where the red hair comes from. 😉 So , what were your favourite books, movies and TV shows as you were growing up, and how have they influenced your writing?

Is this so you can guess my age?  Ok I’ll bite.

  • Gilligan’s Island, M*A*S*H, Transformers and He-Man
  • The Neverending Story, The Princess Bride, Star Wars, and The Goonies
  • The Famous Five, Three Musketeers, Robin Hood, and Nancy Drew

I guess it has helped my hone my sense of adventure, cracking wit and modesty LOL

LOL, Kasper, I can see that sense of humour bubbling over. And the sense of adventure and wit are evident in your stories.

Which (perhaps little-known) authors were your best reads in the last couple of years?

Hmmm…that’s a tough one.  I’ll go Marsha A Moore with the Enchanted Bookstore; and Cat Spydell Faeries of Fellyan.  Also did an audio recording from an extract of the Chronocar by Steve Bellinger.  Awesome prologue.  I can’t wait to read the rest.

Fantastic – new authors and books to add to the to-read list.

You have several children’s fantasy stories published now. What do you love about writing in this genre? And have you ever considered exploring another genre or writing for other age groups?

Thanks, yes I have 4 books in the Hunters of Reloria trilogy  (yes, I can’t count).  I think writing children’s stories keeps me young and also connects me with my own children.  They have co-authored a book and also done some paintings for the stories.

I have recently released an angel and demon paranormal book for an adult audience, Captive of the Darkness, which is a fun change for me.  It’s set in a strip club (shh, don’t tell the kiddies).

I’m also doing a vampire flash fiction, and have had a short sci-fi published in an anthology.

Terry Prachett has a four book trilogy, so you are in good company.

I must say, I think one of my favourite characters in the Hunters of Reloria series is Ash. Do you have any favourite characters from your books or do you think it’s best not to play favourites? And if you do, what do you like about them?

Hmm…oh it’s hard not to have a favourite or two.  I like Ash for his devil-may-care attitude and the fact that a dragon sometimes appears when he’s around.  Might just be a coincidence, but hey, he’s quite secretive.

I like Sienna the Huntress for her bravery and archery skills.  She does have plenty of character development which is fun to write.

I also like the dwarven brothers for their drinking prowess and badass fighting.  They’re just the right height to bash the kneecaps of the invaders.

All great characters 🙂 How did you come up with the idea of Hunters of Reloria? What have been the joys and challenges in writing the series?

The first idea I had was definitely of the halflings and fairies being bonded together in a symbiotic relationship.  I wanted to explore things like how their lifespans would mirror each other and what benefits each would gain from their bond.

Throw in an Elven Jewel which sustained the land’s protective forcefield, and then invaders on a mission to steal it.  A novel was born.

The link between the halflings and the bond fairies was one of my favourite things about Hunters of Reloria. I also love the fan art that you include in your covers and on your social media and pages. I curious to know how that came about? 

I had an idea that a way to attract readers would be to give them a chance to have their artwork in the finished book.  After four art competitions over the years, I now have a great catalogue of character pictures to illustrate my fantasy worlds. Seems to be working so far and they came in handy when I published my Choose Your Hunters of Reloria story which has artwork on every page.  I love it.

Yay, the exciting news is your recent release last year – Choose Your Hunters of Reloria story. Tell us about it 😊

Choose Your Hunters of Reloria story is my take on the Classic Choose Your Own Adventure books from my childhood.  I had a whole bunch of them and liked to borrow others from the local library.  I had test readers on this one from age 8 to adult and great feedback that it has broad appeal to all the family.

My version is set in Reloria, in the time of the Elven Jewel novel.  First you do a quiz on personality types, what fighting costume you would wear and your choice of weapon.

Once you have your character, you are thrust into a chase across the lands to recapture the stolen Elven Jewel.  You journey through many perilous places and encounter the invaders along the way.  Only one path leads to success, so you will need to choose wisely and possibly back-track or read again to complete your quest.

The Choose Your Hunters of Reloria story is a fun read. My first foray was rather short after a few bad choices but I made it in the end.

Thanks Kasper for a fun review and also for entertaining, high-octane fantasy adventures in your Hunters of Reloria series.

Why not check out Kasper’s books or her author page on Amazon or Goodreads.

And There’s More

And just before I go, a quick plug for my latest release 🙂

Yet to start reading about Zadeki, Retza & Delvina’s adventures under the mountain and across the sea? Now’s the perfect time. the first three novellas of my Under the Mountain series are now available as a boxed set – Under the Mountain Boxed Set 1-3 at a steal of 99cUSD – but only to the end of the month (30 April 2020).

And to see some other great bargains – check out the SFF Bonzana 99c for April

See you soon with another author interview.

Jeanette

Interview with Zadeki

Welcome Zadeki

Jeanette: Zadeki, Welcome. We’re chuffed you could take time to fly into today to enlighten us a bit more about yourself. We’ve been following your adventures Under the Mountain and also across the ocean in the Lonely Isles. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun). Coughs Please, please pull up a seat and make yourself welcome.

Header

Zadeki:  My thanks, daughter of the pen. (Brushes a small feather from his hair, and jumps up onto a tree branch.) I’m glad you decided to have the interview outside. Sometimes I think I’ve been in more tunnels than anyone should in a life time.

Jeanette:  I can understand that. The last few days most have been particularly harrowing. Can you tell us a bit about how your association with the twins, Delvina and Retza, came about?

Zadeki: Ah, well, that’s a bit embarrassing. I wanted to prove to the Kinleader that I was ready to be a Pathfinder. So I decided to fly over the mountains to show my skill at shape-shifting. Instead, I ended up being caught in a snow storm and colliding with a mountain and breaking a wing … er arm. That’s when the twins found me and took me into the mountain caverns.

Jeanette: Your time with the twins and their people has been fraught with danger and difficulties. Even now things are in the balance, yet I’m sure the twins have been very glad of your help and that of your Kin.

Zadeki nods.

Jeanette: Lets talk a bit more about you. In our world, people are often divided between ‘cat’ people and ‘dog’ people.  Do you have a particular preference between the two?

Continue reading

Disability in the Fictional World of Gryphendale

Today, as part of a blog tour, we have a post by Lara Lee, author of fantasy novels Gryphondale,  Shadow of the GryphonThe Gryphon’s Handmaiden.

Jeanette: Welcome Lara. It’s great to have you on Jeanette O’Hagan writes. I enjoyed reading Shadow of the Gryphon and look forward to reading the sequel. Tell me, has writing always been easy for you?

Continue reading

My Spec-Fic Faves for 2018


2018 was a great year for reading. I smashed my Goodreads Reader’s Challenge goal and just scrapped to finishing the 2018 Popsugar Challenge. Once again this year, my reading included a selection from the classics, big names and several indie authors. While not all are 5 star reads, each of the books chosen for my 15 picks intrigued me and/or left me thinking about the characters, the plot or the world long after I’d put the book down.

What were my best spec-fic reads for 2018?

1. The Bright Empires series by Stephen Lawhead

This science-fantasy series by Stephen Lawhead consists of five book: The Skin Map, The Bone House, The Spirit Well, The Shadow Lamp, The Fatal Tree.   The series follows the adventures of 17th century Arthur Flinders-Petrie, present day Kit Livingston, his erstwhile girl friend Mina, and the villainous Lord Burleigh, as they each seek to explore the mysteries of ley travel between an expanding number of alternative earths.  Each transfer to an alternative world is at a different time as well as place – from 17th century London and Prague, to China, to both Middle Kingdom and early twentieth century Egypt, ancient Tuscany, the paleolithic, early twentieth century Jordan, or north American desert.  Like the Doctor and Riversong – people can met out of synch with each other which results in some interesting plot points. New characters are added along the way and the stakes grow more serious with each book until it encompasses the whole cosmos. And while the final book didn’t quite live up to the rest,  I enjoyed the complexity of the plot, the immersive and detailed nature of each setting, the interplay of the characters, the redemptive arc and transcendence in this brilliant series.

2. Children of the Furnace by Brin Murray

Children of the Furnace is a YA dystopia set in a world devastated by global warming, with only the polar regions suitable for human habitation. Will, brought up by his step-father in Sekkerland (Greenland) is sheltered from the realities of the world until he is discovered by the Revouts and sent to Ferule – a re-education camp for boys – as a hated Heater.  The book is narrated by both Will and Leah (a girl from the south) with strong world-building and characterisation. Though, at times I found the violence quite harrowing and was disappointed the trope of religious fanaticism, I really did like the originality of setting and that Will seeks another way than ‘the way of the strong’.   Here’s my full review.

Continue reading

Interview – Adam David Collings


In today’s post, I speak with sci-fi author Adam David Collings. Adam has stories published in Medieval Mars and Victorian Venus anthologies, as well as in Glimpses of Light and Superheroes: The Crossover Alliance Anthology V3. Last year Adam published the first episode of his Space Opera series, Jewel of the Stars (you can read my review here.)

I asked Adam a number of questions about his writing process and plans earlier this year.

Jeanette: Share three things that people may not already know about you.

Adam:

1)      My favourite thing to eat, in the world, is chicken schnitzel, served with chips and gravy.

2)      I’m both an author and a computer programmer, and I’ve managed to make it 18 years into my career without becoming a coffee drinker. I just don’t like the taste.

3)      In my late teens and early twenties, I was toying between being a writer and being an amateur film-maker, as my primary hobby. (It never occurred to me that either could be an actual career.) I settled on writing prose because it’s easier to achieve as a ‘one-man-band’. Either way, storytelling has always been in my blood. I ended up expressing the film-making desire through my Vlogging. What would I have done had YouTube not been invented?

Jeanette: That’s a good question.  What were your favourite books, movies and TV shows as you were growing up, and how have they influenced your writing?

Continue reading

Memorable Fathers in Spec Fic

On Sunday it’s Father’s Day in Australia. It’s also three months since my father passed away. He’d lived a long and good life and is now with God, though I miss the twinkle in his eye, his warm hugs and smile.  He was my hero growing up and, though like us all, he had his quirks, he left me a wonderful legacy, including a love for books, for science-fiction and fantasy.

As a tribute to my dad I thought I’d ponder some memorable fathers (or father-figures) in speculative fiction, including in the Nardva World.  One thing that strikes me is their rarity. Fathers, especially in children’s/YA literature/books, often seem absent, whether dead (like Harry Potter’s dad or Eragon’s or Catniss Everdeen’s) or distant (the Pevensey kids’ parents) or hidden (Luke Skywalker’s dad). Even when they are alive at the beginning of the book, they often don’t make it alive (Tris’ parents, for example). No doubt, this is allows the hero or heroine to come into their own.

Not all the dads are great role models. Some we love, some are doing their best, while others need a few lessons on being a great father. Warning – possible SPOILERS ahead.

 

Professor Kirby in Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Professor Kirby is a father or grandfatherly figure to the Pevensie kids in C S Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy have been shipped to the countryside during the bombing of London in World War II.  The Professor mostly allows his housekeeper to care for the children, but when Lucy begins talking about Narnia and Edmond teases her mercilessly, it’s Professor Kirby Peter and Susan turn to. Much to their surprise, he doesn’t discount Lucy’s story and gives them some sage if enigmatic advice. What makes this even better to my mind, is that we later find out that the Prof has travelled to Narnia in his youth (recounted in The Magician’s Nephew).

 

Théoden and Denethor in Lord of the Rings

For such a sweeping saga, there are not a lot of living fathers in Lord of the Rings.  Two that come to mind are not the best of examples – Théoden King of  Eodras and Denethor Steward of Gondor.

Théoden allows himself to be enthralled by Grima Wormtongue and becomes so embittered by grief at the loss of his only son, that he ignores the plight of his loyal niece Eowyn and drives away his nephew Eomer.  Only the dramatic intervention of Gandalf breaks Wormtongues’ hold, and Théoden is restored to his senses and show both courage and heroism in protecting his people and coming to the aid of Gondor. He heroically dies in battle with the Witch King of Angmar, who Eowyn then slays.

Denethor is ensared by his own despair and pride. He sees the darkness coming out of Mordor. He knows that Aragorn will claim his rightful place as King, making him and his house redundant. I’m not sure which he fears the most. But his most egregious fault as a father is his blatant favouritism of one son over the other. He admires and loves Boromir’s stalwart military prowess, while despising Faramir’s more thoughtful approach. In his grief for Boromir’s death, he sends Faramir to certain death in defending Osgiliath, and in bitter regret almost burns himself along with his still living son on a funeral pyre. In Denethor’s case, Gandalf’s intervention and advice is denied and one cannot help but wonder whether Boromir’s downfall was in part seeded by his father’s unwise favouritism.

 

Anakin Skywalker

Who could forget Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back ‘I am your father.’ Yes, but in name only. Consumed with an unreasonable fear of losing the great love of his live, Padme, Anakin is seduced to the dark side, cemented by his unspeakable act of killing the younglings in the Jedi Temple. His turn to the dark side, rather than saving Padme, brings about her death as she gives birth to twins, Leila and Luke. The babies are whisked off and hidden from their father (perhaps not all that well in Luke’s case, with his uncle and aunt on Tatoonie). When they do finally meet, Darth Vader oscillates between trying to kill Luke and his friends, to seducing him to the dark side to serve the Emperor.  It’s a pretty sad track record (perhaps as sad a John Lock’s conman father in Lost). But in the end, the father’s love in Anakin wins out, and rather than see his son killed, he turns on the Emperor, a final redemptive act.

This is reversed in the next generation with Han and Ben Solo (Return of the Jedi and Last Jedi). Han is not a perfect father, perhaps often away, yet there is no doubt he loves his son. Yet Ben turns to the dark side, as Kylo Ren, worships his grandfather Darth Vada and kills his own father so he will not be tempted by the weakness of love. We don’t know how it will turn out for Ben but I’m thinking not good.

On a side note, I chuckle at Jeffrey Brown’s take on  Dad moments between Darth Vader and his kids.

Ned Stark versus Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones

Ned Stark is a man of integrity in a world of gutter politics. He is stern and at times tough with his children, but there is no doubt he loves both them and their mother. His interactions with Rob, Sansa, Arya, Bran and others, shows that he understands their strengths and weakness, and wishes to bring out the best in each of his children. Yet in the end it is his integrity, his drive to do what is right, and his compassion for the children of his enemy that is his undoing. He pre-warns Cersei of his plans to reveal her incest and the illegitimacy of her children, so that she might get them to safety, Instead, she strikes back, bringing him down and leaving his own children exposed and in a mammoth struggle to survive in a predatory world.

Tywin in contrast pushes his children and shows only scorn for his youngest son Tyrion because of his dwarfism. His cold calculating drive brings out only the worst in Jamie and Cersei in particular.

Lief’s Dad in Deltora’s Quest

In Deltora’s Quest, Lief’s father gives him the task to collect the seven stones of Deltora and add them to the Belt of Aidan, so that the true heir of the realm might be returned and the Shadow Lord defeated. Lief’s father, a blacksmith, seems gentle and almost mild. What Lief doesn’t know is that , through arrogance and trust the wrong people, his father allowed a great wrong, which he now greatly regrets. He teaches Lief not only to be a blacksmith but strong values and integrity, things Lief needs on his quest. And he must face his own judgement of his father’s failings, before he can come into his own.

Harry Potter in The Cursed Child

Harry Potter (another orphan) finds it hard to relate to his younger son Albus. They are different personalities and Albus makes friends with Scorpios Malfoy and is sorted in the Slytherin, the group that opposed Harry in the past.  I think Albus reminds Harry of his own failings and temptations. Albus feels the weight of these fears and expectations and travels into the past to rectify what he sees as his fathers mistakes. The results are catastrophic and by the end both Harry and Albus make peace with each other.

King Caspian in The Silver Chair

Caspian’s own father died when he was a child and he is brought up by his murderous scheming Uncle, though it is his nurse and then his tutor that form his character and teach him of the Old Narnia. Caspian marries a star’s daughter, but she is killed by a snake when their son is a young man. Both Caspian and his son are grief-stricken and then his son disappears, only to be returned to Narnia ten years later some months after Caspian dies. It seems Caspian was a good father, but is unable to help his son when tragedy strikes, perhaps because of his own grief. He longs for his son return and does everything he can to find him. Tragic as this seems, Lewis pulls back the curtain in Aslan’s Land and shows Caspian restored, with the sorrows of his life transformed, showing his suffering is not permanent (a theme in explores in more detail in The Last Battle).

 

I’ve also written some fathers good and bad in the tales of Nardva.

 

Korak in the Under the Mountain series

Korak is Zadeki’s father, one of the shapeshifting Forest Folk. We first meet him in Blood Crystal though he probably doesn’t come to the fore in Stone of the Sea (planned release date September). He also makes a cameo appearance in Akrad’s Children. Korak is a more relaxed father, perhaps in part because the Forest Folk take to heart ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, but also because he remembers what it’s like to be young, impetuous and constantly in trouble. He provides Zadeki with direction and restraint when needed or shares a joke or the adventure, giving Zadeki a strong sense of acceptance and value.

Rokkan in Akrad’s Children

Rokkan is both a good and a bad father. He had a fraught relationship with his own father, Martal. Martal showed marked favouritism for his younger son, Naetok, and held Rokkan to an almost impossible standard.  Rokkan wants to be a good father, and guides his son, Prince Mannok with more tolerance and warmth. Even so, Mannok often feels he does live up to his talented father. But it is Rokkan complicated past relationship with Kiprissa Gaia and the need to juggle the uncertain balance between clan loyalties and outwit his cousin, Haka’s, ambition for the throne, and his fears of Akrad’s ongoing influence, that means he treats the children of his former marriage, Dinis and Ista, with far less justice and compassion.

Zander in Withered Seeds

Zander’s ambition to leave the poverty and shame of his childhood behind, leads him to make an irreversible deed (as told in Moonflame). He achieves the wealth and acclaim he desired, but find himself in a loveless marriage and treated with disdain. In reaction, he becomes in many ways an uninvolved father, not giving the input and concern he perhaps should. It is only when his youngest daughter insists on coming with him on his last trip, that the opportunity arises to rectify the mistakes of the past.

 


As I said at my own dad’s memorial service .   No father, except our heavenly father, is perfect. Yet being a parent is one of the greatest privileges, sometimes ignored for what are fleeting goals (wealth, power, prestige, status). The best fathers are not necessarily perfect or strong, but warm, fair and prepared to acknowledge mistakes and learn from them.

Who are your favourite fathers (or father-figures) in fiction? What makes them a great, or at least, lovable fathers.

Jeanette

 

 

The latest release in the Tales of Nardva: Ruhanna’s Flight and Other Stories includes Ruhanna’s Flight, Before the Wind, The Herbalist’s Daughter, Heart of the Mountain, Moonflame, Withered Seeds, Stasia’s Stand and more. It’s a great way to dip into a world of Nardva for engaging heroes and heroines and thrilling adventures.

My Spec Fic Reads for 2015 Part One

What where your favourite fantasy and science-fiction books and movies for 2015?  Here are a few of mine.

Star Wars 7 The Force Awakens

ReyForceAwakensReviewx300With all the hype and the long wait since the release of the last trilogy, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one.  My daughter and I saw it together on our trip to Melbourne in December after a day of looking at art galleries, graffiti lanes and traveling on the trams.

Star Wars 7, directed by J J Abrams, takes up the story twenty or more years after the end of Return of the Jedi. A new dark force, the First Order and dark user of the force, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), are out to destroy the Republic. Hans Solo and the Resistance are searching for a map fragment which will reveal location of the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker.

The movie was fast-paced, with lots of explosions, crashes and fire-fights.  Favourite characters Hans Solo, Chewbacca, Princess (now General) Leia, C3PO, A2D2 all make an appearance and new characters such as Finn (a reformed Storm Trooper) (John Boyega), Rey (an orphan left behind her family on  desert planet of Jaku with an affinity to the force) (Daisy Ridley), the droid BB-8, Maz Kanata and Kylo Ren (the dark ‘jedi’) who works for the mysterious Supreme Leader of the First Order, Snoke.  The plot echoes the past movies with a shocking (though not unpredictable) twist at the end.

We enjoyed the movie. For my son (who saw it with his father), it was ‘the best one yet.’ There was enough excitement, special effects, humour and emotion to keep us on the edge of our seats.  I love the fact that Finn is a person of colour and that Rey is a woman though, for some, this seems to encourage making the emo and conflicted Kylo Ren as the a dark anti-hero despite his terrible nature of his deeds. There are some obvious plot holes and many things left unexplained (how did the First Order arise and gain such devastating power so quickly, who is Snoke, why was Rey abandoned by her family and what is her connection to Luke, why did Luke walk out on the Republic and Resistance (even if his efforts to train more Jedi had disastrously failed)? No doubt some of these things will be revealed in the next couple of movies.

However, the more I think of it, the more I wish that The Force Awakens had deviated more from a recycling of old plot themes and scenarios. I guess it remains to be seen if the next two movies are more adventurous and more ready to risk alienating die-hard fans.

Mocking Jay Part 2

This final film from the Hunger Games trilogy, in which the Rebellion makes a final assault on the Capitol of Panem. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is the face of the resistance but, against orders, she teams up with her closest friends, including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Finnick (Sam Claflin) to take out President Snow.

Again, I watched this movie with my daughter and thoroughly enjoyed it. It does verge on horror in a number of scenes, but the violence is not glorified. The movie stays faithful to the book and, in some ways, surpasses it. I can remember being very disappointed with the end of Mocking Jay (the book) for a couple of reasons, especially with regard to Prim – but also the death of a number of characters. I’ve had a number of years to think about why Suzanne Collins chose to end the book the way she did and I concluded that what happens to Prim was a necessary motivator for Katnis’ final actions and her realization that tyranny and the misuse of power was not the sole prerogative of Snow. Even so, (as I discuss here) it would be refreshing to see more peaceful and diplomatic means as a way of resolving problems. And while this may seem unrealistic – it can be done without necessarily spoiling the climatic thrill – as, for instance, in How to Train Your Dragon.  Not to quibble though, this was a fantastic movie.TriggerWarningreviex220w

Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning (2005) by Neil Gaiman is a collection of short stories of fantasy, sci-fiction and horror. Some are quite brief and others are longer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book with it’s effortless prose, great characterizations and storytelling. Gaiman has a quirky view of life in which danger and retribution lurks in unlikely corners. I’ve reviewed it more thoroughly here.

Anansi Boys

I enjoyed Trigger Warning so much, I went looking for another Gaiman book and came across Anansi Boys (2006).  This book has an unlikely hero in Fat Charlie, and touch of romance, and great twist at the end and draws from Caribbean mythology. It was fun read and I really must read more Neil Gaiman. Again I reviewed it here.

Fly by Night

As I loved Frances Hardinge’s A Face Like Glass (2012), I was delighted to discover Fly by Night (2006). Like A Face Like Glass, this is also a Young Adult fantasy novel with a young teen protagonist combined with an intricate and fascinating, almost Baroque world and a complicated and inspired plot. Mosca Mye (named after the common house fly by her absent minded and erudite father) has to flee her village in the company of her goose, Saracen, and the dubious and smooth tongued Eponymous Clent. On arriving at Mandelion, they find themselves in the middle of intrigue, murder and an escalating feud between the Stationer’s Guild and the Locksmiths. This is a book about freedom of thought. And while I found it’s zealous Birdcatcher villains almost predictable in motivation (see a fuller review here), I still enjoyed the twists and turns, idiosyncratic characters and world building. Certainly, there is a need for tolerance and the freedom to discuss and contest different positions and values in a world where opposing points of view are often howled down or ridiculed in social media storm.

FlyByNightReviewx220

Femme

Femme (2014) by Delia Strange is the first book published in the Wanderer of Worlds series (and multiverse). Kaley  has won a scholarship to the almost Utopian paradise of Femme, a matriarchal society in which men are slaves. Kaley is excited about pursing her future tech studies but finds it hard to adjust to the mores and expectations of this rich and beautiful world, especially when she is assigned a personal slave. The world-building in Femme is rich, multi-layered and delicious. There is an underlying romantic tension and social dissonance that gradually builds up a climax and a realistic (and satisfying) conclusion. By turning social stereotypes and traditional gender roles upside down, Femme makes one think.  I reviewed it here.

That’s the first 6 of my 12 picks for 2016.  I’ll continue with the next six in the next post.

I’d love you to tell me, have you watched or read any of these spec fic pieces? What did you think of them? What are your best reads and views for 2016.

Jeanette

Cross-post to Fantasy Trekkers.

Fictional worlds, Series and more

The last couple of months I’ve been flat out with 2 units of study in the Masters of Arts (Writing). This has left little time for writing. However, I will be using Mannok’s Betrayal for my major project in my current unit The Creative Artefact.

In the meantime, I’ve written a couple of guest posts.

Multiplying the Magic

(on writing and reading series)

A good series is a delight to the reader, author and publisher. How many of us remember those series we loved and avidly followed as children – Anne of Green Gables, Biggles, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five or the Faraway Tree, Narnia, Sherlock Holmes – the list goes on. And as we got older maybe we moved on to Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Isaac Asimov, Janette Oke, Karen Kingsley or perhaps Stephen Lawhead. Well, you fill in the blanks with your favourite series author.
Series come in different guises depending on authorial choice, genre and reader expectations.

Read more

Creating Worlds

(on building fictional worlds)

One Hundred Acre Woods, Never Land, Avonlea, Narnia, Hogwarts, Middlearth … these are all places that have delighted countless children – and let’s admit it – adults, filling them with wonder and whimsy.
For me one of the joys of reading is being transported to another place and time.  It might be across the universe in a FTL spaceship or a Blue Police box. It might be back in time to encounter ancient or not so ancient societies and cultures (Victorian, Medieval, Roman, Chinese or Incan) or perhaps to a strange technological or dystopic future. Or it might be the streets of New York or Sydney, the vast Australian Outback or the green hills of England. Books have whisked me away to all these places – and more, many more.

Read more

Jeanette O’Hagan

Blogging about Fantasy

At the end of April I was thrilled to  guest blog on Dyane Forde’s Writing Blog Dropped Pebbles.  I wrote a two part series on Fantasy:

Fantasy and Faith: Part One

“Some day yfantasy1ou will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” C. S. Lewis

Not everyone loves fantasy, not everyone gets it. ‘I prefer reality,’ they say as they look at you slightly askance. The implication, whether stated aloud or not, is that fantasy is escapist entertainment for the childish and less enlightened among us. Even so, I don’t mind admitting that I have not lost my love for fantasy since the day I was introduced to C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series at age 7. In fact, I spend a large part of my days reading fantasy or writing it. So what can we say to the naysayers? Despite the critics, Spec-Fic including fantasy continues to dominate the bestsellers and movie blockbusters. In fact, many people read or watch  fantasy without realising it – Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, for instance, or Disney’s Fantasia. Moreover, fantasy comes in a wide variety of guises – so chances are there is something for everyone.  Read More.

 

 

 

Fantasy and Faith: Part Two

BirdMany skeptics relegated fantasy to the dusty attics of their childhood. In their minds, it is at best escapist entertainment empty of real meaning or at worst mind numbing wish fulfillment that leaves one out of touch with reality. And to be honest, fantasy does explore and extend our most fantastical dreams and plumbs our worst nightmares. But is it escapist? And is that a bad thing? Read More .