I’ve completed posts on all the heroines who appear in the two Facets books except for Katia and Alyce. They have their own books, so they will be discussed separately in connection to those books. I’d like to devote posts to the male characters as well, and to the role of parents and family in Facets (as well as in all my books.) But I’ll just give a brief rundown of Facets of Fantasy.
This was my second book, published in 2009. It contained 5 novellas that explored varying angles of the speculative genre—everything from epic fantasy to light fairy tale-with-castles work. Two years later I made another volume with all the stories edited and two of them rewritten. At the time I didn’t realize I could just upload those changes into the existing book—so now there are 2 Facets books.
Over the last 6 years, I’ve used the second Facets book as a way to sort the first one. I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with the reaction to Facets of Fantasy—something, though never fully developing into the Wicked Twins of Ranter and Recluse, has always felt shady about reader’s reactions. And no matter what they said, I could never quite figure out which story they really liked; really disliked; really thought was interesting; and really thought was boring; and why they thought any of that. Facets of Fantasy became a bit of a problem. I was determined to get to the bottom of it.
I rewrote Halogen Crossing and The Amulet of Renari for the second book. Nothing. (Except people have always let slip a faintly snotty remark about Renari.) I enlarged The Trouble with Taranui and eventually made it its own book. Nothing. I tried to make the much-acclaimed Jurant a single, but somehow that didn’t work at all. Nothing. I worked Millhaven Castle into a different story, Alyce, and I’ve already posted about the problem that book created. And still nothing. Nothing about why a boring collection of stories seemed a problem in my writing life—something that was a bump, a roadblock, and in a way a big secret.
I’ve now added Victoria into the mix because reactions to it were similar. I’m retiring the first Facets book and carried Jurant and Millhaven Castle (always mentioned together) into the second book, adding Victoria. I’m also going to make at least one of the stories into a single ebook, not sure which one. Whether this will solve the problem, I don’t know. But eventually I will whittle it down and find out why Facets of Fantasy is THE book I need to do something about.
And there will be more updates.
In all of my stories, there is only one Cassandra Mel-Kallai. She is unique. Not only is she in a story that’s out of character for me, she is almost the only heroine to actually drive a story. This girl is a touch too old and forests don't appear in Halogen Crossing. But it still captures a bit of her personality.
Halogen Crossing truly is about Cassandra and what makes the story complex is she is nonetheless a placeholder like many of my characters. The story is dictated by her decisions about the Belt—but she is a narrative voice through which we can see a broader story behind her. The story of the world that Belt came from (the kingdom of the sea) and what it represents.
I’ve never heard anyone speak about Cassandra. Not once. And I’ve always found that suspicious because she has an unusually strong presence. The only hint I had of how strongly others might react to this story came from a strange, very confrontational statement made a by a girl several years ago. She attacked a cover I had with a blonde girl like Cassandra on it and said it was homemade-looking, “blurry, and really hard on the eyes,” She insisted on showing me a picture of a place like Bespin in Empire Strikes Back, and that was the impression she got out of the story. I was like, “Whoa, RUDE.” It was quite a while afterwards that I realized she was very upset about the story, not the cover. No one else has said a thing-- to my knowledge.
This story wasn’t difficult or unpleasant to write, but it has some dark themes, shown in a veiled way. I don’t apologize for that because I don’t feel personally about it. I first thought of Cassie as a human personification of the element Calcium (this take on the story can still be seen in the name of the villains, Halogen, a family of elements) and in no way like me or connected to me. I was trying to get at something basic and primitive, as primitive as the elements that make up our world. Cassandra is sold into something represented by the people of the sea and the Belt—something she knows is dark and she wishes everyone around her would acknowledge.
It might be troubling to people who are interested in this kind of fantasy to know others can see what their world is about without belonging to it. As I saw it. There was a lot of interest in fantasy, especially sweeping, allegorical sagas, during the decade I wrote this story, and I think audiences were considering who is really interested in that kind of work. So I know who Cassandra is. Everyone knows. And that’s why, although I considered doing a sequel in which she and Karl traveled to the bottom of the sea, I stopped because there was no more to tell. People know what this story is about.
What she is about.
And there will be more updates.
Victoria is being highlighted today. This is a girl who reminds me of her and the second image is of a real castle in Spain, described as her home in the story. In addition to being in one of the Facets collections, this story will be available individually soon. Once I trimmed it the page count was too small for an individual book, but I will add another story to the back to add pages.
This story was a bit of a blip for me and I didn’t have a strong hold on it at first. It was quite a bit longer, with a long subplot and details drawn from my trip to Spain. But once I realized it was a shorter story and couldn’t stand alone, I was able to corral some of the ideas, drop a fairy tale angle that was there at first, and put it into the Facets collection. I was glad to do this too, because Victoria is one of my most viscerally real heroines.
An idea of glamorous, macho, intriguing historical in big costume dresses is the center focus of the story—Spain’s castles, plazas, and scenery being the perfect crystallization of what people get out of that kind of Bigga historical. (I’ll post on Bigga later. It’s roughly 1400-1790 historical eras, typically among rich people in Europe.) It took me a while to understand that Victoria’s not cunning, cold, practical, and a little heartless—in contrast to her warm, spontaneous sister Bella. That’s what she thinks she is. Actually, Victoria is a bit of a sucker and at times a dumb bunny. Bella—or someone undefined, it’s hard to tell because Victoria is so vague about it herself—is the true manipulator.
Victoria has so little idea what is going on that a number of men start to march all over the castle, and all over her, trying to tell her to get real. Something serious is happening in people’s relationships and she’s bopping along in a stale zone, not seeing what’s going on. A dangerous, ambivalent assassin kidnaps Bella and leads Victoria on a goose chase in an effort to get her attention. A tough young duke from the south shows up, practically interviews Bella, chews out their father, and helps Victoria to understand a threat to the family. Victoria’s cousin, a weird young scholar, constantly speaks to her in code Victoria thinks is silly. He’s trying to get her attention.
Victoria spends most of the story on the run—perplexed, afraid for Bella, manipulated by the Hirado, advised by Ignacio, taunted by Webster, worried by her father, and freaking out. Since she never does fully understand what’s going on—it’s hard to shake her idea she’s in charge instead of ignorant—it is a little unclear. But a sour tone hangs over the castle and all the adventures. Sour and surprisingly violent. My feeling is Victoria represents the kind of woman interested in this historical. In Bigga. What Bigga is all about, I’ll describe another time. This post is only about Victoria—that Woman-In-A-Red-Dress who’s living in a sort of nightmare.
And there will be more updates.
Today's heroine is Sekana, the main girl in Jurant. Below is a picture of a girl who looks a bit like her, except Sekana's hair (especially in the unpowered state she is at for most of the story) is very thin. Sekana is a character it's hard to find pictures for. The second girl is Julie, Don's sister. Julie's hair is a very short bob, but otherwise I love this girl's face and stance.
For a long time, Jurant has occupied a strange, almost creepy place among my stories. No one ever criticizes it. Since I’m a magnet for the argumentative, I’ve always been suspicious of Jurant’s quiet resilience. I’d grown to dislike the story, actually, because so many people praised it whose opinion I’d learned to find dubious. If they said anything else about my books, it was rarely true. So I was sure they couldn’t really like Jurant. Besides, who could really like such a boring story?
But after it was written I realized it did have a sneaky something—because Sekana does. People always mention Don, but never Sekana. And it’s the silent things that really get people’s deep attention. I wasn’t consciously working with any ideas from pop culture when I wrote it. I just closed my eyes and the story was there. But one of my friends said it reminded her of Star Wars and I have realized that’s true. But that just makes it weirder. Sekana isn’t the sort of person who appears in Star Wars. All the women are very brash, even at the risk of being bratty and childish. And very tomboyish as well. Sekana is introverted, cunning, unathletic, and in a world of her own. She’s far more like Elsa than like any SW woman and Elsa, as I saw on a Jedi Princesses picture, translated very poorly to Star Wars. She’s a Disney, not a galactic princess.
I had a brainwave of what might be interesting to people when I realized Sekana was bad. Writing it from Don’s POV, I entered his mind, and Don’s not very smart. He feels strongly, but it’s easy to overrule and fool him. But Sekana and her rebellious planet Rindon represent a bad element that Lord Haltyn fears has infested the military school. They’ve got a way of thinking—a worldview. They have beliefs that aren’t accepted and don’t belong. Sekana might seem vulnerable, a pawn of her parents, and shy. But she’s actually sneaky, incredibly stubborn, manipulative, and self-absorbed. She always seems to be up to something, something she’s sure is banned. So the basic idea of the story is that the Emperor sent Anakin (pre-Vader) to kick Elsa out of Star Wars. Sith often fight with each other and she is a kind who isn't organic to the world and doesn't belong.
I didn’t know whatever Elsa represents was even in Star Wars. It must have been deeply hidden. Anyway, whoever this interloper in Star Wars was, somebody found them and so I wrote about it. In the end Don accepts her worldview (symbolized by her healing of his sister) and moves with her family to Rindon. I wondered how that could be right. If Sekana is bad, shouldn’t she be shown as doing bad things instead of raising people from the dead? But the best way to really get rid of a Sith is to become an apprentice and play along. Because they’re Sith. The apprentice always destroys the master.
And there will be more updates.
7 books published and 3 more on the way. Farmer's daughter, Star Wars fan, loves to read rather than talk about reading. Always has time to finish her WIP.