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Tuesday, February 5, 2013


with author Beth Daniels, aka Beth Henderson, J.B. Dane 

There is a land – or if there isn’t, there should be one – where everything is arranged the way we want it. Oh, that doesn’t mean that it’s a place without danger, pain, death, despair, and all those other things that make up REAL life, but it has things in it that fascinate, intrigue, lure us.

Fortunately, we’re beings of extreme imagination – we write worlds into being that exist nowhere but in the pages of a book, ones that owe their existence to our own creation theories. Or fascination with guys wielding magic swords.

Some writers borrow from the legends of the past – particularly the tales of a myriad of pantheons of gods, goddesses and their offspring, some who are monstrous and some who are just as selfish and self-centered as their parents. And like the civilizations that believed these stories, all of these beings were usually vicious enough to get a kick out of torturing mankind.

Well, like those gods of old, we now do these things to our characters. We plunk them down in worlds of our own creation – whether they borrow directly from the old tales (as Tolkien did quite a bit of) or spin them with modern twists.

I’ll admit that I came to fantasy late. Someone handed me THE HOBBIT when I was in my early twenties because, they said, “you like reading so you’ll love this!” Didn’t. Was incredibly bored with the Hobbits and their lifestyle. Never made it past the middle of the first chapter, I’ll bet. Yes, I know this is considered sacrilege to many but it just wasn’t my kind of book. Still isn’t…those Hobbits, you see. I’m prejudiced against people with extra-large hairy feet, I suppose.

And so I went back to reading medieval historicals, then American west historicals. I continued on with my love of mysteries (I had a reputation for daring in high school as within whatever text book was supposed to be opened, there was a spy novel tucked within it). I went on to write historicals, romantic-suspense, romantic-comedy, even YA romantic-comedy…and then I got bored reading the sort of books I was writing.

Not with writing them, just with reading other writers’ similar work. And that’s when I discovered fantasy on my own.

First it was urban fantasy, my favorites being series with smart mouthed main characters. Guys like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden; gals like Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan. I had different reasons for picking up those first books – with Butcher’s it was the lure of mystery and magic tied together with Dresden being a wizard who was also a PI in Chicago. With Harrison’s stories, it was the early titles that twisted the titles of spaghetti westerns – the same sort of things mystery novels did, and that the stories played out in Cincinnati, which is an hour south of me down I-75. Plus both of these series had humor running through the storylines, and if you can’t get me grinning, I probably won’t pick up the next book in the series. From there I moved on, falling back on my love of a man with a sword in his hand. Current favorites are Brent Weeks (Lightbringer series) and Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid series). I discovered Kate Griffin’s Matthew Swift series with its modern reworking of urban magic. I even waved the LOL quotient for Marie Brennan’s fantastic Onyx Court (faery world meets human world) books and Naomi Novik’s Tremereire (yes, dragons are people, too) books.

While I read these authors and these sorts of tales, the fantasy realm that really intrigues me is Steampunk, and that has a lot to do with the historical take and all the genre mixes that create the various niches. As a historian at heart with a focus on the 19th century (see my diploma from college? It says “History” on it!), how could I help but not like Steampunk?

It gives me everything I’ve worked with in the past and opens the door to delightful new avenues to pursue in the future. The mix can be as I wish it, something that hasn’t been an element in my writing past.

In fact, though I despise cooking anything, let’s look at this as though it were a recipe:

·                     Take 4 to 5 parts historical fact and place in blender, set to slice and dice and run for 10 seconds. Skim off top half and set aside. Discard the rest

·                     Add one part magic or magician illusion to the saved historical bits

·                     Mix with one created being or more than one

·                     Stir in intrepid main characters

·                     Fold in one or nefarious circumstances

·                     Season with mystery, humor, romance to taste

·                     Pour into mold, size depending on word count required by publishing house

·                     Heat with sweat of brow to the Nth degree

·                     Serve to (hopefully) delighted audience of readers

And, please, please, do take seconds! 


Beth Daniels, aka Beth Henderson, J.B. Dane, and a few other pseudonyms, saw her first novel released in 1990 – the day after she was awarded a BA – and continued to live her dream of being a published writer (all except for the getting rich part that she was sure would follow when at 12 she decided on this course). Since 1990, twenty-eight of her novels have been released by various publishing houses, as have a couple of short stories. She is also the author of two non-fiction books about writing, a number of articles, and frequently stands at the front of a virtual classroom presenting online fiction workshops. Currently she is attempting to finally finish the first of a Steampunk series, move ahead on a mystery series, and wrap up a historical romantic mystery adventure. There is never only one manuscript in progress on her desk. Visit her at www.RomanceAndMystery.com and/or www.Muse2Manuscript.com.

I hope you will join my class on

Hosted by

Fantasy-Futuristic& Paranormal Romance Writers
This 4 Week class starts March 11, 2013

For more information click HERE  

1 comment:

Asa Maria Bradley said...

I love this recipe! Just what I needed this dreary Tuesday morning to drag my butt to my day job and look forward to tonight's writing session. :-)