Posts Tagged ‘nightrunner’

As mentioned, I have three great new releases out this week ( THE WOLF SIREN by Karen Whiddon and TEACH ME A LESSON by Jasmine Haynes in addition to Lynn Flewelling’s novel below) and I’m blogging them one at a time.

Today, I’m talking about SHARDS OF TIME by Lynn Flewelling, the latest the Nightrunner novels, featuring two of the loves of my life, Seregil and Alec (rogues, thieves, spies, heroes…they’ve been called a lot of things over the years). Lynn and I first “met” through the query process.  As in, she sent a query back in the days when you had to print it out, sign, fold it into an envelope with an SASE enclosed, address and stamp the outer envelope, stick the parcel in the mail…whew!  There may have been initial chapters involved at that stage.  I was intrigued.  I asked for more.   Now, here’s where it gets good.  I’m fairly certain that she sent that first manuscript to me in 11 point type with 1 1/2 spacing rather than double, perhaps to use less paper for her 170,000 word tome.  I might be exaggerating, but…no, I don’t think so.  I started reading.  And reading, incredibly caught up in the narrative.  The words started to fuzz and swim.  I had to hold the manuscript pages increasingly close to my face to read them.  Yet, I would not stop because the story was that amazing.  I read late into the night and nearly went blind with the reading, but I took her on as a client.  One of my first.  The moral of this story is that agents are not out to say “no”.  We’re not out to get you if you don’t do everything right (though it certainly helps and increases exponentially your chances of success).  We ARE out to find amazing talent who we can tell stories on down the line.  Lynn is an amazing talent, which is probably why her Nightrunner series has gone on for so long, spanning so many books and a related series (book list below).

shards of time SHARDS OF TIME by Lynn Flewelling (Del Rey, mass market)

Acclaimed author Lynn Flewelling brings her beloved Nightrunners series to a close—at least for now—with a thrilling novel of murder, mystery, and magic.
 
The governor of the sacred island of Korous and his mistress have been killed inside a locked and guarded room. The sole witnesses to the crime—guards who broke down the doors, hearing the screams from within—have gone mad with terror, babbling about ghosts . . . and things worse than ghosts.

Dispatched to Korous by the queen, master spies Alec and Seregil find all the excitement and danger they could want—and more. For an ancient evil has been awakened there, a great power that will not rest until it has escaped its otherworldly prison and taken revenge on all that lives. And only those like Alec—who have died and returned to life—can step between the worlds and confront the killer . . . even if it means a second and all too permanent death.

Nightrunner Books

Luck in the Shadows

Stalking Darkness

Traitor’s Moon

Shadows Return

The White Road

Casket of Souls

Shards of Time

Tamir Triad

The Bone Doll’s Twin

Hidden Warrior

The Oracle’s Queen

Lynn Flewelling’s wonderful Nightrunner series and Tamir trilogy have been continuously in print and back (and back!) to press since their original publications.  She’s truly one of the masters (mistresses?) of high fantasy and one of my earliest clients.  We’ve been together ever since the beginning, and I couldn’t be more please to present Lynn Flewelling to you here, guest-blogging about The Female Character in High Fantasy in the 21st Century.  Comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of her latest Nightrunner novel, CASKET OF SOULS.  Go on, ask her some really pithy questions!  Here’s your chance.

The Female Character in High Fantasy in the 21st Century by Lynn Flewelling

We’ve come a long way, baby, from the days of the strapping berserkers and boobalicious barbarian babes of the pulp days, of reticent square-jawed sword swingers  and wilting princesses desperate for rescue. And yet high fantasy and all its permutations persist, reflecting, as fiction does, the time stamp of its conception.

Now we have female soldiers, powerful queens who aren’t evil, snarky urban fantasy detectives, and paranormal heroines with harems of men—living and otherwise. All to the good, I say. But what if a female character isn’t that, doesn’t fit the new heroic mold? Is there still room for women who aren’t in a position of power? To create a believable world, don’t we have to address the fact that there are were and are myriad permutations of what it means to be female?

My answer as a writer is yes we do. There is no such thing as a mono-level society, and probably never has been, outside of a few short lived utopias, and maybe not even there. If you want to write a realistic fantasy world—and that’s not an oxymoron—then you have to know how the real world works, then play with those toys. I do lot of research for my writing, and am fascinated by how the great anthills we call societies have functioned across the centuries. Women have very often gotten the short end of the stick, it’s true, but some women also had their own spheres of power: the home, as the mistress of a guild, craftspeople, artists, and even soldiers and pirates. Real world stuff.

To make a fantasy world believable, it has to have social stratification. Historically the poor are always with us, and the oligarchs, and the sinners, and the saints. In my work I do a lot with gender identity, and strong female figures, but you can’t populate the whole world with them. It’s not realistic, any more than making all the men powerful—or weak—is realistic. Worse yet, it would be boring. I have my downtrodden streetwalkers and homeless children, as well as the nobles and merchants and soldiers, etc, etc. I just don’t divide them by gender.

One of the advantages of writing fiction in general, and fantasy in particular, is that you can design the world to suit yourself. In the Nightrunner series I try for egalitarianism within each strata. So there are female guild leaders and soldiers, women of noble birth who own and manage their own property, wives and mothers who raise strong families by being strong women, not meek and subservient. But you have to have to have the weak and the negative, too, or your world building is flat, and worse yet, a soapbox.  But—and this is a major but—either way, weak or strong, you have to have a good reason, as a writer, for creating those particular characters, one your overarching societal construct  both needs and justifies. If you degrade a character, it must be for a logical reason that advances the story. Otherwise it’s gratuitous. If it’s your main character you degrade in some way, then chances are she overcomes that and triumphs in the end. But with secondary and background characters, that may not be the case. Your female hero may encounter women in desperate straits. What she does or doesn’t do about that is indicative of her nature. But you also have the desperate secondary character. Can they be saved? Do they want to be? Are they trapped by fear or a view that does not allow them to change? That may sound like a lot of work on a background character, but it builds your world by giving the reader insight into the types of things that can happen to people in your society.

In the Nightrunner Series, although the two heroes are male, they are surrounded by and often helped or even saved by strong women. In my Tamír Triad, however, I give the girl hero front and center, despite the fact that she spends a significant chunk of her childhood as a boy. Not dressed or disguised as a boy. As a boy. Or rather, in a boy’s body. Although she does not know it, she is still female in her essence and while that in no way precludes her from being a kickass fighter with a lion’s heart, she is plagued by moments of dysphoria when her female soul doesn’t quite match up with her male body. To some extent, she could be called a transgender character. What I really wanted to do was to explore the idea of identity and gender.

So, let’s say that you’ve created a female character who can master “male” skills, who is strong and confident, who is a leader. All good. Now, what does her being female have to do with that? How does she manifest her personality, her power, as a woman rather than, as we say, a “man with breasts”? As a writer, that’s something you have to look deeply into, because your own personal attitudes and beliefs are going to jump onto the page.  Her prowess and power must be firmly enmeshed with her personality. No, she’s not going to scream and drop her sword if she sees a spider. No, she’s not going to give up the adventuring life to settle down and have babies. Or maybe she does. You, as the creator, have to make that logical and fitting. And you have to know why she makes the decisions she makes. I’m not a psychologist or a social scientist. But I am a woman, and I have some things to say about what that can encompass. While I do write from inside that paradigm, however, I’m not Everywoman. No one is. And my characters aren’t me. They are ideas on legs, and that’s why I say you have to examine what ideas you put on the page very carefully. Your words have the power to illuminate, encourage, educate, inspire, and elucidate. You can change hearts and minds.

A final word on writing across gender: can men write believable women? Of course they can, if they’re good writers who are observant, do their research, and have a decent imagination. I write about men, after all, and the feedback makes me think that I am doing ok with that.  I may bring different insights to female characters, but it’s not a “girls only” sandbox.

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Check out Lynn Flewelling’s latest novel CASKET OF SOULS or any of her fabulous fantasies, like her story in the TALES OF THE EMERALD SERPENT anthology.

Follow her on Twitter!