Naming Fantasy Characters, Places, and Things

The upside of me not being in San Diego on June 1 is that my event at Mysterious Galaxy will be available to all of you via Zoom! Would love if you all joined in!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is Names: What’s your favorite source/method for naming your characters, places, etc? Come on over to learn my secrets.

Is Fantasy Inherently Conservative?

So, I’ve mentioned on my podcast, First Cup of Coffee, that I like listening to L. Penelope’s podcast, My Imaginary Friends. (Our podcasts are also part of the Frolic Podcast Network, but we listened to each other before that.) On this week’s episode, Making an Impact, she talks about her experiences on panels at a recent convention. I tell you, folks, I was gaping at the speakers when she said the other panelists had said that the Fantasy genre is inherently politically conservative – and no one challenged it.

People: I SO want to challenge this assertion!

Apparently the thought process is that Fantasy often involves the trope of restoring the One True Thing in some sense. Defeating the Big Bad to restore the Time Before. The Chosen One appearing to usher in a time of peace and plenty. The recovery of magic or something else that has been lost.

I’m sure you all can recognize these themes.

First of all, I want to point out that this is a pretty narrow conception of what the Fantasy genre encompasses. I mean, yes, there are people who equate “Fantasy” with “Tolkien.” People have said exactly this to me. Never mind that Tolkien was writing a hundred years ago, so that’s akin to saying they equate Science Fiction with Fritz Leiber, Jr. and Isaac Asimov. Sure, all of these authors made substantial contributions to the SFF genres, but there’s been movement since then.

A lot of the time, when people say “Fantasy,” they do mean Tolkienesque epic fantasy  – including all those writers who’ve followed that path. It’s a grand tradition, but it’s not the only tradition. The writers who keep to that fairly narrow interpretation of fantasy, who write only pastoral, non-tech, peaceful-farmers-are-pure-of-heart tales might be conservative. I dunno. I think the writer brings their values to the story, regardless of genre.

Fantasy is a broad genre with many themes. There are a LOT of people writing it who very much do not have conservative values.

Second, I don’t think there’s ANYTHING inherently politically conservative about the concept of creating peace and plenty, of overthrowing an oppressor. Our current political situation speaks to that. The avowed conservatives in power may give lip service to “family values” and “making things great AGAIN,” but a totalitarian government is exactly that – and resisting can be an act of rebellion. Fantasy absolutely takes on these themes. For example, my Forgotten Empires books (see? even the series title speaks to something lost) tell of people laboring under an oppressive empire. They rebel, eventually and in their own ways, but that recovery of what’s been lost is hardly an expression of conservative values. Those are radical and dangerous choices. And, yes, those stories are absolutely part of my personal response to an authoritarian government that serves only the rich – and part of my resistance to that.

I’d argue that the best Fantasy takes on sweeping political change.

There’s a lot more to the enormous and varied Fantasy genre than Tolkien and farm boys called to be the Chosen One. Let’s make some noise about it.

Accuracy in Fiction – Where to Draw the Line

One of the most fun things about having a book release these days is the #bookstagram world. So many book lovers make gorgeous collages with my book cover – like this one from Reading Between the Wines Book Club – and then tag me on Instagram. With THE ORCHID THRONE, I’m getting all kinds of beautiful orchids and it rocks so hard!

The hubs and I have been watching Reign on Netflix – from the beginning as we’d never seen it – and we’re a few episodes into Season One. I realize I’m late to the game on this, as the show ran from 2013 to 2017. But I’ve seen so many people – like my editor Jennie at St Martins – who just LOVE this show, that I wanted to check it out. And it’s gotten me thinking about historical accuracy in fiction. Come on over to find out more. 

The Godparents: Jeffe’s Top Five Influences as a Writer

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is “The Godparents: Your top five influences as a writer.” Come on over to find out mine!

Also, we’re heading into the last week of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Fantasy Storybundle. The theme is “Kickass Heroines” and this is such a kickass collection. I was one of the first to download it, even though my own book is in it, and I’ve read a couple of others. So many fantastic books for an amazing price.