Friday, September 24, 2010

Anne Williamson, author of The Holly King, Guest Blog

Hi my faithful minions! Top of the morning to ya'. As I promised on Monday, Anne is back with an amazing guest post for you. And for those who missed her interview, take a GANDER at Part I and Part II.

Warfare: In Search of My Epic Ending
“More blood. We need more blood,” my critic cried.

“And death. You need to include more death,” another friend advised.  “Just don’t kill off any of your main characters. Readers hate that.”

“Do I have to finish the series with a horrible battle?” I asked.

“Of course! If you don’t have a bloody battle at the end, people will think your book is just for little kids. You have to wrap up the Ghost Horse Hollow novels with a great war. Everyone will be expecting that.”
I paused before my keyboard wondering WWHD … What Would Homer Do? No, I wasn’t thinking of the TV parent we all know and love. I was imagining literary advice from one of the greatest storytellers of Western civilization.  Homer would most likely suggest that I conclude any story of epic proportions with intense conflict involving larger-than-life characters who demonstrated both heroic courage and human flaws.  Perhaps he would instruct me to infuse my final scenes with hand to hand mortal combat, intrigue, deception, and cruelty. At the very least, I believe the profoundly influential artist would recommend that some noble figure in my novel triumph in a manly fashion, while claiming power in the wake of a grand, yet savage, skirmish.

 I thought about The Lord of the Rings. I remembered The Chronicles of Narnia. I recalled Harry Potter.  My critics were right! The epic tales do end with major conflagrations and heart wrenching losses. As a supporter of world peace and preservation, I was faced with the internal dilemma of writing about humans killing other humans, in order to satisfy my readers.  The issue touched me deeply. Do I write about what people want to read, or do I write about what I think people need to read? Middle Grade fantasy calls for a special touch. Many of my readers are mature for their age, but their right to innocence deserves some consideration. Just how much blood should I spill for the sake of entertainment … and for what purpose?

Humanity searches constantly for greater understanding, for enlightenment, if you will.  We hunt for the stories and myths that explain our behavior and our circumstances. The tales of heroes and heroines become healing patterns of sound and imagery that awaken our psyches to a greater level of extraordinary reality. Indigenous cultures honored story tellers as Medicine teachers. The Medicine was mental, emotional, and spiritual nurturing delivered in the form of symbolic plots and rhythmic vocal patterns. The tales helped the People to remember their best qualities, to put differences aside, and to walk with honor in a difficult world. I hoped for my new novel series, The Fairy Lore of Ghost Horse Hollow, to fall into the category of a Medicine tale. It was designed to be a healing epic concerning humankind’s relationship to Nature, both the world without and the emotional landscape within. The MacKennon family and their eclectic allies face the aftermath of global climate transitions with a bold determination to live in balance with their resources. The nine part adventure fantasy demanded a bone-chilling, breath-taking, blood-boiling conclusion.  I wondered how I was to merge a healing intension concerning peace and conservation with a war of grandiose proportions!

Facing my creative dilemma led me to a place of contemplation. I think humans are intrinsically violent. I think we struggle with the ethical placement of that violence within our social interactions. We enjoy murder mysteries, while abhorring the criminals involved in the twisted crimes. We applaud action/ adventure figures, while telling our children to behave themselves.  We yell and scream at brutal sporting events, while politely offering a friend the chip-bowl. Clearly, we have issues as a species.  What Medicine do we need psychologically? Who is our best hero at this juncture of space and time? With our planet literally dying from pollution, overcrowding, and the massive consumption of limited resources, do humans really have the luxury, or the means, to continue being so violent and uncooperative? Should warfare still be the ultimate destiny inside our books for young readers? Is anyone else tired of the slicing, whacking, shooting, chasing, exploding madness that fills our pages for the next generation? The violence seems pretty shallow in the face of the inescapable challenges that spill before our children. Or am I simply forgetting the true purpose of fantasy. Is this genre not an escape from reality?

“Lighten up,” my movie director/producer says. “I need more conflict and more romance.”

“OK. I just had a momentary blip there. My conscience was trying to take the computer away from me.”

In the solitude of my office, with the prairie wind rustling the window curtain, I decided to put Homer back on the shelf, along with J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and even J.K. Rowling.  It was time to ponder WWID … What Would I Do? Each writer must ultimately stand alone, or at least at the side of their characters.  Ghost Horse Hollow will and should end with a mighty battle involving the Starlight Fairies, the Moonlight Kingdom, General Drang’s ruthless warriors, the Buck Patrol, the Lion Guards, the Mounted Forest Rangers, and the MacKennon homesteaders. But the Epilogue is still mine to craft for the next generation. What Panther and Dale decide to do in the final chapter of the ninth book has yet to be determined. They are the Medicine bringers of tomorrow.  It is their wisdom that I hope will set an example for all Nations to follow. Sometimes an epic seeks out the author, according to the Australian Aborigines. The tale hunts for the writer, not the other way around.  I think Ghost Horse Hollow has hunted for me, and in good conscience I am compelled to follow.  Somehow as an author, I must deliver enthralling entertainment, while leading the People with a Medicine tale that presents alternative behavior.  The search for my Epic Ending continues, but at least I now know where I stand.

Anne Severn Williamson lives near Valentine, Montana, at Ghost Horse Prairie Ranch, home of the remarkable blue-eyed Ghost Horses.  For more information concerning her newly released novel The Holly King, please visit her Web site:  Anne blogs about conservation and her fantasy realm within the heart of the Appalachian wilderness at:  The Holly King Book Trailer, starring Ellyon Elestial as Panther MacKennon, and sample readings from the novel  can be found on You tube under Ghost Horse Hollow.

And why not click on the Impetus Room and set some writing goals for next week!!
Enjoy your weekend, everyone.


  1. What a fascinating article! I quite enjoyed this good lady (er...ladies). Many thanks!

    Also, I usually avoid the whole dilemma of violence versus not by writing for adults. I can justify my high body count that way. >:)

  2. Holy crap what a fun read. Great post Sheri, and thanks Anne as well!

  3. Great post, ladies. Now I know why I write YA romantic suspense. No body counts necessary (at least I don't think they're necessary).

  4. I think having a final battle is great, but don't have blood and death for the sole purpose of entertainment. They should fit the story and be a logical conclusion. Go with your gut, and let the story show you how it should end.

  5. Great post! Thanks for bring Anne to us, Sheri! I should've stopped by sooner for the other posts but I'm glad I got caught up today :)

  6. Oh my gosh! This was great! I never thought of my characters as bigger than life. That is perfect! =)

  7. Wow, a wonderful post! Very insightful and an interesting dilemma for an author.

  8. Great post, Ladies...

    Have a wonderful week!


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