Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

reality and fiction June 18, 2010

…the difference between fiction based on reality and fantasy is simply a matter of range. The former is a handgun. It hits the target almost close enough to touch, and even the willfully ignorant can’t deny that it’s effective. Fantasy is a sixteen-inch naval rifle. It fires with a tremendous bang, and it appears to have done nothing and to be shooting a nothing.

Note the qualifier “appears.” The real difference is that with fantasy—and by that I mean fantasy which can simultaneously tap into a cosmopolitan commonality at the same time as it springs from an individual and unique perspective. In this sort of fantasy, a mythic resonance lingers on—a harmonious vibration that builds in potency the longer one considers it, rather than fading away when the final page is read and the book is put away. Characters discovered in such writing are pulled from our own inner landscapes…and then set out upon the stories’ various stages so that as we learn to understand them a little better, both the monsters and the angels, we come to understand ourselves a little better as well. (Charles de Lint. Memory and Dreams. p. 323)

I wish de Lint’s words were my own, because they’re so profound. Consider: “harmonious vibration that builds in potency.” Oh how I hope that Grace Awakening offers the reader such a lingering mythic resonancy! How I hope that as they grow to understand my characters, they understand themselves better, just as I have grown from the process.

When someone asks why on Earth I chose to write a novel with a fantasy twist, I want to be answer as eloquently as this! I am reminded of Bella’s comment in New Moon, “Could a world really exist where ancient legends went wandering around the borders of tiny, insignificant towns, facing down mythical monsters? Did this mean every impossible fairy tale was grounded somewhere in absolute ghost truth? Was there anything sane or normal at all, or was everything just magic and stories?” (p. 293) When it became clear that the story I had to tell required me to embrace myth, it was an epiphany. Once the mythology began to weave between the lines, my words flew beyond me. They started unfurling so much more than the germ I’d started with. Mythology reveals great truth, and I learned a lot from Grace and Ben, Jim and Bright, and the others in their world.  I suspect there is much more to learn.

I’m really looking forward to hearing what sorts of things the rest of you learn from Grace et al. If you’ve read Grace Awakening, I’d love to hear what harmonious vibration is resonating with you.

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2 Responses to “reality and fiction”

  1. Kim Roz. Says:

    I read Grace 3 months ago and still remember scenes and can picture them. That is why I love to read and couldn’t agree more with Charles de Lint. A good story should resonate and engage one’s inner truths. We should be left with a little mystery and wondering what we would experience if we could only see more clearly.

  2. Vivian Says:

    For me the measure of good fiction is if the characters stay with me. I read thirty to fifty books a year and few characters stay with me. Grace was made very real and when I think of Grace I wonder what lay in her future.


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