Today I am happy to welcome author Sheryl Steines to the blog to talk about the role of the fairy in fantasy books. Be sure to keep reading all the way to the end of the post to find out how to enter to win books or gift cards from Sheryl and The Indie Exchange.
The Fairy Truth
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It became a joke between me and a friend, whether or not I could write a blog about fairies. Originally the thought popped into my head, what do I write about? Do I write about Tinkerbell? Do I write that fairies are created every time a baby laughs? I wanted to write an intelligent blog about fairies. So the challenge was on. I find that they can be an embodiment of our hopes dreams, fears, shame, sadness, depression. Become a representation for something that is going on in our lives or something that we wish to change. Mythical creatures answered questions about life and about world our ancient ancestors lived in. They can carry our emotions and our thoughts without being obvious in our writings, making what we read more interesting, entertaining, or unusual. You know more creative.
So the fairy, you’re thinking to yourself? What about the fairy could possibly be so interesting or different? Again, I’m not talking about the fairy as they’ve been hijacked by Disney, though I’m fine with that interpretation because, Tinkerbell is kind of spunky and fun and there is a purpose of Pixie Hollow. I’m far more interested in what the fairy has evolved from, not what it’s become. Because after all these cute, spunky, sparkly and genuinely good beings, evolved from something scary. Unknown pranksters, fallen angels, the walking dead, humans that fell into a subset of dead or simply groups of humans that had been forced into hiding. They became a reflection of humankind, its beliefs and way of life.
Is that far too melodramatic for you? I suppose it could be, but the fairy is so central to many fantasy novels that it might be worth a look at their origins. The more I research these beings, the more fascinating they become. When I write, I like to borrow existing beliefs from real cultures and incorporate them into my own story because I think it lends authenticity to what I write.
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Fairies have been a part of several cultures in the last thousands of years. But where did they come from? What did our ancestors believe fairies were? Ancient pagan societies believed fairies were mythical creatures, human in appearance which possessed magical powers. To know that they were far more than singing cherubs, to know that that they started off as something far darker, gives a story so much more interest.
So what does that mean for us as readers and writers? As a reader, we can stop thinking of them as Disneyesque and more as multilayered creatures with a variety of characteristics, that can add drama, tension, or a bit of fun.
As a writer I can picture my main character Annie Pearce, a magical police officer, tracking a demon through the forest. In her search she comes across a fairy, a type she’s never seen before and follows the fairy to its permanent hiding place. As the story progresses, Annie learns that they are highly intelligent elementals an idea that ancient societies believed fairies to be.
How does a witch deal with an elemental? A being of nature; beings that controls nature. The idea of controlling the four elements appeals to me, an idea I wouldn’t have had until I expanded my limited knowledge of fairies. I opened myself up to far more interesting ideas of what fairies could mean in my own writing, which is why I tend to research existing past ideas before creating my characters. They are far more fascinating when I understand their origins and history.
I do understand as an author of fantasy books, that anything goes. We can create, we can invent, and we can make up whatever it is that we want, as we design our worlds. Or we can borrow from our ancient societies because their beliefs link the fantasy world to the real one. I strongly believe that authenticity makes the believable possible. So for those of you who tend to find the fairy simple, not nearly as exciting as say the Minotaur, open your perspective and entertain them as a real possibility. They are far more interesting then what you thought they could be. Happy reading.
Author Bio: Sheryl Steines is equal parts driven, passionate and inspired. With a degree in English from Wright State University, Sheryl dedicates time everyday to her art. Her love of books and a quality story drives her to share her talent with her readers as well as make the time to talk to book clubs and students about her process. Sheryl has eclectic tastes and enjoys character driven novels. In her own writing, the Annie Loves Cham series is driven by her love of the characters and her desire to place them in totally new situations. She enjoys testing their mettle. Behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible, Sheryl is a constant surprise. Her sense of humor and relatable style make her books something everyone can enjoy. Sheryl can be found on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog. She also encourages her readers to email her and let her know what you think of Annie and Cham!
The Giveaway: Head over to this post on The Indie Exchange to enter for a chance to win The Day of First Sun (one paperback & 3 eBooks up for grabs), a set that also includes She Wulf (eBook, officially releasing this fall), or a $15 Amazon gift card. Giveaway ends August 2, 2012.
Note: All opinions provided on this blog are my own. If a product was given to me for review, the source of that product is noted in the post. Bookstore links are generally affiliate links and I do earn a small amount for each purchase. Other affiliate links will be noted in the post.