Monday, July 15, 2013

Battle for the Brightstone is Coming/I'm on TV (Sort Of)

The third and final book in the Brightstone saga is coming soon! Here's an advance comment:

Things have been very busy for me lately. I haven't had much time to blog. In addition to finishing my new novel The Republic, I written a two part episode for television. The show is called "America: Facts vs. Fiction," and I wrote an episode on popular myths about Christopher Columbus and Hernan Cortes. The show is on the MILITARY CHANNEL, Thursday nights at 10 PM EDST.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Me, on TV: "Scary Tales"

In October 2011 I was invited to give some commentary on classic fairy tales for a cable network TV show, "Scary Tales." Each of the four episodes covers two famous fairy tales--Snow White, Hansel & Gretel, etc. and I did the talking head thing, offering historical perspective on some of the aspects of each tale.

Now "Scary Tales" is available on Netflix. I invite you all to check it out. It's rather nasty fun, emphasizing the bloodier aspects of fairy tales--cannibalism, murder, mutilation--so it's not for kids, OK?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Thursday, December 20, 2012

ALLIANCES audiobook

I've only just learned that one of my Dragonlance novels, ALLIANCES, is going to be offered in audio format by Here's the link. Now I don't know why the chose this book, out of all my old Dragonlance works, or why they chose to read aloud Book 2 in a three book series, but there you have it. I'll have to get a copy and how it sounds.

Amended January 14, 2013: Of course they have come out with all three books in the Elven Exiles series! And more besides. Samples of the audio books are available for listening on the site. Best narrator: Alan Robertson, reading CHILDREN OF THE PLAINS. The site is here.

As far as I know, this is my first audio book. I have had many books translated into other languages, but this is my first one read aloud.

(Some languages my novels have been translated into:


And maybe others. These I know about for certain. It may surprise you, but publishers don't always let you know when foreign editions come out. I once got two copies of my novel THORN AND NEEDLE in the mail in a language I didn't recognize. It took some study of the copyrights page for me to realize it was in Hungarian.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Interview at Enslow

I was recently interviewed by the good folks at Enslow. You can read the interview here. I think I'll comment later about my favorite fantasy novel, The Wandering Unicorn, by Manuel Mujica Lainez..

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Life is crazy; use a coupon!

Life has been absolutely crazy busy since Halloween, but I am still here! While I catch up, I thought I would share this coupon my publisher is offering through Amazon. (Scroll down to Your Coupon Book under the cover pic).

You get bucks off a new copy of THE BRIGHTWORKING, simply the best Christmas present ever--well, maybe second best after the Official Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot range rifle.

(I don't have one of those, by the way . . . )

Monday, October 29, 2012

Born Special, or Made Special?

My family and I went to a Halloween party the other night. One room was set aside for showing movies, and the kids settled in (after a couple hours of gratuitous calories and much whooping and hollering) to watch a famous fantasy movie which shall remain Nameless, though it wouldn't be hard to guess which one.

A basic tenet of this movie is that certain people are born with innate magical ability. Other people, dismissively labeled, do not have this ability. This is not an uncommon trope in fantasy or science fiction. Dressed in pseudo-scientific language, it appears in the (dreadful) trilogy of Star Wars prequels.

 I hate this idea.

On one hand, it's lazy story craft. Why take the time to develop why your lead character is special when you can simply assert he was born that way? The implications of this idea are almost never explored. What does it mean that you have a secret caste, or ruling class, or perhaps a persecuted underground of "special" people? The idea is barely noted in the Nameless Movie. If there were a sub-group of humans with innate magical powers, why wouldn't they be interfering in world affairs--maybe even take over the world? For our own good, of course. Claiming the race of wizards is altruistic is naive and simplistic. Altruistic people meddle in other people's affairs all the time. They're the worst offenders when it comes to meddling.

John Van Druten, the author of Bell, Book, and Candle, dealt with the problem of a special race with magical powers by making them a secretive, persecuted minority. They hide out because they have been persecuted in the past. This works, even though his approach is essentially light-hearted. Bell, Book, and Candle is a direct source of the old 60s TV show Bewitched, by the way.

Worst of all, the concept of being born special is the cause of some very ugly events in human history. It's the basis of extreme nationalism, ethnocentrism, and racism. I do not accuse any authors of harboring racist beliefs, but the concept of being Born Special is loaded with real world baggage of the nastiest kind.

In writing the Brightstone Saga, I decided to deal with question of who's magical from the outset. While The Brightworking deals with kids being chosen for magical training on the basis of an obscure gleaning process, it isn't because they were Born Special. The concept of magic in the stories is part of this design as well. Before the Brightstone arrives, there is no magic. Pre-magic, Mikal's world is in a Dark Age of warlords, cults, and priesthoods that stifle progress and prosperity for the common people. The Brightstone comes, and people learn to harness its power to perform magic, and the world transforms. It's a kind of a Non-Industrial Revolution, with magic taking the place of technology to ease the burdens of humanity. Tiny principalities are forged into real nations and hokum religion is driven out by the real results achieved by the Guild of Constant Working. But the dark, selfish old ways are not totally extinct--they never are. A secret society forms called the Anvil, dedicated to ridding the world of magic and bringing back the rule of Might makes Right.

Mikal and his comrades are not Born Special. They're Made Special by circumstance. The only person we learn about is Mikal himself. Growing up by his father's forge (he's a blacksmith), fire and the concussion of metal being hammered supposedly influences Mikal's inner nature. Since the magic in The Brightstone Saga is based on magnetism, it's easy to see how his personal 'magnetism' is altered by his environment.

You may ask, why was Lyra gleaned? I think she cheated.