A.R. Kahler, author of the "Cirpue des Immortals" series, discusses his approach to writing fantasy and introduces us to some of his new and upcoming titles.
Many people believe that works of fantasy are detached from 'real life.' After all, if the situations are unreal, then the topics covered must follow suit.
I think, however, most fantasy authors and readers realize that these imaginative worlds allow us to explore the more controversial aspects of life. Not because of anything magical, but because creating a world slightly (or very) different from our own creates a safe space to investigate. We can comment on government or gender roles without pinpointing a singular event in history. We can make broad or specific statements and put them in a larger spectrum. Often, this is through creating a dystopian society, or a conflict that highlights a specific issue. Sometimes, however, the greatest commentary a story can make is to create its own vision of a perfect world. The reader will form the contrasts on their own.
In that vein, this past week I've been able to share two very different projects that explore some pretty gut-level stuff in fantastic worlds.
Martyr, the first in a post-apocalyptic YA series, follows Tenn, a young man with the ability to control the elements in a fight against humanoid monsters. Although it's action-packed and explosive, one of the most important aspects of the book (and series) to me is the relationship between characters. Tenn is deeply in love with a man he fears the world will never let him settle down with. His allies are nearly-silent fraternal twins with secrets that could destroy all trust. And his enemy is as alluringly convincing as he is dangerous.
I wanted to create a world where a protagonist's sexuality wasn't a 'thing'--after all, if society is crumbling, labels like gay or straight would be the last thing on everyone's mind. I often wonder what it means that I had to write an apocalyptic world for that to be the case.
I'm also excited to announce Changeling, the spinoff for my Cirque des Immortelsseries. This urban fantasy answers a question I've always wanted to ask: we hear of the families who wake up to a Changeling—or faerie—in place of their own baby, but what happens to the stolen child?
Claire is a mortal girl who's grown up in the other world of Faerie and is Queen Mab's right-hand assassin. When things start to go south in the Faerie realm, she's sent into the mortal world to find the cause of the trouble. Although the story is very plot-driven, I'm excited to explore the human world through an outsider's eyes—she'll get to experience everything we take for granted, from romance to rock-n-roll. I'm excited to see how someone brought up in the world of the Fey will view what our society deems sacred and profane.
Fantasy has always allowed us to explore the unknown, and I feel that the more our world view expands, the greater fantasy allows us to investigate the issues and situations right before our very eyes. We just might be too close to them—or too apprehensive—to peer any closer.