My stories aren’t for everyone.
Some people want it dark, and my books are not that. They have dark moments, and people who do bad things, but the overall atmosphere is hopeful, built on the idea that we are strongest when we work together.
I don’t write the kind of fantasy that has obviously evil villains. I don’t believe that there’s that many purely evil people out there, so what are the chances that our everyday fae-befriending main characters would be running into Big Evil?
Even the Camlin, the Big Bad from In Sleep You Know turns out later to have a much more complex history than “I hate everything and especially you.” [You’ll have to read Cast a Shadow of Doubt to see how that goes!] The Arswyd and the other Grimshaw, too – they have their own motivations for why they act like they do.
Rather than focusing on evil as a motivator for a storyline, I’d rather explore the traumas and misunderstandings that lead people to the choices they’ve made. I talk about broken and dysfunctional families, social pressure, being without a house or a community, feeling inadequate and powerless – and how all these things shape how we move in the world. The magic parts of my stories are more than just the powers that the Fae bring. They’re all entwined in the decisions that the characters make.
You might ask, then why even have magic in these books? Why are they fantasy and not just books with “regular” characters? What a great question!
Having magical characters serves a couple of functions.
It demonstrates possibility. The magic is a way to shine a light in the darkest times, a beacon for what good can exist even in the midst of struggle.
It offers balance and perspective. Even the mightiest of the Fae struggle with everyday issues, ones that magic can’t solve, like relationships. And when the mortals get magic, it doesn’t change their flaws either. Merrick and Lucee both still have to learn how to believe in themselves and what they are capable of, with or without the use of magic.
And honestly, one of my favorite things about my characters is watching them learn how alike they all are, Fae or mortal, despite their obvious differences. The creepy, uncanny Ladies have internal power struggles. The Ffyn are happy-go-lucky dancing trees until it’s time to defend their friends. Merrick leans on his companions whenever he’s unsure what he should do, and that includes the Fae once he’s decided that he’s with them.
As the stories progress, the characters begin to work through their assumptions and prejudices as they discover their commonality. And I’d argue that’s another kind of magic.
Every protagonist needs a foil, but that doesn’t mean that we need to always have the divisions be starkly divided. And don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with cartoonish villains or implacably evil characters or whatever other types of villains you enjoy reading or writing! They’re just not what I write, and they’re not the kind of fantasy novels I’m interested in bringing into the world.
I crave hopeful stories with plots that address issues I see in this world, and that’s what I write. Which is why I can confidently say that my books aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay – but I think you might be surprised how much you can relate to what happens in the Baltimore of the Eleriannan.