What Harry Potter Taught Me About Satanism

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

Personal observation: my chosen photo has never been more relevant than it is in this moment.

I went to Catholic school for 16 years. This provided me with a somewhat different school experience than many of my friends, and certainly with myriad stories that friends still love to hear about the different things I learned and the different classes I took than my public school peers. One such class was a morality class I took as a junior in high school, during which we discussed pretty much any topic under the sun, with special emphasis on the Big Ones. You know, the ones that come up in the news all the time.

Like Harry Potter. When I was a junior in high school I was waiting eagerly for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which would come out over the summer before my senior year. The Order of the Phoenix movie was released that same summer.

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The Importance of Being Bennie

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Louisa Mitchell
Head Writer, Pycera
Twitter

 

Imagine the typical plot line of a modern YA fantasy.

You’ve got it, right?

Teen discovers they have mystical powers. Teen tries out said mystical powers. Teen is shocked, amazed, maybe a little scared. Teen doesn’t want to go to the adults in their life; they definitely wouldn’t understand. So Teen gathers their courage and decides to tell their best friend what happened — you know, the friend they’ve known forever? The one who casually talks to their parents and knows where all the dishes go at their house? That friend. Teen tells that friend what’s going on, and that friend responds…how?

“You’re crazy.”

“You’re kidding.”

Or maybe, nervously, “Teen, maybe we should get you some help.”

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A Brief History of Modern Fantasy

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

A COMPANION TO TBT 07

Our most recent podcast on the “Evolution of Fantasy” featured a spirited debate about our favorite genre, from how we each defined “fantasy” to what we consider its developmental timeline. One of our biggest points of disagreement was about when what is considered “modern” fantasy started. Despite this, we at least had some general agreement that the publication of The Lord of the Rings‘ first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, in 1954 marked a significant turning point for the marketing and publishing of the fantasy genre.

To bounce off of this initial discussion, I wanted to write a brief history of what happened after 1950s, with some admitted speculation on my part.

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In the Shadow of ‘The Ring’

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Madeleine Cassier
Producer
Website | Twitter | GoodreadsBookTube

A Companion to TBT Episode 07

Unpopular opinion alert: I’m not the biggest fan of Tolkien — specifically, of The Lord of the Rings.

516GyHY9p6LI know this is essentially heresy to admit to the teeming hordes of guys and gals who, like me, adore the fantasy genre. But, alas, ’tis true that I am not on the side of Mr. J.R.R. Despite this general dislike, I’m relatively fair-minded and can acknowledge that The Lord of the Rings is one of the most recognizable works of the fantasy genre — even with more modern series such as George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, The Lord of the Rings is the ultimate poster-child for marketing fantasy to a mainstream audience.

That being said: I don’t think that Tolkien “inventedmodern fantasy as we know it. This, I’m sure, is also going to rankle even more people, especially given that many people would argue that The Lord of the Rings “created ‘fantasy’ as a marketing category” (Yolen, After the King: Stories in Honour of J.R.R. Tolkien), despite the fact that fantasy existed long before Tolkien published his trilogy. 

But I don’t want to talk about the myriad of works previous to Tolkien…I actually just want to talk about one: Der Ring des Nibelungen, or The Ring of the Nibelung by Richard Wagner.

41Um5nZQuXL._SY355_For those of you unfamiliar with German opera: The Ring Cycle, as it’s frequently called, is a cycle of four opera seria (dramatic operas) written about a century before Tolkien, that’s loosely based on characters from Germanic and Norse mythological sagas, specifically the Volsunga saga and the Nibelungenlied. Its got giants, dwarves, gods, forbidden romances, action, adventure — basically everything you could ever want from an epic fantasy story, and all across four operas which, when performed, are staged over the course of several days.

Even with all of those elements, at the very centre of this massive tale is a magic ring fashioned from Rhine gold that allows its bearer to rule the world.

Sound familiar?

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The Truth About ‘Happily Ever After’

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

 

February is the month of love, apparently, and here at Backroom Whispering Productions we are having a lot of fun thinking about love and literature and all the many facets of that rather broad category. My husband and I did an interview about being writing partners as well as life partnersAkhi wrote an engaging post about what he learned about love from reading fantasyThe Book Table did a Valentine’s Day special about sex in fantasy literature and how it’s handled across the genre; and Dorothy wrote a fantastic blog post to follow it.

All of this thinking about love and literature got me musing about the concept of “happily ever after” in fantasy literature and the way the happily ever after trope has played into my real life and into my writing life. I am not ashamed to admit my love of romantic fantasy; indeed, I am far more likely to pick up a book if it has one of those cliche “until she meets ____” or “the boy who may be her undoing, or her salvation” lines in the synopsis. Sometimes, if those lines are missing, I’ll read the end of the book before I decide to read it to see if it seems like there is a resolution to a love story.

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Tortall, Emelan, and Birth Control (Followup to TBT #06)

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Dorothy McQuaid
Showrunner for Pycera/Social Media for BWP
Twitter | Blog | Email

I have to be honest- I learned a lot about sex and relationships from Tamora Pierce.

Tamora (or Queen Tammy, as fans sometimes affectionately dub her) is the author of numerous YA fantasy series, including Song of the Lioness, Protector of the Small, Immortals, Circle of Magic, and The Circle Opens. In this post, I’ll discuss why her approach to sex and birth control was so eye-opening for me. I’ll try not to get TOO spoiler-heavy, but if “abc learns xyz about birth control and does some kissing” is considered a spoiler, you may want to skip this post! The primary books discussed will be Song of the Lioness, Protector of the Small, and The Will of the Empress (a continuation of the Circle books.)

This post also discusses things like periods, birth control, and sex, so if those are not your cup of tea, this post won’t be either. 

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The Curse of Knowledge

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Madeleine Cassier
Producer
Website | Twitter | GoodreadsBookTube

A COMPANION TO TBT EPISODE 05

51sT1gF5PTL.jpgIn our most recent episode of The Book Table (TBT), we discussed Stormdancer, the first novel in the Lotus War trilogy by Australian writer, Jay Kristoff. Marketed as a Japanese-inspired steampunk series featuring what Patrick Rothfuss called “a strong female protagonist” in his blurb, it elicited some very different reactions amongst our discussion participants.

In our online book club, many people specifically picked upon Kristoff’s use of Japanese language and culture, calling it anything from “random” and “uneven” to “frustratingly wrong” and a little bit rage-inducing. The appropriation that formed the foundation of this book drove those familiar with Japanese culture and language to feelings of annoyance and irritation. A few members of our book club didn’t even finish Stormdancer, and a few more said they were unlikely to pick up the sequels.

For my part, I rated the book a solid 4 out of 5 stars and said that, despite acknowledging problems, I enjoyed it. I made a point in the podcast of saying that I had read the entire trilogy back in April 2015 over the course of about a week, so many of the details of all three books often blurred together in my remembering. Though, probably most importantly, I also mentioned that Japanese history and culture are not my forte. My knowledge-base on that topic comes predominantly from media, so I shall never claim myself an expert…ever.

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Top 4 Reasons Rebecca Writes Women

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

 

A COMPANION TO NANOSODE 04

As a follow-up to our January 13th Nanosode, and to Madeleine’s brilliant post about it, I thought I’d take a minute to think a bit more about why I almost exclusively write female POVs. I thought about writing a nice hefty dissertation on gender issues in society and the difficulties females often face when entering a designated male sphere, but as my co-worker constantly reminds me: it’s best to make information snackable. Ain’t nobody got time for a dissertation. So here we are: a snackable list (YUM!) plus some pretty pictures because we are all children at heart.

let's do this

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Character Gender Fluidity

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Madeleine Cassier
Producer
Website | Twitter | GoodreadsBookTube

A COMPANION TO NANOSODE 04

Very recently, I discussed POV characters with Rebecca, specifically trying to examine our opposite predilections as it pertained to the genders of our written POV characters: I predominantly write a male voice, whereas she leans towards the female.

While this was something to which I had truly never given much thought, our initial conversation sparked some thinking about my hitherto unexplored process by which I genesis my characters. Specifically, I began to realize that characters are “born” inside my head with near-100% gender fluidity or neutrality.

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