Diana Gabaldon

Dear Diana Gabaldon,

I was never a romance reader until I met you. I thought romance novels were cheesy and for a while I protested even calling the Outlander series romances, “no no, they’re historical, and have an element of fantasy, and I learned so much about history….”

But you know what? In addition to that amazingness they are fabulous romances. The relationships expressed in these series (and the sex scenes, let’s be real) helped me to understand healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors in my life and those of my friends. Heck, I even brought up Outlander in my Maid of Honor speech for my cousin.

And this is all because of “WW2 nurse falls through a portal in time and ends up having to marry a 1700s Scottish Laird for her protection BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE, THEY WITNESS IMPORTANT HISTORICAL EVENTS AND STUFF, DON’T DISREGARD THEM BECAUSE OF THAT TIME-TRAVEL ROMANCE LABEL!” books.

These days, I embrace the time-travel romance novel, and have stopped judging books by their covers (goodness knows the original cover of Outlander made it look like a bodice-ripper) and genre listings. Thank you, Ms. Gabaldon, for this amazing gift. It has enriched my personal and literary lives.

Sincerely yours,
Dorothy

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Learning from Fantasy: Part 1 (History)

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

 

Hi, readers!  I’m very excited to begin a new series of posts about things that can be learned from reading Fantasy and other fiction genres. To me, reading is more than just idle, passive entertainment, and I’ve found that I’ve learned a lot from books some dismiss as fluffy or shallow. These topics include history, relationship advice, and ethics, so I’ll cover the three of those in three different blog posts (though I touched on relationship advice in my post about birth control in Tamora Pierce’s canon.)

Part 1 Or; Time-Travel Romance is So Much More Interesting Than History Class

This post is going to discuss history through the lens of fiction, more specifically the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Now, I have a lot of respect for historians and the study of history. A few fellow members of BWP have studied history and I recognize how important it is, but I’ve always been more of a ‘big-picture’ person when it comes to history: I don’t tend to have a memory for names or dates, and I didn’t take many history classes besides the required ones. The information that tends to stick in my mind comes from personal experiences — i.e. visiting a historical site, speaking to a survivor — or from stories. I went through a phase in middle school where I read a bunch of  YA novels about children during the Holocaust — maybe not a normal hobby for a 10-year-old, but I was able to gain a greater understanding of a very important period of history. For me, knowing the story of someone who went through the experience helps me remember, and care, much more than taking notes during a lecture.

As I said, I’m simply not one for names and dates, and have never been great at memorizing historical events.

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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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TBT 06: Sex in Fantasy Literature

In this special Valentine’s Day episode, a panel of Whisperers teases apart different ways sex is treated (or ignored) in fantasy literature. We cover works from Harry Potter to Anita Blake and all sorts in between. We recommend that only mature audiences join us for this lively discussion of “the juicy bits” of fantasy!

For listeners of The Book Table, Audible is offering a free audiobook and a 30-day free trial! Sign up at http://audibletrial.com/TheBookTable.

In this episode you heard from:
Stephen (Moderator)
Dorothy | @bwp_dorothy
Madeleine | @madnbooks
Rebecca | @rumy91989
Dave |
Akhi | @akhipill
Thomas |

The Book Table is a podcast from Backroom Whispering Productions. Our theme music is by Mark Wayne.

If you liked this podcast, rate us on iTunes! Or get in touch with us:
Twitter | @BackroomWhisper
Facebook | facebook.com/BackroomWhispering
Email | BackroomWhispering@gmail.com

 

What Fantasy Taught Me About Love

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

Hello readers and friends! Valentine’s Day is approaching and be sure to tune in to listen to our special Book Table episode about sex in fantasy, which will be released on the 10th! Plus, our very own Dorothy will have a special follow-up post for that day. We also had a nanosode about a married couple who write together- February seems to be the month for talk about romance.

Today, however, I’m going to talk about some of the lessons of romance, love, and moving on that I’ve gleaned from reading fantasy. One of the reasons I love fantasy so much is that as I immerse myself in worlds and their characters, I learn, through empathy or example, so much about life. These are not things one can learn from reading abstract philosophy or history that deals with power struggles and interstate interactions on a scale not relevant to daily life. There’s something about the struggle of a heroic character in fantasy, even when he or she is flawed, that inspires one to be a better person. When you live out a character’s struggles in literature, it sometimes makes you a stronger person.

Spoiler-warning

This post contains minor spoilers for both The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the second Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson.

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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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