What have I been tuning into during August? Well, I’ve been reading Terry Brooks’ Genesis of Shannara series which is quite delightful. I have to admit, I completely forgot how much I love getting wrapped into a high fantasy series, even though it requires the patience to weather through the setup. I admit though, I’ve been pining for a good YA book or urban fantasy series as of late.
However, this month has turned into the month of reading! I managed to read the first and second of the Genesis of Shannara books and followed that up with Shootout at Roulement Ridge by Einar Mercier, Dragonstone by Paula Millhouse, and What You Need by Landra Graf. It’s been a basking in indie authors sort of month, and I’m thrilled to read the works of such talented individuals. August has done a good job of reminding me of my favorite obsession: reading.
To cap it off though, even if you haven’t read the books, I think any fantasy fan can get excited about the Shannara show that’s airing this upcoming January.
“More than one. Several wisps ducked past the trees, switching back and forth. That’s when she caught the glow of eyes like burning coals amidst the nebulous forms. Their focus unnerved her, and even though she hadn’t broken her stride, sweat coated her hands. After several minutes when they didn’t disappear from her peripheral, she came to the sure conclusion: they followed her.”
So, I just finished reading Odd Thomas for the Caffeine Crew Book Club, even wrote a review up over here. That was a book that made my heart hurt–and GOD, I love that. Beyond any crazy twists and gimmicks (while I sometimes find them exhilarating in a whole different way), nothing makes me remember a book like the characters. Give me a character to remember, one that struggles and fights despite the overwhelming circumstances and odds against them. One that lives despite tragedy, or cares too deeply. One who’s unafraid to bare their soul, or too afraid, and terrified of getting hurt.
I see so many posts about how people are disgusting, or the worst. And yes, there exist some pretty terrible individuals. But in this era of social media, it’s so easy to dehumanize people. It’s so easy to forget that there’s a human being behind the screen, that the username has a story, and that they’re struggling to survive, and live, just like the rest of us.
Here’s where books come in. They’re a reminder, people. They’re a reminder why humankind can be amazing. Why people are worth believing in, and also a lesson on how circumstances and life can build folks up or destroy them. I want to read books that make my heart hurt, and make me love our species. I want to care about the individual, not statistics, or data.
Hence why I always read.
I’ve always leaned towards fantasy in my writing, and obviously magic, witches, and dragons aren’t things I can tap into real life experience for. Hell, even some of the emotional experiences my characters go through (losing a father figure, extreme danger at the hands of monsters) aren’t something I’ve experienced. So I rely heavily on an overactive imagination and a really strong sense of empathy.
Our society is immersed in flashy articles, internet communications and multimedia, but we’re detached from each other. We watch and absorb, but how often do we process? In school we’re taught to analytically process, but not emotionally. We’re not taught to empathize and the further we delve into our electronic world of today, the further we separate from the pathos that makes us human.
Now, I know everyone’s grown into different situations and they shape us, create our worldviews and opinions because of them. However, reading is one of the few things that can truly bring us together. Growing up, I read about heroes who were brave, who were scared, who had daddy issues, or struggled with their choices the same as I might. I’ve read characters who were polyamorous, assassins who were forced to kill due to bad situations, and people struggling with racism–whether it be our own society or some fantasy setting. All of these new perspectives forced me to look at people in different ways and reach outside of my own life to grasp what others might go through, or how I might’ve changed given my own situation.
We live in a world where we can flick on the TV and watch actors cry, fight, anything. And maybe, it will stir some pathos in us, particularly the people who are already open to it. But nothing expands worldview like sitting down and reading. Putting yourself in someone else’s head for awhile and living life through their eyes. That, my friends, is empathy.
And empathy? That’s how you create the most realistic characters in your writing and live a thousand lives.
Come join my bookclub!
The website I write for, Caffeinecrew.com will be hosting a book club starting in August. We’ll tackle one book a month, discuss it in the Goodreads club and then I’ll post my review on Caffeine Crew.
Caffeine Crew Reads
Read with me!
So, I’ve got some solidified STUFF coming out, most likely this year.
Snatched, a young adult sci-fi novel which will be published by Jupiter Gardens Press
(Involving post apocalyptic battles against shifters–teleporting emotionless humanoids))
Poisoned Apple, a contemporary Snow White novella which will be published by Decadent Publishing
(Snow White’s a goth, Prince Charming’s a jerk and her family’s even worse)
Plenty of reasons to stay tuned!