Friday, September 26, 2014

Armchair Living, or How a Woman Who Can't Swim Went Deep-Sea Diving

"Write what you know," goes the old adage, to which I say, "Stick a fork in that old saying; it's overdone." The new mantra: "Write what you want to know." Or, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, "You don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

I've written some of what I know. I know a lot about New Orleans, where I lived for many, many years. I know about Hurricane Katrina 'cause I was there, unfortunately, among the evacuating masses and the rebuilding few. I know about growing up in rural Alabama in a town so small you're related to everyone if you go back a couple of generations. I know about SEC football. I know about the brutal world of university politics (it's ugly, folks).

After that, it's pretty much me writing about stuff I don't know, but want to. I've lived inside the heads of wizards, elves, vampires, and the humans who love them. I've gone deepwater diving off the foggy, frigid waters of Cape Breton into the turbulent North Atlantic in search of a Knights Templar treasure that sank centuries earlier. I've run from would-be assassins through the English countryside (because I was trying to find King John's lost crown jewels). I've ridden out a hurricane in a fishing camp deep in the Atchafalaya Basin; the hurricane was named after my grandmother. I've been a nuisance gator wrangler, a merman, an eagle shapeshifter, and a Scottish gallowglass warrior.

The coolest thing of all? I get to take readers with me. Because that's what reading books--and writing books--is all about. The chance to live in another space for a little while, to experience something new, to study the human condition from a wonky angle and maybe come away with something to think about.

Which brings me to the Kingdom of Faerie, where some of my characters are about to visit. It will be my first visit to that mythical realm, so I've been thinking about what it should look like.

That's where you come in. Tell me what you'd imagine Faerie to be like, to look like. What would you see? What would you smell and hear? My faeries are not like Tinkerbell or Jinx, I should add. Some are good; some are bad. They look very human, at least when they want to. They're powerful, but definitely march to their own drummer. Currently, the Prince of Winter and the Prince of Summer are in a power struggle for the monarchy because the Faerie Queen is on her last leg and childless.

So, help me build Faerie! I'll choose one commenter to receive a book of choice in his or her format of choice.

Speaking of choice, I hope you're following along this month's big blogfest with the members of the Southern Magic chapter of RWA. We're hoping you'll join us on Saturday, Nov. 1, in Birmingham for the always-awesome Readers Luncheon. Have lunch with some terrific authors, win tons of goodies, enjoy some swag and -- oh -- did I mention that the guest speaker is New York Times bestselling author Sylvia Day? Be there! Click here for more info and to register. Hope to see you there! (And sit at my table because I sure do hate to eat alone.)

Check my blog on Sunday to see if you won! You can also find me on Facebook and on Twitter, and read more about my books as Suzanne Johnson here and as Susannah Sandlin here.

20 comments:

Rita Bay said...

Great idea, Suzanne. I tell my stories for the enjoyment of participating vicariously. All the better, if I can take readers with me. Would I really want to be sold into a pirate's harem as a slave, find myself sprouting long canines and craving blood, pursued by handsome shapeshifter, or Merlin's helper to save the world? Don't think so - well maybe the shapeshifter, but that's the magic of stories. I can do all of those, then climb into my safe bed every night.

Rita Bay said...

Forgot about the fairies because I was focused on your great perspective about stories. I think one of the fairies should be naughty. Very naughty, using her powers to play tricks on clueless, hapless humans - until she get caught by one who is neither clueless, nor hapless.

Liv said...

When I think about different versions of faerie that have been done before, they're either altered versions of reality (forest & trees done a little skewed) or they've got an old-fashioned, vaguely Medieval vibe. It might be fun to have a faerie that's indistinguishable from the real world, but with different sorts of conflicts and social problems. Or pick the Medieval thing and hit it hard. Can you see DJ in a corset...? ;)

Roger Simmons said...

Liv said... Can you see DJ in a corset...? WOW! YES please. Faerie, the land and the people. I like the idea of evil, very evil. Maybe with some glamouring. That evil includes the land, very bad plants, trees, woods, water, weather, etc., surrealistic.

Charlotte said...

Hi Suzanne, now this is my most favorite sport of all time. Using my my imagination to take me to far away and unheard of places is something I've done all my life. Of course the places were always picture perfect but they were always hidden for fear of being destroyed especially by humans or creatures from other realms. To find fairyland one would have to travel through a quagmire of thick brutal jungle filled with angry, ferocious animals. The entrance to fairyland would only be activated by those who know the word of the ancients. Immediately upon
entering one would marvel at lush greens and vivid colors of exotic flowers and vegetation.the castle,chateaus,and the most humble of dwellings would be made of crystal,and various gems. Water falls, lakes and streams would be an array of clear blues from turquoise,to azure and everything in between. Butterflies,birds,and other animals would take on light and hues from the beauty and magic of the land. I could go on forever;but I will give room for others to comment. I love the idea of fairies. I once had a fairy god mother but alas, she died and I had to bury her but her spirit stayed with me always. Best Wishes to you on your work.

Kathleen Bylsma said...

My "Fairie" would be a world where the impossible is not only possible, but ordinary. Or, alternatively, it appear innocuous but have "triggers" that must be disarmed in order to navigate safely, those "triggers" to be known intuitively by the character who does not enter unless well versed in the legend of "Fairie".

Suzanne Johnson said...

Thanks, Rita! All the faeries are naughty in their own way...sometimes VERY naughty--LOL. Love the idea of a playfully naughty one, though!

Suzanne Johnson said...

You're right, Liv. I started out thinking of pretty, pastoral Faerie and knew I didn't want to go that route because it's expected. Ooh....what about a high-tech, gleaming glass and concrete Faerie...Hm....

Suzanne Johnson said...

LOL. Roger, we got DJ in a corset in Elysian Fields, although she put it on backwards, as I recall. And bad plants! That's a super idea!

Suzanne Johnson said...

@Charlotte...Love your vision of Faerie! Not everyone can enter but those who do have a sight to behold!

Suzanne Johnson said...

@Kathleen...Good point! Like walking through a magical, mystical minefield. If you don't know where to step....love it!

miki said...

i do imagine Faeries with a lot of nature ( but not only)which doesn't mean our nature at all^^;; we are quite part and adapted to our envirronment so i think faeries should be the same beautiful but dangerous or some more plain but safer, plants could have their own mind after all if the magic surrounded it for so long
one faery could love technology yes but hard to imagine them all fond of it because they have been there for so long...

i can see it as a kind of parallele kigdom / reality that you can't enter if you are not"in the known" or invited. I guess sebastian could have a role as well because faeries and cat seems to have a conflictual relation in a lot of legends as cat can see them for what they are ( they could perhaps be the one to grant passage^^)
but dangerous definitively

bn100 said...

smells like amusement park food

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

dawn wigand said...

I would LOVE to sit at your table! Unfortunately it is a bit too far. :(
As for Faerie, I've always envisioned a beautiful yet cruel environment with no technology or machinery, but filled with nature and secrets.

Ashfa said...

I envision fairies as small or tall, thin, fairly pretty, good natured or prankish, with pointy ears and dandelion fluff hair. Beings that quickly flit about and are one with nature.

Faeries can also be beings of unearthly beauty, and they don't seem to have a strong grasp of reality. They live in a sort of dreamlike state, and have a very easily offend-able nature.

Cari Hislop said...

A post after my own heart! Indeed, who writes about what they really know? Autobiographers! The rest of us are enthralled with make believe. Without it...well there'd be no stories. I can travel through the stars or travel through time...and i love it.

I also love faeries! I have a fictional fairy land that's part of an ongoing story that came to life as I teased my husband (a few years after we married). After twelve years or so it's now woven into our relationship/ private dialogue. We probably sound very weird to strangers. Here's some of my favorite aspects which you are free to use or to think completely insane. ;)

Only female fairies have wings. Male fairies are called Goblins and grow to reach a certain size and then remain that size. Female fairies on the other hand have wings that are one size so they have to be small (shrink down) to fly, but they can magically become about the same size as most Goblins (otherwise they wouldn't be able to mate). Fairies have a tendency to be rather lazy - why fly when you can sit on your Goblon's shoulder? Not every fairy has a Goblin though...nor does every Goblin have a fairy. Though an unclaimed Goblin's shoulder would be a safe place to rest if you've been flying for miles though it might be safer to choose the nearest tree branch just incase he's not very nice and tries to push you off. Every year on a certain day there is a fairy ball where all the unattached fairies gather together to find a mate or just to wear a new dress and dance the night away. The goblins have to wait to be asked - so the fairies have the upper hand (so to speak). Goblins can reject offers, but they can't begin the mating ritual unless the fairies wings are flowing a certain colour...which if my awful memory serves is a neon blue.

All fairies are individuals so you all sorts...some are lovely some are evil most are in between. They enjoy leaving the fairy realm and wandering among humans if only for a laugh because humans are so weird. Fairies prefer to live off the grid, but they prefer as many home comforts as possible and aren't above stealing human generators and the petrol to run them to achieve their aim.

Lydia T said...

Hi, I think fairies would look like normal people except with wings. The enemies would be goblins like in the hobbit.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Congrats to DAWN WIGAND--you've won a copy of your choice of my books (SENTINELS OF NEW ORLEANS books 1, 2 or 3; PENTON VAMPIRE LEGACY, books 1, 2, 3, or 4; STORM FORCE; or book one of THE COLLECTORS. Your choice of print or digital or audiobook (all except Sentinels, which isn't out in audio). Please email me: suzannej3523 at gmail dot com.

dawn wigand said...

Yeah!! Thank you so much!

Shadow said...

What great adventures! I cant wait to check out your faerie! I love all the myths and legends surrounding them. Ive always loved the idea that there deep in forests, the most beautiful and magical untouched parts. The good faerie have a waterfall, beautiful flowers, over grown trees, animals we have yet to discover. The dark has a cave that opens into a dark forest, twisted trees, surrounded by fireflies and filled with beautiful but very dangerous and poisonous plants. I once read about a sandbox tree (Hura crepitans) that has huge seed pods that explode. There quite dangerous. Id imagine these there, and a river of lava, underground volcano. lol This was fun! Thanks for lettings us dream a bit with ya! Have an awesome day!