The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt by Andrea Wulf
I actually wrote this post several weeks ago, before the corona virus crisis hit on a world scale… but given it’s about the importance of scientists and human beings connecting with and inspiring each other, be it in person or from afar, it actually feels somehow appropriate. So in case anyone’s looking for a positive break from reading about pandemics, here it is:
I don’t normally read a lot of non-fiction, but I recently picked up The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. Aside from informing me about a brilliant scientist and author called Alexander von Humboldt – who I knew very little about – it got me thinking again about a topic I’ve found myself mulling over often in the past year: namely, how much writers are influenced by the work of other writers who’ve come before them, or even those who are writing at the same time.
In the past, I’ve tended to to look at famous historical figures in isolation, focusing on the unique feats they achieved and how different it was to everything that had come before. Last year, however, when researching for a blog series about popular fantasy books in different decades, I was repeatedly fascinated by how many writers had been inspired by, or even been good friends with, other writers on my lists. Continue reading
This week I’m excited to bring you a guest post from writer, English teacher and Marvel fan Josiah DeGraaf, who blends the fantasy and superhero genres in his writing. He takes a look at what fantasy authors might learn from the successes of genre-mixing in superhero fiction:
If you aren’t much of a superhero movie fan (or even if you are), the upcoming slate of movies Marvel alone is trying to push out may seem rather exhausting. 10 more films in the next three years with plans through 2027? It’s no wonder you have people like Spielberg predicting superhero films will go the way of the Western and burn out in the near future.
Yet, despite all the films churned out by Marvel and DC, moviegoers keep purchasing tickets without any signs of stopping. Superhero stories are a (relatively) narrow genre—and yet many viewers (such as myself) regularly see two to four superhero films a year, despite the criticisms Marvel’s received for weak villains and paint-by-number three-act stories.
How has Marvel been able to keep selling tickets without running into genre fatigue? There are multiple reasons, but there’s one I’d like to focus on: Marvel keeps the genre feeling fresh by mixing it with other genres. This is a skill that not only budding novelists can be taking advantage of—but a skill some of the best fantasy authors today are using to craft unique and brilliant stories. Continue reading
Writers spend a good deal of time fretting about the opening sentence of their novel, just as readers enjoy quoting first lines from their favourite books. This is understandable, given so much is riding on that first impression. But what about closing lines? What about the final words that resolve the story and linger in a reader’s mind after they shut the book?
Wee Folk and Wise: A Faerie Anthology
This guest post is brought to you by Deby Fredericks, whose blog Wyrmflight has taught me many an interesting dragon-related fact and myth. She recently edited an anthology of fairy and folk tale-inspired stories called Wee Folk and Wise, and has shared some reflections from Matthew Timmins, one of the collection’s contributors, on the age-old appeal of fairy tales: Continue reading