This is one of my favorite quotes from EOLYN. In chapter 2, Ghemena, a maga of the Old Orders, pokes fun at imaginative villagers and their stories of old hags in edible houses. Of course, in so doing, she also pokes fun at me, the author, who - having declared that gingerbread houses are just so much nonsense - proceeds to lead the reader into a world where an amulet transports a prince halfway across his kingdom, where a young woman learns to shapeshift and cast flames from the palm of her hand, and where dragons sail fierce and silent over mist-covered forests.I've often been asked why I write fantasy. I write fantasy because I wanted to write Eolyn's story, and Eolyn lives in a fantasy world.
So the real question is this: why did I write EOLYN?
Now, this novel has been brewing for a very long time, and many events, places, stories and dreams influenced the 118,000 (or so) words that became the novel. So I can't cover all the "why's" of Eolyn in a single post. What I can do is start off with a few guesses, and leave the rest for posts to come.
My earliest memories of scenes from EOLYN come from my college years - times when I was daydreaming, perhaps, instead of paying attention in lecture. Or listening to music instead of reading the next chapter of my textbook. I didn't have any names for the characters, or a story outline, or anything written down for that matter. But I knew Eolyn would lose her family to a violent fate, and that this event would somehow be connected to an act committed by her mother. I knew Eolyn would be a gifted maga in a world where magic was forbidden to women, and that her nemesis - the Mage King - would, through some trick of destiny, also be her closest friend.
It's probably no coincidence that my college years were also marked by my first reading of JRR Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy -- we'd be hard pressed to find any fantasy writer who has not been inspired by this great author. I remember loving those books, and yet - as a young woman - feeling disappointed by the lack of engaging, well-rounded female characters. Now, in the 20 years since I read 'Lord of the Rings', women have carved out their place in fantasy, and there are many many books and movies that feature strong female protagonists - often written by incredible women, like Marion Zimmer Bradley and Ursula K. Le Guin.
Still, given that the first stirrings of EOLYN came at a time when I was reading Tolkien, I have to recognize that a driving force in the creation of this novel was a very personal need to have a fantasy story in which women played meaningful and complex roles - where they, too, could change the course of history, or make courageous decisions that alter the destiny of their people - even if they lived in a world largely ruled by men.
In short, Eolyn is a protagonist I can relate to and admire, a woman capable of overcoming extraordinary challenges and making a positive difference in a brutal world.
And there is nothing nonsensical about that.