Today I have Janet Lee Carey, author of Dragonswood, for an 'Into the Past' guest post listing what books her past self would recommend at ages 5, 11, 16 and 20. Also check out a really awesome giveaway for *Signed* copies of Dragonswood and Dragon's Keep. Enjoy!
Age 5: I’d give you Horton Hears a Who and say, “You have to read this!” Dr. Seuss was a favorite of mine at age 5. I also loved fairytales and started my collection early. My brothers and I found boxes of old, tattered books one time in a barn. The Oz books were among them. What treasure! I wasn’t able to read them yet, but my older brother read them aloud to us. Oh, and my five-year-old self would also tell you to read My Father’s Dragon. Loved that book.
Age 11: I had a voracious reading appetite by that age. The enchanting novels I read as a child inspired me to become a writer. I read sitting in the branches of an acacia tree. At that age I raved about The Hobbit, A Wrinkle in Time, The Wizard of Earthsea, all the Narnia books, and all the magical books by E. Nesbit. I also loved adventure books like My Side of the Mountain and Island of the Blue Dolphins.
Age 16: I was still into fantasy and had moved on from The Hobbit to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I also read Herman Hesse’s novels. At age sixteen Hermann Hesse’s books opened me up to a whole new world. I was already on a search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality. I started a regular meditation practice after reading Hesse’s Siddhartha. Siddhartha also inspired me to organize my first charity event, an Indian music festival to raise money for famine relief in Bangladesh. So much life change came out of reading that one book. I still meditate though I now follow a contemplative tradition and do a Benedictine mantra mediation.
Age 20: I was in college and reading tons of text books. One college course saved me from endless text books, and that was Ancient Literature. We read early works like Beowulf, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (what a hoot that one is!) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and then went on to Shakespeare. I fell in love with Ancient Literature and the early forms of the English language. I loved the way the words looked on the page and sounded on the tongue. I still have the books from that class along with Norton’s Anthology of English Literature: The Middle Ages. My taste for medieval writing and medieval history combined with my love of fantasy led to writing Dragon’s Keep and its companion book Dragonswood.
My shelves are crammed with books on medieval life. Some people are surprised to see books like:
Nigel Cawthorne’s Witches History of a Persecution. And Karen Farrington’s Dark Justice: A History of Punishment and Torture. I learned a lot about witch trials and medieval torture methods from those texts. Both reference works were essential to writing Dragonswood.
We fantasy writers do a lot of research. We also ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ as the saying goes. We beg, borrow and steal, snatching story seeds from fairytales, myths, folklore, and legends. We rely on the fractal patterns of story-making, growing our own intricately patterned tales with a view to a little something new.
Thanks for stopping by Janet!
In a dark time when girls with powers are called witches, Tess escapes the witch hunter and hides with a mysterious huntsman until magical voices draw her deeper into Dragonswood where she learns the secret of her birth. Caught between love and loyalty, Tess chooses the hardest path of all – her own.
Painful, cathartic and cautiously hopeful; a fairy tale for those who have given up on believing in them, but still yearn for happily ever after. - Kirkus starred review
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