Today, I have the privilege of introducing you to Janet Ursel. I was introduced to her when I saw a post to do an advance reader copy of her book that was marked as Christian Fantasy. I immediately jumped at the opportunity and loved every last word of the book. I asked her to share with us about the genre of fantasy. Please welcome, Janet.
It was Local Authors Day at the library and I was doing the rounds, talking to the faces behind the tables, finding out what they had to say. I had stopped at the table of a memoirist, a woman who had published her story, set up a women’s writing circle and did indeed have an interesting story. But when it came to fantasy: “I don’t read fantasy,” she said. She was being polite and even gentle, but I caught the whiff of dismissiveness in her words, the unspoken “it’s not worth my time”. Now I’m not young, and she was older, and I knew the mindset of her generation, the one that Ursula LeGuin has been battling all her life. Fantasy is pulp fiction, escapism, somehow less than real life. And I have to admit, there is fantasy out there that lives down to those expectations.
I have this bad habit of trying to expand people’s thinking. And so I tried to tell her how fantasy could be so much more. I like to think I made some headway. She had a thoughtful tilt to her head when I left.
What I told her was that fantasy has the potential of opening people’s eyes to reality in ways they would never expect. By removing people from their normal frame of reference, separating them from all the buzzwords that make them assume they know what you’re saying as soon as you’ve said two words, you can get them to look at age-old issues with a fresh perspective. When Tolkien tells the story of Legolas and Gimli overcoming centuries of tension between Elves and Dwarves to build a life-long friendship, is he not making a commentary on racism? And he can make it more effectively because we do not belong to one side or the other, and we can look at racism for what it is, all on its own, without our feeling defensive or hostile. When Gimli brings Legolas to the Glittering Caves, where Legolas expected to see only rock, he finds beauty too great for him to express. And this is what fantasy has the power to do: to remove the blinkers we wear, and too often choose to wear, to encounter unexpected beauty and pain, to understand that our way of looking at the world is not the only one and that we are limiting ourselves.
By removing familiar labels, fantasy can help us grow into a fuller understanding and appreciation of reality. By dressing truth in different clothing, fantasy can smuggle it into our armed camps and disrupt our lives. And sometimes, you know, we need our lives to be disrupted.
About Janet’s book: (click on the book to find it on amazon)
In this Christian fantasy, one young wizard with a hunger for wisdom and some dangerous secrets finds himself pitted against another ready to reach for power with the darkest forces possible.
Wizards have never in the history of Coventree, renounced Wizardry. But Blayn Goodwin finds himself growing detached from the practice of Wizardry, even as he rises through the ranks to become the youngest member of the Supreme Council. He has lost interest in the usual gods in favor of a god without a name, not that he makes that fact public.
Edgar Savile has his own traitorous secrets and kidnaps Blayn’s eldest son to prevent Blayn from probing into them. Meanwhile the Supreme Wizard, suspicious of Edgar, sends Blayn to retrieve an ancient book from the Other World, hoping it will arm them against Edgar’s treachery.
What Blayn finds is not what anyone expects, and threatens to tear Coventree’s fraying system apart at the seams.
After raising five children and one husband, Janet Ursel came to the obvious conclusion that writing novels was an essential part of the recovery process. Her studies in languages and literature, along with her experience as a pastor’s wife, market analyst, and ESL teacher, made her uniquely qualified to explore the life of a wizard in a parallel universe, so she did. She can be found at janetursel.com and on too many social media sites in one universe, and alternating between Canada and the United States in another universe