Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007


The Women in the Attic of Choices Meant for Gods
Or...how Charlotte Bronte influenced my fantasy novel

Yes, I will openly admit that there are allusions to Jane Eyre in Choices Meant for Gods. Now, I didn't lift any text -- no plagiarism for me. (I went in and fixed that moment of insanity during editing. Yeah, believe it or not, I had a scene almost verbatim from the garden when Rochester proposes. Can you imagine? I was horrified when I figured out what I'd done.) Anyway, on this, the birthday of Charlotte Bronte, I wanted to pay homage to her and do my daily marketing for my fantasy novel.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared some of the Old English and Anglo-Saxon themes and concepts that influenced Choices Meant for Gods. Today, I'll tell you a few of the Jane Eyre themes and concepts that influenced the novel. The funny thing is that I purposefully sought out ways to incorporate the Old English devices in the plots of CMG. The kennings and littotes and use of alliteration that few people will catch are in there by design. The allusions to mead halls and weregild and scaly monsters from fens - it's all contrived like a Duranie using a well-known Duran word in conversation. But my Jane Eyre references surprised me. I didn't realize I put them in until it was editing and marketing time. I was writing up some text to put on a bookmark and used the word "orphan" to describe Amanda Chariss and said to myself, "wait a minute." And things started tumbling into place.

Okay, yes, I had purposefully included a scene where Nigel tells Chariss she's his "lifeline" and there's a "string" tied to his heart between them. Oh, how very "Rochester" of him. But I didn't realize as I wrote his lines that I lifted the entire scene between Rochester and Jane in the garden and nearly got myself sued by some estate (probably the Bronte Society of which I'm a member!).

So there I sat stupefied by the fact that Charlotte's subconscious influence had directed much of the novel without my knowledge. I started seeing similarities. The Taiman Estate, Arcana, bears many similarities to Thornfield Hall, complete with passageways no one's allowed to go into for which only the master keeps a key. Loetha could be Mrs. Fairfax (if she were straight). The family keeps a variety of secrets. Chariss arrives as an orphan with a troubled past. The master of the house falls in love with her but the reader is led to suspect a reason she cannot return the sentiment, despite an ardent desire to. The family takes in another orphan, Sorne, whom I see as a variant of Adele Varens in this list. And the list could go on... It's insane. I had no idea

So, for Book II, I just gave in and named a character General John Riverson. Blatant. You'll hate him instantly because of it.

Now, as for the "women in the attic," if you've already read the novel, you've already met Abigail Farrier. Hmm. She's not living in the attic, literally, but over on the continent of Bellan. Her appearance irritated one of my test readers and one of my early testimonial folks. In fact, the person offering the testimonial asked me to kill her off. Interesting. There should be a study on how the "women in the attic" affect readers of novels... But Abigail Farrier is not Bertha Mason Rochester...as far as I know.

Exploring the ways Choices Meant for Gods was influenced by Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre was an interesting exercise for me. Interesting and fun because I adore Charlotte, and I had no idea I was letting her characters and her themes manipulate me. After you've read Choices, you'll have to let me know what other similarities or influences you noticed.

And for a nice post on Charlotte herself, read the article below!

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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