The Fantasy Setting

When writing a fantasy story – for kids and adults alike – the setting is key. Get it right and your story will spread its wings and transport your readers to a place they will never want to leave.

So how do you create the perfect setting for your story? 

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My Favourite Literary Mums

It’s Mother’s day here today and fresh from being celebrated by my three monkeys this morning, I thought I might share my favourite literary mums.

I wouldn’t say I go out of my way to read books with motherly characters in them – in fact, I read a lot of fantasy and historical fiction and unless the main character is a mother, I often find especially fantasy books don’t contain many mothers. But, as a mother myself, I tend to notice the ones there are and I guess I empathise with them more than I otherwise might have.

I had to take a good long look at my bookshelves to see if there were anymore than the six I already had on my list – and there was just one more that made the cut! What I found in common for most of these mums is the fierce and devoted love they have for their children – or those they ”adopt” as their own. In most cases they have, or would if required, laid down their lives to protect, defend or save their children. It’s a sentiment I can get behind 100% and reading those kinds of scenes hits me right in the feels – every time! I also have to admit that their onscreen versions have been pretty spectacular too!

So, without further ado, here are my seven favourite literary mums – in no particular order!

Natalie Prior – Divergent series

It’s been a few years since I read these books, but above anything else I remember her guts and her fearlessness in rescuing Tris. The heartbreak! 😭

Catelyn Stark – Game of Thrones

With the Starks holding the sigil of the Direwolf, let it be said – Catelyn Stark is one fierce Mamma-wolf protecting her cubs! You don’t want to mess with her!

Ysabeau de Clermont – A Discovery of Witches

Matthew de Clermonts vampire mother and possessor of a major ”Snoot” factor, but she’s so protective of her son – despite his being a grown man of 1500+ years – she earns a space on my list!

Molly Weasley – Harry Potter

Goes without saying that this mum is one of the most well known and well loved literary mothers out there. You can hear the love she has for her kids – and Harry – in every sigh and telling off. Does anyone else grin when she does her ”Where HAVE you been?”? She’s the mum I want to be when I grow up! 😂

Lily Potter – Harry Potter

Lily Potter is often overlooked in the Potter-verse, especially with Molly Weasley stealing the best mum spot for many Potter fans, but she deserves a place just for having sacrificed herself to save her son. She’s also the reason my daughter is called Lilly! ❤️

Claire Fraser – Outlander

Now here’s a woman that has gone to hell and back for her daughter! She literally left the love of her life to save her unborn child! Claire Fraser is fierce and smart and all kinds of devoted to her family. I honestly can’t praise Diana Gabaldon’s creative genius enough and I absolutely adore Claire.

Marmee – Little Women

Marmee was the one that didn’t leap out at me, initially. I read Little Women when I was a teenager and don’t think I fully appreciated until I had my own children, her calm strength and the honest support she gives her girls. She raised them with love and helped their individual personalities thrive.

Do you have any favourite literary mums I haven’t got on my list? Let me know where to find them!

The fantasy villain in children’s fiction

Sauron. Lord Voldemort. Need I say more?

Every great hero needs a truly evil villain. Without them there’s no danger, nothing to lose, nothing to gain and no conflict the hero must overcome. Your story falls flat and your hero remains the slightly nerdy kid no one believes will amount to much. 

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The fantasy hero in children’s fiction

Harry. Matilda. Bilbo. Tris. Katniss.

Unless you’ve been off planet or hiding under a rock for the last 20+ years, you will undoubtedly recognise at least a couple of these fantasy heroes and heroines. 

In children’s literature, the fantasy heroes and heroines are many and varied – each with their own personalities and back story – but they all possess certain characteristics that endear them to their readers.

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Why write fantasy fiction?

As a lifelong fantasy enthusiast, my instinctual response to this question has to be: Why not? 

There’s nothing I love more than the hint of magic when I open a new book. A glint of dragon scales, the faint whisperings of adventure and the distant call of a horn and I’m sold! And this has been the case for longer than I can remember.

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I am a procrastinator! There’s no point trying to hide it. It’s a fact of life and something I have struggled with always. And I know I’m not alone in this… just google writer procrastination and you’ll drown in hilarious memes, far to apt illustrations like the one below and top tips on how to kick procrastination’s butt!

But why do we do it?

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The Puuuuuuuurfect Literary Pet

Have you ever fallen hopelessly in love with a literary pet and wished they were yours? I have! Countless times!

Why? Because, I’ve always loved animals, of all kinds. Cats top the list for me though. Yes, I am the crazy cat-lady! I have 4 cats – Harry, Nymeria Nymphadora, Brave and Oreo. The first two have names from books I’ve loved. Can you guess which? Oreo and Brave… well, let’s just say, that’s what happens when you let the kids name your pets. We also have a dog called Yoda. Again, I blame the kids…

Now, where was I? Ah, yes…

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A rose, by any other name…

Shakespeare’s famous line from Romeo & Juliet should by all accounts be a golden rule of thumb – and far be it from me to argue with the master! However, I find myself wondering if the sentiment applies to character names? Would your readers relate to the handsome, kind and sensitive male protagonist if his name were Spike? Likewise would your female antagonist, the bane of practically everyone’s existence, pure evil personified, pack as much punch if her name were Noelle?

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When are you at your most creative?

The other day I was driving through a slush storm, with the temperature yo-yoing just above freezing. The sky was dark grey with a heavy mass of clouds that couldn’t decide if they wanted to pelt us with rain or bury us in snow. Hence the slush. I drive this route multiple times a day, Monday through Friday, and apart from being “slushed” by two passing trucks, the drive was otherwise uneventful.

What occurred to me though, is that those few minutes multiple times a day, are probably my most productive, in terms of writing ideas.

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Music to write by…

Today I’ve been editing my “What to listen to when I’m writing”-playlist on Spotify and it made me wonder: Do other writers create “soundtracks” for their novels?

When I think of the scenes in my story, they’re like short movies in my mind where I can see my characters, hear their words and feel their emotions. But here’s the thing: Movies are always way better with music!

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