Notes on Creating a Story (part 3)

Following my last post (part 2) on how/why I came to write my modern fantasy, The Lords of the Summer Season (Amazon link: ), below is part 3. Other installments will follow. 

Besides describing Bradan’s adventures during 1967’s Summer of Love, I’ve also included flashback chapters set in sixth-century Britain, Renaissance Florence, and on the University of California’s Berkeley campus during the Free Speech Movement in 1964 to provide backstories for the main characters. These are vivid memories for both the heroes and villains. In addition, the fifteenth-century Florentine artistic flowering provided a counterpoint to the Summer of Love. Obviously there are massive differences, not the least of which is that Florence’s artistic rebirth lasted over a hundred years while the Summer of Love lasted a few months (or a few years if the late 1960s/early 1970s pop cultural scene is included in its entirety). Nonetheless, I like to think that Jerry Garcia would have gotten on well with Da Vinci. Both periods shared an energetic political and cultural environment—not always positive—that fostered creative responses from resident artists. In fact, this novel considers how creative inspiration is ignited by setting.

Granted, it’s a stretch to juxtapose the Summer of Love and the Florentine Renaissance, but The Lords of the Summer Season is modern fantasy, so a writer in this genre may attempt outré flights of storytelling fancy. As best-selling writer Tad Williams states, a fantasy author can get away with anything as long as something tries to eat the hero every few pages. In The Lords of the Summer Season, plenty of dangers real and supernatural confront Bradan, starting on the first page. However, you, the gentle reader, can judge whether the approach works here.

Besides trying to make it by fronting an acid rock band, Bradan assiduously pursues tenure as a professor of folklore at a small southern California liberal arts university, giving him a bird’s-eye view of the academic circus. A great deal of the ’60s upheaval occurred on college campuses, and the novel takes a jaundiced look at academia. These institutions are certainly ripe for mockery with their pretensions, hierarchy, and inflated egos. As one of the novel’s characters notes, almost no other large organizations except churches have such a gap between their stated mission and their actual behavior; self-interest happily thrives beneath an idealistic veneer. That was true five decades ago and it is today.

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