Trope and cliché aren’t that different. Maybe a good working definition can be that a ‘cliché’ is a badly done or over-used ‘trope’, while a ‘trope’ is a ‘cliché’ used imaginatively to remind the reader of what’s familiar and likable in a genre. In the former situation, the author is lazy; in the latter, they’re inventive.
So how is the humble fantasy writer supposed to apply this to their next novel? Part of the answer involves being thoughtful about which tropes to use, which to ignore, and which to deconstruct and creatively reassemble into a compelling narrative. Hopefully, that lets an author stay true to their voice while entertaining readers.
So, picking up from my last post (link: https://bit.ly/2Utr8gN ), we’ll use my modern fantasy, THE LORDS OF THE SUMMER SEASON, as a case study. I hasten to note that this book isn’t – necessarily – a paragon of literary virtue, but at least I know how I attempted to dance through the trope/cliché minefield as I wrote it. The reader can judge for themselves how successful I was (Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3hNZ4wF ).
Anyway, the first trope I wrestled with was setting. A lot of fantasy is set in a vaguely medieval, quasi-European environment. Cool. However, I wanted something that hadn’t already been done thousands of times, so LORDS occurs during San Francisco’s ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967 because this was a time of real-life fantasy when the creative scene was exploding and everything seemed limitless. Until it wasn’t.
This setting seemed to have a lot of scope for dramatic story-telling because it had a darker side, so there are scenes in the novel where creative forces run amok. The magical entities that are the novel’s villains represent this chaos. Even the protagonist – who’s a magician with a complicated backstory – sometimes gets carried away and unleashes powers he really can’t control.
We’ll continue to dissect THE LORDS OF THE SUMMER SEASON in the next post focusing on how to integrate magic – the defining characteristic of fantasy novels into my story.
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I write modern fantasy novels that are hopefully both exciting and literate. These novels include an on-going series about a near-immortal magician who grew up in Camelot and grew famous in San Francisco's 'Summer of Love'. He's still having adventures to this day described in The Lords of the Summer Season, The Lords of Powder, and The Lords of Oblivion. The books can be read in any order.
As author S Alessandro Martinez has stated about the series:
"Lords of Oblivion
A 1500-year-old wizard. A pair of savage druids raised from the dead. Modern day San Francisco. A wolf that takes no gruff. Blaisdell creates a fascinating world in this magical realism novel with smart writing, complex characters, and clever use of history and mythology. I was sucked in from the very beginning. I look forward to more of Bradan and Tintagel's mystical adventures.
Lords of Powder
Merlin's former apprentice, Bradan, is back! The 1500-year-old wizard, who is sometimes too smart for his own good, returns for another exciting adventure, this time in 70s Miami as he takes on the criminal world of drug trafficking. Blaisdell's smart, fast-paced writing and use of fascinating history and mythology keeps you on the edge of your seat as Bradan uses his wits, charm, and illusions to navigate the modern era and get himself into plenty of trouble.
Lords of the Summer Season
Being Merlin's former apprentice and living for 1500 years is bound to make you a few enemies. Travel back to the 60s with Bradan the wizard and his otherworldly wolf Tintagel. As Bradan juggles careers as a professor and musician, he must defend himself from his greatest threat yet: a literal god. Blaisdell continues with his clever, skillful, and imaginative writing that will keep readers eagerly turning the next page. My favorite of the Bradan books, Blaisdell dives deeper into the Arthur mythology, and brings the reader even more elements of magic and folklore, all the while weaving an entertaining tale of gods, wizards, ghosts, and 60s acid rock. Thoroughly enjoyable!"
Besides the literary side of my life, my background includes membership on a scientific advisory board for a non-profit professional organization promoting the biomedical and digital health business community in the greater Los Angeles area.
I’ve authored both basic research publications and business management articles focusing on the bio/pharma industry. My Ph.D. is in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota where I also conducted post-doctoral research in microbiology. And my BS is from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) with a double major in chemistry and cell biology.
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