GABBLER RECOMMENDS: ‘A Quiet Hero’s Journey: Processing Trauma in Fantasy’ by Leah Schnelbach

‘The more I thought about these two books the more I saw how unique they were in their approach to storytelling. Rather than a typical quest arc, or bildungsroman, or boarding school tale, or even picaresque, what struck me about both books is that they center trauma and grief as their true subjects. Each novel mines the inner life of an introvert who has been forced into a terrible situation, and then each protagonist is given the page space to quietly, honestly, process their trauma and begin to recover.

In much the same way, Among Others uses its structure to tell a shadow story of Mori’s recovery. Walton’s story unfolds as a series of dated diary entries, so we know that the book’s prologue shows us a healthy and comparatively happy pair of twins in 1975, before skipping up to 1976 and reintroducing us to an older, shattered Mori, alone and furious. The entries cover the first three years of Mori’s new life, from 1976 until 1980, and the thing that comes through constantly is pain.

Among Others could have been a book about a girl fighting her evil mother with magic, and it could have been a standard, “nerdy girl finds unlikely friendships at boarding school”-type story. Instead, it’s about pain. It’s about what constant physical pain does to the human mind, and how to build up defenses against it.

…A book that could have just been a boarding school story has become a true bildungsroman, as Mori has to decide who she is, and who she wants to become.

These two novels show a different path for fantasy writing than the usual quest or heist tale. Instead they focus on tiny, quiet pockets of time—moments spent with a book, or in meditation—and look at how those moments can ripple out into a personality. They give us two very different characters who are, in the end, defined by their desire for quiet and stillness, defined by their own choices rather than the violence that was done to them. Rather than following their expected paths to become Vengeful Emperor or Murderous Witch, they draw on their inner lives to grow into real complex adults, and use their experience of trauma to embrace lives of empathy.

[Via]

See also:

TO REGENDER THE MONOMYTH

LAURIE PENNY ON THE MONOMYTH 

THE BASIC THEME OF ALL MYTHOLOGY

Jo Walton on “Plausible Deniability” in Stories

Jo Walton on Goodreads As with a lot of my writing, the reason I chose to do this comes from problems I have with the way other people do things. When I read urban fantasy I generally find it hard to suspend my disbelief — if these things really existed and behaved that way, I’d have to be stupid to have missed them. So I wanted to have magic that was non-falsifiable, and had plausible deniability.”

[Via]

Jo Walton Book Quote:

‘To tell the truth I’ve been pretty angry with God since Mor died: He doesn’t seem to do anything, or to help at all. But I suppose it’s all like magic, you can’t tell if it does anything, or why, not to mention mysterious ways. If I were omnipotent and omnibenevolent I wouldn’t be so damn ineffable. Gramma used to say that you couldn’t tell how things would work out for the best. I used to believe that when she was alive, but then after she died, and Mor died, I don’t know. It’s not that I don’t believe in God, it’s just that I haven’t felt very inclined to get down and worship someone who wants me think “no dbout the universe is unfolding as it should.” Because I don’t. I think I ought to do something about the way the universe is unfolding, because there are things that need obvious and immediate attention…’ –Jo Walton, Among Others.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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