Monday, March 31, 2014

Kickin' Off Classics Week With Guest Patti Korbet...

Happy Monday Everybody,

Welcome to the first ever Classics Week on Write By Bethany. Each day I will feature a different author. The author for the day will talk about which classic author and book they enjoyed and why, plus whether or not it influenced them. At the end of the post, they will feature one of their own publications for your reading pleasure.

To kick off Classics Week, I've got author Patti Korbet. I met Patti through author Marie Hall's Facebook page. As it turns out, we're both avid Once Upon A Time fans (as well as fans of Marie Hall's work) and started chatting. She's got some interesting things to say about JRR Tolkein, so I'll hush up and let Patti take over...

My childhood memories are filled with moments of fantasy and science fiction, from the cartoons that started our Saturday mornings to the films we saw in the movie theater. Many of those stories were classics of childhood for kids of the 70's and 80's – E.T., The Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story, Legend, Labyrinth, Planet of the Apes, Back to the Future, Willow and of course, Star Wars, to name a few. The ritual of watching sci-fi and fantasy together binds my family even now.

Of all those movies, the one animated film of the two genres that always stayed with me was The Hobbit (1977). Before special effects and Peter Jackson could do justice to Middle Earth, the animator's hand gave life to this fantastical world. It stuck with me more than any Disney movie I had ever seen at that point.

Note from Bethany:  I think these were the Ozark Mountains
in Arkansas, but look a little Tolkein-ish!
Years later, a college friend gave me his extra copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy. I didn't read them immediately, but knew I would – I had loved that little Hobbit Bilbo from my childhood cartoon. Then a coworker loaned me his copy of the original BBC broadcast teleplay of LOTR, and let me tell you, if you've never heard it, you should. What Peter Jackson did for the films, that production did for audio. When I played the last CD, I felt compelled to read all four books. I devoured them.

I knew the story of The Hobbit, of course. But I could not have been prepared for the wonder that enveloped me when my eyes directly consumed J.R.R. Tolkien's words. He wove this fantastical tale of dragons, of demons with names like 'goblin' and 'orc', of elves the size of men, dwarves more complex than Snow White's pals, wise wizards and the small, gentle, half-men known as hobbits. It changed forever how I read fantasy and laid the foundation for the amazing series that followed.

In many ways, The Hobbit was not just the pre-quel to the LOTR saga, it was also the pre-quel to all the fantasy stories that came later. Some, like Harry Potter, nod very directly to Tolkien. But many writers and stories – even those outside fantasy and sci-fi – owe The Hobbit for paving the way to creating worlds that do not exist.

What Tolkien teaches us through The Hobbit is that you can create a wholly fictional universe, and as long as you believe in it, your audience will, too. When that world comes directly from your own imagination, however many words you need to carry the reader into the varied and vivid landscapes and to illuminate the characters, those are the words you must use. I don't write fantasy or sci-fi – not yet – but if I do, I know I'll strive to meet the standard set by The Hobbit and Tolkien.

Until then, you can catch my contemporary romance series, Ward Sisters, about an interconnected group of people. The third book, Right Here Waiting, featuring a strong woman and the soldier who steals her heart, is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, where you can also find the first two books.

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