I want to thank Roxanne for letting me guest blog today, it's an honor and I'll try to live up to her high standard of writing. Let me begin by introducing myself and then getting in the obligatory plug. I'm rob Tobin, Canadian novelist, screenwriter and non-fiction book author living and writing full-time in Southern California -- specifically Huntington beach, about 50 miles south of L.A. Now the plug -- this guest blog is part of a blog tour I'm doing to promote my latest book, an urban fantasy e-novel called God Wars: Living With Angels from Echelon Press, first of a planned God Wars trilogy, available March 1st on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Omnilit.com.
God Wars It's about a young witch using her powers to battle evil but in the process accidentally opening the gates of Hell and then having to battle a demon she can't defeat, an angel she can't trust and three-foot tall aliens with really bad attitudes to save the world and her own soul. It's a rollicking, action-packed, sexy, funny look at good and evil and the dangers of vengeance, and I hope that when you download the book on March 1st you'll enjoy the read.
I recently wrote another guest blog in which I discussed the nature of urban fantasy, it being a particularly intimate and powerful genre because it takes fantasy, which is often set in far away times and places, sometimes even alien or parallel worlds, and brings it into our world and our time.
Fantasy performs another function, however, which is to allow us to make choices not usually available to us in real life. When do we get to wave a wand, bare our fangs or use our mental powers to make things go our way? And when do we get to decide life or death, heroism or cowardice, good or evil? Not often. Now our fantasy heroes can, of course, make those choices because they have the (super) power to. But as Peter Parker's Uncle Ben reminds him on the day of his death, with great power comes great responsibility. Not just for the heroes, however, but also for the readers.
You see, with fantasy we have the chance to vicariously live out scenarios and make virtual choices and decisions and judgments, by agreeing or disagreeing with the choices of the author's characters. And our agreement or disagreement with those choices says a lot about us as readers and as people. It reminds me of a superman comic book issue, or rather a Justice League of America issue, in which Superman kills an opponent and is thrown out of the League. That was decades ago, and yet I still remember that issue because it all came down not just whether it is ever right to kill someone, but whether Superman could have made another choice. In the opinion of his Justice League brethren, he could have, so they judged him as having breached the League's "prime directive," which was to never take a human life.
So what choices are you making when you read that fantasy novel? Are you cheering for a killing because you think it's justified? Are you cheering for an anti-hero just because he is the hero and maybe because as bad as he is he's not quite as bad as the real "bad guy?" Even something as simple as this: are you condoning the use of magic in influencing someone's behavior? Are love potions okay? Is using your powers to make money or win a game okay? This became an issue on a recent episode of "No Ordinary Family" when the son used his brain power to become a star quarterback (stupid, actually, his brain isn't going to give him the arm he needs to deliver the football, but that's another matter) and he pointed out that all the family members were using their powers for their own ends in one way or another. And this led to the question: is it okay to be a vigilante as long as you're well meant? Isn't every superhero a vigilante unless he or she is deputized by the law -- and how often does that happen?
You see, as with most literature we care about, the reader is never really completely separated from the story, the characters, the issues those characters face or the actions they take, because readers make decisions too -- the decision to support or object to what's wrong or right about a story or a character.
Here is the ultimate example: "Dexter." Not a fantasy story, but the story of a serial killer who is the hero of the series. It appalls me, to be honest, but in some ways it merely carries to the extreme the traditional anti-hero -- and I mean "extreme." Maybe not every hero or even any hero in our fantasy novels are going to be as bad as Dexter, as clearly evil and wrong, but we make choices in our reading about those characters and their actions. Be aware of those choices. They say a lot about you and may even influence you in your real, non-fantasy lives when you come to a decision about what to do or who you want to have in your life. Here's a hint: if his name is Dexter, think twice!
Description of God Wars:
A young witch with justice in her hands and a chip on her shoulder, seeks revenge on the evil people of the world but in the process opens the gates of hell, meets a demon she can't resist, an angel she can't trust and three-foot-tall aliens. Now she must find a way to save the world and her own soul
Rob's Bio:Rob is a husband, father, screenwriter, novelist, non-fiction book author, frequent guest speaker at film festivals and writing conferences, and a graduate of USC’s Master of Professional Writing program and of the University of Victoria’s Creative Writing program. He has a $15 million feature film (“Dam 999”) in post production, a $40 million feature (“Camel Wars”) in development with legendary filmmaker John McTiernan (“Die Hard,” “Predator,” “Hunt for Red October”) attached to direct, a novel (“God Wars”) scheduled to be published in early 2011, and two published non-fiction books. Creative Screenwriting Magazine recently produced two of Rob’s instructional screenwriting DVDs.
Rob is a former VP of Writers Boot Camp, the country’s largest private screenwriting school. As a story analyst, he read 5,000+ screenplays for Goldwyn, Spelling, Interscope, TriStar, TriMark, HBO, et al. He also helped establish a feature film department for Stephen J. Cannell (“The A-Team,” “Hunter,” “The Commish”).
And be sure to visit Rob along his virutal book tour -