Guest Post: On Realism in High Fantasy by: Alex Bledsoe, co-author of Sword Sisters: A Red Reaper Novel

Publisher: Rogue Blades Entertainment

Publication Date: December 11, 2013

Synopsis: Cast aside by her mother, tormented (literally) by her father, feared by humans and despised by most of her own kind, AELLA is determined not to care—not to care what they think, not to care if they like her, not to care about anything or anyone. Just so long as no one tries to touch her or imprison her again, Aella couldn't care less.

Until...he pulled an arrow from Aella's back and kissed her cheek.

Until...she carried Aella home and stood between her and a giant spider. And a rioting mob.

Until...they came to Aella looking for help.

Aella, daughter of demon and witch, must find herself once again, as she forges her own route to a destiny she doesn't want to believe. At first a hero in name alone, Aella soon discovers she has the strength and the heart to control her demonic lineage and truly assume the mantle of HERO. In her struggle, she also finds something even more valuable—friendship, as the youthful and spirited AMELIA isn't just a friend worth dying for—she's Aella's true "sword sister" and worth living for.

Based on actor/director Tara Cardinal's LEGEND OF THE RED REAPER motion picture, SWORD SISTERS is the prequel to the film, now available on DVD and download.

Guest Post: On Realism in High Fantasy

I'd written five secondary-world fantasy novels before I worked on Sword Sisters: A Red Reaper Novel, which I co-wrote with Tara Cardinal.  So it was a genre I'd thought about a great deal.  And one of the lessons I'd learned through my own writing, that I was able to bring to our story of Aella the Red Reaper's teenage years, was the importance of reality.

Fans may read fantasy for everything but the realism, but without it, they'd find the stories thin and empty.  And I don't mean historical realism, or the sort of detail you find in research.  I'm talking about, for lack of a better term, emotional realism. It’s something that I and my co-author Tara Cardinal were very concerned about as we wrote.

Consider that among the elements in Sword Sisters are a race of half-demon Reapers, spiders as large as wheelbarrows, and at least one surprising entity that I don't want to give away. To make them credible to the reader requires a three-fold approach.

First, they have to have their own consistent internal logic.  If you establish things about Reapers, for example, you can't simply ignore it later on for the convenience of plot.  If you say that giant spiders operate in a certain way, and that their poison has certain effects, you have to stick with it.

Second, you have to think about how your characters feel when confronted with such things.  Are giant spiders a normal part of their world?  If so, then not only would they not be surprised by them, they'd probably have standard responses to stay safe from them, and a blasé attitude toward them.  If, on the other hand, they are unusual, you have to take into account your characters' levels of education, life experience, and even their basic courage.

Third, you have to figure out the way the physical world accommodates these creatures.  One of the elements that's often missed is the concept of smell.  For example, in the otherwise solid film Alien, no one ever remarks on the creature's smell.  Since it's constantly dripping fluid or bleeding acid, it must have a distinctive smell, but it's never mentioned.  So I always try to do a "smell pass," where I go through a manuscript and think about how things would smell to the characters.  Odor is one of our most vivid senses, and a simple whiff can bring back memories in incredible detail; so in fantasy, especially, we need to think about it and, when it seems credible, mention it.

In fantasy, because you're asking your reader to accept so much that's patently unreal, it's even more important to emphasize the things that are real.  In Sword Sisters, Tara and I tried very hard to bring the Red Reaper's world to you with as much realism as possible.  We hope we succeeded.

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