DWJ's answers: Harry Potter

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Sat Sep 1 00:30:02 EDT 2001

On Fri, 31 Aug 2001 23:14:12 +0100, Dorian E. Gray wrote:

>Melissa said...
>> On Fri, 31 Aug 2001 16:26:27 +0100, Rowland, Jennifer A B wrote:
>> >I wish to report that the list's capacity for hooking people on books has
>> >worked again. I read Stevermer's College of Magics on holiday and it was
>> >marvellous.

>> Good for you.  I wish I liked her books better.  We're some kind of a
>> mismatch...I *admire* them a lot, and she's influenced me to believe a
>> Regency-style fantasy is possible, but I don't get drawn into them very
>> well.
>WHAAAAT??!!  Sorry.  I'm a big fan of Georgette Heyer, and I love
>fantasy set in periods other than the standard
>faux-medieval/renessaince setting, so Regency fantasy really floats my
>boat, so to speak.  Have you tried Patricia Wrede?  (Though possibly
>I'm missing something here; I've only read "A College of Magics" and
>that's not Regency.)

Yes, what are we talking about here?  I mean that I don't get drawn into
Stevermer's books very well, NOT Regency-era fantasy.  Sorry for the
confusion.  I'm a lot tireder than I was when I posted earlier; I'm having
trouble elaborating thoughts right now....

I'm annoyed that much of the fantasy published today is the "safe"
faux-medieval stuff (good word).  Stevermer's world isn't a "Regency
fantasy" but the time period and society are to my mind very similar in
technology, education, sociology and general mentality.  I also think that
if Harry Potter taught us anything, it's that readers may be resistant to
change, but they're not stupid.  Frustrating as it is for us DWJ-addicts to
hear people burbling about how "new" and "fresh" and "unique" Harry Potter
is, the very fact that they're doing so indicates that those readers are
ones who never considered reading fantasy before.  (This is relevant, I
promise.)  Think for a moment about the vast readership of Regency romance
novels.  It's huge.  It's one of the dominant subsets of the romance novel
market, and what's more, it's a readership that's a bit more discriminating
than the average for the romance genre.  It would take very little to sell a
good Regency fantasy to these people, especially if such a story retained
the character- and relationship-oriented story that is what really brings
these readers in.  (A little sex might help too, but I'm not going to
advocate THAT.  :)  My mother-in-law in particular would be very happy.
What I personally would like is a fantasy that's set in a culture that's
technologically and sociologically similar to the early 19th century.  What
I would find fascinating is a true Regency novel that's also a
fantasy--alternate universe, whatever.  It's possible; it just needs doing.
And yeah, there are a few, I'm sure (we could even start a list if you want)
but again NOT ENOUGH.

>> But this list is, as you say, really good for hooking people on new
>> books...doesn't ANYONE have something fabulous to suggest?  That I
>> already read?  Anyone??
>What have you already read?  And what do you like to read?  Not
>knowing either of those, I can only suggest some things that I've read
>recently and went "Wow!" a lot over...

This is what I want.  I don't really want recommendations per se--never mind
what I said above.  Emphasis was on "fabulous" rather than "suggest."  The
best recommendations I've gotten off this list are from people's
enthusiastic chatterings.  As I said in another post, it seems that
everything I've read in the last week has been awful.  To elaborate, I've
been dipping in and trying several new books, and they were all
disappointing.  (Two exceptions:  _Motherhood Made a Man out of Me_ by Karen
Karbo, which was funny AND set in Portland Oregon; and _The Princess of
Dhagabad_ by Anna Kashima, a fantasist who is Russian by birth and whose
first English-language novel this is--it's not bad, but I haven't really
gotten hooked on it yet.  First in a series too, so the plot set-up is more
extended, which accounts for the slowness.)

>Assuming you've read CW's "Passage"... (if not, DO!)

Well, *yeah*.  :)

>Otherwise..."Ash: A Secret History" by Mary Gentle.  Fantasy set in
>something that's sort of historical Burgundy, with fantastical
>elements and a framing device which isn't.

This is a good recommendation.  I know of Mary Gentle but knew nothing about
her books.  I think I'll try it.

>Anything by Philip Pullman; I enjoyed the Sally Lockhart stories, and
>"His Dark Materials" is just stunningly cool and wonderful.  He builds
>worlds like I wish I could build worlds.

I've read both.  Didn't care for the turn the Lockhart series took in _Tiger
in the Well_ but he's sure a powerful writer in any case.

>Not quite as Wow-some, but pretty good, is Robin Hobb's "Liveship
>Traders" trilogy.  Ignore the stupid sea-serpents at the beginning
>(but skim quickly through them when they appear later, because
>tiresome as they are, they're an integral part of the plot).

I'm afraid to try any of her books after the emotional rollercoaster I went
through with the Assassin series.  But we do have that first one on the

>> At least a year, I think.  I just wish she'd finally get a handle on
>a new
>> Damar book.  I recommend visiting her web site, which is excellent
>Yes, it is.  But I agree with you, it's about time she got reound to
>doing some more Damar stuff.

She just needs some kind of inspiration and then we'd have about four or
five of them.  Wouldn't that be something?!  Oh, the story collection she's
coming out with (in collaboration with her husband) has a story set in
Damar.  It's something, at least.

>> My primary motivation for writing--when I'm able to--is that no
>matter how
>> much of my favorite fantasy there is, it's Never Enough.
>I think that's why most of us write - no-one else will write the
>stories (or enough of the stories) that we want to read.

I think so too.  The hope is that there are others out there who also want
more of what we ourselves do.

Melissa Proffitt
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