Oh dear…So many throbbing headaches and aching dancing-feet today, I wager! What a party! I think it was one of the greatest moments of my life, and I know that many of you folks made memories to cherish–and one or two, you’d like to forget 🙂 Pictures will be posted to the official Facebook page as soon as they’re ready. For today’s post, I’d like to share the speech that I gave last night. I hate speeches! Obviously, I’d rather write them than read them. Since I left the task till the last minute (Saturday morning), and I had no idea how the night would unfold, there are a few people whose support was not mentioned in the draft. People who made the evening possible, such as Shannon, Elsa, Teresa, and all the folk from Sault St. Marie. I could not have pulled off an event of this scale without the hands of many, many caring and kind souls. Anyway, the speech:
Writing is a strange profession. Always looked upon as a “hobby” when you begin your earliest scribblings, and only taken seriously if you plunge into the field of journalism or editorial content. On paper, to the average parent, “creative writing” sounds about as desirable as your child wanting to be a graffiti artist. And yet, there I was, at a crossroads in my career and my life, with my mother—dying from cancer at the time—telling me that this was what I should do. Sure, you could blame chemo-brain or the wistful enthusiasm of a doomed woman for her suggestion. And yet my mother was a realist before being a dreamer, and she always put common sense first. I’d also never known her to make a bad decision. So, I decided that she was right, and I would thereafter dedicate my life to telling stories. To making stuff up.
Only fiction, and even fantasy, is not entirely imaginary. The people who know me, really know me, can hear the voice behind my prose, they can see the softness that I hide, and struggle to express. The challenges of Morigan—understanding who she is, seeking justice in a mostly unfair world, seeking love—are challenges that each of us face. In fact none of the issues that my characters confront, certain supernatural elements aside, are any different from the issues faced by men and women in our world. We don’t always like to look at ourselves, or our problems. Fantasy, which is a genre much maligned with melodrama and stereotypes of kings, queens, and Tolkeinien riff, can be so much more if we treat it as speculative fiction. We can watch our world and our problems from a safer distance. We see better when we are able to separate ourselves from our lives. I know that in writing Feast of Fates, I was able to unravel and explore all the agonies of my mother’s death, my failed loves, my successful love, and a multitude of other dreams and terrors from an almost clinical vantage.
For me, when I set out to create Geadhain, I did the opposite of what most fantasy writers do. I wrote a world that very closely mirrors our own. Yes, there are cosmetic differences, some larger than others. Still, the basic premise of the world is of a place of relative advancement and diplomacy, with some cultures more forgiving and fair than others, and a constant undertone of unrest between West, East, the old world, the new, and various faiths. Really not so different from the state of affairs on Earth. But this isn’t a story about politics, it’s a story about people, and love, mostly. Love of power, love of another, the love of brothers, sisters and parents. When you strip away the fantasy-frills, and get down to the bones of the story, your are, hopefully, seeing a very basic human narrative. I hope that reading Feast of Fates, and the other works in the series that will follow will inspire, intrigue and uplift you. I hope that it makes you think about your own life and relationships. I hope that it makes you change, in however tiny a way, how you love: the world, your sister, your friend, your lover, your cat, whatever. If I succeed in making that connection with you, in having that very intimate dialog that makes you see and question life, then I have succeed as a writer.
Now, I have a ton of people to thank, so I should get to that. Greg Iannou, who was not able to attend. He was my first point of contact in the literary world and I am forever grateful for his acquaintance. I’d like to thank my moms. I have several. Cynthia, of course, who is smiling down from the stars. My mother-in-law, Ginette, who has given me a bounty of love and support. My other-mother, my literary one, Barbara. She’s the sweetest woman in the world when she’s not editing your work, and then she pulls no punches—but that’s why she so good at what she does. I need to thank all of my friends and family from the North, who showed up en-masse to support me. I have a number of early readers to thank: Lynn, Lourdes, and my sister Michelle, who suffered through many an early draft. Michelle has been a rock through both my mother’s illness and the process of birthing a novel. Back to Lourdes for a second, I should say that she is responsible for all the graphic design and media savvy behind the website, and soon-to-be-unveiled video trailer for Feast of Fates. Brian, who lives in Florida and could not be present, is the brilliant artist behind the cover and all the other dreamy, surreal images used for Feast of Fates. J, I owe many, many thanks too, least of all for showing me how to open my heart and share with you as I have through my work.
And finally, just to wrap things up nicely, I need to thank all of you, who have come here tonight, and are the greatest supporters of my dream and vision. I would humbly ask that if you believe in the message of love, of overcoming strife and discord with hope, then please share this story with others. My success depends largely on your involvement in keeping this dialog going. A writer is nothing without their audience, and you are my audience. I consider each one of you a friend who knows me most intimately. And I hope in time, that we continue to grow that trust, friendship and knowing of each other.
I am honored and humbled to be here with all of you tonight. A toast! To health, happiness and most of all…love.