Loneliness in Fantasy Fiction

I have a guest post today from Steve Gladwin, Wales-based druid bard, storyteller and blogger, co-creator of the mindful storytelling site Stories of Feeling and Being, as well as the author of The Seven, discussing the place of loneliness in fantasy fiction.

Steve wrote to me–via this site–to share his enthusiasm about the books and ask to interview me, which he did in two parts. Since then, we have struck up a corresepondence. Steve is one of the few who commented on the emotional aspect of my novels, which I was eager to hear, since to me they are very emotional and I work hard to (attempt to) make them that way. Since one of my goals is to bring the blank Arthurian characters to life, of course I want to make their emotions real and relatable, as well as to convey the thrills and heartbreak their stories can evoke, so I was very happy to hear that the novels had an emotional impact on him.

One of the things I love about writing fiction is that it reveals hidden aspects of oneself as a writer or one’s preoccupations that one doesn’t necessarily intend, so when you see them emerge in one’s writing you understand a bit more about yourself. In this case, Steve observed that several of my characters struck him as very lonely. This was a surprise to me, as I hadn’t intended to convey any of thm in this way, but as I thought about it, I had to admit it was true.

From the first novel, Merlin’s mother Meylinde is isolated and alone. First her whole family is killed, then she is locked in a tower, only able to trust herself. Then Merlin, her son, must often reflect that he is the only one of his kind of earth, and can never truly encounter anyone who understands him. In the second novel, Vortiger, who Steve responds to especially, has backed himself so into a corner in life that normal human companionship is forever lost to him. And then Uther, in the third novel, is so desperate for love that he is losing his sanity–and his kingdom–over it.

I hadn’t ever really thought about it that way before… although I have realized in the past that I like my characters to endure the greatest hardships possible, haha. But it did make me reflect on how my own emotional states make it into my writing, and also on how isolated these characters are in the original Arthurian legend… for if the lonely king and others of his court appear in fantasy fiction, the King Arthur legend is surely one of the largest inspirations for them.

So please, head over to read Steve Gladwin’s Upon the King: Thoughts on Loneliness in Fantasy Fiction.

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