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Interview

Isobelle Carmody p3

Fantasy and young-adult author Isobelle Carmody recommends some favorite fantasy books at the Oz Comic-Con…

Characters have a dominant emotion in every scene, too. Writers should ask themselves what the dominant emotion is for that character in each scene and have them react according to that emotion.
And don’t just say: Julie was angry. Show the emotion: Julie smashed the dishes together. This also cuts out the need to explain where she was at the time.
The writer doesn’t need to over-explain, Ms Carmody said. If you would get it, the reader would, too.
Get the reader comfortable and close to the story before you do anything else. Writers should build atmosphere and emotion at the beginning of the story. Have the surroundings of the character reflect what’s happening inside the character. eg. a depressed unsettled character looks out at a landscape of mist, bogs, cold, and thick forest. [This sounds a bit like what T.S. Eliot called the objective correlative, if memories of my year 12 English class are correct].
Ms Carmody said not to have too many characters. eg. instead of having a group of characters on a journey, you might just have two.
Ms Carmody said she started her series of novels, the first of which was Obernewtyn, with an image in her head of how the character Elspeth Gordie would turn out: She pictured Elspeth somewhere carrying something; this something might be dead. And she was alone, with the sea in the distance maybe. But the author knew Elspeth would be triumphant: she would have achieved something.
Isobelle Carmody recommended a few of her favorite books. She liked Ursula Le Guin, particularly Four Ways to Forgiveness.
She liked Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana.
Charles de Lint, especially Moonheart, which is a 1984 urban fantasy novel.
Robin Hobbs’ Assassin’s Apprentice was another favorite. This was the first in the Farseer Trilogy.
Sherry S. Tepper’s Raising the Stones was a major favorite.
And she liked Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This 1949 book describes the hero’s journey which he said was a common pattern in tales and myths. In this pattern, the hero leaves the everyday world, enters a supernatural zone, fights a major conflict and returns home changed and with the ability to bestow boons on his people.

– copyright Simon Sandall.