Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Makers of Imaginary Realms

by Nancy Northcott

"Get your head out of the clouds."
"Where were you--Mars?"
"Act like you have some sense."

Have you ever heard the above applied to you or someone in your vicinity? Usually a dreamer? A reader or writer? Readers tend to be thinkers and, at times, dreamers. Writers tend to be both. Sometimes the people around us don't get it, which can make for difficult moments. Yet the realms of our choice remain attractive havens.

During the last month, three people died who shaped very different imaginary realms. All left lasting imprints in the worlds they shaped. Most familiar to romance readers, of course, will be the wonderful Phyllis A. Whitney. Most of us probably met her through her young adult novels, but she also wrote adult and juvenile mysteries. Whitney was honored with a special nod to her body of work at last year's Romance Writers of America national conference in Dallas. She was a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America for lifetime achievement. Her website,, notes that her books were published in more than thirty countries. Last year, her 1956 novel about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, The Trembling Hills, was reprinted as a classic in the Hodder Great Reads line in the United Kingdom. Two of her other novels, Daughter of the Stars and The Singing Stones, were recently reissued, and lists several of her books as available.

According to the obituary in the New York Times, Whitney's last novel,Amethyst Dreams, was published in 1997, when she was 94. A quick check of the paper's archive reveals that she had numerous titles on the paperback bestseller lists. Whitney lived to the grand age of 104.

Way back in 1974, two friends found a way to turn the perceived weaknesses of dreaming and imagination into strengths and to create a community of the imagination. They made these traits not only acceptable but the currency of the realm in a kingdom called Dungeons and Dragons. Their names were Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Gygax died last month. I'm not a gamer, so we won't be exploring that in much detail, but I am a dreamer, a reader, and a writer. So I'd like to take a minute and tip my hat to Mr. Gygax's memory.

All of us have particular kinds of imaginary realms we prefer. I like knights and dragons and swords and spaceships and women who take the driver's seat. Any combination or version of the above is acceptable. Maybe that's because I grew up in a culture that put women on television mainly to assist or to be rescued by the hero. Even poor Wonder Woman often needed saving by Steve Trevor. At the same time, I consumed a steady diet of Superman and Batman and Doom Patrol and King Arthur and Greek mythology (I wanted to be an archaeologist until I found out they dug up bones--I know, Suz and Joan, I'm a wimp--but that's for another day).

In Gary Gygax's realm, from what I understand, the dwarf or the thief or the poverty-stricken wanderer stands as good a chance of being the hero as the knight or the king does. It's an open realm, embracing all comers. How could geeks and nerds not love it? In Sharyn McCrumb's wonderful novel about fandom, Bimbos of the Death Sun, her protagonist uses a D and D game to force a murderer to reveal himself.

The New York Times obituary of Gygax, on March 5, called Dungeons and Dragons "a bridge between the noninteractive world of books and films and the exploding interactive video game industry." The article goes on to quote Gygax as saying the value of the game lay not in victory or defeat but in the imaginative experience. In a column in the New York Times on March 9, Adam Rogers credits Gygax with laying the foundation for all modern gaming. Online games apparently (as I said, I'm no expert) use the principles created for D and D. The popularity of gaming, along with fantasy, science fiction, and adventure stories, is a tribue, I think, to the power of imagination. Gary Gygax left behind thousands of people who may not know his name but know his work and its offshoots in depth. Many loving them fanatically. That isn't a bad legacy.

Finally, I sadly noted the passing last week of Sir Arthur C. Clarke. While he's best known as the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, his achievements ranged far wider. According to the Clarke Foundation website,, his first short story, "Rescue Party," appeared in Astounding Science in 1946. He wrote numerous other short stories, novels, and nonfiction articles and books. He is credited with the idea for communication satellites. According to the obituary in The New York Times, geosynchronous positioning of satellites has been designated a "Clarke Orbit" by the International Astrononical Union.

I heard Clarke speak my senior year in high school, at a convocation sponsored by a local television station. All of us trooped into the auditorium expecting to hear about 2001. Instead, he talked about the role of science in the world and the development of the communications satellite. I was hooked. I went out and bought all of his fiction I could find. I still remember a poignant story called "The Star," about a Jesuit priest on an exploratory mission that finds the remains of a civilization destroyed by a supernova. His calculations reveal that the exploding star was visible on Earth as the Star of Bethlehem.

Clarke's interests weren't confined to space and its technology. He also explored the oceans. Dolphins figure prominently in a couple of his novels. In his autobiography, The View From Serendip, he discusses moving to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), where he spent the remainder of his life, for the diving. According to the Times obituary, diving was the closest he could come to the weightlessness of space. My favorite saying of his, one quoted in that obituary, was "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Magic experiences were what he gave his legion of readers. In 1998, he received a knighthood in recognition of his many accomplishments.

In their different ways, Phyllis A. Whitney, Gary Gygax, and Sir Arthur C. Clarke created imaginary worlds that gave dreamers a haven. Perhaps even more important is the fact that playing in those havens stimulated the imaginations of so many people who went on to create imaginary realms of their own, realms where dreaming is a noble vocation that keeps the world in motion.

What's your favorite imaginary haven? Has one ever spurred your creativity?

Has there ever been anyone in your life who didn't "get" it? How did you deal with that?

We're still celebrating Golden Heart and RITA finalists in the lair today. Bandita GH finalists are Susan Seyfarth with TWO manuscripts in Contemporary Single Title, The Princess Project and Money, Honey, and KJ Howe in Romantic Suspense with One Shot, Two Kills. Our buddy Doglady also finaled in the GH with Lost in Love in Regency Historical. In the RITA, our Anna Campbell took TWO of the slots in Regency Historical with Claiming the Courtesan and Untouched. Yesterday's blogger, Maureen Child, finaled in the RITA novella category with Christmas Cravings. Yay, all! Your manuscripts wowed five judges, and that's no mean feat.

If I've missed anyone, please sing out. We want to celebrate everyone's achievements in this banner week.


Jane said...

Hooray. Congrats to the Bandita GH and Rita finalist. I don't read much sci-fi, my love of reading is in part due to the genius of Agatha Christie. After seeing adaptations of her work in movies and on tv, I was compelled to pick up her works. I love entering her world of murder and mystery.

Nancy said...

Jane, congratulations on grabbing the golden rooster! I like mysteries, too. Have you ever tried Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey books?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jane, congratulations on the bird! And long live a good cozy mystery. I just love them. If you don't know the Sayers books, please give them a try. I think they're fantastic and they have the most amazingly charismatic hero and a wonderful romance that weaves its way through a whole string of the later books.

Nancy, great post and very thought-provoking. And thanks for pimping the RITA thing! It's still in the categories of wonderful surprises for me! Congratulations to all my other finalling Bandita buddies, including the buddies of the Banditas like Pam!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Great post, Nancy!
I heard about Arthur C. Clarke over the weekend and felt very sad. As I think I've said here before, Phyllis Whitney was one of my Sheroes (female hero). What a legacy both those wonderful writers leave!

As for people who "don't get it" I think that pretty much includes my entire family. :-P How do I cope? Move 300+ miles away and ignore them, is that coping? Yup, works for me! Yes, I'm kidding, halfway.

P.S. Congrats Jane! Have fun with the GR and a little Agatha Christie.

Minna said...

Congrats to the Bandita GH and Rita finalist!
I prefer Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey & Harriet Vane books. :) Too bad she didn't have the chance to finish the last book in the series herself.
I can't remember when I would have read sci-fi books the last time. I prefer fantasy books, esp. the ones written by David Eddings. And I have read Lord of the Rings, too. After all, one of the languages Tolkien created for his books is based on Finnish. And he was inspired by Kalevala, too.

Amy Andrews said...

Yep I think dealing with people who dont get it is a writers lot. Where do your ideas come from? Wish I had a buck for everytime I'd been asked that. My usual response - don't you have people talking in your head - is usually met with a blank kind of horror whist they look around for the straight jacket.

Just wanted to say congrats to the GH finalists and a very special big public Bandita congrats to Anna - I'm so very, very thrilled for you babe. SF just got a whole lot more interesting.....

Gillian Layne said...

Nancy, this post was a beautifully done tribute to those whose dared to follow their dreams. Well done!

I am lucky enough to enjoy the support of those few family members who know I write, and blithely content to ignore the rest. :)

Anther huge congrats to all the finalists!! Please get ready to provide a blow-by-blow account of all the excitement for those of us staying home this year. ;)

And Jane, congrats on the GR! After the excitement of yesterday, he's sure to need a bit of TLC.

Caren Crane said...

Jane, you lucky duck - er, chicken! Have fun with the GR!

Super CONGRATS to all our finalists. You are all amazing! Pam, as a first-time finalist, you will find it's like being Princess for a week! The best fun ever, I promise. ;-)

Nancy, as a preteen and young teenager, I felt so out of place that I would cry when I read about those wonderful fantasy worlds in books, knowing I was born in the wrong galaxy or dimension and, naturally, into the wrong family. Those fantasy worlds were a real haven for me.

Early adolescence is a rough time for anyone, but my family was in complete turmoil due to divorce and our finances were nonexistent. It was a horrible time for all of us, and books were the only safe place to be. For that reason, C.S. Lewis, Tolkein and MacCaffrey, especially, own my heart.

Later, I adored Piers Anthony and David Eddings, but I didn't need the escape as much then. I think it's easy to forget how much our words can mean to someone else.

Keira Soleore said...

Jane, hooray for the GR.

Definitely try Sayers. I'd also recommend Elizabeth George and PD James.

What's your favorite imaginary haven?

A cottage on a beach in Hawaii with an English Garden.

Has one ever spurred your creativity?

On Monday, I blogged about Change Coaches and the need for them. But as far as a creativity-spurer, encourager, and role model, I look no further than the most fabulous, the most gracious, the best of themm all, Our Foannaa. All the Banditas and their friends here have been such super buddies to have in your corner. My thanks to you all!!!

Has there ever been anyone in your life who didn't "get" it? How did you deal with that?

Ah yes. The curmudgeon. The only non-argumentative thing to do is to take the high road here.

Heaps of Congratulations once again to Foanna, Smoov, KJ, and Pam.

Christie Kelley said...

Congrats again to our finalists!! Banditas rule!

Where have I been that I didn't hear about Phyllis Whitney? And I had no idea she was 104!

My nickname as a teenager was "space cadet." Does that tell you anything? Yep, I've always had my head in the clouds.

Trish Milburn said...

First, huge congrats to all the GH and RITA finalists. I got to call some of the finalists yesterday, which is one of the best jobs in the world. You're really making people happy.

Nancy, interesting post. I think the coolest imaginary haven is The Shire in Middleearth. I want to live in one of those little Hobbit houses. :)

Buffie said...

Way to go to all those ladies who made the finalists in the GH and Rita nominations. I am so happy for you all!!!

doglady said...

Congrats on nabbing the GR, Jane! He was partying rather hard last night from all accounts so he definitely will need some TLC.

Congrats to all the Bandita GH and Rita finalists! And a huge genuflect and bow to the Incomparable La Campbell on her two fisted Rita finals!

This whole thing has been so much fun to share with the Banditas!!

Reading WAS my refuge when I was growing up. We moved so often (Air Force Brat)that I was always saying goodbye to my friends. The inhabitants of Lord of the Rings and so many novels WERE my friends and the place where I hid out when things got tough.

Then in college romance writers created my hideaways. Who wouldn't want to be whisked away on the back of a horse with a handsome hero?

We had a large group of Dungeon and Dragons players when I was in college - a combination of the girls at my all girls college and the guys at the military institute across town. It was a great source of socialization in a small college town where there were no malls, no movie theatres, no fast food joints. NOTHING!

I sometimes wonder if kids imaginations are stunted these days because of all the technology available to them.

This GH Princess is off to work to clean the walk in oven in the bakery!

Esri Rose said...

Congrats to all the Bandita finalists, but just wanted to say a personal Yay! to Anna Campbell, since we've actually met and chatted.

Hellie Sinclair said...

Congrats to all the Bandita finalists! I know you guys deserve it!!

Favorite imaginary haven? Harry Potter. I can't tell you how excited I am that Hogwarts is being built in Orlando. I don't care if I have to hitchhike to visit it...I'm so there.

And as for people who'd said the things you started the blog out with: My Dad. I swear "Act like you have some sense"--that's a direct quotation from my father. *LOL* I can hear the derisiveness in his voice and see the disgust on his face, the wave of his hand. *LOL* Ah, I was always a trial to him; I still am.

Terri Osburn said...

Congrats, Jane, on the GR. And congrats to all the finalists! Whoohoo!! I was seriously excited about San Fran being my first conference, but now it's even better. Getting to cheer and hoot and hollar at that awards ceremony is going to be such fun.

Not that I'll embarrass any of you. Well, maybe just a little. LOL!

I've never been into Sci-Fi or Fantasy books but I started young on mysteries. Encyclopedia Brown at first, then some Holmes and Christie stories. Romances swept in about the time I reached middle school and they've been sweeping me away ever since.

This was a beautiful blog and a very nice tribute to these incredible people. Nice job.

Donna MacMeans said...

Jane - Congrats on nabbing the GR!

Congrats as well to KJ, Smoov, and Doglady for adding those shiny golden heart pins to their collection. A huge congrats to Anna for her two RITA nominations. SO very well deserved. I'm so green with envy and so happy for you at the same time - talk about internal conflict *g*

Very informative post, Nancy. I believe I have Phyllis Whitney's book on writing somewhere in my stash. I've never played D&D, but I love the concept. Amazing information about Arthur C Clarke. I had no idea. Thank you.

Gerri Russell said...


Great post, and a wonderful tribute to these talented individuals. My escape in my youth from people who didn't really understand me was in books. Always had my nose in someone else's fantasy.

Congratulations to all the GH and Rita finalists. You ladies are one talented bunch!

Nancy said...

Thanks to everyone for the kind words on the post. It's not quite in our usual line, I know. Having read a lot of Clarke and Whitney, though, I wanted to do something, and I know some fanatical D&D people.

Anna C., and Minna, I read an article--wish I could remember where--holding up the boating scene in Gaudy Night as one of the most romantic ever, for the description of Harriett looking at Lord Peter.

Minna, I also read Eddings and Tolkien. National Geographic did a wonderful special on the Kalevala and LOTR about the time the trilogy was released. I thought it was so interesting, I went out and bought the DVD.

AC, my mom didn't get it. I think my dad did, but he wasn't a very chatty person. He never criticized my tastes the way she did, though. Did you blog about Whitney? Do you have a link to share?

Amy, LOL! I love your response!

Caren wrote: I felt so out of place that I would cry when I read about those wonderful fantasy worlds in books, knowing I was born in the wrong galaxy or dimension and, naturally, into the wrong family. I frequently felt that way as a teenager. The feeling grew stronger with time. I just seemed to have little in common with my family, especially my mom and sister. My dad also liked adventure stories. McCaffrey remains a favorite of mine, and people who got to meet her at DragonCon say she's just lovely to her readers.

Gillian, my "own" family supports me. I'm glad yours does, too.

Keira, that cottage sounds great to me. I also read Elizabeth George and P. D. James. Am working up to renting Children of Men on DVD even though I hear it's quite dark.

Christie, people called me a space cadet, too. When I joined an amateur press alliance, we had to name our imaginary presses, and mine was "Space Cadet Publications." What a coincidence!

Doglady, my son learned to play D&D from his favorite babysitter. Unfortunately, none of his friends knows how, and they aren't interested in learning. They prefer game boxes and online gaming. It does seem to be very creative. I never played because the rules were so flexible that I had trouble grasping them. I'm teaching Bimbos of the Death Sun, tonight, so I'll see what the class has to say about D&D. I know some students play, but I don't know whether any of mine do.

Trish, I visit the shire every few years. One of the saddest parts of LOTR, to me, is Frodo's inability to see it as he once did.

I read an excellent book called Tolkien and the Great War: The Road to Middle Earth by John Garth. The opening is, imho, overly dramatic, but its discussion of the western front and its effects on veterans in general and Tolkien in particular was fascinating. The casualties on the first day of the Somme were astounding.

Mshellion, that was a direct quotation from my mom. I think I remained, if not a trial, a puzzle, to her for the rest of her life. Sometimes we just don't mesh with the people around us, and it can be difficult. Let us know how Hogwarts in Orlando looks.

Nancy said...

Terrio, I loved Encyclopedia Brown. I devoured them from Weekly Reader's book orders.
Many years later, after college, a friend and I were in a bookstore, and she commented on the new paperback Holmes editions. When I said I'd never read Holmes, she said, "I can't believe that! You'll love it. Here, on me." She grabbed a copy of A Study in Scarlet, which I still have, paid for it, and pressed it into my hands. As predicted, I did love it. I have them all now.

The dh and I were in London quite some years ago and got to see the late Jeremy Brett and Cedric Hardwicke in a two-man Holmes show. It was fabulous!

Donna, you're the second person to mention Whitney's writing book. Anyone have a title?

Gerri, which fantasies did you read?

jo robertson said...

Wow, Nancy, as usual super interesting post. I continue to be amazed at the breadth of your knowledge and your clear, succinct prose style. Thanks for reminding us of people whose efforts have sparked our imaginations and fostered our dreams.

My wonderful family understands what I do with my writing, but, not being writers themselves, they don't GET it like other writers do. Thank goodness for the Banditas, the Lair, and our wonderful guests and commenters!

jo robertson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Minna said...

Nancy, I heard about the NG special, but I never had the chance to see it. I found this National Geographic page in the Internet, though:
And did you know that Tolkien learnt just enough Finnish to be able to read Kalevala in Finnish?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Great post, Nancy! I love, love, love fantasy and sci-fi. One of the first Clarke books I read, Deep Range, was about the ocean. incredibly evocative. Then I read everything else he wrote. :>

Minna, I love Eddings too. Caren, I live for McCaffrey. Have you read her non-fantasy books? Stitch in Snow is great as is The Lady.

The Muggles are everywhere, you know, but thier worst impact is in our own family I think. :> That's how I think of those people who say "Get your head out of the clouds" or, one of my mother's favorites, "Straighten up, fly right and talk sense, girl." They're muggles in a magical world. Ha! Oh, the joys they miss! Has anyone read Jude Devereaux's Legend? I didn't like the book all that much, but I think it's Legend where the main character's an author and she describes what it's like in a writer's head better than anything I've ever heard. "You mean other people aren't busy at traffic lights making up stories about what THAT person and his passenger are arguing about?"

Pam and Terrio, you'll be among Rowdy Bandita Pals in making a lot of noise at the awards. As someone said, the awards got a LOT more interesting after La Campbell is up against some biggies, but I for one know she'll come out on TOP! Fo, you two-fisted Rita girl you! Heehee.

And Susan, and KJ? Well, all I gotta say is bring an extra gold chain for those necklaces girls.

As to childhood Havens...hmmmm...The Shire and Rohan in LOTR, The Aerie in Witch World, anywhere Edgar Rice Burroughs was willing to take me. Anywhere Andre Norton wanted to go, I was going too. She passed on not too long ago as well. Toward the end, her friends asked people to email her and tell her what the books she'd written had meant to them. It seems that Andre was depressed that no one read her books - in spite of superb sell-through - because she didn't hear from people anymore. When the word went out on the web, they were flooded with an avalanche of snail mail, email and packages from fans all over the world.

I think we all forget that even big name writers are still like us - worried that there's no one out there reading our books. :>

Great tribute Nancy!

Nancy said...

Jo, thanks for the kind words. Glad you liked it. I agree, the community of writers is an invaluable support. Just think how much lonelier we'd be without the internet.

Terri Osburn said...

Nancy - someone gave my sister a box of classic books condensed for young readers. They were small and ever other page was an illustration. That's where I found Hound of the Baskervilles and was hooked.

Also in that collection was Little Women and The Wizard of Oz. If you've never read that book and just seen the movie, you should try the book. But you might want to drop some acid first. LOL! Very strange.

Jane said...

My first GR. I think he likes it here in NYC. I've never read Dorothy Sayers or Lord Peter Wimsey. Were they contemporaries of Agatha Christie?

Nancy said...

Nancy, what a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing the feats of these visionaries!

I've always "spaced out" easily, partly because of those who didn't get it. Mentally leaving was my early defense. I "built" many imaginary havens, including a hut on the beach in Tahiti. I've been escaping there to dream for about as long as I remember.

Congratulations to Jane, and to the GH and RITA Bandita finalists! I love the great energy of great news!

Nancy Haddock

Nancy said...

Jeanne, I also own a copy of The Deep Range. Have you ever tried Marion Zimmer Bradley (speaking of dead authors)? I haven't read any of McCaffrey's nonfiction.

That's a wonderful story about Andre Norton. I was reading her series with Rosemary Edghill (I forget the titles, of course), which had two books with a third expected, when Norton died. I think the books are in limbo. I haven't heard anything about them.

I like Rohan, too. My favorite two lines in the trilogy are narrative. They come during the Battle of the Pellinor Fields, as Gandalf and Pippin battle orcs on the ramparts of Minas Tirith, and the sun rises, and they hear a faint sound, the horns of Rohan blowing in the morning. Which Tolkien, of course, described much better than that. I choke up every time I read it. I hate not having that moment in the movie.

Minna, thanks for the link and the information. I did not know that. I'll check out that link after class tonight.

Jane, I think Sayers is roughly a contemporary of Christie. I'm not really sure. Lord Peter is the younger sun of a duke. In the first couple of books, he's extremely flippant. Then he meets Harriet Vane (book 4? someone help me?), who's on trial for murder, and the tone changes.

The BBC has done at least two adaptations, and I didn't love either Ian Carmichael or Edward Petherbridge, though their acting was excellent. To me, the actor who most closely resembles Sayers' description of Lord Peter is Nigel Havers, the young lord who gives up his slot to Eric Liddle (sp?) at the Olympic games.

Nancy H., thank you. That hut in Tahiti sounds fabulous. I used to focus my eyes on the front and send my brain to Mars when classes grew tedious.

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, wow! Goodness, I don't quite know what to say. Are you sure you mean ME? Just off to check out your blog! And by the way, laughed at your Hawaiian beach house with an English garden. I live near the beach in Australia, believe me, English gardens do not like the setting at all!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, guys, this is like the party just goes on! Thanks so much for the congrats. I'm gradually coming down to earth. I slept like a log last night because I was just so exhausted with all the excitement (and no sleep the night before!). Pam, laughed at the GH princess on bakery duty. Real life does bite sometimes, doesn't it? Esri, thanks for the special congrats! Looking forward to seeing you in SF!

Donna, laughed at the internal conflict thing. I remember experiencing something similar when you and Christine both snared the GH in Atlanta. I was delighted for you - never doubt that!

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Minna, this will make you laugh - but I know about the Kalavala. It's because I'm a hopeless dork and I love Sibelius and so much of his music was based on the Finnish national epic. When I went to Finland, I remember dragging my poor completely bored friend all the way out to Sibelius's house in a bus so I could do the pilgrimage thing. Ah, now, only a real friend would have come with me!

Anna Campbell said...

Dorothy Sayers started writing at a similar time to Christie, Jane, and her hero was a deceptively languid aristocrat called Lord Peter Wimsey whose character is incredibly fascinating and at the end, just so romantic. DS however wasn't as prolific as Christie, nor as long-lived. Another one of the golden age detectives who's really good (although not up with Sayers, IMHO) is Ngaio Marsh. She was even more prolific than Christie so the benefit of reading NM is that there's a LOT to read!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Nancy, thanks for the congratulations. Looking forward to your visit to the lair!

Hey, Gerri, always lovely to see you! And thanks for your congrats too!

OK, caught up in the lair. Just off to read Keira's blog.

p226 said...

Gygax' passing kind causes me to notice something about myself in retrospect.

I was one seriously odd bird. At the time I actually played D&D (early teens), I was also a pretty hardcore street thug. I must've really confused those that knew me. Especially adults. Here I was, a kid that tested into the school's gifted program, meaning I was bright enough to qualify (and still qualify) for Mensa, out running around like an idiot on the streets and staying in constant trouble. Heh, I must've been quite the enigma. I suppose if I can't explain it, it must've been baffling to everyone else. Or maybe not. Maybe there was just some neat category I fit into. *shrug* It just seems strange in retrospect.

But I do recall finding escape and solace in the worlds created by Gygax. "The value of the game lay not in victory or defeat but in the imaginative experience." Very true. And for me, that "imaginative experience" was a little better than reading about someone else. You sort of got to "be" someone else, who was somewhere else for a while. And I was all about that.

RIP Gary. Thanks for building the skeletal framework for the worlds *I* created in my mind. I enjoyed my stay there.

Christine Wells said...

Great post, Nancy! I've never been all that attracted to science fiction but I do love to escape to the imaginary world of Regency historicals and other European historicals. No one around me gets it, except other fans and writers. My husband always laughs when he asks me what I'm doing and I reply 'I'm thinking.' What I really mean is I'm imagining. Funny how people tend to respect that process more once you're published.

And mega congrats to our wonderful Golden Heart and Rita finalists! Big cheers for Foanna, Susan, Kim, Pam and Maureen. What a talented bunch!

Anna Campbell said...

P226, I suspect if you scratched a lot of people in the lair (and with the fleas that infest the floor, that's a good idea!), you'd find we're all a bit odd. I was a difficult bird in school because I was a misfit and I was a bit of a rebel (in my own dorky way) but not like the other rebels who used to do the obvious stuff like smoke or break out at night to chase boys. Nobody quite knew what to make of me, including the teachers! I think water finds its own level! Even if it takes a while to do it. When I look back now, I can see why people thought I was odd. Hmm, I WAS odd ;-) But hey, what's wrong with odd?

Nancy said...

p226, street punk and gamer is a combination unusual in my experience, but I can see it. Bright kids, I think, often find the usual road too confining and branch out in a variety of ways, not all of them positive. But it's how you get to the end of the road that counts. Thanks for the D and D insight. I know so little about it despite years of convention-going.

Terrio, the dh teaches The Wizard of Oz, so it comes up a lot at our house. As you probably know, the book's Dorothy has way more gumption than the movie version.

Christine, welcome back! Of course thinking is imagining. What other kind is there? Have you seen the movie A Christmas Story? There's a scene where the kid protagonist is waiting to see Santa and the kid behind him won't stop talking, so Ralphie says, "Don't bother me. I'm thinking."

Anna C. wrote But hey, what's wrong with odd? Not one blasted thing. Odd is the currency of my personal realm. *g*

I just taught Bimbos of the Death Sun, in which a D&D game figures prominently, and my lone British student says they play a year-long game at his university at home. Alas for his roommate, who was killed the first day and thus out for the rest of the year.

I love medieval England (minus fleas and dung and plus hot water and antibiotics). When I get the chance to visit a battlefield, I like to stand there and imagine the lines arrayed, sunlight gleaming off the armor, horses stamping restlessly, and colorful banners flapping in the wind. Immediately prior to the onset of horrible, bloody carnage. Awful as the battle scene in Branagh's Henry V was, I suspect it's more realistic than the ones in the medieval epics I remember from childhood. Once my mind reaches the point where the charge begins, I switch back to the present.

Minna, I just checked out that link you provided. I could spend hours on that site. Thanks.

Susan Sey said...


As always, a gorgeously written & thought provoking post. I'm a big fan of the imaginary realm. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I spent a great deal of time knocking around in the back of closets as a teenager, looking for Narnia. :-)

As for naysayers, I've been blessed with a family (both the one I came from & the one I married into) that believes in me with a faith I find both touching & terrifying. If I ever publish, it'll be nothing less than they expected of me. :-)

And thanks, everybody, for all the GH congrats. Looking forward to cheering on all the finalists in San Fran!

Fedora said...

Jane, congrats on the GR!

And thanks for a lovely post today, Nancy! I really loved the Eddings books for fascinating worlds, but haven't read as much SF/F recently. And since I don't read very much paranormal, the worlds I read about that aren't mine might mainly be historical, which are fascinating too :)

EilisFlynn said...

Good post, Nancy -- at least their work will live on, sparking the imaginations of those after them. And after us, actually!

EilisFlynn said...

Good post, Nancy. At least their work will live after them, in the imaginations of those came after them (and after us, come to think of it).

Caren Crane said...

P226, my brother, who was always incredibly bright, did not do well in school AT ALL. This was before ADD meds (which he desperately needed). But he and his friend would play D&D for hours and hours every evening. It was a healthy obsession for teenagers who would otherwise have gotten in lots of trouble.

Of course, they made up for it by becoming big time troublemakers later. But that's a whole other story. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Fedora, what happened to us? I used to LIVE in my sf/f worlds and now I give them no love at all! Of course, I much preferred Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth A. Lynn and Patricia McKillip to the fellas writing science fiction and fantasy. I did the Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks, et al, but I didn't love them like I loved the women authors.

Now I know why: character development and ROMANCE. The men tended to skip over the good parts or rush it terribly. I always knew a great romance kicks a good book to a new level. I know there are great sf/f authors out there - my husband reads them like crazy, but no one has pulled me in for at least 20 years!

Unknown said...

Cool post Nancy.

I played D&D three times, realized I was addicted and quit cold turkey. It's one of a few things that I would lose myself in to the point of becoming non-functional--living the characters and all that. That's how powerful it was for me. I still have the piece of art I did--a portrait of my character. I fell hard. But I had no idea who created the game. It was such a fun world to enter and I'm sorry for the passing of such a creative genius.

I did note the passing of Clarke, and my husband and I were talking about his visions of satellites--and all before there was such a thing--and that a lot of astronauts and NASA engineers credit Clarke as sparking their interest in their careers.

My favorite world to get lost in would be the land of elves, hobbits and all that surrounds it, including a dragon or two. (Hey they're not all bad!)

Gillian Layne said...

Hi all!

This has nothing to do with anything, except I won the book here, at the absofabulicous bandit lair, and so wanted to say--

I just finished Colby Hodge's TWIST and OMG--talk about over the top, delicious imaginary realms! I am going to sit down and write her the biggest fan girl letter! This book is a jewel. I'm so hyped up by the excellent ending I'm never going to get to sleep.

So thank you so much, Bandits, for asking her to be a guest, so I could win her awesome book! :)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi again Nancy! The other McCaffrey stories are still fiction, just not fantasy. They're straight women's fiction/romance. Ooh, and I love Marion Zimmer Bradley. I've been wondering about the series Andre did w/ Edghill which are The Shadow of Albion and Leopard in Exile.

P226, Anna's hit it, I think. You find your own level when you're bright. (scratch, scratch. Damn it, where's the bug spray?) I wasn't into D&D. Like Cassondra I tried it and knew it would be like crack for me. I knew I'd disappear into the Otherrealm and hang out with the gorgeous dragons, and say to hell w/ the "real" world. Snork!

But I did do my share of street running. No one believes that when they see me. Heehee! Most didn't believe it back then, which is how I got away w/ it. Bwah-ha-ha! (Very Catbird Seat, I was)

But Nancy, I think your take on it is correct, bright kids and odd behaviour really isn't that odd.

Foanna, my mother used to say this old saying and I wish I knew where the heck she got it from - I've looked everywhere. She said, "Everyone is odd but me and thee, John. And thee art a bit odd as well." SNORK! Usually, she'd mutter it after something particularly...hmmmm...interesting I'd said or done. (I'm sticking with interesting as a descriptor. Hey, it WAS. To me.)

BTW, Nancy, I just love what you said: "Odd is the currency of my personal realm." LOVE. IT. :> Kind of like, "It's my own little world, but it's okay, they know me there." Grins.

Caren, Sister! I love McKillip too. And the women did it better in fantasy, IMHO. Have you read Elizabeth Moon?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Wow, Gillian! How cool! I'm so glad you're going to write Colby. Twist was already on my TBB list. Drat. Now I'm going to have to move it up a few notches because of your rave over it. Drat.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

KEWL, Gillian!
Hosting Colby was all Nancy's doing, so I'll be sure she checks these comments one final time. And PLEASE BE SURE to write to Colby and let her know she has a new fan because of the Banditas. Not that I'm self-serving or anything but...



Minna said...

Anna, did drag your bored friend to see the statues, too? *g*
Here's more art based on the Kalevala epic:
And Canine Kalevala by Mauri Kunnas:

Denise Rossetti said...

Lat to the Bandita party as usual. :-( Great post, Nancy. I've been blogging about Clarke too. I just couldn't let him go without a few words on what his writing meant to me. I linked to his final message too. The last part, about being remembered as a writer, is very moving.

And how about all you Banditas in the GH and the RITAs? How brilliant are you all? I can tell you right now, us Aussies are gonna be NOISY in San Francisco. Can't wait! And can't wait to meet the US Banditas!