Thursday, April 2, 2015

Originality: Redux

For our final release party event, today I'll be contributing to Arhyalon, the blog of author L Jagi
Lamplighter, with a few more words on originality and why it's not something I get excited about. This time with added CS Lewis quotes!
No man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth, without caring twopence how often it has been told before, you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. - CS Lewis
 Head over to Arhyalon for the whole thing!

And thanks so much, Vintage Novels readers, for coming along and celebrating this release with me. It's been such a privilege to have your support and encouragement through all the hard work and excitement of writing and self-publishing a novel! Hope you're all enjoying Pendragon's Heir so far, and I look forward to presenting you with more and even better stories in time.*

Seriously, I cannot believe this day has come XD
react: #PendragonsHeir 

* Want notifications of future releases, sales, and giveaways? Sign up for my author newsletter!


Anonymous said...

As I was unable to comment on the post at Jagi's blog, I'll comment here instead. Wonderful essay! It resonated with me quite a bit as someone who loves traditional high fantasy and has little desire to innovate -- I would much rather explore old tropes deeply and see what new can be gleaned from them. When I began reading the essay, I kept thinking of C.S. Lewis's remarks in The Discarded Image on medieval people and their cultural distaste for originality in stories. (I don't know if any of your quotes are from that essay; it's been a while since I read it.) It was a difficult concept to swallow when I first encountered it, because even though I never had any taste for surprise for surprise's sake, the idea that it was necessary was deeply entrenched. Over time I've come to understand the medieval point of view better. I think my attitude started to change when I found myself trying to get story ideas by asking, "What can I do that hasn't been done before?" Of course, the answer is "nothing," and the question is a superficial way to approach a story. And I had never really liked reading the kind of book that grasps at those straws anyhow.

Thank you for the insightful post!

Jamie W. said...

This doesn't relate immediately to the originality post (which I thoroughly agreed with, by the way), but I had to say it:

Wow. Just ... wow. I just finished reading Pendragon's Heir, and I did not think any author now alive could move me so deeply.

As a child, I was never very interested in the Arthurian legends -- partly because I never got my hands on a good retelling, partly because I spent a good deal of energy avoiding bad 'princess books,' but partly -- especially as I grew older and did read some about it -- because I never was very comfortable with the Guinevere/Lancelot storyline. And not just out of prudery; I didn't find it imaginatively satisfying. I understand the cultural phenomenon of courtly love, but I suppose I never wanted the Matter of Britain to involve a courtly-love story. It always seemed as though the legends were trying to say something else....

This was it. This was the story they were trying to tell. It is not every book that is imaginatively satisfying, but Pendragon's Heir, for me, is one of them. And without being at all an imitation either of Lewis or of Tolkien, it reminded me in some ways of both of them. Like Lewis' work, it gives a glimpse as through a door of something we desire but cannot reach on earth (indeed, this is one of its themes); like Tolkien's, it moves effortlessly from the world of the Sackville-Bagginses or Kitty Walker to the world of Aragorn or Arthur, without ever striking a false note. And all this from a woman's perspective, which was never the strong point of either of the Inklings I've mentioned.

I read this book slowly on purpose, and I still wish it were longer. Except if it were longer, I would not yet know how beautiful the ending is.

Other things I enjoyed about this book included the Latin dedication, the epigraphs, and the illustrations. And how could I have gone this long without mentioning Perceval? He is a delightful character -- throughout the book, but I think especially at the dinner party. I was interested to meet him after reading your guest posts on The Art of Storytelling and The Inkpen Authoress, and I was not disappointed!

Thank you for giving the world the pleasure and joy of a good book. It's rarely enough that the author of a book I love is even alive, let alone has a blog, so it was a particular pleasure to write this comment in reply.

(And I have to ask: Is Emmeline's Mr. Pevensie any relation to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy?)

(And I have to ask:

Jamie W. said...

Sorry about the scrap of repeated text in the previous comment.

Suzannah said...

Charis, I'm so glad you liked the post. The decision to avoid originality has been a very freeing one for me particularly; I think I'm less suited to it than most people!

Suzannah said...

Wow, Jamie. I'm so honoured and glad you enjoyed my book. I will tell you, I plan to write a much longer work for my next novel, so you'll have that to look forward to.

Yes, Emmeline's Mr Pevensie was certainly intended as a homage to Narnia :).

Since you loved the book so much, might l suggest you post your kind thoughts to Amazon ( or Goodreads ( No pressure, just if you wanted to help in that way :)

Jamie W. said...

Done! I'm happy to help. I don't have a Goodreads account, but I've posted my review to Amazon.
Curiously enough, my dad asked me this morning if I had posted a review! I told him I'd posted a comment and he said I should post a review... Providential, I think?
Happy Easter (in my time-zone at least)!

Suzannah said...

Thanks so much! Happy Easter!


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