I once wrote a paper for a children’s literature course in which I argued that the fantasy genre takes on the important issues: Not love, not family, not career, ethics, or identity, but death, power, and the survival of the universe. However, death, power, and the survival of the universe are great (if grandiose) images for figuring out one’s own personal choices. The hard ones. The ones that have an effect on other people.

The first novel in my “Ways of Magic” trilogy was written when everything in my life was changing and I was having to adopt a new identity. Thus the Goddess of one world, was marooned in an entirely different world; though she was disrespected and didn’t fit in, she took over her new world, made it her own, and used it as a weapon against her enemies.

The second was written when I was finishing graduate school, raising a child, developing my career, beginning to be a caretaker for my mother, being the primary breadwinner to support my husband’s career change, learning to sword-fight, getting irritated all the time, and having to write a second novel under deadline in an unexpected two-book contract. Thus a tiny, furious sword-fighting monster turned her anger and fear into a mighty world-moving force to help her friends.

The third is being written while I am literally confined to my home by a global pandemic and a political disaster, being kind to those close to me, and surrendering what it turns out is not necessary, such as my (now) long-term career. My heroine long ago made a bargain with her identity in order to survive her position, but the bargain doesn’t work any more, the galaxy is teetering on the edge of disaster, and she must abandon her position and lose everything in order to save it.

The funny thing is, I had all of the books roughly outlined from the beginning. I feel weirdly prescient.

Either that or hindsight is awfully convenient, I admit, and patterns are easier to see when you consider your life as a narrative.

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