Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Guest Post: Urban Fantasy and Firebird Alex by Orren Merton @orrenmerton

The first novel I wrote, The Deviant, was an urban fantasy novel staring a male vampire. The next novel I worked on was a coming-of-age story about an 18-year old girl. I found writing her very rewarding, and I enjoyed writing in that space that crosses into both young adult and adult novels...but I didn’t “bond” well with the more straightforward contemporary setting. I abandoned that novel. And here I am, a couple of years later, with Firebird Alex: the first in a series that again sits on the border of young adult and adult novels, starring an 18-year-old girl —but this time, an urban fantasy series. Why urban fantasy?

Some novels explore the physical truth of our world with almost journalistic precision, and that’s great. But I’ve always been fascinated with the emotional truth of our world. And personally, I find it fascinating to explore the nature of emotions by using the supernatural.

Let’s take Alex for example. She feels alone and isolated. When she gets upset, she blows her cool. She is bright and articulate but unsure of what she wants to do with her life. She is afraid to care, because she cares so deeply. So far, these things sound extremely human, and fairly universal.

Now let’s add a supernatural reason for these things: that Alex’s father was a “demon.” This gives new depth to her emotions. She is isolated because of her very nature. When she blows her cool, she erupts in literal flames. She isn’t sure what she wants to do because she feels limited and controlled by her very nature. She’s still a girl that we can identify with, but giving her an urban fantasy twist hopefully makes her more unique.

And speaking of unique, one of my favorite things is world building, which fantasy allows me to do. There’s a reason that I have the word demon in quotes above. In fact, I created an entire new mythology, just for this series. In fact, there is an entire alternate universe of spirit beings like her father, and as the series progresses, the novels spend as much time in the spirit universe as our own.

Urban fantasy gives me the opportunity to explore not only literal truths, but symbolic and emotional truths in a way that appeals to me. Add to that my love of world building that the genre allows me, and how easily it lends itself to writing stories written for both young adult and adult readers, and there was no doubt what kind of novel I wanted Firebird Alex to be.

Alex knows she’s different; other girls don’t burst into flames when they get angry. After she nearly burned the house down when she was twelve, her mother confessed that her father was a demon.

Now eighteen and mourning the death of her mother, Alex sinks inside herself until she discovers a dagger that can open a portal into her father’s realm. Although she yearns to meet her father, nothing terrifies her more. When an unknown threat from across the portal menaces her friends and her loved ones, Alex knows she must act.

Alex will do anything to save her friends—even risk appealing to her father. She knows that to face a tormentor from across the portal, she’ll need to learn to fight fire with fire.

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About the Author

Orren Merton started writing fantasy and science fiction at an embarrassingly young age, mostly for his own amusement.  In 2001, magazines, developers, and corporations began to pay him to write and edit music software related articles, manuals, and  books. His music technology articles have appeared in magazines and online in Electronic Musician, Computer Music UK, Music Tech Magazine, MIX, Cubase.net and Gearwire.com. His music articles and reviews have been published nationally and internationally, online and off in Dark Angel, OC Weekly, and The Scene LA. His Industrial rock group Ember After released their debut album, Grasping At Straws, in 2008. He lives in Southern California with his family, pets, collection of sci-fi/fantasy memorabilia, and curiously large stuffed animal collection.

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