18 May, 2014

#GuestPost :: The Power of Fantasy by Caris McRae

Caris McRae lives with her family and her pets in Austria. A major bookworm, she reads everything she can get her hands on from fantasy to paranormal romance. With four kids, she has an extensive knowledge about fairy tales, adventure stories, and everything else children from age four to twelve like to read. However, as great as these tales are, she decided to write her own version of them – for grown-ups.

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The Power of Fantasy

My first book was Grimm’s Fairy Tales. My second one was Legends and Myths of Old. Ever since that time I was hooked on fantasy in every shape or form. I loved everything those tales: the mythical creatures, the witches and wizards, the heroes and heroines, the different types of magic; but what I liked most was the underlying moral: the good will always come out the winner, regardless. It shaped my view of the world and helped to strengthen my belief and trust in the world. 

As Neil Gaiman said in Coraline, “Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.” To this day this quote is my favorite answer every time anyone asks me why I’m ‘waisting’ my time reading and writing about impossible things (and there are a lot of people asking me this; apparently real life is hard enough without adding something futile like fantasy into the mix). 

However, it is the impossible that lets us discover new things, that lets us break down the limits we imposed on our minds. It’s through fantastic stories – and all literature is fantastic – that we broaden our horizon and overcome reason, experience, and knowledge. In the safety of our imagination we are able to gain new perspectives on life, on love, on ethics. Hence my writing in which I explore unknown lands where real people have unimaginable powers. Only to see them deal with the responsibility that comes with such magic. And fail. Because to err is human. And to err is to fail. It’s how we learn and grow. 

Why is this so important for me? Easy: the only thing I’ve always resented about fairy tales was that the protagonists were rather one-dimensional and trapped in whatever role they had to play. It’s no fun reading a story about flawless, beautiful, rich people. They aren’t real people, but merely lifeless templates. And even in modern fantasy the main focus is on the adventure not on inner turmoil or personal growth. Because of that I’ve been always looking for the ‘right’ book; I read a lot and liked most stories well enough, but I never fell in love with one. 

Thus, when I came across Toni Morrison’s famous quote, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it,” after searching for yet another tale, I decided to do exactly that - write a book myself. And I took great pains to breathe life into my characters, to make them real. My imaginary world certainly isn’t perfect and neither are its people, but then that is what makes them real. And I want to see them grow; I want to see how their decisions change them and consequently their lives. Because if I know how the heroes are slaying their dragons, I might discover a way how to slay mine. 

~~ Caris McRae

"You can’t run from your demons, Sheba An-Pyr. There will come a time to take a stance and confront them, regardless of the consequences. Even at the cost of your life. You can’t escape your destiny forever, Child. There is a time in everyone’s life when they need to rise to the challenge, to be courageous when faced with defeat – and yours is now."

In Quiliaris, strength and power are revered. Sheba An-Pyr, Princess of Fire, has neither. Neglected by her family, shunned by her people, and a murderer on her heels, she lives her life in the shadows. Trying her best to keep a low profile, she travels the lands with her Hashisin uncle as his servant, but when he is summoned to his Warrior Guild's quadrennial tryouts, things begin to change. A twist of fate allows her to partake in the trials, and with every challenge she masters, she discovers more of who she is and where her destiny lies. 
An age-old prophecy, scheming Gods, cantankerous beasts, and chauvinistic Warriors - Soul of Fire has it all. Follow the Princess of Fire as she breaks free from the chains of her past and becomes the Warrior, the Hashisin, she is meant to be. 
Because without her, Quiliaris might very well be lost.

So she took the left path, secretly amused about the irony of it, or inherent truth – depending on how you looked at it: the Talent-less Fire Princess who would never be a queen of any kind trying to reach for the stars; the whole thing was set for failure from the beginning. She chuckled, slightly bitter, but all in all resigned to the fact that she was who she was and always would be. 

After her argument with the Behemoth, she had thought hard about what she had told him and his replies. Though hurtful, his words had been true: in the end, he had accepted his lot way easier than she had hers. So she had set down and tried to come to terms with her life. For real, this time. 

She had realized that a part of her had still hoped that she could change her future, decide her life on her own; but it was futile. She knew where her life was going and the best she could hope for was an amiable mate. Damn, that still smarted, she thought. But if Aris could accept a life as a whipping boy, then she could accept being a trophy wife. Life had a tendency to give you a shitty hand, but even so, you had to play it to the best of your abilities. Yeah, well, she would bet her life that the idiot who had come up with this particular piece of shitty wisdom had never had a poor hand in his life. By Nyx, she hated crappy lines like that.
Going on, Sheba felt Rayza searching for her and sent him an “I’m all right” vibe through their bond. She was pleased that he hadn’t forgotten her in all that hustle and bustle, aware that he had to check out the contestants and help with the organizational side of things. Because of his shielding talent he had to contribute to the erection and maintenance of the ‘dome’ as the protective bubble over the battle arena was called; without it, Aliaenar would have been in ruins long ago. A part of her longed to fight there just once; another futile wish – it was Hashisins only.

Lost in her thoughts, she didn’t realize that she had reached the plateau already. As she stood there, pausing, she let her eyes roam, taking in the stunning view. Before her, the moonlight illuminated the fortress and the surrounding landscape in the most beautiful way; Sheba could even see the desert from here. With a mixture of deepest longing and ecstatic joy, she looked upon her homeland: the glittering, bright dunes called to her, sang of the day’s heat and fire; of the night’s bitter cold; of the animals born of sand; and of the people who called it home. Her body and soul responded in kind, mourned the loss of her heartbeat that was the pulse of the desert, told the tale of exile and of her longing to feel whole again.

In her lament, a single tear ran down her cheeks and dropped onto the ground below her; she never noticed though, captured as she was in the pain and desperation that had welled up in her soul and refused to be pushed down and away again. Her last wall of resistance finally crumbled, allowing her emotions to take over and spill out of her. A scream, full of despair and anger, made its way up her vocal chords, its painful echo heard all over the mountain. As the piercing sound faded, she suddenly heard an unfamiliar soft voice in her head. 

“Never fear, my child,” the voice consoled her gently. “You will see your home again and it will recognize you as its own: your land has never forgotten the child of its heart and never will. You might still have a long way to go, Daughter of Fire, but you’ve proven yourself and, thus, you will be rewarded. There will come a time, your heart purged of all its human thoughts, when you will rise to power and fulfill your destiny – but it isn’t now. Let the Flames of Light guide you and keep you unharmed. I bless you, Princess of Pyr, because you filled my soul with joy.” 

The divine presence left with a sweet, soft caress of Sheba’s soul. 

She was stunned; she, the Esendri Elementar, blessed? Certainly not for climbing up a plateau on a mountain? She couldn’t wrap her head around what happened here a moment ago; not wanting to dismiss the Goddess’ words as craziness, she nevertheless refused to deal with the content of the little speech. Sheba wasn’t ready yet to lose her humanity even if it meant to do what she was here for.

Other Works by the Author


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