|Posted by Douglas Quinn on September 26, 2012 at 9:45 AM|
30 Years in the Making
Brenda Wynn’s Journey
Writing the Fantasy Epic
Silverdream and Bloodfire
Book I of the Chronicles of Elydir
by Douglas Quinn
I first met Brenda Wynn in 2004. She was working on a book project in the romance/fantasy genre and was having creative difficulties with the independent publisher (and I use the word “publisher” advisedly). When I told her I had negotiated many publishing agreements in the past, she asked me to review her contract with this fellow. The contract was one-sided (in his favor) and she didn’t have her heart into the project since the publisher wanted her to portray the female protagonist, who was based on herself, to be weak and helpless. This didn’t sit well with her. Long story short, I suggested she dump this guy (there was no penalty for her to do so) and go back to her unfinished fantasy novel.
Actually, to say it was unfinished is an understatement. She had only written the beginning of what turned out to be a 135,000+ word epic fantasy novel entitled Silverdream and Bloodfire. She sent me the prologue and first four extremely long chapters (to that point, all she had written) to read and get back to her with my comments. Little did I know that was the beginning of what has become (to date) an eight-year relationship, not only where we each have provided quid-pro-quo editorial services for each other, but have become good friends.
It was 1981 and Brenda was in the 9th grade when she wrote the basic outline for Silverdream and Bloodfire. A year later she began writing the story. Her work on the novel was inconsistent, writing in fits and starts as a thought hit her. There are some writers whose work is top secret, hidden away while they write, as if embarrassed to let even their friends and family in on their endeavor, afraid of what someone might think or say about what they were doing. Not Brenda. At various points along the journey, she showed or sent what she had written to various friends for their feedback, only to get statements like, “It’s a good story,” or, “You need more details,” without any specifics. As most writers know, budding novelists are not taken serious by anyone until they see the book on Amazon or on a shelf in Barnes and Noble.
This disrespect and lack of interest led Brenda into long periods of reflection and second-guessing about her writing and there were long periods of time–sometimes lasting years–when she didn’t write at all. Yet, she persevered. What drove her to keep after it? She says it was because she couldn’t get the story out of her mind. That may be part of it, but I think there is something else that motivated her; the character she created named Amanda Jennings, also known in the fantasy world of Elydir as Amen-Jen. It is Amanda/Amen-Jen with whom Brenda has a special bond.
Brenda was born with a condition called myelomeningocele, more commonly known as spina bifida, the most severe form of the medical problem. Consequently, she has spent most of her life confined to a wheelchair. For those unfamiliar with spina bifida, it is a birth defect in which the spinal column and the spinal canal do not close before birth. Her character, Amanda Jennings, is also confined to a wheelchair. Through a series of events, Amanda is transported to the fantasy world of Elydir where she finds that she has the ability to walk. It is on this point that the work transfers itself from the standard good vs. evil quest plot line to that of a character-driven novel in the person of Amen-Jen.
However, it is the unusual twist and moral perplexity that Brenda offers the reader that makes this novel special. Because of an unusual set of circumstances set forth in the fantasy world, a young man named Prince Kelvan is performing the Bloodfire ritual while, at the same time in the real world, Amanda Jennings is performing the Silverdream ritual. Both are shocked to find themselves in the other’s world. And while in the fantasy world Amanda Jennings/Amen-Jen can now walk, in the real world, Prince Kelvan cannot.
The moral dilemma comes into play at the end of the novel, after Amen-Jen has performed the dangerous quest originally planned for Prince Kelvan. Amen-Jen, along with the high priest, Lord Kantis, is pressured by Kelvan’s mother, Queen Talitha, to find a way to return her son to Elydir. The only problem is, Amen-Jen is afraid that to do so would require her to return to her world where, once again, she will be unable to walk. This premise is what makes the novel so interesting.
Now Brenda has begun Book II of the Chronicles of Elydir, a novel she calls Smoke and Mirrors. She tells me that one or more of the antagonists in Silverdream and Bloodfire are already plotting deeds that will, I imagine, not bode well for Amen-Jen.
Unlike myself, who writes as if there is no tomorrow, Brenda still writes in fits and starts. Where I hone in on a project like a laser beam, Brenda is easily frustrated and distracted with her job as a medical transcriptionist/quality assurance specialist, as well as medical and other issues with family and friends. Maybe it’s the age difference–I’m much older and retired from the daily grind. That said, she has accomplished a lot in finishing this epic first novel.
Throughout my writing career, many people have said to me, “I’ve been thinking about writing a book,” (I won’t give you my standard cryptic reply). They never do. Brenda Wynn is the exception. She thought about it, then wrote a terrific debut novel. Maybe it was the 30 years in the making that made it the successful work it has become. I hope it won’t be another 30 years before we can read Book II.