Saturday, 14 May 2016

Dystopia vs. Utopia

Wow, I just had a look at Sci-Fi and Fantasy sub-categories of ebooks on, and guess which ones are by far the biggest, with over 13,000 titles?  Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic!  Not that I'm surprised, mind you, with all the TV shows and movies with those themes, not to mention even the daily news in the real world!  But it made me stop and think about how I've been describing my book to people.

You see, my Rhuna series is set in mystical Atlantis, which was said to be a Utopian society, the definition of Utopia being "a community or society possessing highly desirable or near-perfect qualities."  That's the setting I've used, but of course, writing about a perfect world would just be boring, so I add characters who go against those idyllic rules and lifestyles to create conflict.

The idea is to show that there is no such thing as a perfect society, even if it appears to be so on most levels.  There will always be some people and some issues that don't fit, and that's where rebellion starts. 

But Rhuna is still living in an overall peaceful, idyllic world, thanks to the rulers of Atlantis.

There is no "Utopia" category at, and doing a search for "utopia" gets you all kinds of things, but try "Dystopian",  and there are thousands and thousands of books, images and other things.  Why does Dystopia have so much more appeal than Utopia?  Because, I mean, you'd think it would be the other way around, wouldn't you?  Don't people prefer pictures of paradise instead of a post-apocalyptic ruin of a city? 

There are probably many reasons and topics you could philosophize over (and please do share any thoughts you may have in the comments below!) but my main concern now is whether a utopian theme in books would fare well in such an environment as we have right now?

Is Dystopia only popular now because some books, movies and TV shows were hits, and that started a fad?  Are people reading Dystopia because there's no real alternative (except for my books, perhaps?!) 

I read somewhere that readers think a utopian setting is political propaganda of some sort, which might be the case if the book is not Fantasy or Sci-Fi, and so far, no reader or reviewer has had anything negative to say about the utopian setting of my books. 

Far from being political or propaganda, however, I do admit to making social commentary in my books, merely by bringing up age-old issues that still have relevance today, or that the reader can relate to, even though two books are set in Ancient Egypt, for example.  (see Rhuna: Crossroads and Rhuna, The Star Child)

My hope is that readers will find some thoughts about human society and ways of governing as described in Rhuna refreshing, stimulating and worthy of deeper consideration.  So, tell me what you think!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Inspiration for Fantasy novels?!

Believe it or not, reading about the statues on Easter Island in Thor Heyerdahl's 1950s book, "Aku-Aku" was the beginning of a journey that ended in the writing of my first Fantasy Novel, "Rhuna, Keeper of Wisdom."

And here's the man to whom I dedicated that first book:

Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian Anthropologist and Adventurer/Explorer knew he was onto something big and special when he discovered megalithic stone statues hidden in the tropical jungles of remote Pacific Islands when he was there to study biology.  He changed subjects and began studying anthropology, travelling the world in search of more mysterious stone statues.

The most famous ones are on Easter Island, of course.  All 887 of them.  That's right:  almost 900 of them, all the same, and all with tall bodies buried more than halfway in the ground.  They would have been a terrifying and awe-inspiring sight in ancient times (and still a bit creepy now that some have been fully restored!)

Reading about the mysteries and unanswered questions around these statues, as well as their similarity to many other big stone statues around the world (especially South America) really got the wheels in my head spinning, and before I knew it, I was also hooked on this mystery.

Not only did I end up reading all of Heyerdahl's books, but I even went to Tonga to see some of those megaliths myself.  Here:

While searching for answers to these mysteries, I read many New Age books as well, and one day I realized I had all the ideas and material for a solid novel in the Fantasy genre.  Fantasy only in the sense that some of the things my characters do to create those megalithic structures is not based on scientific fact, but the rest of the story is about real people and real places.

Even though I can't travel and explore like I used to, I am still venturing far afield in my mind as I write more books in the series, and the more I delve into all these ancient mysteries, the more material I find to use in my books!  (Check them all out! Rhuna, Keeper of Wisdom - Kindle is FREE! Rhuna: Crossroads and Rhuna, The Star Child.)