Why Adults Should Read Fantasy with John M Olsen

I had so much fun featuring Candace J Thomas here on the blog last week that I invited another dear author friend to come join us this week. Be sure to stop by her blog to see her wonderful interview with yours truly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, writer friends are the best.
Today we have John M Olsen with us. He is a fellow Immortal Works author who also has roots back at Xchyler Publishing. In fact, he and I met during the same event where I met Candace back in 2015. John is also currently president elect of the League of Utah Writers and just this summer released The Crystal Queen, the sequel to his first book The Crystal King. 
Crystal queen
My big question for John is:

Why should adults read fantasy?

John’s answer:

A man by the name of G. K. Chesterson said, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

Adults also know dragons exist. We face them every day. Maybe your dragon is a mortgage or a boss with a personality disorder. Maybe your dragon is a disability or a dear friend who refuses to make good life choices. Many of us like to escape into fantasy worlds, but there is much more than escape going on as we march page by page through a fantasy world. These worlds of the imagination are fraught with peril and doom, and good storytelling puts us on the edge of our seat as we hope good overcomes evil, or that true love will conquer all.

I love themes that confirm my faith in the goodness of humanity and of the universe, especially when we see so much entropy and failure if not outright evil. The bad guys may take the upper hand as a story progresses, but in the end, they will lose. Fantasy, at least the sort I prefer, shines a beacon of success despite the odds and illuminates a path forward. If the hero of your story can achieve great things, then you as a reader can as well, no matter how dark the night.

This is why I write, too. I love to write about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, something all readers can relate to. I’m a regular guy. Most readers are regular folks, too. Few achieve great fame or fortune, and the world spins on its merry way oblivious to our existence. But history is filled with true stories of ordinary people who stepped up just like fantasy characters to do what nobody could expect. We have power we don’t recognize. Power we don’t understand, and power we don’t use. But we will recognize, understand, and use that power as we learn by example. As long as we immerse ourselves in stories of success and never give up on ourselves and those around us, we put ourselves on a path to change lives, and through that to change the world.

Fantasy gives us power over reality’s dragons.

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A huge thanks to John for joining us and for his insightful thoughts on why fantasy is so important for readers of all ages, not just kids.
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John M. Olsen 2

You can find John all over the place, here are some handy links:

Twitter: @john_m_olsen
Find his novels and short stories over on Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/johnmolsen

 

About John M. Olsen

Motivated by his lifelong love of reading, John M. Olsen writes about ordinary people doing extraordinary things and hopes to entertain and inspire others. His father’s library started him on this journey as a teenager, and he now owns and expands that library to pass his passion on to the next generation of avid readers.

He loves to create things, whether writing novels or short stories or working in his secret lair equipped with dangerous power tools. In all cases, he applies engineering principles and processes to the task at hand, often in unpredictable ways. He usually prefers “Renaissance Man” to “Mad Scientist” as a goal and aesthetic.

He lives in Utah with his lovely wife and a variable number of mostly grown children and a constantly changing subset of extended family.

Check out his ramblings on his blog. Safety goggles are optional but recommended.

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Novel Escapism

To be transported, to escape, to live another life… These are all reasons for diving into a good book.  As much as we can enjoy our reality, there is something so appealing in sliding inside the pages of a story and living someone else’s life, even if just for a few hours.

The kind of escapism found in a good book can’t be found anywhere else.  Some will argue that they find it in TV and movies as well, but to me it’s not the same. Watching TV or a movie engages only two senses, sight and hearing and these are provided for the watcher at the push of a button.  All that is required is to watch.  In a book however, the reader must do far more than just keep his eyes open.  He must read then interpret each idea, using his brain to figure out what it means.  He must form a mental picture using the descriptions on the page.

James_Tissot_-_The_Ball

James Tissot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If an author were to describe a woman wearing a yellow dress, the reader would then have to fill in the blanks – usually to their preference.  If the author doesn’t include a description of her hair the reader is free to give her whatever style and color he prefers.  The reader must invest time and mental energy to creating the image.  In contrast, TV and movies simply give the image to the watcher.  Because they have invested no energy of their own, the experience isn’t as strong or as powerful.

Although a book is only words, those words have power to invoke feelings and reactions. It is the goal of the writer to make the reader feel. When a reader can’t put down a book because they have become hooked. If we as writers succeed in that, we have created something worth reading. The reader doesn’t only see what the character is doing, but they are also privy to what is going on inside that characters head, something that is difficult if not impossible to do on the screen.  When the reader gets that unique perspective of what the character is feeling and thinking, they can dig more deeply into that character’s world making the reading experience even richer.

I still like TV and movies, they still pack a powerful punch and, when done well, are excellent ways to escape for a while.  They are a wonderful source of ideas and inspiration when I’m feeling drained, and one can be finished in the course of an hour or two.  It’s the ultimate quick fix.  But – when I really want to escape, you’ll find me in a book.

How do you escape?  Share in the comments below!