Today, please join me in extending a warm, Preternatura welcome to fellow author C.L. Wilson. C.L. is dropping by today as part of her virtual book tour celebrating the release of her latest book, The Winter King. The Winter King was published on July 29 by Avon Romance and is the first book in C.L.’s Weathermages of Mystral series.
C. L. Wilson grew up camping and waterskiing across America, from Cherry Creek reservoir in Denver, CO, to Lake Gaston on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, to Georgia’s Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona. When she wasn’t waterskiing and camping on family vacations, you could usually find her with a book in one hand and a sketch pad in the other—either reading, writing stories, or drawing. Sometime around the ninth grade, she decided she was better at drawing her pictures with words than paints and charcoals, and she set aside her sketchpad to focus entirely on writing. C.L. is active in Tampa Area Romance Authors (TARA), her local chapter of Romance Writers of America. When not engaged in writerly pursuits, she enjoys golfing, swimming, reading, playing video games with her children, and spending time with her friends and family. She is also an avid collector (her husband says pack rat!), and she’s the proud owner of an extensive collection of Dept. 56 Dickens and North Pole villages, unicorns, Lladro figurines, and mint condition comic books. C.L. currently resides with her husband, their three wonderful children, and their little black cat, Oreo, in a secluded ranch community less than thirty miles away from the crystalline waters and sugar-sand beaches of Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key on Florida’s gulf coast. You can learn more about C.L. by visiting her website, on Facebook and by following her on Twitter.
ABOUT THE WINTER KING: Wynter Atrialan, the Winter King, once lived in peace with his southern, Summerlander neighbors, but when the prince of Summerlea steals Wynter’s bride and murders his young brother, Wynter calls upon a dangerous Wintercraig magic called the Ice Heart and marches against Summerlea. After three bitter years of battle, a victorious Wynter arrives at Summerlea’s royal palace to issue his terms of surrender. The prince of Summerlea stole Wynter’s bride and slew Wynter’s Heir. He wants the loss replaced. The Ice Heart is consuming him. Wynter hopes holding his own child in his arms will rekindle the warmth in his heart before he becomes the monster of Wintercraig legend, the Ice King. The Summer King has three very precious daughters whom he loves dearly. Wynter will take one of them to wife. She will have one year to provide him with an Heir. If she fails, he will send her to face the mercy of the mountains and claim another princess for his wife. And so it will continue until Wynter has his Heir or the Summer King is out of daughters. The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of whom he is not so fond. And she is a fiercely passionate creature, with a temper as volatile as the forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.
And now, let’s hear from C.L….
Imagery in Fantasy
Books are a unique form of entertainment in that they actually use none of our senses and yet, when effectively written, stimulate them all.
Solely with words, authors can paint vibrant pictures, evoke genuine emotion, and set so vivid a tone that the story unfolding on the pages becomes every bit perceivable and sensually stimulating as any other entertainment medium—even more so because words can do a much better job of invoking all five senses rather than relying solely on sight and sound.
Imagery is the most powerful tool in a writer’s arsenal when it comes to painting those vibrant pictures. Literarydevices.net defines imagery thusly:
“Imagery means to use figurative language to represent objects, actions and ideas in such a way that it appeals to our physical senses.”
More specifically, imagery is a descriptive technique that uses vivid language, symbols, metaphors, onomatopoeia, personification, and similes to draw pictures in a reader’s mind and make them a sensory participant in the story.
Perhaps nowhere in writing is imagery more important than it is in fantasy novels. (And here, I’m using “fantasy” in the broadest sense—that which does not exist in our physical, observable world.) Reason being? Fantasy worlds don’t exist, therefore readers don’t have any idea of what that world is like, what it looks like, feels like, what the creatures and people inhabit it are like. Drawing readers into the fantasy world, making it feel so real they become fully engaged, should, after all, be one of the writer’s foremost goals.
One of my most popular workshops is my Dazzle ‘Em with Description, where I talk about the effective use of imagery in novels, and many of the examples I give are from fantasy novels. In part, because fantasy novels can draw such deliciously unique and imaginative pictures.
One of the examples I reference in my workshop comes from Scott Westerfeld’s Midnighters: The Secret Hour. The premise of the book is that for certain people — those born exactly at the stroke of midnight — there are twenty-five hours in the day. At the stroke of midnight, time stops and only the midnighters (the children born at midnight) and certain creatures that live in this time can roam in the blue twilight of the midnight hour.
In this scene, Jessica (who does not know she is a midnighter) wakes at midnight and goes outside to find the world lit by blue glowing light and the air filled with what appear to be shimmering, radiant diamonds, each no bigger than a tear. Those diamonds, it turns out, are raindrops hanging in the sky in a world where time has stopped.
In a daze, she stepped out into the suspended rain. The drops kissed her face coolly, turning into water as she collided with them. They melted instantly, dotting her sweatshirt as she walked, wetting her hands with water no colder than September rain. She could smell the fresh scent of rain, feel the electricity of recent lightning, the trapped vitality of the storm all around her. Her hairs tingled, laughter bubbling up inside her.
But her feet were cold, she realized, her shoes soaking. Jessica knelt down to look at the walk. Motionless splashes of water dotted the concrete, where raindrops had been frozen just as they’d hit the ground. The whole street shimmered with the shapes of splashes, like a garden of ice flowers.
I love the eerie, fantastic, other-worldly beauty captured through the imagery in this scene. From the drops of rain kissing Jessica’s face to the trapped vitality of the storm to those gorgeous splashes of raindrops frozen just as they hit the ground, looking like a garden of ice flowers.
But the real power of imagery isn’t just to draw pictures, or even to set mood and tone, but to convey to readers what can be an astonishing depth of emotion. Many is the time that an authors well-drawn scenes and evocative imagery have brought me to real tears (and in a totally good way).
One of my all time favorite descriptive passages comes from Sharon Shinn’s novel Archangel. In this scene, the Archangel (named Gabriel) and his angelica, Rachel, (the woman chosen to be his bride) must sing a mass as part of an annual ceremony. Throughout the book the angelica, Rachel, hasn’t been too happy about being essentially forced into the role as angelica and having her life turned upside down. And Gabriel has been dealing with some very serious and potentially disastrous political issues, so he hasn’t been quite the wooing suitor. He has pretty much decided there’s no hope for them as a couple. (We readers, of course, have been rooting for the HEA, and we have seen this scene coming.)
Gabriel took her hand, which she permitted though she did not look his way. As the sun lifted over the edge of the mountain, she raised her face. Her eyes were closed but she seemed incredibly calm, completely focused, listening to some inner clock chiming the hours and minutes. In the infant light, her bright blues and golds faded, grew translucent; she seemed made of sun-colored mist just breaking apart over a freshly washed sky.
When she began singing, the whole world fell silent to listen. Her voice ran before them like river water between wide, ancient banks, smooth and dark enough to seem both silent and motionless. Gradually the notes brightened, grew crystalline, as the song took her higher, into her truer range. Gabriel felt his blood pause in its accustomed race. His breath grew shallow, soundless. Her voice wrapped around him like arms twining about his neck; it dazzled the air with bursts of light; it flung him bodiless into the great empty sky and filled his head with music.
He was so transfixed by her singing that at first he did not recognize the song. When he did, he was left dizzied by a succession of shocks, each more momentous than the last.
It was the Lochevsky Magnificat immortalized by Hagar, a piece so demanding that most singers were forced to split its octaves between three voices. Yet she sang it as effortlessly, as beautifully, as the great angelica soprano.
She had pitched it precisely in his key. Consciously or not—willingly or not—she knew his voice so well, she knew exactly what range he required, how best to show off his skill.
She trusted him. Difficult as the female solo was, the tenor role was not much simpler. The parts were so interdependent that she could not have hoped to sing the mass unless she had utter faith in his ability.
She had chosen the song for him.
She loved him.
He tightened his grip on her hand as her first solo came to its sublime conclusion. His voice slipped in alongside hers, mellow and rich; the voices fell together like diving sea birds, then spiraled up again, arrowing skyward. Her voice steadied, held on one, sustained high note while his danced beneath hers, changing colors, changing keys. Then she faded away, dropped back, while his voice dominated the first male aria.
The words; it seemed he had never listened to the words before. “Though the whole world shun you, yea, I believe. Though you turn your face away, yea, I believe. What do I have if not my love for you? Though everything perish, still there will be my love.”
He sang for her; there was no way she could not know he sang for her. He saw the flame-colored light flaring through the sleeve on her right arm. His own Kiss burned with a painful heat. Although by now his hand was crushing hers, she still made no move to pull away.
“For the world slows and the stars falter, and all that remains is you.”
I love the description of the singing so well because it describes that sensory perception of sound (their voices singing) with such beautiful, vivid, tangible imagery. And that imagery, of the birds soaring, twining, is a metaphor for the love blooming in his heart, the love of both of them, flying together. Even the words of the song allow Gabriel to declare his love in such a way that we all know he is singing the song, singing his love, for Rachel. Everything in this scene is a metaphor for love.
In my own books, I make copious use of imagery. One thing I always try to keep in mind, of course, is that when seeing the world through the eyes of the POV character, the images that character notices and the way s/he describes those images also tell us something about that character. The words and imagery that POV character uses must fit who he is, where he comes from, what he knows. For instance, in my novel, Lord of the Fading Lands, when the hero, Rain, first sees the heroine, Ellysetta, he reflects that her (red) hair is like tairen-flame. Tairen are fire-breathing, winged jaguars (think dragon, only furry and purry) of the Fading Lands. The simile—hair like tairen-flame—is a perfect one for Rain to use because the tairen live in his homeland, and he is, in fact, the last of his people capable of shape-changing into one of the tairen.
How about you? What are some of your favorite evocative passages? Are there particular images you’ve read that have really stayed with you?
Thanks, C.L. Congratulations on the release of The Winter King.
In association with C.L.’s virtual book tour, there is a tourwide giveaway which includes a copy of The Winter King and a gorgeous white rose snow globe pendant reminiscent of the book. In order to be entered to win, you must leave a comment and then enter by clicking on the link below. Unfortunately, the giveaway is open to U.S. shipping only.