A Drift of Quills – Today’s Trending Topics

Stories inspired by or incorporating a person, news story or current event can be fascinating. Of course there is the historical fiction category, but there’s also the plain good fun of fiction or fantasy that incorporates timely and relevant news. Godzilla, (2014), as a B-film example, references and borrows from the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011.

I have some thoughts on the subject, but first let’s hear from the other writers in the group.

Robin Lythgoe

Author of As the Crow Flies

Robin’s Website

Use people? And places? And stories?? I’m innocent!

Well… mostly innocent.

Maybe “unconscious” would be a better word, because while I don’t (usually) intend to put current happenings and humans in my stories, I’ve had people point out that this is like that, or this person is just like that person.

One of the most frequent questions I get as an author is…

Patricia Reding

Author of Oathtaker

Patricia’s Website

An author writes what she knows—whether she knows it or not. By that I mean that when she writes, her knowledge, awareness, and/or understanding of the things she writes about shows. So, if she tries to write on a topic of which she knows little, that lack of knowledge will shine through just as clearly as if she writes about a field in which she is an expert. But as to her use of specifics from the world around her . . . now that makes for an interesting topic.

Of course, I use information from the real world in my stories. I also—quite intentionally—create “faith” or “belief system” allegories between the fantasy world I’ve created in The Oathtaker Series and the real world. When I do so, I use real life issues not in the micro-sense so much as in the macro-sense . . .

Parker Broaddus

Author of  A Hero’s Curse

Parker’s Website…oh wait. You’re already here.

I’m sure you have a favorite cultural or newsy reference in story. (Comment below, or share your favorite). Alas. I don’t usually write that way. A quick review of my short stories, screenplays, and novels reference nothing about today’s trending topics. But my stories may have something to say about today’s topics, without mentioning them directly.

I wasn’t thinking about Carrie Fisher when I wrote “Two Weeks is a Lifetime,” (Lodestone Journal, 2014). I was thinking about my Papa. But the themes of loss and regret are universal.

I feel the best stories aren’t those that borrow from current headlines, but instead grapple with themes that apply to current issues. Orwell’s themes of privacy, government intrusion and Big Brother are timeless, yet aspects of 1984 feels ripped from today’s headlines.

My new novel, coming soon, (are you listening, you A Hero’s Curse sequel seekers?), touches on poverty and lack of equality among those allowed to access magic. Because magical equality is a huge news item these days. 🙂

I write about heroes, loss, and sacrifice. The situations and characters are specific, but the themes are universal. They resonate.

And that’s how I want my stories to apply. To be remembered.


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2 Responses to A Drift of Quills – Today’s Trending Topics

  1. Pingback: A Drift of Quills: Under the Influence - Robin Lythgoe

  2. Robin Lythgoe says:

    “The situations and characters are specific, but the themes are universal. They resonate.”

    I like that. As writers we want to connect with our readers—and the only way to do that is through situations and ideas that are familiar to them. As a reader, I won’t remember —and it’s possible I won’t finish— a book that only touches the surface of things and doesn’t strike some chord within me. And we’ve all got a lot of chords! 🙂

What do you think?