The Genre Underground chose Dreamwielder by Garrett Calcaterra as our Book of the Week for November 4, 2013. To gain a better understanding for our readers, we asked the author about his inspirations and his influences.
Dreamwielder, my epic fantasy novel from Diversion Books, was literally born from a dream. My mother mentioned to me during a visit that she’d dreamt about a magical girl and she thought it would make a good story. As an author I get this all the time—people suggesting ideas for me to write, and trust me it’s not coming up with ideas that are the hard part, so I always politely decline—but since this was coming from the woman who had birthed and raised me, I figured I at least had to humor her. It turned out the dream she’d had was utterly fantastic.
In the dream, a young woman is sleeping in a castle and her parents are frantically beating at her chamber door, trying to wake her. When her eyes finally flutter open, the castle disappears to be replaced by a one-room hovel. That was it, all she’d dreamed, but it tapped into some sort of primal archetype that resonated with me, and that was the beginning of Dreamwielder.
It’s only fitting seeing as how it was my mother who first introduced me to Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and as I got older to Anne McCaffrey and David Eddings and dozens of other fantasy authors I gobbled up. It was my mother who modeled for what a strong woman should be (and me being a male, how I should treat and respect women). So, while the story and characters stemmed from my own imagination, my mother was as much an influence on the story as all those fantasy authors I read growing up.
So, when diving into Dreamwielder, don’t be surprised to find that so many of the characters are strong females who challenge generic fantasy tropes, and that the subjugation of powerful women is a dominant theme in the book. Now don’t get me wrong! I’m not claiming to have turned the genre on its head—there’s plenty of classic fantasy action, and an epic final showdown between good and evil “that rockets to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion in the grand tradition” as the very gracious Misty Massey endorsed it on the book jacket. I’m simply paying my gratitude to those who influenced the writing of the book: Tolkien for his rich world, C.S. Lewis for his omniscient voice, McCaffrey for her strong female characters, Ursula Le Guin for her magic rooted in natural order, Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock for their industrial-steampunk backdrop, and last, but not least, my mother.
Thanks all! I hope readers find in Dreamwielder even a small fraction of the enjoyment I’ve been on the receiving end of.
Thank you, Garrett. Readers, be sure to check out our Dreamwielder page for more information.