(Or: How to Recap Four Books in Only Two Years)
When I started this blog back in 2013, one of my challenges was finding topics to write about on a regular basis. Obviously, blogs are only worthwhile if they’re being updated frequently, and any writer with a day job knows what a struggle that can be. Carving out time in the day is tough enough, and time spent casting about for topics is time that’s not being used to write.
At first, I tried writing some book reviews, but soon realized that I do my best writing when I’m writing something I enjoy reading – and book reviews, though useful, just aren’t that entertaining for me to read or write. I thought about what kinds of blogs and podcasts I find the most fun to binge on, the ones that keep me coming back over and over. I realized I really enjoy humorous recaps of books and TV shows I enjoyed in my youth, like “Flowers in the Attic” and “Saved by the Bell.” And since I have an abiding love for Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books, I decided to re-read them and recap one chapter per week (give or take – occasionally I’ll combine two chapters or split one chapter into two posts, and I’ve gone on hiatus a few times). It started out as mainly an exercise in showing up to make words on a regular basis, but I’ve also received a few friendly comments from fellow fans of the series – Thanks, you guys! Please keep commenting! – that have helped motivate me to stick with it.
It’s really been a win-win: for the past two years, I’ve gotten to enjoy re-reading a series of books I adored as a child, and I always know what next week’s topic will be. That has helped free up some time for me to spend on my other project – rewriting and editing my novel, “The Freedom Dreamers,” which is a coming-of-age story set in 1968 (incidentally, the same year that “The High King” was published). The main character, Jill, starts out much like Taran – sheltered, naïve, and maybe a bit bratty. But when she loses her mom, her small-town world is shattered, so she leaves it behind, hopping a bus to New York. There, she plunges into the unknown, meeting strange new companions and having exhilarating adventures. Ultimately, she learns a lot about the value of friendship and standing up for what’s good and true in the face of violence and injustice.
I get that it may feel like a stretch to compare a middle-grade fantasy series to a YA historical novel about sex, drugs and rock and roll in the hippie era. But, considering the frightening events that are happening right now in the world, and the volatile political situation here in the U.S., to me it’s never felt more important to be reading and writing about love, compassion and the struggle between good and evil, in its various forms. So, if you’re a fan of Prydain, I hope you’re enjoying the recaps, and if “The Freedom Dreamers” sounds interesting to you, I hope you’ll sign up for my mailing list to be the first to know when it comes out! Thanks for reading. Peace!