Today I have the honor of hosting author Philippa Ballantine to That’s What I’m Talking About. Philippa (aka Pip) is a fantasy writer hailing from Wellington, New Zealand. In the coming year she will have three books hitting the real and virtual shelves. The first of which a supernatural fantasy, Geist is available now from Ace books. I really enjoyed Geist! Click HERE for my review. Please help me welcome Pip and be sure to check below for a GIVEAWAY!
Jen, thank you for hosting me here today.
A Child’s Flight of Fantasy
I vividly remember the first time my imagination took flight. I was eight and it was when my Dad sat down on a chair by my bed and read those magical words. ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’
My Dad is a long time science fiction and fantasy reader. He started when he was a teenager in the glory days, and I guess he thought these books would be something we could share. Still, I know he didn’t ever imagine the path he’d set me on with those first words—starting off as a reader and then eventually a writer.
So we began with The Hobbit, a chapter every night—providing that I had been good that day. The possibility of not finding out what happened to Mr. Bilbo and the dwarves was quite the punishment. My Dad’s voice reading those words to me is a cherished memory, and began a life long love of speculative fiction. I still recall the chill of entering the mountains with Bilbo and encountering for the first time the terrifying Gollum, and the leap of joy that came with the phrase ‘the eagles are coming.’ I could see the world Tolkien created so vividly, and the stories seemed familiar, like fairy stories but deeper and more intense. I know what really captured my attention, in a way that fairy stories couldn’t, was the characters. I had real affection for Bilbo and his party of dwarves—and when they were in danger I felt it. The magic and scope of the world building gave these characters the perfect stage to play out grand adventures.
In short, I was hooked. Back then, fantasy wasn’t as accessible as it is now to children and teens. There was no real Young Adult category, and all of the stories I read were books for grown ups. My Dad supervised just what I was reading, but I always seemed to pick books that stretched me but never went past his boundaries. As a teenager I loved the Xanth books by Piers Anthony and the Marion Zimmer Bradley Darkover series. I could literally feel my brain expanding.
From fantasy I discovered a love of the new, of magic and possibilities. I was able to enter realms of other people’s imaginations, fly to distant worlds, play with magic and enjoy places were there were no boundaries. In the safe confines of the other I was able to explore and grow with mature concepts of right and wrong, heroism and cowardice, and define my own place in those spectrums. It taught tolerance and an understanding that difference is perfectly all right—even wonderful.
Those books took me places, showed me things I was capable of doing, and introduced me to a cast of fascinating people. Literally without my Dad reading me The Hobbit, my life would have been very, very different.
It is a gift that I can never repay to my father, but one I know he is proud to have passed on. So it is a wonder to me, that today’s children have a wealth of beautiful fantasy and science fiction to choose from. I can only imagine what places it will take them—certainly somewhere as wonderful as the places Bilbo showed me.
GIVEAWAY: Ms. Ballantine has GENEROUSLY donated one (1) copy of her new book Geist for a giveaway here on my blog. If you would like to enter for a chance to win, please leave a comment with your email address at the end of this post. Contest is open internationally!! Contest is open from now until November 20, 2010 at 12:00 PM (noon) EST. Winner will be selected using random.org and announced on my blog on November 20, 2010.