Annotation Alcatraz Chapter Four
We’re hitting our stride now. I think that this is where the book starts to really reflect what I imagined for it. Here, we’ve got some genuine tension, some worldbuilding, and some utter silliness.
One of the early ideas for this book was a magic system where the characters had powers that sounded like drawbacks, but which could be used in ways that were clever and interesting. Grandpa Smedry shows this off for the first time in this chapter by arriving late for the bullets.
As you might have noticed, it’s a kind of metaphor. I find that often, our drawbacks are advantages in disguise. It all depends on how you look at it. I’m often fond of pointing out that arrogance misused will turn you into an annoying person–but if you channel that same energy into believing in yourself, you can accomplish some fairly amazing things.
It takes a lot of thinking to come up with the right Smedry Talents. They have to be things that you can explain in one sentence, and have to be hindrances that a lot of us feel that we have. However, I also have to be able to twist them around so that they can be used in interesting ways.
People generally don’t recommend this kind of book.
This chapter has my favorite of all twenty chapter-intro essays, by the way. I’m somewhat passionate about this one in particular. I think that we put too much emphasis on certain books while ignoring others. I don’t think we should ignore the books about boys and their dogs, but we should know that they just don’t work for some people. People like me.
Fantasy books made a big difference in my life. I didn’t find traditional “literary” books, even ones for kids, to be challenging. Fantasy engaged my imagination, however, in ways that no realistic book ever could have. Fantasy made me think, made me dream, and now I’ve become an author of it.
Things aren’t as bad for kids now as they were when I was growing up. However, they’re still pretty bad for older people. I have a friend who was in a creative writing class last week where the professor said–in reference to popular fiction–“You have to decide if you want to write for the most people, or for the best people.”
“Best people”? What the crap? This is the sentiment that has always bothered me. If a person likes a certain type of fiction, they’re a better person than someone who likes popular fiction?
People are equal. People’s interests are equal. Not all fiction may appeal to all people, but who is anyone to judge another based on what they read?
That said, maybe someone someday will give me one of those shiny circular awards just to make me eat my words.
The one where I list all the random pieces of clothing, then tell you I made them up.