Genre for the Holidays – Do They Know it’s Christmastime at all?

December 8, 2012 at 1:46 am (fantasy, Fervor, Links, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Holidays are centred around some form of religion or another (not necessarily the actual celebration, but the original concept that spawned it.) And since my fantasy novels are otherworldly, there is no Christmas or earthly equivalent. In fact, since my books tend to target specific events, those kinds of festivities don’t appear in them at all. Not that my Masters & Renegades series isn’t without ritual or celebration, but those celebrations are not focussed on family gatherings, religious ceremonies or traditions. Instead, they involve more spectacle-oriented festivities. Although it has yet to be published, the fifth book in the series does offer an example of this:

When they were finished their drinks, Peter led them out to Anthis’s town square where the festivities had already started. The square was draped with ribbons and flowers and a crowd had gathered there to watch the entertainers. There was a wide assortment of street performers, ranging from simple jugglers performing basic tricks, to elaborately costumed stilt walkers who weaved and teetered through the many people who had come to watch them. Peter and Rosemary wandered towards a group of acrobatic dancers, and Nolan was about to follow when he noticed Dee had stopped to watch a fire-eater present his display. This was the way with those with natural inclination, he knew. Once aware of their ability, an affinity for the element would develop; a lingering fascination. If not careful, this affinity could grow into a full-fledged obsession. This would be even more awkward in Dee’s case, considering her parents had died in a fire.

With soft words and gentle touches, Nolan coaxed her away from the flames, so that they could reunite with Peter and Rosemary. He soon had her distracted by a series of musicians playing spectacular drums and woodwinds in a mesmerizing fashion, not far from the acrobats. When both acts finished, the two couples rejoined one another and started looking around for their next diversion.

There is no mention of holidays at all in my Fervor series, and not just because my protagonists are glorified lab rats in a controlled environment. It is also because within that dystopian society, science has substituted for religion. Instead of church and state, it is scholarship and state, with just as many complications and conflicts when the two mix. People worship knowledge, some of them at all expense. What this means, however, is that there aren’t any rituals or traditions celebrated as part of a holiday. The world is actually quite sterile and pleasure is usually drawn from everyday events and small victories, friendships and isolated incidents.

The religion in The Snowy Barren Trilogy is an animistic one involving spirits and shamans. They have their traditions, but more tied to the cycle of life than anything else, like the Rites of Passage central to the story. Other celebrations include things like the choosing of a spirit animal for a shaman-in-training, or the taking of a mark for the transition to full shaman.

Would it be better world-building to include alternates to Christmas in my stories? Perhaps, but I firmly believe in not introducing anything superfluous to the story, and so far, none of my novels have called for this, so you won’t find it there. After all, something can’t be missed if it doesn’t exist to begin with.

On a last note, the 17th Chapter for Trading of Skin (first draft) has now been posted to, at this link:

Only three more chapters to go!

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