I have to be honest and say that I regrettably couldn't enjoy Rowan of the Wood as much as I would've liked, but I find this following guest post by Rowan authors Christine and Ethan Rose absolutely FASCINATING, as spellbinding as the topic I suggested they write about (because their book reminded me a lot of it, and I wanted to know their thoughts on the topic. I hope you enjoy!
Authors Christine and Ethan Rose. Can you say "awesome costumes"??
Harry Potter and the Phenomenon
Every so often a book comes along that breaks out of its genre and by doing so, defines it. When I was a kid that book was actually a trilogy—The Trilogy—The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. It not only influenced literature, but music through bands like Led Zeppelin and Shadowfax. Cars sported bumper stickers which claimed that “Frodo Lives.” Movies were attempted but the technology wasn’t there yet. Many fantasy books published at the time sported a reference to its similarity to Tolkien’s work. It defined the fantasy genre even though the genre already included many great writers like Lord Dunsany and Robert E. Howard. It was because it had surpassed the field of fantasy and entered the populous at large.
Readers of fantasy recognized it as a great work but also realized that there were other great works in the field. When people who did not normally read fantasy thought of the genre, however, they thought of The Lord of the Rings because it was what they knew.
Harry Potter has had a similar effect on the current generation. When someone thinks of middle grade or young adult fantasy, they think of Harry Potter since that is the work which has broken out of its genre and entered the main stream.
While on tour with my own middle grade fantasy, Rowan of the Wood, I am often asked a variation on “Are you going to be the next Harry Potter?” I generally pass it off with a comment about settling for a fraction of Rowling’s success. The truth is that there won’t be a next Harry Potter, while that phenomenon lasts. Any young adult or middle grade fantasy, no matter how well written or successful, will be compared to Harry Potter because it is the book that has broken out of its genre and by doing so defines it. Just like Mike Hammer defines the P.I. or James Bond defines the Secret Agent.
Similarly, since Harry Potter dealt with a young orphaned protagonist, many make the mistake of thinking any orphan protagonist is a Harry Potter knock-off. The orphan-hero protagonist dates back to Greek times in Literature. It did not begin with Harry Potter. In our book, Rowan of the Wood, we have a "orphaned" protagonist. He's actually in the foster care system, as both his parents are not dead. Many readers immediately see Harry Potter in the pages because there is magic, an orphan boy, and a mean sibling figure/foster family. This is understandable because of the reasons stated above; however, our protagonist Cullen Knight is based upon my childhood, not upon the character of Harry Potter.
- I grew up in foster care among the redwood forest.
- I lived in less-than-ideal foster care.
- I had a bully foster brother, and, most importantly, I dreamed of of magic and wizards while walking amongst the redwoods with my copy of The Hobbit in hand.
Thank you SO much for that incredibly eye-opening guest post, Christine and Ethan! If Rowan of the Wood sounds like something you're interested in, be sure to pick up a copy and check it out yourself. :)