I’m working on a yarn inspired by the wonderful Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne.
I’ll get to the yarn in a bit, but first the books!
The books are frequently categorized as Urban Fantasy- which they are. But they stand out from a genre that is being flooded by the Urban Fantasy Romance (which is ready for its own genre now!).
The central story focuses on Atticus, the last of the Druids, who is at a crossroads. Does he continue to hide from an angry god and live a diminished life under the radar, or does he confront the god, re-establish wider contact with others like him, and re-enter the non-mortal community?
For me, writing breaks down into characterization, plot, theme, voice, world building and word choice- in no particular order. In this case, the order doesn’t matter because Hearne hits every single one one.
Characterization: Kevin Hearne builds strong, interesting characters drawn from folklore & mythology. His take on mythology is fresh without ignoring the roots. That’s a big plus! He doesn’t assume that we are going to like his characters because they are the heroes & heroines. His characters earn the reader’s affection and sympathy.
Plot: How can anyone resist a tweak the nose of a god/ protect humanity plot line? more on this below. The story moves briskly with a nice balance of action and reflection. A strong collection of subplots build a strong world with good character interaction. The subplots come together to support a larger story line without making a muddle of the forward motion of the overall book.
The story doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s fun without crossing the line into brain candy! Nothing wrong with brain candy, but who rereads those books? You will reread the Iron Druid books. And most likely will stalk the author’s page waiting for book updates with the rest of us Hearne fans!
Theme: Underlying the action is a continual theme of a do I step forth and *be*- or- do I take the familiar path? Do my past actions define me, or do I have the power & ability to do something differently?
World Building: Perfection! It’s seamless and believable without being tame or predictable. While reading, you know it is the only possible version of reality. Then you can step away from the book and realize he just pulled a rabbit, a dove and the Chrysler building out of that hat- & it totally worked!
Word choice: Hearne isn’t afraid of mixing a casual tone with a wide range of vocabulary. Reading his prose makes me happy!
Start with Hounded, the first in the series. I’m going to mess around with the Good Reads blurb, but please click over and read the whole thing!
Below is the opening scene. Right away, I can hear Atticus’ voice. I have a great picture of him in my mind, and by the end of this passage, I am completely on his side.From Hounded, Book 1 of the Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne, published by Del Ray:
There are many perks to living for twenty-one centuries, and foremost among them is bearing witness to the rare birth of genius. It invariably goes like this: Someone shrugs off the weight of his cultural traditions, ignores the baleful stares of authority, and does something his countrymen think to be completely batshit insane. Of those, Galileo was my personal favorite. Van Gogh comes in second, but he really was batshit insane.
Thank the Goddess I don’t look like a guy who met Galileo—or who saw Shakespeare’s plays when they first debuted or rode with the hordes of Genghis Khan. When people ask how old I am, I just tell them twenty-one, and if they assume I mean years instead of decades or centuries, then that can’t be my fault, can it? I still get carded, in fact, which any senior citizen will tell you is immensely flattering.
The young-Irish-lad façade does not stand me in good stead when I’m trying to appear scholarly at my place of business—I run an occult bookshop with an apothecary’s counter squeezed in the corner—but it has one outstanding advantage. When I go to the grocery store, for example, and people see my curly red hair, fair skin, and long goatee, they suspect that I play soccer and drink lots of Guinness. If I’m going sleeveless and they see the tattoos all up and down my right arm, they assume I’m in a rock band and smoke lots of weed. It never enters their mind for a moment that I could be an ancient Druid—and that’s the main reason why I like this look. If I grew a white beard and got myself a pointy hat, oozed dignity and sagacity and glowed with beatitude, people might start to get the wrong—or the right—idea.
Sometimes I forget what I look like and I do something out of character, such as sing shepherd tunes in Aramaic while I’m waiting in line at Starbucks, but the nice bit about living in urban America is that people tend to either ignore eccentrics or move to the suburbs to escape them.
Next post is about the yarn 🙂
Until then, read Hounded!