Fantasy thrives in the young adult genre. So many adult readers miss great stories that, twenty years ago, would have been published in the fantasy genre without a young adult label. One of my goals with the Women in Fantasy Storybundle was to bring as many forms of fantasy to the attention of readers as I could, in addition to introducing readers to writers they might have missed, and that includes YA novels.
I’m happy to have found Robin Brande. Even though Robin was named Best Adult Author 2013 by the Arizona Library Association and Libraries, Ltd, many fantasy readers haven’t heard of her. Her first novel (which I love) Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, received Best Books for Young Adults citation from the American Library Association (ALA) Young Adult Library Services Association division (YALSA), was included on the prestigious Amelia Bloomer List from ALA Feminist Task Force, and received a citation from Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies from National Council of Social Studies/Children’s Book Council.
A former trial attorney, entrepreneur, law instructor, yoga teacher, black belt, outdoor adventurer, and certified wilderness medic, Robin has brought every aspect of her eclectic life to her fiction. She writes in multiple genres, including sf, fantasy, and romance. You can find out more about her at her website, robinbrande.com.
Robin’s guest blog explores her experiences as a young reader, and why she turned to writing.
THE SCIENCE OF MAGIC
By Robin Brande
I was eight years old and I was going to hell.
Maybe not right away, but as soon as God got around to me. Because I was absolutely sinning by checking out the book I’d just gotten from the library: A Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan. About a girl who has premonitions and ESP.
Maybe if I read fast enough I could get through the whole thing before God struck me dead.
I’m not being facetious. I grew up in one of those strict fundamentalist religions that would later condemn any child who read Harry Potter. It didn’t matter that J.K. Rowling’s series was about friendship and self-sacrifice and the triumph of love over evil. It had “sorcerer” right there in the first title. It was from the devil. Verboten.
I wanted so much to believe in magic when I was young. I kept trying to find loopholes in the Bible.
“Elijah had visions of the future,” I pointed out to my Sunday school teacher.
“They were from God,” she said.
“But what about the Witch of Endor?” I tried. “She was a witch, and the dead prophet Samuel spoke through her to give a message to King Saul.”
“God used her,” my teacher said.
I listed other magic in the Bible: the reincarnations and resurrections; teleportation (Philip disappearing while he’s talking to the eunuch, and instantly reappearing miles away); water turned into wine; the magically-multiplying fishes and loaves…
“Those were miracles,” my teacher said. “Miracles are from God. Magic is from Satan.”
That pretty much shut me down. Because even though I was curious, I was also afraid. I’d been brought up knowing that Satan is always trying to take over our souls. So I was careful not to read anything or see any movies about witchcraft or sorcery or any of the black arts.
But it didn’t mean I gave up wondering about what I considered real magic—the kind of magic that takes place now, not just in biblical times.
The magic of ESP. Thanks to Lois Duncan and A Gift of Magic, I knew extrasensory perception was real. And it happened naturally—people were born with it or could develop it, without ever involving Satan.
And I was going to prove that. Even if it was only to myself.
Flash forward many years. I’ve now read hundreds of scholarly works by quantum physicists, psychologists, parapsychologists, neuroscientists, MDs, PhDs—all documenting their own pursuit of various psi phenomena.
From the CIA-sanctioned remote viewing experiments at Stanford Research Institute; to decades of quantum physics experiments showing that the mind really can manipulate matter; to all the documented cases of out-of-body and near-death experiences; to verifiable evidence that psychic abilities are natural to humans and can be developed just like our athletic and artistic skills—
Science hasn’t only met my belief in magic, it’s surpassed it.
I included a lot of the coolest science I’ve found over the years in my science fiction series Parallelogram. There’s a bibliography at the end so that anyone can follow the trail I did and read the original, mind-blowing science.
But science alone can’t feed my soul. Whether it’s my religious upbringing or my own spiritual studies in the years since I left the church (or, more accurately, was kicked out of the church when I was a teenager for ditching Sunday school with some of my friends and hypnotizing one of them so she could tell us all our futures—like I said, I was still curious. Unfortunately, the experiment went horribly wrong and eventually involved paramedics, but that’s a story for another day), I still need the mystical in my life. The kind of mystery that can’t be explained by science.
Which is why I’ve finally turned to writing my fantasy series The Bradamante Saga, beginning with Book of Earth. It’s my chance to write about prophets and warriors, mysticism and magic, and maybe even the kinds of miracles of which my old Sunday school teacher would approve.
It’s also a chance to revisit some of those Old Testament stories she told me—the ones that bothered me so much when I was little. Stories about innocent girls being hurt or sacrificed, with no one to save them and no power to save themselves.
That’s the great thing about having a girl warrior as a heroine. Because in The Bradamante Saga, as with all of my books…
Nobody messes with my girls.